Sri Lanka has an ancient history which I was not aware of until we visited the Colombo Museum. The museum would have to be one of the best I have ever been to. They have so many relics from the past. Ancient stonework, statues, sculptures, hand made tools, taxidermy animals, insects and mammals. It has been designed to educate Adults and children about the history and culture of Sri Lanka.
The Colombo Museum as it was called at the beginning was established on 1st January 1877. It founder was Sir William Henry Gregory, the British Governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) at the time.The Royal Asiatic Society (CB) was instrumental in bringing to the notice of Gregory on his appointment as Governor in 1872 the need for a public museum with much difficulty the approval of the legislative council was obtained within a year. The Architect of the Public Works Department, J.G. Smither was able to prepare the plans for new structure on Italian architectural style. The construction was completed in 1876 and the Museum commenced it functions in the following year.
Back in 2004 a Tsunami hit Indonesia as most of us know, but we had not realised how badly it had hit Sri Lanka. Especially along the South West and East coast. Over 31,000 lost their lives, with over 4,000 still missing. The bodies that were found were buried along the roads near the coastline. As you drive along there are many headstones every few hundred metres. Remnants of some broken mouldy buildings still remain. There are gaps in the jungle where coconut trees use to be. The land is vacant and flat. You get a sense of the enormity of the event that took place. The shoreline had been flattened right to the road, so they have since built rock walls to contain the sea.
Fishing is an integral part of life in Sri Lanka. You can see all the colourful red, yellow and green fishing boats along the shoreline. They catch plenty of fish which they sell in the wet markets in the streets next to the beach. Very large tuna are cut using a chain saw. In the afternoon the boats can be seen coming back with their hauls. One after another ride the waves to land on the beach.
This is the only country in the world where men do fishing on stilts.
Tuk Tuk’s & Motorbikes
These are 3 wheeled little cars, which look like motorbikes with a cover around them. They are used as taxi’s to take people wherever they want to go. The streets have more tuk tuk’s than cars. Many of their owners go to great lengths to decorate them inside and outside. Some have paintings inside of them. They are good fun to ride in. Sometimes you see a whole family in one. They are mean’t to carry 2 people, but I have seen 6 in one.
Motorbikes are owned by many families. Not uncommon to see Mum, Dad, baby and 2 other children all on one bike. Some even have made up boxes on the back of them to sell bread or other goods.
Driving on the roads was interesting. You certainly have to keep your wits about you. The roads are narrow with 2 lanes apart from the highways which have 4 or 6 lanes. Much more orderly than Jeddah as people generally obey most of the road rules, however cars have to share the road with pedestrians (lots of them) as there are not many footpaths. They also share the road with cows who wander around freely, crossing the road whenever they want grass on the other side. All cars must give way to the cows. Then you have the Tuk Tuk drivers who weave in and out between cars and Buses. Did I say Buses, yes they have many buses which have timetables to conform to. Whenever they want to pass you will hear a quick succession of about 5 toots, which means Get Out of the Way! Others that share the road are many cyclist and motor bikes. Then you have cats and dogs heaps of them. Some dogs sleep on the road or are just walking around on the road.
Nobody worries about the double line in the middle of the road. Frequently taking over cars, buses, tuk tuk,s… around corners only to have someone coming head on. A quick duck and dive gets you safely back on the right side of the road. Lots of near misses, it is quite nerve racking watching what is unfolding before your eyes. The Sri Lankan drivers are very courteous and allow for this behaviour by slowing down to let someone in to be safe. many times you hear a toot toot which means let me in, I am here or move over please. This is all done at quite a fast pace. So if you are not dodging cars, tuk tuk’s or cows you are dodging dogs, cats, people, cyclists and bikes.
The people of Sri Lanka are mainly Buddhist. They have lots of temples throughout the country. They are a very gentle, warm and friendly with ready smiles and greetings as they pass you in the street. The women look stunning dressed in traditional Saris of many different bright colours. They look very elegant and feminine. The official language spoken is Sinhala. They have many festivals. We happen to be there when one was on. It was the festival to mark the beginning of buddhism.
Things to see and do
There are many things to see and do in Sri Lanka such as:
- white water rafting
- wildlife safari’s
- visiting tea plantations
- Colombo heritage museum
- rock climbing
- hot air ballooning
- whale watching
- jet skiing
- beaches and bars
- shopping/silk factory
Sri Lanka is a beautiful island with pristine beaches, waterfalls, stunning landscapes, lakes, national parks and botanical gardens. It is known as “the pearl of the Indian ocean and Ceylon.”
Cats & Dogs and Water Monitors
Just like Jeddah there are many cats in Sri Lanka. They wander around the streets looking for food. Dogs can be seen everywhere. they are not afraid of cars and will just stand there as cars go whizzing by them. I am amazed that more dogs are not hurt or run over by the drivers going around narrow streets and corners.
It is not uncommon to see large water monitors come out of the jungle and leisurely cross the roads.