08.11.2018 - 10.11.2018
8th Nov 2018
We had a later start this morning. When we pulled the curtains back this is the view from our room.
We thought every room was like ours, but we ended up being lucky and had a suite. We had a lounge and dining area, cocktail bar and large bathroom with a spa bath.
We headed out for the day. Our first stop was to visit Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery which is home to Sri Lanka’s pioneering sea turtle conservation, established in 1981.
They have 5 species of turtle that come and lay eggs here. They are Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle and Leatherback Turtle.
We were shown around the hatchery. The eggs are collected by fisherman who see the turtles arrive on land. They collect the eggs and are then paid to hand them in at the hatchery. They are then buried until the eggs hatch.
Once the turtles hatch, they are collected and put into a tank. They are kept 3 days until they can see and are much stronger. Then they are released at night.
They also have quite a few turtles that are resident at the hatchery. These have been attacked by sharks and are missing flippers. One of them is blind.
Every time Shane went to take a photo, they would come up to him.
There are even albino turtles.
We got to meet Monica who is a Loggerhead Turtle. She weighed 15kgs.
We then stopped in Balapitiya and went on a boat trip up the river and around the mangroves.
There were coconut stalls in the middle of the river.
There were fish traps in the river.
This man was proud of the crab he had caught.
There were cormorants, but they did look different to the ones at home.
There are over 60 islands in this area. Most have people living on them.
They grow and process cinnamon.
They showed us how the cinnamon is collected. They scrape the bark off the branch, then they use a tool to slice the cinnamon off. It is then put on a rack to dry.
We finished off near the mouth of the river.
We then continued on towards Galle. Sri Lanka was one of the countries struck by the tsunami resulting from the Indian Ocean earthquake on December 26, 2004. In the eastern Ampara District alone, more than 5,000 people died. A holiday train, the "Queen of the Sea", was struck by the tsunami near the village of Telwatta as it travelled between Colombo and Galle carrying at least 1,700 passengers, killing all but a handful on board. They have a memorial.
Most shops and houses have been rebuilt but there are still some abandoned properties.
We arrived in Galle. We had heard it would be busy as the England versus Sri Lanka cricket test was on. Well it was amazing to see. There were both locals and tourists all over the fort wall getting a free view of the match.
We even went and had a look ourselves, but they were just walking off for lunch when we finally made it up there. It was a lovely little cricket ground.
We spent the afternoon walking around Galle Fort. Built by the Portuguese in 1588, it was fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century. Covering 36 hectares, the fort contains an amazing number of buildings from over the years. Considered one of the best examples of a fortified city built by Europeans in Asia, it was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage listed site in 1988.
This is the main gate
The fort has two major gates. The portcullis that forms the first gate of entry from the port is inscribed with the year ‘ANNO MDCLXIX’, as well as the image of the Dutch Coat of Arms, the rooster and lion insignia and the inscription VOC (which stands for Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or United East Indian Company in Dutch).
These are the East Indian old spice storage facilities. They kept spices there before they were shipped overseas.
The Galle Bell Tower
We then saw the Galle Lighthouse. Stunningly located on the edge of Galle Fort, the lighthouse is one of 14 left in Sri Lanka and is considered the oldest.
Dating back to 1848; the lighthouse was built by the British to ensure the safe arrival of their ships at the Galle harbour. This original structure stood 24.5 m tall (80 feet) and was located at a site approximately 100 feet from the current lighthouse. Its light was made with a prism lens of glass, which floated in a bath of mercury (to reduce friction); and was powered by a weight driven machine. This lighthouse was destroyed in 1934. The current lighthouse structure was built in 1939; erected within the walls of the ancient Galle Fort with a height of 26.5m (87 feet).
In front of the lighthouse is the old powder house.
Then the Dutch Reformed Church. Originally founded in 1640, the present building dates from 1752 to 1755. The floor of the church is covered with granite tombstones and there is a small graveyard on the premises.
The clocktower which was built in 1882.
They even had an old British mailbox.
There was a square with these big trees. We had a rest in the shade as it was quite hot.
The court house that is still in use today.
This is the old Dutch hospital. The building was initially designed as a hospital for the soldiers and personnel of the Dutch East India Company. The hospital’s close proximity to the harbor also allowed it to serve Dutch seafarers. It has now been turned into restaurants and shops.
The old police barracks that are still in use today.
The town that came into being inside the fort at the time of the Dutch invasion is still in use today. The streets are laid in a rectangular grid and the low gabled houses and terraces in the Dutch Colonial style are quaint.
After another full day we headed back to the hotel.
9th Nov 2018
This morning we headed for our final destination of Colombo which was about one and a half hours drive. We drove along the southern expressway. This road was built by the Chinese. There is a toll to use it, so it is not very busy. It was much quicker than following the smaller roads.
Colombo is the formal capital city and the business and commercial centre of Sri Lanka. Originally a small sea port, Colombo became prominent in the 15th century with the arrival of the Portuguese. The Dutch later arrived in the 16th century but it wasn’t until the British arrived in the late 18th century that Colombo developed into a major city. We had a look around the town in the bus. There were lots of colonial buildings remaining, but it is becoming a very modern city.
This is the new parliament from afar.
The National War Memorial in front of the Parliament complex is dedicated to all military personal killed since World War I and police personal killed due to militancy.
The names of all the deceased is listed on these panels.
Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall was built between 1970 and 1973. It was a gift from China.
Viharamahadevi Park (formerly Victoria Park) is a big park in the city. This is only a small part of it.
This is the Old Colombo Lighthouse or Colombo Fort Clock Tower. It is a clock tower and was a lighthouse in Colombo. The lighthouse is no longer operational, but the tower remains and functions as a clock tower. It is strange seeing a lighthouse in the city and not on the coastline. The lighthouse was deactivated after its light became obscured by nearby buildings.
Independence Memorial Hall is a national monument built for commemoration of the independence of Sri Lanka from the British rule on February 4, 1948. The monument was built at the location where the formal ceremony marking the start of self-rule, with the opening of the first parliament by the HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester occurred at a special podium.
Located at the head of the monument is the statue of the first prime minister of the country Rt. Hon. Don Stephen Senanayake "The Father of the Nation".
The Town Hall of Colombo is the headquarters of the Colombo Municipal Council and the office of the Mayor of Colombo.
Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque is a historic mosque, it is one of the oldest mosques in Colombo.
The Khan Clock Tower was built by the Khan Family of Bombay.
Temple of Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil.
The Lotus Tower is under construction. It is 350 m high. When completed, the tower will be tallest self-supported structure in South Asia.
The Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre. It was such a modern theatre.
We also stopped at the Dutch Church of Wolfendhaal. It was built in 1749. It is one of the most important Dutch Colonial era buildings in Sri Lanka. The church is in the form of a cross, with walls 1.5m thick. The floor includes intricate tombstones to Dutch colonists. Unfortunately the exterior looks run down.
Some other colonial buildings.
The Old Parliament Building, is the building that houses the Presidential Secretariat of Sri Lanka. The building housed the island's legislature for 53 years until the new parliamentary complex was opened in 1983.
The city was really busy and it took us a long time to get anywhere.
Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple was incredible.
Inside it was so colourful.
We then headed to the Ramada Hotel to settle in for our last full night here in Sri Lanka.
10th Nov 2018
We had a day in Colombo today. We had a walk around and then a late checkout. We are heading to the airport for a late flight at 55 minutes past midnight. We are flying home via Hong Kong again. That's it for this trip. Shane and Nicola signing off.