Saturday, August 2, 2014

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Some of my observations about Colombo, Sri Lanka.  Our hotel is fancy but not all of Colombo is like our hotel.
Wild dogs are common walking in the street and laying around.  They appear not to bother anyone, we walked by many of them and watch them cross the street from our hotel room window.  I heard quite a lot of barking one morning at around 4am.   The dogs appear healthy and must be getting food from somewhere.  

There are old cannons along the ocean wall, these are non working and left from when the Dutch controlled Sri Lanka.
There are a lot of police here,  the white sleeves signify the are traffic control in the street (although traffic and control should not be used in the same sentence here!) The police officers are friendly, polite, young, typically appear very fit,  and do not carry guns. We are next door to a police station.  We have seen police mostly on foot but a couple on horses and a few on motorcycles.   I've seen a couple police cars parked, but none driving.
 The bottom of this photo shows a military officer at the steps to the sea wall, the military officers carry machine guns.   We asked if we could go down the steps and he said yes.   We have seen only afew military officers and were told they are in the area because we are close to the president's house.   As we pass the president's house, more military are visible, but not too many.    They stand out because of the guns they carry.    In the background of this photo, construction is visible.  Everywhere you look there is construction.  
This fire tuck was parked in the street.   It is obviously quite old.  I saw another on on a street that did not appear nearly as old.   Colombo is remarkable for the lack of sirens.   It is a sound I associate with big cities but here I have seen/heard sirens only three times, all coming from ambulances that look to be of the same vintage as this fire truck.

The three wheeled vehicles are called tuk-tuks.   You must be careful to agree on a price prior to the ride or the drivers may scam you, as we found out.   

Traffic is crazy on most roads.  The street in front of out hotel is much less congested than most streets. No lanes are observed by drivers, motorcycles cut in and out, you are often within inches of the vehicle next to you and pedestrians need to be very careful.   Yet, I have not seen any accidents and if you are near a cross walk, the police will walk out and stop traffic so you may cross.   Drivers seem to follow police traffic control reasonably well however, it seems they only control during gridlock or to let pedestrians cross.  Motorcyclists are common, often with two riders but we occasionally have seen three riders and one time observed four riders on one motorcycle!

Construction is everywhere.  It may be difficult to see in this particular photo but while the workers are wearing hard hats, flip flops seem to be the footwear of choice for them.

Everything is in English and we have had no difficulty communicating.   Here are photos of a downtown area showing the signs in English.

I will update more later on our trip, this has been an experience of a lifetime.

1 comment:

Aunt Kim said...

Oh so interesting Mary, thank you for sharing. Glad you are enjoying your time there and getting to experience Sri Lanka. I am excitedly looking forward to wedding details and pictures.