Galle Fort

Tuesday 02 April 2013 – Unawatuna.

I was in no rush to do anything much today so I mooched in bed till 8:30. I had been trying to avoid using the air con all night but the room is so vast the fan just did not create enough cool air so in the end I had to turn it on to try and bring the humidity down to a sleepable level, it barely worked. I had a western breakfast in the hotel, part of the room charge so I wasn’t going to go hunt down a Sri Lankan one, much as I would have enjoyed string hoppers and dhal again.

Late morning I Skyped my mum and youngest son back in NZ, I wanted to update them on my plans and it is always so nice to see them. I had the added bonus of being able to see one of my sisters as well and I have not seen her in ages ! I will update a bit more on my plans in the next couple of days.

In the early afternoon I wandered through Unawatuna and out to the main road to catch a bus into Galle, which is a few kilometres up the road. As I was standing in the bus stop a tuk-tuk came past after dropping people off and gave me a price for a ride into Galle that I could not turn down – win / win for both, so I took the ride into town.

Galle Fort was first built by the Portugese in the 16th century and then added to by the Dutch in the 17th and finally by the British in the 18th. Galle, as a significant port has been on world maps since the 2nd century, so it has a fair amount of history. Like a lot of places on the Sri Lankan south coast it was badly damaged during the 2004 tsunami. Though the old sea walls were largely undamaged, there was damage to many of the historic buildings inside the walled area. The fort section of Galle is a UNESCO protected site and is quite cool, sort of. Like a cross between Hoi An in Vietnam and Stone Town on Zanzibar.

My tuk-tuk dropped me off outside the main gate into the old forted part of town, the walls were mightily impressive even seen through these fairly jaded ‘been impressed by walls in the past’ eyes. I started walking up into the town, mainly in search of a cool drink and a wee lunch time snack, however I got latched onto fairly quickly by an old guy who assured me he was not a guide and then proceeded to guide me. I gave him five minutes, a couple of bucks and told him I did not want a guide. He left in a huff, but only after I got him to take a photo of me…

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I walked around the walls for a while in the sun, a habit I started in the Angkor temples, walking around the outside of a site first – look at the walls, look inside the walls, look for some of the interesting things to see outside of the centre.

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Like all the major tourist places I have been to in Sri Lanka there was a large school group visiting Galle Fort, I think it is very cool that the young people of this country visit some of the historically important sites, and in this case bring a drum and have a sing and dance as well.

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There are a number of large signboards around the town showing where the major highlights are, a couple of them, like the Black Fort are out of bounds to tourists. I fail to understand why a place as cool sounding as the Black Fort has to be the office of the deputy police commissioner.

Which brings me to briefly comment on people in uniforms carrying automatic weapons…. They are everywhere in Sri Lanka, every major tourist town seems to have a military base of some description, Galle has navy. I have no idea what was in Tangalle, but the whole town seemed to be covered in serious faced young men with guns. I know there was a long and ugly civil war here, but, come on, guns suck ! Remove them from the streets, especially in places like Galle. I want to see the Black Fort, I want to know why it is called the Black Fort, I probably would take a photo. Why does it have to be some deputy friggin cop’s office…. grrrrrrr

I spent the next couple of hours (calmly, I will add) wandering around the inside of the fort area, me being late in the tourist season it was quite deserted which was really nice, though it did make me an easy target for tuk-tuk drivers and others with things to sell.

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I loved this sign.

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I did eventually stop for a cold drink and a snack, but found it difficult to find much that was open and not selling western food, a bit like Hoi An, pizza and lattes seemed to be the choices of the day.

I took a walk out of the fort area and back to the high street area, I walked around for a while looking for a pair of board shorts but didn’t find anything that appealed.

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I ended up grabbing a tuk-tuk back to Unawatuna. I got the driver to drop me on the highway so I could walk back up the street and enjoy the much nicer atmosphere than that on the beach.

As I was walking I heard the music from a New Zealand ice cream van coming up behind me, but it turned out to be a small truck selling local foods, so grabbed a couple of egg and vege rolls – lovely 🙂

I had a cool down shower in my room then read by the pool for a while before heading to one of the beach bars for a G and T and to read some more. I had been put off by the whole beach bar thing, not that I am opposed to them, I love them, just don’t like the way it seems so rapacious here, but I did enjoy a drink until it was too dark to read anymore.

I had dinner at my hotel and went to bed early and read some more. I am reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and it is beyond addictive, it was a late night.

About wheresphil

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, now living in London.
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