December 26, 2012

The Small Miracle : Sri Lanka - Colombo

Continuation from here ...

So finally we chose Rammuni Tours for our guide. He received good reviews on Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, Fodors etc. His price was quite reasonable too. So.. the best man won.

He was with us for 6 days and he was indeed very good. If you're interested to use his service, you may contact him at . Nahh.. he didn't pay me to advertise his service. I just thought if he's good, he's worth to be recommended. :)

Anyway, back to my story....

The VOA application and immigration procedure was very fast. But we spent a lot of time at the arrival hall checking the telcos' booths, going back and forth between one provider and another. Then when we were ready to pay, the staff told us they only accepted Sri Lankan Rupees. Haihh...

So off we went to the money changer. Twice. All of us only changed USD10 per person the first time cos we thought we'd get better rate if we were to change the money in the city. And turned out the amount wasn't enough in Rupees. Thank God the distance between the money changer and the telco's booth wasn't that far.

After buying, we inserted the sim card right away to test and made sure our phones worked out correctly. All to make sure we could use the data plan. Check in kat Foursquare tu penting ok. hahaha...

By then, Rammuni was already calling me asking our whereabouts. He was already waiting for us outside the arrival hall. It was almost 1pm already and most of the passengers were out from the arrival hall. Perhaps he thought we were lost or I FFK-ed him.

Once we're in the van, Rammuni gave me the itineraries that we agreed before. According to him, our hotel is located on the southern part of Colombo so we'd better went sightseeing around the city first before we checked in at the hotel. OK la.. we just followed his suggestion.

The agenda for the day was Colombo sightseeing and shopping. Of course if I were on my own I would ditch shopping but since I was with the Chickpeas, I had to consider them. The plan was to go to Pettah Market since I read that it's the place to shop in Colombo. We didn't go there though cos Rammuni brought us to a shopping mall instead.

We asked him to stop us at any money changer in the city to change our money. Not many money changer operators in Malaysia sell Sri Lankan Rupees (I found only one in KLCC). So the best way is to bring US Dollars and change it to Rupees here.

He then brought us to Odel, one of the famous shopping malls in Colombo, to change our currency and to shop. But it's only our first day here takkan terus nak shopping. haha.. So we just wandered around the mall looking at the native delicacies, clothes, souvenirs etc. I can say that Sri Lankan fashion labels are rather impressive. I liked their designs but the prices weren't that cheap so window shopping only la.

There's a mosque just opposite of Odel.

Shaikh Usman Waliyullah Shrine and Masjid

We performed our prayer there and continued sightseeing after that.

Next stop was Seema Malaka Temple, a small temple floating on Beira Lake.

If you go to any temples in Sri Lanka, you will come across a semi-circular stone slab with carvings at its entrance. 

Called Moonstone, it is one of the striking architectural features of ancient Sri Lanka. 


The temple is calm and peaceful, and fairly clean. It is not the main attraction of Colombo but if you have time to kill, why not? 
The view over the lake is serene and the park around the lake is a great place to relax. 

swan-shaped paddleboats for hire

Pelicans on the lake

Just a short drive from the temple is the Independence Square. It's part monument and part park.

At the center of the square is the Independence Memorial Hall, built for the commemoration of their independence from British in 1948.

Built in Kandyan style, one of the unique features of the hall is its rows of stone lions that guard the monument. The elaborated stone carvings and painting found at the hall are also amazing. 

In front of the hall is the statue of the late Hon. Don Stephen Senanayake, the first Prime Minister of the country.  

Touring around the city, we also passed by the Town Hall of Colombo, which was patterned after the U.S. White House.

Oh look!

A Smart taxi. How cute. But I think it's gonna be expensive to ride it.

Cheaper alternative? There's always auto-rickshaw to transport you around.

I felt like I was back in India all over again.

A visit to Colombo is definitely a lifetime opportunity not to be missed. One will be able to admire Sinhalese art, Tamil writings and Moor architectures all at once. I could see that the capital is a blend of the past and present. It was interesting to see the old colonial buildings nestled among the revamped development. Not that modern like other big cities, but they are certainly leading towards urban modernization.


Madam Sooyaree said...

Cantiknya the moonshine tu, and love how the pictures look so serene..

rara said...

narif: yup.. relax je duduk situ.. macam taknak balik.. hehe