Drawn by the city buzz and the shining smiles
Colombo (Sri Lanka)
Sri Lanka is an island country located to the southeast of India. Its largest city Colombo is exotic, surrounded by the heat and hustle and bustle of a tropical country. The appearance of skyscrapers, temples, mosques and churches gives a glimpse of the history of this country, but since it is not well known as a travel destination, many people only think of curry, tea, and the hot climate. This lack of knowledge is also a chance to have unexpected discoveries and encounters. As we get closer, we hear the buzz of the city and the beating of our hearts. Let the journey begin!
A multicultural city with a mysterious charm
Colombo is a port city facing the Indian Ocean on the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka. While the lively cityscape is undergoing rapid urban development, many buildings make you feel the remnants of its colonial era. After expanding the map, it seems that to get familiar with this city there are two districts you should visit. Starting to move, we see some three-wheeled motorcycles running here and there. Let’s definitely ride this “Three Wheeler”! Negotiating the price before leaving is also such a thrilling experience. I can’t stop thinking how fun is to live the city’s hustle and bustly while riding a motorcycle!
Still excited by the ride, we arrive at the Fort area. Since the arrival of the Portuguese in search of spices in the 16th century, Sri Lanka was colonized by the Netherlands and by Britain. Here you can see a unique landscape with colonial architecture that speak history, fashionable cafes and general stores that have been renovated, with skyscrapers in the background. Turning around, we can find the Petter district, which stretches to the east across the canal, with a local atmosphere. We arrive at Sri Lanka’s lively and largest market, a place where “everything is on sale.” While pressured by the enthusiastic calls of the salespeople, you will be fascinated by the colorful miscellaneous goods and accessories lined up in rows.
Learning by traveling
In Colombo, you’ll encounter a variety of prayer sites, including colorful Hindu temples and majestic mosques. This scene of the diversity in this country also tells the history of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Civil War began in 1983 due to confrontation between the Sinhalese, who make up 70% of the total population, and Tamils, who make up 20% of the total population. It is said that as they lived together for a long time ruled by other countries, ethnic conflicts were born.
Before we call in Sri Lanka, a professor from the University of Colombo, along with some local students, boarded the ship, and presented a lecture learn about the historical background to the reconciliation process after the end of the civil war. Traveling while learning like this may be unique to Peace Boat Voyages, which allows you have a multifaceted view of the countries you visit. Sri Lanka is still a country in the midst of the new process of reconstruction. Walking through the city of Colombo, where ethnic groups and religions are mixed, some of the guest lecturer’s words come to my mind: “Peace does not come just by the end of the civil war,” and “I want to cooperate and create a society in the future beyond ethnic differences.” Recalling these words gives a new perspective on the scenery of the city.
The Country of Spices
Fascinated by the heat of the city, we realised how hungry we were! We entered a cafeteria crowded with locals, looking for authentic curry. When we asked for “Rice & Curry”, various plates with rice, curry, side dishes, pickles, etc. came out. Finally getting to try the authentic cuisine, we decided to follow the locals and try eating with our hands. Imagining how spicy this curry must be and bringing it to my mouth, I am astonished as I find it’s not as spicy as expected! By eating with your hands, you can feel the warmth and softness of the curry and rice. The harmony of coconut milk and spices, and the deep taste makes this dish addictive.
Kids with Bright Smiles
The colonial cityscape and unique temples are also symbols of Colombo’s uniqueness, but the real charm of this city is the smiles of the local children. The lovely and friendly looks will ease the tension of your trip and warm your heart. The hustle and bustle of the city, the claw marks of history, the mixed culture- everything is their daily routine and extraordinary to us. However, you cannot help feeling the significance of taking a step toward the world to be able to smile over such a gap. Just as the name Sri Lanka means “a shining island,” people in this city welcomed us with tremendous smiles.