After a very bizarre nights sleep, having both done our first hostel dorm room for the first time in years, we woke up and started getting ready. Tried to be as quiet as possible but, as always in these situations, I managed to make more noise trying to be quiet than if I had stomped around the room like an elephant. Took it in turns to take a shower – the joys of sharing toiletries doesn’t quite work out so well when the dorm cubicles don’t have gaps that you can pass stuff through!! Went down for breakfast and got chatting to one of our room mates, a Nepalese doctor living and working in the Maldives. Clearly making up for the lack of alcohol on the island, he still seemed slightly hungover as he told us about life on the island and what to expect when we go there. He asked if he could spend the day with us and since both of us had some work to do we said we’d leave around midday. He headed to the Nepal embassy to complete some important paperwork whilst we went to the computers to sort out the final two islands for our stay in the Maldives. Managed to finish off booking places and double checking our ferry routes when Dikshanta returned so a quick grab of cameras and we were off! Convinced our new friend for the day that we should walk to where we wanted to go rather than take a TukTuk. He seemed quite happy with walking… At that moment in time! Headed towards the South Beira Lake and visited the Gangaramaya Temple which houses an extraordinary eclectic array of bejewelled gifts presented by devotees and well-wishers over the years. Amongst some of the stuff stored in this antique shop / old ladies living room / moth ball haven was a taxidermy elephant (called Ganga), a massive collection of sculptured Ivory, a multitude of medals, monks robes, jewellery, and furniture. There was even a lock of Buddhas hair (supposedly… It kind of looked very good for hair thousand of years old!!). Wandered around the temple / museum, looking at the different things. Went to find Dikshanta only to be told that he had left earlier. Sat down for a bit, assuming that he might have gone to get some food and waited for him to return. Stayed in the shade for about 10 minutes before making our way to the Lake to look at the Seema Malakaya Meditation Centre – situated on an island in the middle of the lake. Couldn’t go inside as Dikshanta had our entrance tickets (it is linked to the Gangaramaya Temple) and we weren’t prepared to pay twice so we took some photos from the outside and kept walking around the lake. We walked across the bridge to an island when we heard someone shouting – looked across the water and Dikshanta was waving at us like a maniac!! He had gone to get some water and had gotten lost en route. Continued walking through the back streets of Colombo towards the fruit market. As we got to the main town we went down some back alleys where they were selling sacks full of garlic, onions and dried fish. The sight was amazing… The smells not so much!!! Arrived at Mannings Market which is Colombo’s wholesale fruit market selling anything and everything edible that is grown in Sri Lanka.
We bought some grapes and some guavas before walking up the hill to the Wolvendaal Church. The most important Dutch building in Sri Lanka, it is quite a plain church but has stunning antique Dutch furniture and beautifully elaborate tomb stones on the floor to long-forgotten Dutch governors and colonists. Apparently named ‘Wolf’s Dale’ or ‘Wolvendaal’ because the area where the church was built was in the wildness and full of roaming jackals which the Europeans mistook for Wolves. We then double backed on ourselves to visit the Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque, a candy-striped red and white building hidden amongst modern shops and bustling traffic. The mosque is currently undergoing work so we were unable to visit the inside. Dikshanta was certainly feeling the pain of our ‘little’ walk so we got the bus back down the city. He wanted to go to the cinema so we dropped him off and walked to the local shopping mall to stock up on toiletries, water and new fizzy drinks to try – each more chemically than the next!!! Found a local Sri Lankan place for dinner. No menus, no English. But with some pointing and hand gestures, we got two plates of absolutely incredible food. Egg fried rice with chicken and spicy macaroni pasta. Jayne enjoyed hers so much and, after eyeing up the guys plate next to us, ordered a plate of Sri Lankan pad Thai noodles. Feeling very stuffed having also drunk far too much Elephant Ginger Beer, we headed back to the hostel to pack. The old Czech guy in our dorm was asleep already so we dragged our stuff into the hall to pack. A quick phone call to both sets of parents before we had a much needed shower and went to bed ourselves. After I had gone to sleep, Dikshanta came back and told Jayne that the Star Wars film was great. He also showed her the blister on his foot from all the walking we had done that day… Oops – we broke him!!!Thursday 28th January 2016