Friday, June 8, 2012

We fort them hard, we fort them well

I regretted my decision to take the train down Sri Lanka's west coast before I boarded the vehicle, which began rapidly filling up with human cattle even before it came to a halt on the platform. Clearly, these people aggressively shoving past disembarking old women knew something I didn't, and my comparative politeness left me spending most of the sweaty three hour journey squeezing myself into the space in front of people's knees as an endless stream of snack sellers tried to mow down standing passengers with their aisle-wide carts.

Maybe that's why I was so relieved to arrive in Galle's historic Fort district, which felt a lot more peaceful and spacious than other cities in this country, and where I was only pestered by about one taxi driver per minute as I stubbornly walked to my hotel - an unprecedented improvement. I thought Kandy was quite nice, mainly for not being Colombo, but this place is properly nice. I couldn't wait to de-stress and get my work done before heading out early the next morning to take photos.

After a good sleep, Galle seemed less spectacular in the harsh light of day, but it's still the most attractive dilapidated colonial outpost I've visited - more relaxed than Georgetown and Malacca, less sterile than Singapore and the less said about Manila and Malang the better. I like it when people actually live in these heritage attractions, though I had a familiar sense of vague ancestral guilt that the place I felt most comfortable in Sri Lanka was the one largely built by Europeans.

Fort, Galle

I had a Sri Lankan breakfast every day to stave off some of the guilt.
Plus, curry for breakfast is clearly better than boring toast

I didn't have to wait patiently for people and tuk-tuks to leave the frame - it really is this quiet

The modern city is outside those walls. Never go outside those walls. Embrace confinement

North gate. Let's pretend my poor reflexes would be capable of capturing that crow in mid-flight intentionally, and that it wasn't a happy accident that makes me look more professional

I also didn't notice these posers getting their fake wedding photos done, I was just looking at the clock tower. Maybe I'm going blind or mad. Or should that be blinder and madder?

East gate with what looks like a British coat of arms. It's certainly not Portuguese or Dutch, they don't have lions in those countries. This clearly represents Britain, where we have those. And unicorns, which exist. And our patron saint is best known for slaying a dragon, which also exist.

Our nation's heritage is based on a fragile thread of lies. What the hell were they doing trying to brand Asia? Though judging by the sheer volume of Union Jack branded clothing I've seen so many people wearing throughout Asia, they're happy to continue the tradition

Massive anchor and bell tower at the Maritime Archaeology Museum

National Museum. There's another National Museum in Colombo and another one in Kandy, and that's just the ones I've seen. There's even a Department of National Museums. Someone's misunderstood what 'national' means

Rubbish Tyrannosaurus at some other museum, which the city's religiously diverse parents can struggle to explain to their children despite it not featuring in those old books

Dutch Reformed Church (1684).
It's got its act together and is on the straight and narrow now

All Saints Church (1871).
The mediocre 90s girl group literally has a cult following in Galle

Methodist Church (1819), taking a more methodical... alright, I don't know what Methodism is. I never did understand this pointless splintering of Basically Exactly The Same Thing

Always love these cheery colonial-era gravestones though

Meeran Jumma Mosque (1588).
Let's not go into how this is Basically Exactly The Same Thing Too

Buddhist bell

Bastard lighthouse (1938)

Grassy ramparts

Where dirt meets water

Tubbytronic Superdome. The fact that I know what the Teletubbies' home is called without having to Google it may be a cause for concern

I'm not leaving this place without buying at least one ungainly souvenir, which I can look forward to pointlessly carting about forever. I've got my eye on the stove

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