Colombo, Sri Lanka to Male, Maldives
Day 181: Country #22
The moment I stepped on Sri Lankan soil, I knew I wanted to spend more time in it, but I incorrectly assumed it would be an extension of South India, so I thought my total time in the south India region would be enough. I was wrong, but I already bought flights, so I spent my last hours taking in the remaining sites near the city center.
Despite the late night returning from the Buddha Tooth Festival, I woke early, left my bag with the reception and immediately went to the Central Point Economic History museum located next to a Clock Tower which served as a prior Lighthouse.
The meticulous record keeping by the central bank was insightful in explaining Sri Lanka’s economic development over 50 years and providing context for the modernization all around me.
Then I headed to the beautiful Red Mosque, aka Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid, via the Colombo Port Main road and explored the bustling market around Pettah district (not the floating market from day 1), while sampling all sorts of street foods.
After looping through the market and getting my fill, I crossed back to Fort and proceeded to Sambodhi Chaitya, an unusual Buddhist stupa elevated above ground. It was a bit difficult to reach since roads were blocked off for the port city construction, but that also deterred everybody else except one couple hanging out at the top of the stairs.
Inside the stupa was a circular mural depicting the Buddha’s life, but I was more interested in the external panoramic view of the city. To one side were ships and heavy machinery adding land to the city, another side, a large port, and yet another was the city.
Once I came down, I saw a small maritime museum across the way and went in to take a look. I learned about a brand new entire port city that was under construction to the south of the country and how that might become the new administrative capital of the country in the near future. It was interesting to learn about the process by which a modern country shifts its political center because I had mainly attributed these types of events to ancient civilizations conquering and establishing new empires.
With my remaining time, I took one last stroll through Pettah district then hopped on the airport bus (#187). It was a pretty stressful ride because we got stuck in rush hour traffic and I didn’t realize until the freeway junction that I had boarded the slower route which didn’t get on the toll road. Even other passengers started fretting, but luckily we made it in time.
I arrived in Male pretty late but the local buses were still running.
If you’re taking a somewhat long distance bus and are in a rush, make sure to ask if it is an “express” bus. You might be told that there’s no such service, but sometimes if there are a lot of buses running the route, at least a few of them will offer a faster express service with less stops.