Trip Start Jan 19, 2012
11Trip End Apr 17, 2012
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Where I stayed
Galle Fort is a charming old town consisting of 17th and 18th century Dutch colonial buildings
beautifully refurbished and now used for art galleries, hotels and guest houses, and restaurants as well as still being a working community. Fortunately, the fort walls around the promontory which juts out into the Indian Ocean, protected the old town during the tsunami. However, many died and many buildings were destroyed just outside the old town. And, of course, the nearby beach areas such as Unawatuna were almost totally destroyed and have been rebuilt. Over 30,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka in the December, 2004 Tsunami. Very different to read about such a disaster compared to visiting the places and people who suffered such losses.
Nice change of pace in Galle where we did a lot of sightseeing
through the Galle Maritime Museum, recently restored, having suffered severe damage in the tsunami, and the Maritime Archeological Museum. What was most interesting was seeing the reconstructed 17th century fishing boats which were like a dugout canoe with a single outrigger connected to the boat with two curved tree branches. What is amazing is that all the fishing boats in Galle and the southern beach areas are still built using the same design. Although they use modern materials for the canoe and outrigger, the two connector pieces are still...curved tree branches.
One day we hired a tuk-tuk and went sight seeing outside Galle with Ajantha, our driver.
Amazingly, whatever plant or tree we saw, he knew the Latin name! We went to a silk-making workshop, a moonstone mine, a rock temple, a herb garden, a sea turtle conservation farm and the Peace Pagoda temple with a panoramic view of Galle. Pictures on the blog give you a good view of these experiences. Fun day!
We had a personal tour of the turtle conservation farm from one of the staff and learnt a lot: of the 7 varieties of sea turtle in the world 5 are indigenous to Sri Lanka. The mortality rate in the wild is enormous – of each 1,000 egss hatched, only about 10 or 20 make it to the ocean and of
those only about 5% survive to live to the breeding age of about 30 yrs
We spent a lot of time just enjoying the Galle Fort area. One evening, we watched local young men diving off the fort walls into the Indian Ocean. And, of course, the sunset from the walls was memorable, as well as watching boys playing cricket on any rough patch of ground they could find and young men and women in the water playing a game of capture the enemy.
In the evenings we enjoyed Rice and Curry and fish dinners on rooftop cafes.
So good-bye to charming Galle and on to the beach.