Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Chameera Cycling

During a stay in Galle Fort we decided to explore the back roads and found a small, locally run company that would take the two of us on a cycling trip. Johann, Chameera's brother, was our guide and after a drink at their home we set off inland, away from Unawatuna and the coast. The ride took us through stunningly beautiful rural scenery and there were some interesting stops along the way. The coconut factory was fascinating, an operation that employs around 20 people who take left over coconuts and transform the husks into rope. We visited a temple, watched a very talented crab fisherman and did a lot of nibbling on fruits, leaves and a variety of snacks. Another highlight was a cup of tea and some bread at a decidedly basic roadside cafe that functions as the areas gambling hut. The funny thing is that it's British horse racing that the locals are betting on, and although they don't speak a word of English, they know everything there is to know about the various tracks, horses and events. The tour took around 4 and a half hours and on our return we were given tea, fresh fruit and an ice cold facecloth - genius. 

The first-class fusion of Galle Fort

Galle Fort, on Sri Lanka's south-west coast, was built by the Portuguese in the late 15th century, with the Dutch enhancing fortifications from the middle of the 17th century.  Today it is a fascinating multi-ethnic melting pot of religion, culture and cuisine.  An intertwined web of European design and Asian tradition; a fully functioning little community with schools, churches, mosques, temples and every type of business imaginable.

Walking in the early morning and evening is the best way to experience Galle Fort's number one attraction - it's people.  Playing cricket, soccer, swimming, exercising, or purely enjoying a leisurely stroll, they love the outdoors and they interact as often as they can. 

Wandering along the walls allows one to appreciate the way the fort is as much a part of the ocean as it is part of the land, not only in position but also in the way it was built, with a substantial amount of shells and coral being used in its construction. 

If you could only visit one destination in Sri Lanka I would look no further than Galle Fort.  It's a truly unique destination, both in Sri Lanka and the rest of of the world.  It's a one of a kind.