Ptolemy's Map of Taprobane




Ben Oostdam

April 30 b

(please click to enlarge)
My first impression of Sri Lanka was that it looked more prosperous than India. Colombo itself did not look much different than I remembered from my first visit in 1952 as a midshipman with R 20 in pocket. The roads were wide and looked western and not as crowded as in Bombay.
Together with Sjoerd - a Dutch biologist from Edmonton, Canada, who had been traveling now for three years, including 1/2 year in India - I inspected the YMCA, a Home for Ex-Service Men, and another hotel, all cheap and somewhat shabby, so we decided on a fourth place which had some more 'atmosphere' or ambiance and took a double room for R 50 in the Metropol. We retrieved our luggage which we had checked at the YMCA, said goodbye to some fellow travelers, a Japanese and a sissy German in a fancy jacket, and ordered our first meal, an excellent shrimp curry with a Singalese beer. Afterward, we walked along the rather wild Indian Ocean, drank coconut water and ate some jackfruit, nuts and ananas (pineapple). This was along a wide boulevard (probably Galle Face Green) and open field full of people, vendors, kite-fliers and more girls in skirts than in saris. People here, mainly Singalese, were taller than in Kerala. We met several Buddhist monks in saffran robes and walked as far as the US Embassy, where we noticed that the gates had been reinforced - probably as caution for May Day. We briefly visited a couple of spice and ebony shops, noted some massage parlors charging R 30, then turned landward ("mauka") along a cool lane with large stately houses and turned along a lagoon with a Buddhist temple on an island in a pond and some recreation park. We found our way back to the coastal boulevard where we each had two tiny icecreams, bought a dozen postcards, then got back to the hotel tired and sweaty, to enjoy a shower and , for me, a generous sprinkling of Johnson babypowder on a chaffed spot not to be identified We had a chat with some other guests over tea and went to bed around 22:00 by which time a fog had developed outside. The place smelled a bit sour, and there were several insects to help keep us awake.

During the walk, I had taken three profiles on a rather dirty medium to coarse grained Colombo beach, open and unprotected:
EMP 80430-01 - 80 ft x 6 ft = 39.4 g i.e. 21.5gm-1
EMP 80430-02 - 70 ft x 5 ft = 93.6 g i.e. 61.4gm-1
EMP 80430-03 - 60 ft x 5 ft = 17.0 g i.e. 11.1gm-1

Map of
Pettah Market
by Greg Elms
by Lonely Planet

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