Tag Archives: sri lanka

Explore Galle Fort Sri Lanka

We didn’t make it to the Galle Fort until close to the end of our stay, but were glad we did go! The fort is located on a rocky peninsula that juts out from the city of Galle. Only about 35 km from our place in Weligama, a motorbike ride was around an hour away. 

If you don’t want to ride a motorbike around Sri Lanka – which is understandable – Galle should still be easy to reach via train, tuk-tuk, or taxi. We got into an accident just days before riding to Galle, but to be honest, you might feel a little nervous with any of the transportation options. There are some crazy drivers on the road! Ultimately, we chose to go by motorbike because it was the most flexible option. 

South Coast of Sri Lanka

We set out for Galle around mid-morning with the intention of grabbing something to eat while in the fort. As usual for this time of the year, the weather was a little dreary but not rainy, making for a pleasant ride along the the southern coast of Sri Lanka.

Crossing the Bridge in Weligama Sri Lanka

The traffic wasn’t too bad until we were within a few km of the fort. Luckily, coming from the south you can get to the fort and avoid driving through the congested city interior; whereas through the north, you will ride through a congested city of over a hundred thousand residents.

Motorbiking The Sri Lankan Coast
Exterior of Galle Fort Sri Lanka

We crossed through the walls and parked in a small parking lot at the Ambalama in the northeast section of the fort. There is no fee for parking, and we had no trouble finding a space. We were visiting during the off-season though, so it may be more crowded at other times of the year.

IMG11391

Walking down the historic streets with no real direction in mind other than to find someplace to grab a bite to eat, the charm of the fort presented itself. Although the fort is over 400 years old, it still remains in good repair and continues it’s lively operations. The interior of the fort is filled with home stays, restaurants, religious and municipal buildings, museums, and residencies.

Road inside Galle Fort Sri Lanka

Our first stop was a unique, free museum that showcased various trinkets and artifacts from Galle’s past. While hard to get good information on many of the pieces, it still is very interesting. It also doubled as a jewelers and we were able to see some of the tools used to polish the semi-precious stones.

Free Museum Galle Fort Sri Lanka
Free Museum Galle Fort Sri Lanka Clocks
Free Museum Galle Fort Sri Lanka Artifacts
Raw materials at a Jewelers in Galle Fort Sri Lanka

Upon leaving the museum, we were really hungry so we stopped by the first place that seemed reasonable. The place seemed nice, and my food was pretty good – Fish and Chips – nothing special, but it was good. Bri, however, ordered garlic bread, and was very disappointed. I had assumed that she was just being a little picky, but upon trying it myself – no, it was just bad. Ultimately, the meal cost 1200 LKR (~$8.20) for us.

A Quick Lunch in Galle

This was a problem we encountered frequently while in Sri Lanka – poor food. Colombo impressed us with the quality and variety of the food we could get – offering a wide variety of Indian, Sri Lankan, and south Asian dishes. But as we progressed down the coast, we found the quality dropped severely. Fish was usually decent, but nothing catering to locals seemed to be great – cold, poorly spiced, very starch heavy, and lacking in fruits and vegetables.

We can’t be sure here, but it could be that many locals do not go out to eat frequently, and thus the local establishments cater to tourists who don’t know any better. More expensive eateries could have decent food, but you will pay around $10 for a meal that should have only cost around $4.

So while the meal was satisfactory for me, Bri was still feeling ravenous, and thus we made our way towards an ice cream shop we had previously researched.

Along the way though, we happened upon a few key landmarks, the first being the Meeran Mosque. The building does not look like a normal mosque, but rather more like a church. This is due in part to Dutch colonialism, which encouraged the more European style architecture that is prominent throughout the fort.

Mosque in Galle Fort Sri Lanka

The Galle lighthouse is directly across from the mosque sitting on the southern end of the promontory. We found a few vendors trying to sell trinkets, but unlike most touristy vendors, they left us alone which was nice. Instead, we were able to take in the views of Galle Bay and the lighthouse.

Galle Fort Lighthouse Sri Lanka

We were surprised that people were swimming in the jetties just below the wall. The water was rough in the bay, but the rocks surrounding the fort made for a safe place to swim.

Swimming Bay by Galle Fort Sri Lanka
Sea Wall Galle Fort Sri Lanka

After viewing the lighthouse, we returned to our previous goal of finding the ice cream shop: Dairy King. The shop features homemade ice cream, which was quite good. We each got our own, at 250 SLR each coming out to ~$3.41 total. I got coconut flavor, while Bri got passion fruit flavor.

We then wandered down Church Street, where we found a friendly – though skinny – cat that enjoyed our attention.

Dairy King Galle Fort Sri Lanka
Coconut and Passion Fruit Ice Cream
Friendly Cat in Galle Fort Sri Lanka

The fort was first constructed by the Portuguese in 1588, and was later fortified by the Dutch during their colonial period in 1649. The city of Galle itself however, has been acknowledged since at least 125 CE by Ptolmey as a major port for trade between Asia and Europe.

Ornate Door in Galle Fort Sri Lanka

Other Galle Fort Activities

Wandering the fort is a great way to spend the afternoon. We made a stop for some sunglasses, which Briana unfortunately lost on a previous outing. You can also find local artists from whom to buy paintings – which we did. Ultimately, we were tired and only intended for a half-day, so we went light on the activities. However, for those that are interested, you can check out:

  • The Dutch Reformed Church
  • Great Warehouse
  • National Maritime Museum
  • Old Dutch Hospital
  • All Saints Anglican Church
  • Clock Tower

Wandering, we eventually found ourselves back along the sea wall and ambled towards the ramparts that face the the city. The wind here was pretty substantial, which encouraged the locals to try to fly kites. Some of them were very big.

Indian Ocean from Galle Fort
Black Birds At Galle Fort
Along the Sea Wall at Galle Fort
Locals Launching a Kite At Galle Fort Sri Lanka

Sitting about twenty feet below the wall on the sea-side was a tomb as well. It is known as the Muslim Saint’s Tomb. I don’t know what else to say about it unfortunately, I am sure there is information somewhere, but what I can find is all in Singhalese.

Saint's Tomb Galle Fort

The ramparts give a nice, sweeping view of the area in front of the fort and the sprawl of Galle before it. We enjoyed the overlook before finally heading back to the motorbike to make our way home. We decided that we didn’t want to risk driving at night again.

Galle Fort Wall
Clock Tower at Galle Fort

Ultimately, Galle Fort is a great place to visit if you’re in the South of Sri Lanka. And even if you’re up near Colombo, it is only a couple hour’s ride away. For those really wanting to experience Galle in a slow way, you can stay in a number of home stays within the walls of the fort for an authentic experience.

~K~

Bri in Galle Sri Lanka
Church in Galle Fort Sri Lanak
Monkey in Galle Fort
Leaving Galle

Rock of the Leper King, Weligama Sri Lanka

The quiet town of Weligama doesn’t offer much for the visitor to do aside from surfing and using the location as a home base for further exploring to places such as Mirissa, Galle, and Yala National Park. However, there are still plenty of smaller, more personable sites to view and explore. One of these such places that we decided to check out was the statue of the Leper King.

At first, we knew pretty much nothing about the Rock of the Leper King other than the fact that it existed and was carved in stone. When we looked up it’s location, google maps gave us a general location, but as we had come to learn, google maps isn’t always the most accurate in foreign countries – particularly those that are a little less developed.

Flowers in Sri Lanka

Getting To The Coast

Nonetheless, with our destination set, we set out for a walk to get to the statue. We began with our customary walk out of the residential road and across the bridge (which was under construction) over the river to the main road.

Local Houses
Stormy Skies in Sri Lanka
River Bridge

Coastal Walk

Once on the road we proceeded out towards the waterfront road, where we proceeded to walk the entirety of Weligama Bay. During this time, we passed numerous fish mongers, boats, shrines, surfers, and cricket players.

Empty Lot
Local Fishmongers
Outrigger Boat
Small Roadside Shrine

The sky was on the verge of storming nearly the entire duration of our walk, but this had become customary to us. We had arrived in Sri Lanka during the monsoon, and as such it rained most days. But coming from Florida, this really wasn’t a big deal – we’ve heard people complain about monsoon weather, but personally, I think it is actually nice (less tourists, and cooling rains – why complain?).

Stormy Skies
Local Durian Vendor

Just as we rounded the cape of the bay, we turned inwards back towards the main drag of Weligama. Along this road, at this point, though, things were far more relaxed and residential.


Taprobane Island
Briana On A Beach Ropeswing With A Local Friendly Dog
Old man pulling his cow.
Kapthurai Mosque Weligama

Turning Towards The Interior

We stopped by a small Buddhist shrine, but didn’t feel right entering because we weren’t properly dressed. A few locals outside the shrine urged us to go in and look around, but we still felt a little uncomfortable.

Grounds of the Buddhist Temple

Proceeding to enter at their behest, we were shot dirty looks by other locals inside the temple. We opted to simply wander the grounds for a few minutes but not intrude on the temple operations themselves. Shortly after, we left.

Shrine In The Buddhist Temple

Continuing along the road, we came upon numerous homes and buildings of seemingly no consequence. However, they all bore a authenticity that made our wandering all the more enjoyable.

Home in Weligama
Woman walking in front of her house
Victorian Architecture With Brilliant Foliage
Briana walking down the street in Weligama
Buddhist Temple Buddha
Weligama Post Office

Arriving At The Rock Of The Leper King

A long while later, we finally came to a fork in the road that I was expecting – near the train tracks and knew that we were close to the statue. A quick turn to the left, and proceeding across the tracks brought us to the entrance to the tiny park that held the statue.

Train tracks in Weligama

The statue was carved into a large boulder and stood a few feet above head height. The park was small, but offered a quiet respite from the going-ons about us.

Rock Of The Leper King Weligama Sri Lanka

Known locally as Kusta Raja Gala or Rock of the Leper King, it depicts an ancient king stricken with Leprosy. The king was instructed to drink coconut pulp for three months to cure his disease. The “cure” worked and the statue was built to commemorate him.

Rock Of The Leper King Weligama Sri Lanka

We stayed for a few minutes, before proceeding back towards our AirBNB. Of course, we were still a far from home at this point, with good walk ahead of us. We took a break watching some cricket players across the road.

Cricket Field

Returning Home

This time though, we proceeded to make our way through the heart of Weligama and the main city center. It was very busy, and aside from the cell phones, evoked the feeling of being in the 60s or 70s.

Weligama Town Center Seasonal Shrine Under Construction
Local Gas Station
Old Man In His Home
City Center of Weligama

The walk took us several hours, and we were quite tired upon arriving back to our AirBNB. As we’ve found elsewhere, a simple walk in “mundane” neighborhoods can offer more noteworthy experiences than typical tourist fare.

~K~

Walking Down The Street

Weligama Accommodation, Sri Lanka

We spent two weeks in Weligama, during which time we had our accommodation at WeereVilla via AirBNB. It was better than we were expecting and we had a pretty good time while we were there. We arrived in the late afternoon via the train and got a tuk-tuk to take us to our place for 200 LR (~$1.30).

Approaching Afternoon Storms In Weligama
Front Entrance

Upon Arrival

The home was situated back in a quiet street on the peninsula where the river makes a large S-bend before emptying into the bay. Here we could see the quiet life of the locals, and the many friendly yet stray dogs – and even puppies.

Our host Gihan told me that there was a superstition amongst the people that if you take care of animals, you will die – which is why there are so many strays in Sri Lanka, no one wants to die. He told me that while he doesn’t believe it at all and has tried on occasion to take care of the animals, the older generation holds firmly to this belief (we did not encounter this in Colombo).

Our Neighborhood Street In Weligama Sri Lanka
Neighborhood Strays

Living Spaces

The house and property itself was quite spacious, with numerous fruit trees in the yard including banana and avocado. The house was divided into three spaces: the family side, the upstairs, and the renters side. The renter’s side, which is where we were, had a fridge, a sitting area, and two bedrooms. The upstairs could be rented by room or entirely as well and contained a kitchen, although it wasn’t really prepared so we couldn’t use it.

Kitty by the stairs
Afternoon Rain

Food For Thought

Gihan also provided us every morning with a breakfast. It was quite nice to have breakfast provided for us, although it was much too big and heavy for us, as we’re not big eaters in the morning (though Briana is more so). In the end after discussing how it was too much for us, it just turned into banana and tea which we were perfectly fine with.

Morning Breakfast
Briana Working In The Morning
Morning Breakfast Laid Out

It was certainly difficult not being able to cook. The local food was cheap, but it didn’t sit quite right with us usually. Gihan would order for us what we wanted off a standard menu and it would come about 30 minutes later. We were provided with a bowl and knife to cut fruit though, which helped when we wanted a midnight snack. Sadly, our very weird and poor diet led to some health problems.

Menu

Beating the Heat

The property was not air conditioned, and it did get a little hot at times. There is little air conditioning in the country, so it’s not something to get particularly upset at. We had a fan provided so we made do. The much-needed mosquito net kept us protected at night.

Luckily, we also had internet for our work. We were worried at first because of data limits, but he had 60 GB of data to use for the month, and we realized that by being careful, we wouldn’t get close to hitting that mark.

Kyle Working At Desk
Our Sleeping Accommodations

The shower was cold, but considering how hot we were, we (or at least I) could adjust rather quickly to the temperature and enjoy the cooling affect. Briana was disturbed one time when fresh concrete suddenly came through the open-air window. This was the result of the owners doing repairs.

The Little Things

We also did not have access to a washer/dryer, but did have a tub to hand wash our clothes in. The biggest issue was attempting to dry the clothes. Because it rained so often and was so humid, it could take up to two days to properly dry in the sun. But again, it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

Briana Doing Laundry
Kyle Hanging Laundry To Dry

A Little Adventure

Gihan also lent us his motorbike on two occasions, one time to Yala National Park and another to Galle – despite us getting into an accident on our first outing, which was nice of him.

Weerevilla Courtyard

The place could get a little buggy, which was annoying. But we’d started to come to accept that is just the way of life in Sri Lanka.

Sometimes You Find A Millipede On The Floor
Bug In Sri Lanka

Talking with Gihan was nice. He actually got officially engaged on our last night in Weligama and had his family in town to celebrate. They had a BBQ, and I got to try some of their local fish (Mullet) which was delicious. He was attending, and finishing up University in Business and Hospitality at the time. The AirBNB / WeereVilla was his business venture, and I think he was doing quite well with his offers. At this moment, the residence up for sale, as he intends to move having now finished with school.

Sometimes There's A Cow In Your Path

~K~