Monday, 17 March 2014

First Stop: Colombo, Sri Lanka

Three decades after my first visit to Sri Lanka, we are back for a tour of the cultural triangle, including Colombo, Dambulla, Anaradhapura, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Galle (including a side trip into Yala National Park for two days).
Though Colombo looks just as chaotic (even on a Sunday) as it did 31 years ago, the skyline has changed, with dozens of new hotels, a towering World Trade Centre and a better road system. On my first visit in 1983 the taxi bringing me from the airport had to stop on the side of the road to let a group of elephants cross. No chance of that happening now as there's a new toll motorway directly linking the airport to the city. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the island has changed...

Doorman in colonial uniform at the Mt Lavinia Hotel, Colombo.
Shallow DOF with a Canon EF24-105mm f4
"Welcome Sir, to the Mount Lavinia Hotel. Please enjoy your stay..."
Even shallower DOF with a Canon EF24mm f1.4
Local transport, the ubiquitous  Bajaj, made in Colombo. HDR, Canon 24-105mm
'Monster' bajaj. HDR Canon EF24mm
Buddhist effigy in the Gangaramaya temple, Colombo
Buddhist effigy in the Gangaramaya temple, Colombo
Buddhist effigy in the Gangaramaya temple, Colombo (Yes, that's a stuffed elephant in the background).
Buddhist candles lit in the Gangaramaya temple, Colombo
Though a bit kitsch, the main Buddhist display in Colombo's Gangaramaya temple, is quite spectacular. It's also a sign of things to come on our tour of the island - its many Buddhist temples are famous for their collections of brightly coloured (gaudy?), often quite gory depictions of Buddha's life and the penalties inflicted on those that do not follow a true path to enlightenment...
I liked this shot best as it is simpler (less in the frame) and shows something of the intricate designs painted on the Buddha's feet and hands. Canon EF24mm 1.4 lens.
More detail of the Buddha statue - this was a White Balance nightmare with fluouro, incandescent and mercury vapour lighting all in the same room. Surprisingly Auto WB still produced the best result...
The Gangaramaya temple also has a strange collection of artifacts in its possession, including this ancient Mercedes and the Rolls Royce parked next to it with its rego sticker stamped and signed from a post office in Sussex?
That would be quite a story in itself...
Another curious room in the Gangaramaya temple, Colombo.
This contains heaps of eclectic junk, some of it interesting but most of it only fit for a garage sale: old wristwatches, a slide projector, candle sticks, vases, lampshades, old telephones, Buddha images and even an old printer's copy camera setup.

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