I really liked Colombo, which might surprise a lot of people who have been there. Sri Lanka’s chaotic, sweltering capital has a shortage of things tourists enjoy, like museums, monuments, restaurants and bars. As a result, most visitors to Sri Lanka spend as little time there as possible.
Since I became interested in street photography, and since I moved to Bangkok, I now really enjoy visiting the metropolises of southern Asia. There was a time when I’d have shunned places like Yangon, Saigon, and Colombo, but now I really look forward to visiting busy cities.
I had two evenings available in the capital for street photography, and spent most of that time at Galle Face Green, a large open space sandwiched between downtown and the Indian Ocean. Galle Face Green is a great spot for photography – families frolic in the sea despite signs warning of poisonous creatures, kids fly kites in the open spaces, vendors serve up exotic street snacks, tourists drink beer from cans wrapped in brown paper sacks, and people of many races and religions walk up and down the sea wall waiting for the sunset.
I also went for a walk in the dense, noisy, and hectic streets of Pettah, visiting several mosques and markets. In the narrow streets of Pettah, everything must be loaded from trucks onto two-wheel carts to be delivered to the shops. Even though the guys unloading the trucks and pulling the carts looked hard, I was greeted with smiles, hellos, and requests for photos. Everyone was so friendly there I felt very comfortable taking photos of people who looked very intimidating.
I am sure that someday I will make it back to Sri Lanka and when I do I’ll spend several days in the capital city because even though it is hot and chaotic and lacks typical tourist sights, the people, energy and photo opportunities make it a great place to visit.
Do you enjoy visiting big cities or do you skip through as quickly as possible?
If you are interested in street photography in Colombo, this article by F.D Walker is essential reading
Street Photos of Sri Lanka by Dom and Liam Shaw