Dutch Courage On Derby Day

There comes a point in ones travelling life, when the actual travelling becomes tiresome. Packing your things, getting on X mode of transport for Y amount of hours, moaning about it and doing it all over again a week later to get to destination Z. I thought it was time to experiment with a different type of ‘travelling’, well this isn’t so much travelling, just living. That’s what has brought me back to Sri Lanka, so I can live here like a local, with the locals for Y amount of time and moan about it. Why Sri Lanka? It’s cheap, the food is great, it’s easy to get around, easy to get a visa unlike most of its Asian rivals, the beaches are beautiful and the Sinhala language is very simalar to Geordie. So back in the place I love with the one I love, and by that I mean an endless supply of Lion lager!

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The back garden

Just up the road from our modest beach house, well our acceptable four concrete walls with running water, is the town of Galle and the nearby Galle fort. Galle fort was built by the Portuguese in 1588 but was taken over by the Dutch from 1649. Galle itself is nothing more than a typical busy Sri Lankan town, but beyond the fort walls the clean and elegant streets look just like a hidden quarter of Amsterdam, minus the fishnet clad hookers and banana shows of course.

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Artist’s impression of the fort

Within the ramparts you can find a Dutch church, Dutch library, Dutch street names, Dutch hand grenade and plenty of colonial style hotels where you can prepare your own Dutch oven…

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Dutch reformed church

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Anthonis clock tower

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The British took over the fort in 1796, but all they left was this lousy postbox

Considered one of the finest examples of a European fort in Asia, the defensive walls were strong enough to withstand the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami when the surrounding settlements were totally submerged.

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Utrecht Bastian

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Meera mosque

Galle cricket stadium is situated with the fort to the South and the Indian ocean fringing both pavilion ends, making it one of the most picturesque grounds in the world. This is the pitch where Murali took his record breaking 800th wicket, straight arm or bent? Every yorker, googley and chinaman can be seen for free from the fort walls.

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The Galle fort ‘cliff jampaz’ as they are known, are a group of young daredevils who dive head first from the fort walls into waist deep water, obviously you have to pay them to do it. Click here to see a dive from Flag Rock bastion. Speaking of bizarre jobs, there is a guy who walks the entire length of our beach with a monkey and a python and charges unsuspecting Russian holiday makers a small fortune to pose for photos with them. I followed this guy for one hour and worked out he made about £10 per hour doing this, based on a 40 hour working week I calculated this amounts to almost £20,000 a year tax free – all for just walking up and down the beach with his pets.

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Dutch forts, stupid jobs and bastions to one side, the good thing about being a temporary expat is that you can drink in the British pub and watch live football, something that has been severely lacking in my backpacking life. It’s just a shame that Newcastle never fail to disappoint me wherever I manage to watch them after losing our second Tyne/Wear derby in a row…Ashley out!

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You’ll never find a Mackem in Sri Lanka!

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