We woke relatively late the next morning, hoping that the extra rest would help us both feel a bit better. Around 10, we dragged ourselves out of bed and had cold showers, a weirdly welcome relief due to the heat already making us feel lethargic and for Stu, a little bit fluey.
We decided that the day should be about two things; relaxing and eating some curry. We gained directions to the main food and drinks area of the town and headed out.
The first things we saw and smelt made us wonder if Negombo had been a wise choice of destination; the stench of sewerage and rubbish lingered amounts the car fumes while our eyes were greeted by piles of rubbish lining every alleyway and street, a dirty nappy becoming our marker for the turn we needed to get home. Emaciated cats and dogs lay idle in the heat, or rummaged through scraps at every turn.
Trying to remain positive we continued walking, figuring the mess was due to our guest house being slightly out of town. A 10minute walk saw us come to the start of the ‘tourist strip’, bright beach front hotels and restaurants, mainly serving western food with a small selection of ‘Sri Lankan specials’ tacked on almost as an afterthought. The prices here where definitely made for tourists, a curry would set back 8.5aud and a local beer 4aud. While not high for us, compared to other places in Sri Lanka it was quite steep. Despite this we found a quiet, well kept place called Bee Beach bar and restaurant and settled in for food and beers.
(Sri Lankans will usually panic that the food will be too spicy for you so unless you want really mild food, make sure to ask for it the way they eat it. Their local beer Lion brew is always the cheapest and it is actually quite a good beer on a hot humid day.)
After a day of relaxing we decided that it wouldn’t hurt to try and see the sites of Negombo. Our guest house owner suggested he take us by Tuk Tuk for 500lkr to the five main tourist sites. We decided that sounded like our best option so we jumped on board.
If you are wanting to go to a city for its ‘sights’, choose somewhere else. The canals where the fishermans boats rested after the morning fish, were choked by litter and thick sludge. The fish markets were rather interesting, but if you are not staying somewhere that you can cook you are just wandering around a bad smelling market for no real reason. Most of the religious sites we wished to see on the tour were closed due to the time of day (something our guesthouse owner failed to mention) so we could only peer in at them from behind closed gates. As it turned out, the temples and churches in Negombo pale in comparison to others in Sri Lanka, so they are not a must do anyway.
The inner city of Negombo itself also left us feeling underwhelmed. Noisey, dirty and crowded, it felt like a city that had developed so rapidly that its soul and culture had been left behind. Weary from the lack luster day, we headed back towards home, finding a small, relatively local family restaurant on the way where we tried biriyani. It was good, but we definitely found it quite a plain dish.
Day 3 saw us do much the same as day 1, eating and a few beers that night while watching a cover band.
Overall, Negombo proved a city that could really be left off the list for any traveller.