Negombo is strategically located close to the Bandaranaike international airport and is an almost mandatory stopover for most tourists arriving to/leaving Sri Lanka.
For me Negombo became the last stop of my Sri Lanka trip, after swapping Colombo (where I had originally booked for the night) for this smaller town 30Km north of the capital.
And on my last morning I set out to explore the town, braving the sun and the excruciating heat – I wanted to see the Dutch Canal, the beach and the main fish market.
The Dutch Canal stretches from Negombo all the way to Colombo and some sections are relatively pictoresque because of the moored boats. But don’t expect anything reminiscent of Amsterdam: think more of canals in Vietnam or Thailand! Also there is a lot of garbage dumped along the banks, as well as piles of fishing nets everywhere, so walking along the path is at times not possible (and if your presence upsets the local dogs, you may have to retrace your steps and find an alternative route for different reasons!).
My favourite sight in Negombo was, though, the main fish market.
Spread over a very large area and stretching to the beach, it was very lively. It was chaotic. It was smelly and dirty. But it was authentic. It had all I was looking for!
I walked around for almost two hours, splitting my time between the market itself and the beach, taking photos of fish drying on the sand, men and women emptying the nets and folding them away, and a few more fishermen keeping busy with some line fishing. In the distance, several traditional Sri Lankan boats would enter the sea from the lagoon.
I was totally fascinated, this is the Sri Lanka I wanted to experience and I wish I could have stayed there all day!
On the way back to my guesthouse I walked past the lagoon, full of boats on their way to the open sea.
Then I stopped for my last fresh coconut, bought from one of the many roadside stalls. I sat there chatting with the coconut man for at least half an hour, while sipping coconut water and then eating the refreshing coconut flesh – savouring my last few moments in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka, a country so beautiful and with so much to see and do that I hope I will be able to visit again soon for more!