Monday, October 02, 2017
Colombo II: Night Walk
I slept like a baby throughout the night. Threw off the luxurious linens and freshened up. Breakfast was served at GRAZE Kitchen, their all-day dining restaurant. Lovely as the spread was, I didn't get to enjoy much of it on the first day. At the restaurant, we met the main contractor of the project and my client's CTO. They were there to socialize and get my CEO up to speed on the baseline of the project, and customer sentiments. That was just the pre-meeting. At 9:30 AM, our client drove us to their headquarters just ten minutes away from the hotel. Not that it was far, it was just the traffic. To formalize things, the CTO kicked things off by introducing us to his project team, who over the course of the day, aired their grievances. Our role was neutral, as we were supposed to listen to all sides of the story. During the lengthy meeting, they plied us with passion fruit juice, an interesting choice.
Our client treated us to a quick lunch at Goodies, Cinnamon Lakeside. They used a van to send us there although it was just a few steps away. By the end of the day, we had collected much information, but some of it was also quite alarming. We walked back to the hotel, taking in the pulse of the city. Our first major lesson was about crossing the busy the roads. Basically, they do not use traffic lights. There's just a pole with a flashing light at the crossing. Supposedly, the vehicles are supposed to stop when a pedestrian steps on the road. Being Malaysians, our faith was a bit shaky, but in the end, we just followed what the locals did. Passed by Secretariat Halt Railway Station which was just beside a big stupa. In no time at all, we reached back at Hilton Colombo.
Rested a while before dinner. The main contractor brought us to Colombo Swimming Club, a colonial era club that has a 75 year history. From the name, you could guess that it should have a pool, but it's actually being dug up for the Port City project. The club has an excellent view of the Indian Ocean (best at sunset, but it was inky black when we got there), and that view is occasionally punctuated by a passing train. We dined under the night sky, boozing on Sri Lankan Lion Lager. Lotsa spicy stuff, mostly deviled this and that. LOL. Our host kept plying us with booze and food-- try the crab, try the fish and chips, how about whisky? The Colombo Swimming Club also offers lodging in the upper floor. A room with an ocean view would be amazing.
My CEO was feeling the super sinful after all that food, so he suggested that we walk back to the hotel. We took a leisurely 3-KM stroll along Galle Face Green, an ocean-side urban park. Unfortunately, it was too dark to see anything. Just took in the sounds of the ocean. A great way to experience Colombo.