Column #29 Colombo, Sri Lanka
December 1, 1996
Colombo, Sri Lanka
The next time you head out to find your neighborhood darts bar closed for the night, and decide you don’t want to drive across town, hear’s an idea worth considering.
Well, perhaps not…
Go to the airport and plop down about $3,500 for a round trip ticket to Sri Lanka. If the guy at the counter has never heard of the place you’ll know you’re on the right track. Get on the plane. Watch a few movies. Have a half dozen beers. Sleep for about sixteen hours. And you’ll be in business. And, at the end of the day you’ll have saved yourself a drive and the cost of overpriced beer that seems to lurk everywhere but your regular pub!
If you ever collected stamps as a kid you’ll know Sri Lanka as the former Ceylon, the place with the exotic multi-colored triangular stamps. About the size of West Virginia, it’s that pear shaped island in the Indian Ocean just to the east of the southern tip of India.
Centuries ago, Cleopatra and Sinbad were captivated by the beautiful jewels to be found here. Today it’s the home of more flowering trees and poisonous snakes than anywhere else in the world. And, since the mid 1980’s it’s been the site of an on-again-off-again civil war between the Sinhalese Buddhist majority and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Nowhere in my travels have I been searched as thoroughly and as often as I have been here the past few days.
If darts is your game your first stop should be the capital port city of Colombo on the western coast of the island. In fact, if it’s darts you’re looking for this is the only stop worth making in the country. Check out the board at the Regency Pub next to the Hotel Omega Inn (324 Galle Road). The set up is poor (no light, no oche, no place to chalk) but the board is decent and the place is located in a safe area of town. I managed to pick up a few games of ’01 with the bartender here, a girl named Nilmini Manine. She suggested another venue, the Berjaya Mount Royal Beach Hotel in Mt. Lavinia (at the northern edge of the city). I stopped in and found a dilapidated cardboard circle nailed to a wall by the swimming pool. Ugh.
So I headed to a town called Kandy in the center of the island. Before leaving the States I’d received a tip from the Internet’s “alt.sports.darts” newsgroup that there was an excellent place to throw at a resort near here called Hunas Falls.
Only the drive was worth the effort. The journey was dotted with terraced rice fields, rubber and coconut estates, waterfalls and cool tea plantations. Occasionally we paused to watch as monkeys darted across the winding mountain roads. After a three hour drive I arrived at the Hunas Falls Hotel, a veritable Shangra La hideway on the peak of a spectacular mountain crest set against a pristine mirrored lake and the cascading waters of a waterfall. But there was no dartboard! Just a giant snooker table. What a waste of space.
So I headed back to Colombo. Packed my bags. And flew on…
The next time I find my neighborhood darts bar closed I think I’ll just drive across town and pay the extra quarter for a beer.
From the Field,
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