I spent five nights in and around Colombo, Sri Lanka last July. It was my first visit to a country that had been through a recent war. In Sri Lanka’s case it was a civil war, and the resulting terrorism, that was on and off for the past 30 years. The conflict was finally settled earlier this year. Even though it’s over, the government maintains tight security around Colombo. There are numerous road side check points, all vehicles going into the airport (and my hotel) are screened, there are guards along the sea front at least every 100 meters, and more. I really wasn’t impacted by the security, except that I wasn’t able to use a camera in parts of the city – mostly around government buildings are other large institutions. Along the city sea front I was told I could only take photographs towards the sea, not inland. Photographing the guards was a no no. Not a big deal really. At roadside check points I was mostly waved through, but locals would have to furnish ID and sometimes get questioned. I guess that it is all necessarry, given what has gone on the past thirty years, and it was eye opening for me.
Having said all of that everyone moves around freely and I am glad that I visited. I never felt threatened or unsafe. It’s a beautiful tropical island and I wonder what it would be like if the last thirty years were different.
Most of the photographs that I took were at markets in and around Colombo. Some were taken at Negombo, a beachfront town about an hour north of Colombo, and Mount Lavinia, a beach front suburb just south of Colombo.
Here’s a slideshow of photographs taken around Colombo, Negombo, and Mount Lavinia: http://royivankoe.com/srilanka-colombo-negombo-flash/