Serendip - the land of smiles
Dear blaze readers, we're deep into our Asian adventure and there've been magical moments.
Poor Will has come done with a heavy head cold. Was it the torrential downpour or standing jammed into a crowded 3rd class railway carriage for an hour? Thus our customary perspicacity, not to mention perspicuity, may be lacking.
Our first stop was KL. Hotel Capitol, listed on the queer website Utopia, was indeed capital. Superbly located in the Golden Triangle, it's just steps away from the wonderful al fresco dining street Jalan Alor, myriad shopping options and gay venues Frangipani Bar, Day Thermos Sauna and Blue Boy Disco. Naturally I dispatched Will on fieldwork. He reported good patronage and even acquired overnight companionship. I'm terribly accommodating of course. In this overwhelmingly Muslim country with anti-gay legislation, this lively gay scene and accepting attitude to a same-sex overnight guest was indeed heartening.
And so to Sri Lanka. We've toured a number of Asian countries in the past few years as you know and feel reasonably attuned. Sri Lanka's been a bit of a culture shock, especially relating to transport. There's unrelenting, tooting traffic and movement; myriad crowded local buses constantly hurtle by. Oh, the hustle, the bustle, the chaos of bus and railway stations. It almost overwhelms. Will had thought we might attempt several journeys by intercity bus; but when we visited the bus stations I 'drew the line' and ordered car and driver!
We've managed two second class train journeys. With allocated seating it was reasonably commodious and a joy to just thrust one's head out of open windows, to catch the breezes and watch the long train weaving its way through the lush countryside.
Our visit to Sri Lanka's most celebrated architect Geoffrey Bawa's (a gay man of course) Kandalama hotel was special and worth every carat of its 5 stars. Stretching a kilometre along a rocky outcrop in the heart of a jungle its setting is spectacular and the infinity pool to die for.
From a gay perspective Will's fieldwork hasn't been fruitful. He'd selected a hotel in the Fort area of Colombo because of its proximity to an al fresco meeting spot. Disappointingly the subterranean facility was under reconstruction and devoid of action. His effort to locate the mixed disco, Lush, were similarly frustrated.
Dear readers, it's truly a 'Land of Smiles'. We've been impressed by the cheerfulness and helpfulness of people. Certainly there are touts, but they're just trying to make a living in a tough environment. Folk of all ages, even the ubiquitous police, military (armed with weaponry) and troops of adolescent schoolgirls (dressed in pristine white) meet one's gaze, smile and greet. This rarely happens in our culture, surely a lesson for us Westerners.