Many guests of Colombo will remember the noisy Bastian Mawatha Bus Station in Colombo, though not knowing this name. It’s just south of Central Bus Station, supplementing it, at the opposite side of the main road called Olcott Street. Buses to southern parts of Sri Lanka and most city buses start at Bastian Mawatha Station.
This dusty crowded bus station has not been the neatest part of Sri Lanka. But here, in the very centre of Colombo, in the immediate neighbourhood of the Colombo Fort Railway Station, in between bus station and railway lines, there is now a quite smart new shopping mall, which actually is a new attraction of Sri Lanka: a floating market. It is part of the city beautification program and a project developing Bastian Street as a green environment.
A part of the Beira Lake, the basin paralling Bastian Street and railway line, once infested with algae and full of rubble, has become Sri Lanka’s first loating market on a branch of the Beira lake facing the Bastian road. The complex has about 100 stalls which sell local goods including vegetables and handicraft and. Some old but worn-down abandoned buildings have been integretated. The area also has restaurant and public convenience facilities.
This is a pleasant kind of tradtional shopping mall in a modern environenment, visited by locals in the first place. But it’s a new tourist destination, too. Many private travellers coming to Colombo’s bus stations for a stopover will appreciate the new setting. And the local ambiente really makes a difference, if you compare it to Thailand’s floating market’s that are 100% tourism industry fake. The Colombo floating market may be not really show trade from boat to boat or from boat to stall, so the term “floating market” is a little bit misleading. However, it’s a place to see genuine Sri Lankan market life and not only souvenir sellers. So have a look, when you are in Colombo!
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