Colombo, Ceylon

Sunday, July 7, 1929 — 82° shade

Woke up this morning to find myself winding in and out of jungled hills. As it grew light, I could make out the dense jungles on either hand, and all almost entirely of coconut palms, tall graceful things. There were also banana trees, long twisted hanging vines, luxuriating ferns, and much underbrush in spots. Giant rocks protruding from hillsides added a picturesqueness to the scene. Everything was fresh and green. The jungles were everywhere. In places they had been replaced by fields of rice. Long vistas of terraced paddy fields swept back up a tree valley like a river, the flooded hills reflecting perfectly the images of the palms. Native huts of mud and whitewash, plaster, or reeds lay half-hidden under the heavy foliage. Hundreds and hundreds of coconut [Hall spells this cocoa-nut] lay piled in heaps under the trees; here and there a pond and once a flooded river flowing swiftly through the tree-gorge, dividing, reuniting, everywhere palm trees. Ceylon is called the Island of Palms.

The small towns and inviting bungalows we passed, even the stations, all had an air of cleanliness about them I have seldom seen in India.

I would swear the sun arose in the west today for a change; otherwise I’ll be darned if I ever see how we got to Colombo. We did, though, and about 8 AM, with me plenty dirty as usual. A tout [someone who solicits customers, votes, or patronage, especially in a brazen way] led me to the Hotel Metropolitan where I got a small room for Rs 4 a day with meals and afternoon tea. The place is OK and food pretty good—worth the $1.48 a day. I spent a long time in front of the mirror trying to salvage what I could of a once-decent complexion. A week of soot and dirt on the trains has done its work. After a shower I took a long walk around the fort, or the section where the modern and European businesses are all located. It is a nice place and very clean.

Spent all afternoon and evening writing eight letters and am now more than ready to turn in for some sleep. Hard day tomorrow trying to find a cheap way to Singapore and writing a few more letters and postcards.

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