I did not learn swim in a public pool or a school pool. Where I grew up as a child in Sri Lanka a swimming pool was quiet a luxurious thing. It was late 90s the first swimming pool was built in Ingiriya town. But we had river Kālu and some other water streams. During the monsoon flood water was a common thing. The Flood did not make me sad like most of kids in the neighborhood,
because as kids our imaginations were very limited on disasters due to the flood. We were very happy about the flood. The A8 road (Pandura –Ratnapura road) was affected with flood at many points. We took longer journey to go school, which made me happier or else we can skip the school for few days. It was a good play time in the flood water.
There were few houses whom they had canoes of their own canoes. In Sinhalese this was known as “Oruwa”those that had a canoe at home become very important. Boats are not very popular among Sri Lankan villagers. A traditional wooden canoe is commonly using in many parts of Sri Lanka.
What about those who don’t have canoe at home?
We had two options it was a time most of Sri Lankan vehicles used vehicle tires with a air filled tube. Tubeless tires were started using in Sri Lanka was no longer than ten years.
(Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka with canoe in his home town.this is a very common hobby for most of Sri Lankans. there are very popular song among locals canoeing with girlfriends in the moon light)
We will find a tire tube and jump to the flood or else we had our own way of making small raft. The materials were very simple banana trees are everywhere available. We used banana tree trunks connecting together as a raft .This is a very simple raft but this is the most valuable thing to the kids during the flood.
Some kids those who can have bamboo trees at their garden were able to made some sort of strong raft which can easily take 5-6 people together. But the banana trunk raft can only accommodate one or two.
With this raft we play everything, most of the time some sort of battle in the flood. None of us those days ever heard the sea battle between Persians and the Greeks, but we did play in the flood like Persians and Greeks. We never used life jackets but there were some kids who can’t swim. But we learnt swim in this flood water. In terms of safety what we did may be not correct, but I must say it was a good time we have spent as children.
When I grew up I understood the difficulties of the flood. As teenagers we did not have time to play in the flood.
At Bolgoda Lake there was couple of places that we can rent a boat. First time I rode a boat that was in Bolgoda Lake .Riding boat is not hard as riding a raft. But I feel riding a raft is more fun. Boat is very secured vessel when we compare into that simple raft. There is enough space to sit and comfortably enjoy the boat ride. I should say it a very subtle experience riding a boat on Bolgoda Lake in early morning.
But I must mentioned those who looking for something adventurous should go to Kithulgala.
Kithulgalla is world famous for its scenic beauty .There are is no point of being a Sri Lankan if you haven’t done white water rafting in Kithulgala at least once in our life time. But it is important to learn how to swim before you start thinking of white water rafting in Kithulgala.Swiming is not that hard thing to learn, we all know we have to get into the water to learn how to swim. It is applicable for everything not only white water rafting I guess..
In school time I was a member of school rowing club; well where we did practices mostly was on Berei Lake Colombo .The Colombo rowing club which has a history over 100 years, mainly based on Berei Lake. By the time the club started I don’t think the lake was that polluted. But when we start rowing it was very bad conditions. But In Sri Lanka as a sport rowing is bit expensive.it is not because that we don’t have enough lakes or water bodies in Sri Lanka it’s mainly because of the equipment cost.
We don’t produced rowing boats in Sri Lanka, everything is imported and government always imposing a huge tax on this equipment’s. Rowing is not widely popular among schools other than Colombo. One reason is the unreasonable expenses on equipment.
As Sri Lankans we don’t use boats or passenger carrier vessels very much. There were few attempts of introducing water based transportation to Colombo.
We had boat service from Wellawata canal to Nawala, but we Sri Lankans did not welcome it as expected. People preferred to use buses and spent time in the traffic. Also we have failed attempt of floating markets in Bastian canal In Pettah.
We never had a floating market culture such as Thailand or Vietnam. So when it suddenly changes things drastically Sri Lankans don’t welcome as the government expected. So our floating market becomes very dull place in the middle of crowded Pettah.
There are several places in Sri Lanaka using passenger carrier rafts Trough Rivers. In Sinhalese known as “Palam Peru”( = rafter which is like a bridge).But last few years most of places ware replaced by constructing bridges.
As an architect I got totally different experience about Rafters In construction .it’s different rafter which is meant to be very static. This is raft foundation. Raft foundations (sometimes known as Mat Foundations) are a large concrete slab which can support a number of columns and walls. The slab is spread out under the entire building or at least a large part of it which lowers the contact pressure compared to the traditionally used strip or trench footings. Because of the speed and volume of houses required after the Second World War, the raft foundation was widely used. The raft foundation was cheaper, easier to install and most importantly, did not require as much excavation as the usual strip foundations.
The site where I am working, have a raft foundation which is bigger than a football field. Still not completed, But I ll update in time to time.