We visited the Tsunami museum at Parelyia, Telwatta almost by chance. It is half way (more or less) between Bentota and Galle in Sri Lanka. on the coast road (not the new Express Highway). Our guide offered us a dozen places (turtle farm, mask factories, gem 'superstores', etc.) that we should visit between Bentota and Galle.
We told him that we wanted to go (en route) only to the Tsunami photo museum and to the Maritime Archaeology Museum in Galle and the Rampart restaurant in Galle port
We recommend everybody to Google, check TripAdvisor (etc.) and make their decisions… and tell their guides where they want to go
Anyway we arrived at this rather inconspicuous bungalow on the side of the road, called ‘Tsunami Photo’
We went in, we looked, we were totally taken aback, we cried for an hour and we left… not knowing what we had just experienced
It is very difficult to describe our experience. We simply encourage anybody visiting Sri Lanka to visit this very simple ‘reality’ museum’ – photos.
Newspaper cuttings, children's drawings, please for help … capturing what happened when on Boxing Day in 2004. 40,000 people died in Sri Lanka, and a total of a quarter of million in all the countries of the Indian Ocean.
One of the most poignant anecdotes captured by the photographs is that of the train that was running on the line about 300 metres from the Ocean. After the first wave (there were two) the train stopped at Parelyia, Telwatta. Local people ran from the beach and boarded the train seeking safety. The second wave (at a height of the palm trees and telephone lines) crushed the train and killed almost 2000 people. The guard’s story (he helped people onto the train and he survived) is told in the museum.
When we left t the museum our guide offered us a tissue; he knew we were struggling to come to terms with our experience.
We are grateful to Kamani de Silva who looks after this museum and Jacky van Oostveen in the Netherlands (00310630266520 / email@example.com) for their work in keeping the story of the 2004 Tsunami alive
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