Excel World is a dying hulk of an amusement park, but the bowling alley within is still fun. Strikes is a 12-lane bowling alley that also serves food and drink. It’s nothing fancy, but the machines work and it’s still one of the few leisure activities available in the city.
It costs Rs. 350 per person, per game, which is ten frames. You get to throw about 20 balls, more if you get strikes. A game is best played with four people, but you can get multiple lanes. Bonus fact, they serve beer after 5 PM, for Rs. 1,400 per pitcher.
If you’re in Colombo and wondering what there is to do, there actually aren’t too many options. You can sit and eat or drink, but it’s usually hot outside and the city doesn’t offer much in terms of activities, besides shooting pool.
Excel World used to be full of activities — laser tag, amusement park rides, video games, what-have-you — but they’ve all kind of aged (and the laser tag is gone). Bowling, however, remains a relatively simple pleasure, and that means that the alleys are still busy. It’s very light exercise in air-conditioning, making it an ideal tropical sport.
Where I grew up in Ohio, bowling was actually a part of the school curriculum. They took us out of class to learn. I still suck.
The basic requirements for the sport are polished lanes, different weights of balls, pin-collection machines that work, and a method of scoring. Strikes has all of the above. There’s nothing spectacular at work here, but the scores are correct and the pins reset and the lights generally stay on. You can play a game without interruption.
The lanes here are smooth, they have balls ranging from 6 to 12 pounds (or thereabouts), the pins are mostly collected properly, and the digital scorecards — though you have to squint to read them — keep automatic track of everybody’s scores.
Once you get into it, bowling here is quite fun. The sport itself is simple enough that anyone, young or old, can play it. But it still requires enough skill to be competitive. Scoring bowling can be a pain, but since it’s automatic here you don’t actually need to know the rules. They also automatically track how fast you’re bowling, which is a fun metric (try to beat 27 km/hour, not that this is the point).
One weird thing is that while they seem to have bowling shoes, you are also allowed to just bowl barefoot. This would be viewed as insane in a Western context, but here our construction workers wear flip-flops, so whatever. I find this preferable to wearing shoes other people have worn.
To be honest, I just had a bottle of water. The food is the of the fried and oily variety — french fries (Rs 280), hot butter cuttlefish (Rs 590), triple-decker sandwiches (Rs 430) etc. Interestingly, the food is all named after movies, so you’d ask for the Scooby Doo french fries, the Interstellar HBC, and the American Sniper triple decker. What any of these mean is beyond me, but at least it tells you how recently they’ve changed the menu.
Strikes is a fun afternoon or evening out. The facilities aren’t top-notch, but you can play the game and enjoy yourself. Good for dates or family outings.