As Melbourne opens up a Corona Virus cleansing team have begun a blitz, but who are they?

My news beat covering the Corona Virus over the past few months has meant I’ve spent numerous days walking through the eerily quiet streets of Melbourne. In the last month or so, teams of Hi-Visibility vest clad cleaning teams would be dispatched throughout the city and into the suburbs. It was obvious to me that many of them didn’t seem like the sort of people you would generally associate with such work, it was evident that this was a new form of employment and in all likelihood the only form available for most. Curious to this, I felt compelled to learn more about who these people were, there was more to this story than just an increase in the number of cleaners on the street.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MAY 28: Former tour guide Paul Guley holds a morning briefing with COVID-19 Cleansing Team on May 28, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

Under an initiative funded by the Victorian Government titled ‘working for Victoria’ councils were giving funds to employ via their contractors displaced workers to conduct a sanitisation blitz.

On assignment for Getty Images, I spent a few days with the Covid-19 cleansing teams in the City of Port Phillip in Melbourne inner city south-east, to learn about the makeup of these unsung heroes of the Pandemic in Melbourne. Who are they, where do they come from, how are they in these roles and why have they chosen to do it?

Some have come from all over the world, among them are recent Law graduates, Architects, International Students and displaced local workers from the tourism and hospitality sectors. Most of have fallen through the cracks of being eligible for financial assistance during Covid-19, there are also some who have chosen not to get financial assistance and just want to get back to work.

For 5 days a week, they navigate their way through the street of Melbourne walking over 15 kilometres a day cleaning and sanitising railings, playgrounds, bins, lamp posts bicycle racks and every other council amenity we may not even notice. All done enthusiastically and with a sense of duty to the community.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MAY 28: Helmut Prieto from Colombia sanitizes a public shower on the shore of Port Melbourne beach on May 28, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia.
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MAY 29: Julien Battut sprays sanitizer on a railing in Port Melbourne on May 29, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. Originally from France Julien formally a member of the French Army who came to Australia to work as a chef found himself unemployed and unable to access Jobseeker due to his immigration status, he took on the role to not only maintain an income but to help the community, he says “I love Australia and Melbourne, if I can help at this time I am to do so” . (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MAY 28: Julien Battut (centre) and Adhar Bol (right) discuss the planned cleaning route their teams will be taking throughout the day on May 28, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MAY 29: Suzanne Kerr poses for a portrait on May 29, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. Suzanne Kerr aged 45 was unable to claim Jobseeker as she fell one month short of eligibility. She a resident in the country town of Mansfield, she commutes back home by bus on the weekend while she works five days a week as part of the Sanitization team while staying overnight at a hostel. She says “I don’t see it as a big deal, I have to do what I need to do to get by, there is no work in the country”. She feels that those unable to find work need to look at all options and maybe get out of there comfort zone “It’s not fantastic but sometimes it’s a good thing to be outside your comfort zone but don’t give up there is hope”. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MAY 28: A cleansing team sanitize playground equipment in the suburb of Port Melbourneon May 28, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MAY 28: Former tour guide Paul Guley cleans play sanitizes play equipment at a childrens playground on May 28, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. Paul Guley was a former tour guide previously worked with a tour operator taking predominantly international tourist, as a result of International travel restrictions he was without work. He finds his new employment “enjoyable as it provides a community service and an opportunity to still stay fit”. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MAY 29: A COVID-19 Cleansing Team cleans bike racks as they walk past a COVID-19 Clinic in Port Melbourne on May 29, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

Words and Photos by Asanka Brendon Ratnayake taken while #onassignment for @gettyimages 

Asanka Brendon Ratnayake is a photojournalist and travel photographer based in Melbourne Australia covering Australia, Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Follow him on instagram 

Photo Essay : The Castle Hotel calls last drinks

The big multinational swallowing up the local watering hole is a common story all over the modern world, on February 29 in 2016, it was Sri Lanka’s turn. 141 years after its opening, the iconic Castle Hotel and Bar in Colombo, served last drinks.

The colonial building is believed to be over 200 years old and started its life as a printing press. When interviewed by Groundviews.org Hotel manager H.D. Mervyn Wickremesinghe believed the building became the castle hotel in 1875 which catered to international guests. In recent decades, the Castle has become the community bar to the local working-class in the area of Slave Island.

Castle Hotel Slave Island
A customer walks into the castle hotel.  On the 28th of February 2016 the Castle Hotel called last drinks. While the building itself may survive with the likelihood of being turned in into offices the last arrack’s have been served and last songs sung. One of the Colombo’s most iconic drinking spots has been closed.
Street Cricket Colombo
Men playing street cricket outside the Castle Hotel on Slave Island. The Castle hotel which operates primarily as a pub, very basic hotel rooms are also available upstairs. Next door to the Castle Hotel is a large apartment development being conducted by the Tata Group. After the acquisition of land by the Indian multinational conglomerate,  the hotels future has been uncertain.
Castle Hotel Slave Island
A person sits at a table in the foyer as a drunk man lays down passed out inside the Castle hotel entrance.

Of all the bars and pubs in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo there are few that match the character, history and working class realities of the emerging Sri Lanka than this iconic venue.
The colonial grand façade, imposing a Y-Shaped staircase at its foyer entrance, gives insight to the Castle Hotel’s ‘hey day’ which would have catered to foreign guests and troops during the World Wars.

Since then, the upkeep of the hotel has been in a decline and its character and charm representative of its predominantly working-class clientele. Loyal customers from snake charmers, tuk tuk drivers, low level office clerks and ironically, even the labourers working on the site that would eventually see the end of the bar, would be found having a drink at the Castle on most nights.

Monkey tamer and snake charmer
A snake being held by its charmer looks at a Monkey which is sitting on its owners lap as their owners have a drink and socialise inside the Castle Hotel.
Castle Hotel bar counter
Men lining up for drinks at the bar counter drinking at the Castle Hotel.
Castle Hotel Slave Island
Men sitting at a table drinking inside the Castle hotel which operates primarily as a pub or local drinking den, hotel rooms are also available.

The future of the hotel has been uncertain after Indian multinational conglomerate ‘The Tata Group’ purchased the highly valuable land to develop modern offices and apartment complexes. There were talks the hotel would remain in its current form, however, it was always going to be a matter of time before the last drinks would be served.

Beers were cheap, arrack plentiful and short bites, spicy. The resident stray cat would hunt around for scraps on the floor. Like any good pub, stories were shared, grievances voiced and opinions were made known in the presence of complete strangers. Drunks, alcoholics and general louts would be ushered out with some decorum and respect, when they had one too many.

Castle Hotel Slave Island
A man smokes a cigarette as he drinks beer at a table with friends inside the Castle hotel.
The Castle Hotel
Two men share a having a drink inside the Castle Hotel
Castle Hotel Slave Island
A man orders an arrack (local drink) at the counter inside the Castle hotel which operates primarily as a pub but hotel rooms are also available upstairs. Slave Island is home to numerous small houses occupied by some of colombo’s working class, as gentrification & development encroaches land in the now highly valuable slave island is slowly pushing out locals from the area. Slave Island is a suburb in Colombo, Sri Lanka located directly south of the Fort area of Colombo
Castle Hotel Slave Island
A man skols or drinks down a large large bottle of beer as a drunk man wearing a sarong walks past inside the Castle hotel

It recent years, this humble venue gained a reputation online as a ‘dodgy pub’ – though in my experience, you are more likely to find dodgier clientele and shady customers (for lack of better words) in the bars and clubs of Colombo’s 5-star hotels.

The Castle didn’t pretend to be something it wasn’t and it was, by far, more representative of Sri Lanka than the Westernised hotels down the road. Its guests were treated with respect and without the judgement they may experience outside.

As modern Sri Lanka rides the economic wave of a post-war economy, the consequence of gentrification emerges.

At the Castle hotel, what you saw was what you got, it was real and it was gritty, but it was honest.

Castle Hotel Slave Island
An empty room with a disconnected old TV set sits on a table inside the Castle hotel which operates primarily as a pub, hotel rooms are also available.
Castle Hotel Slave Island
A man walks into the main entrance of the Colonial styled Castle Hotel

Words and photography by Asanka Brendon Ratnayake.

Asanka Brendon Ratnayake is a photojournalist and travel photographer based in Melbourne Australia covering Australia, Asia and the indian subcontinent. Follow him on instagram 

(C) Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Photo essay : Sunday afternoon Muay Thai

Two fighters pray before the fight starts during a Muay Thai at Chang 7
Two fighters pray before the fight starts during a Muay Thai at Chang 7

Im currently in Bangkok covering the ongoing political situation, yesterday was one of the rare days that i didn’t have anything to cover so i used the chance to document a Muay Thai fight.

I wasn’t too keen on shooting the actual fights rather the atmosphere, the touts & the bookies. Spectators, mainly local men pack themselves into this tiny room, it’s akin to a stock exchange with bookies making hand gestures signalling odds, collecting & handing out cash with the ensuing angry punter demanding he got given incorrect odds. Fighters are blessed and a brutal battle in the ring proceeds. As enthralling as the action is inside the ring it’s equally so on the perimeter.

A Muay Thai fighter or combatant gets talked to by his coach during a Muay Thai or Thai boxing fight at Chang 7
A Muay Thai fighter or combatant gets talked to by his coach during a Muay Thai or Thai boxing fight at Chang 7

A Muay Thai fighter or combatant gets his gloves strapped before a fight by his trainers during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A Muay Thai fighter or combatant gets his gloves strapped before a fight by his trainers during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7

A Muay Thai fighter about to walk into the ring a fight with his trainers during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A Muay Thai fighter about to walk into the ring with his trainer during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7

Spectators and Bookies reading the fight list during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
Spectators read the fight list while a boookie in the background signals odds for the current match during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7

View of the ring during a Muay Thai at Chang 7
View of the ring during a Muay Thai at Chang 7

A spectator looks at a piece of paper with the draw card during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A spectator looks at a piece of paper with the draw card with betting odds written on it during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7

Two Muay thai fighters on the ropes during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
Two Muay thai fighters on the ropes during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7

Spectators celebrate the victory of a fighter during his Muay thai bout at Chang 7
Spectators celebrate the victory of a fighter during his Muay thai bout at Chang 7

A fighter showing some nerves amongst the crowd before his fight during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A fighter showing some nerves amongst the crowd before his fight during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7

A bookie holds onto a note pad with bets placed during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A bookie holds onto a note pad with bets placed while standing next to a punter holding onto his cash during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7

Men who have placed bets on the fight count their winnings during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
Men who have placed bets on the fight count their winnings during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7

 

Supporter crew of one of the combatants celebrate as their fighter makes contact his opponent during a Muay Thai  fight at Chang 7
Supporter crew of one of the combatants celebrate as their fighter makes contact his opponent during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7

A punter exchanges money with a bookie during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7
A punter exchanges money with a bookie during a Muay Thai fight at Chang 7

 


<br

You can view more photos here http://tinyurl.com/abr-muay-thai

Where?
This particular fight took place at the Ch7 tv studio, however don’t think you will be entering a fancy studio cause it isn’t, it’s basically a bare concrete building with some metal stands surrounding the ring.
How to get there?
Take the BTS to Mo Chit, walk on the opposite side of queen Sirikit park walk towards Ratchadaphisek Road & turn right at soi Ruam siri mit. It’s about 150meters down the road. It’s not the easiest place to get to but just ask a local for ‘chang 7’ or ‘shadow box’ and they should put you in the right direction
Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 3.00.12 pm

How much & when?

Free…yes, Free Muay Thai in Bangkok!!

Every Sunday at 1pm

By Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Follow me on Google+