Trying to keep up with everything that we do and post it all on here is going to be tough in Sri Lanka. There’s a lot to see in such a short time.
Anyway, on Sunday morning we left Colombo and headed to hill country, specifically to its ‘capital’, Kandy. Every tourist travelling to Sri Lanka will head here at some point, and we can see why. Beautifully situated in rolling green hills, with a man-made lake in the centre of it, the area has a nice little charming feel about it. Reminded me of the hill towns in India, full of spice gardens and tea plantations. Kandy is also known for the Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa) or as someone I met here cheekily called it, ‘the tooth fairy temple’. It’s Sri Lanka’s main attraction temple and it houses what is believed to be a relic of the tooth of the Buddha. We didn’t visit, as Sri Lanka is turning out to be quite expensive (well, not as cheap as India) so trying to only go to places that we really want to see.
The tuk tuk drivers here, and in Colombo, have turned out to be incredibly hard work. Haggling is a no-go, they just won’t back down. It appears their main aim is to just rip you off, more so than in India. It’s annoying because it puts a sour note on everything, I’ve muttered a few disgruntled swear words about them! It could be argued that we are quite happy to pay money for beer, but complain about £2 rickshaw rides, but hey…! We got told by ‘the boss’ of our homestay that a lot of them were on drugs and weren’t to be trusted! haha
Regardless of that we ended up booking a tuk tuk to take us to a few sites one day. Actually, he told us, he called the shots! First stop was a tea plantation and factory, quick whirlwind tour of how it all comes about, followed by a nice cuppa. Amazing tea, and interesting how many different types you can get from the same plant. The only thing I wanted to visit whilst in Kandy was its botanical garden, supposedly one of the best in the world (according to Sri Lanka’s tourist board anyway!). We ended up walking around for three hours but could have stayed longer, very lush, clean, green and well-maintained. Onto a spice garden next, which was a bit pointless because we knew everything after going to one in Kerala – the guide was impressed with our knowledge :). Final stop was the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha statue, erected in the early 1990s. One massive Buddha with spectacular views of Kandy and the hills.
After a morning of chilling and typing this post we headed on down to see some other bits and bobs in the area. I don’t think there is going to be anywhere in Sri Lanka that we’ll fall in love with because we’re hopping from place to place quite rapidly. Time isn’t on our side (30-day visa maximum here). Perhaps if we get tired (or sick) from the constant travelling and transport we’ll stay somewhere a bit longer – the coast no doubt. Steve keeps telling me (and it’s slowly getting hammered in) that it’s not all about ticking things off a list, and to just enjoy being here, but alas there is so much to see.
Our accommodation for the next few weeks is going to be mostly homestays as they seem to offer the best value for money, and usually get the best reviews on booking.com etc. Our homestay in Kandy was run by an elderly couple, the lady being quite stern at first but pleasant by the end of our stay. She mentioned how her husband had been in the Navy, hence all the memorabilia around the house. I explained that my Grandfather had been in the Navy too and sailed to Sri Lanka during WW2, visiting both Colombo and Kandy. She asked if he was still living, when I replied ‘no’ she said ‘well I’m sure he is proud that you came to the same place that he did’. A few tears in the eyes!! Whenever we’ve have had a beer in Kandy we’ve toasted to dear old Grandpappy Jeffs 🙂
As the food doesn’t seem to be that great in Sri Lanka (yet), we visited only ‘ok’ restaurants in Kandy. I doubt I’ll be continuing my brief restaurant reviews (if that’s what we call them) unless we find somewhere special. There’s only so many times I can type, ‘the food was better in India!’