Thursday 21 March 2013 – Kandy
Last night I bought a couple of beers in one of the local beer bars. I bought a couple of the normal strength Lion lager which has been my usual brew in Sri Lanka. I also picked up a can of Barons strong lager at 8.8% strength to see what it was like compared to the dreaded Carlsberg Special Brew, a beer I haven’t had for many years. It wasn’t too bad, but I could feel the chemicals thrashing around in my head when I woke this morning. It took me a while to surface and I was a little late for the 8 am breakfast we had booked. I don’t think the guesthouse staff like it if you are late !
We breakfasted again in the tree house and once the other couple had left I had Benne take a photo of me with the rock behind. The tree house was a cool place to hang.
We are going to head to Kandy today with a stop at some cave temples in Aluvihara on the way to make the day more interesting. Kandy is in the south mid-land hill country and I intend on spending most of the next two weeks in the hills, though intent does not always match reality of course.
After breakfast we packed up and the guesthouse organised a tuk-tuk to take us the ten or so kilometres to the main north – south highway so we could get a bus. Surprisingly the tuk-tuk driver told us a price less than we were advised it would be – bonus !
We waited at the bus stop for about twenty minutes and true to form the tuk-tuk drivers were trying to get us to take a ride into Dambula as it would easier to get a bus and we would get a seat. One guy came and told us there were no buses to Kandy for ages, and true to form one arrived thirty seconds later, though there were no seats left when we got on, but Benne got one soon after. There were definitely no seats at all by Dambula and the bus was packed for most of the rest of the journey
The ride was your normal Asian bus ride, the driver only knew two speeds, flat out or heavy breaking, we even skidded to a stop a couple of times ! It was a full body work out for those of us standing. With the help of a passenger, who I initially thought was a miserable git and the conductor we got off at the right stop near the caves at Aluvihara.
The caves at Aluvihara were where the Tipitaka (sort of a Buddhist bible) was first written in Pali back in the first century BC. The original copy was then destroyed by the wonderful British back in 1848 when they burnt the library here.
The caves are also famous for some paintings of scenes of sinners being dealt to in hell, though Buddhism itself does not really have a hell. The dates of these paintings is in doubt, as seems to be most things about them, though they are not recent. They are so completely tacky, it was worth the trip.
If you follow the one true path you will of course be saved from those torments.
There were a number of other caves including the usual reclining Buddha.
On the hill side there was a large ‘golden’ Buddha statue looking down over the monastery and the small village nearby.
We visited the small museum and library, the library holds a more recent copy of the Tipitaka. After the British destroyed the original a new version was created from the memories of the monks who lived here.
The librarian shows us how they wrote the document on the dried and polished palm leaves. First the text is inscribed using a needle type implement.
And then an ash and oil mix is rubbed in which fills the marks left by the needle. The document was then wiped down with rice flour to clean the ash residue off.
For the princely donation of $2NZ I have my name on a piece of palm paper.
We caught a tuk-tuk to the larger town of Matale up the road toward to Kandy so we could get lunch before boarding a bus there. It was refreshing to be in a small rural town where you have to find a tuk-tuk and then they immediately quote you a price that is reasonable ! We bought some vegetable stuffed roti before managing to jump on a bus as it was about to leave Matale for the 30km ride to Kandy. It looks like they must have had to widen the road through here at some stage, or are about to do it again as all the shops and buildings had the front removed, amazing.
By the time we left town the bus was packed and the conductor was not happy with our packs being in the aisle, but there was nowhere else to store them and we were not going to let him put them right by the back door… The bus driver was the craziest yet, he was of the ‘go hard or go home’ type, pedal to the metal all the way, and so heavy on the gears! I took a photo as I thought the bus was looking full, and then we stopped outside a school and picked up a massive bunch of kids, they were rammed in everywhere, though fortunately not for long.
We arrived in Kandy mid-afternoon and took a very expensive tuk-tuk to our guest house for two nights. The town of Kandy is quite ‘pretty’, the centre is based around a man-made lake with tree covered hills on most sides. There is a road full of guest houses and we are most of the way to the top, so we have a great view of roofs and wires and a very large crane !
I just did the usual afternoon – blogging, washing, relaxing until dinner. We ate in the guesthouse but it was quite expensive and not as good as it had been rated sadly. The good news was I slept like a baby for a change, so nice to be in a cool environment up in the hills.
I am now starting to wonder if there is some sort of power point conspiracy in Sri Lanka. This one was not so high up the wall, though I had to gaffer tape it to the wall otherwise it kept coming loose. It was so far from the bed I had to sit on the floor to use the laptop plugged in….
I have not linked a Youtube clip for ages, but I have this song bouncing around inside my head. From 1980 something, Bow wow wow – I want candy!