Friday 22 March 2013 – Kandy.
Benne and I had decided not to have breakfast at the guesthouse as it just seemed so expensive compared to what we could get on the street, so we arranged to meet at 8:00 at head on out. For a change I had a great and fulfilling sleep; not waking until 7:00, it was so nice to wake feeling almost refreshed. It is a lot cooler here in the Sri Lankan hill country so the night was quite pleasant, cool and quiet and with so few mosquitoes I did not bother using the net either.
We walked down the hill from our guesthouse, past the ragtag collection of tuk-tuk drivers waiting to pick up travellers with their heavy packs on their way to the bus or train station – or the lazy who cannot walk the one and half kilometres into town.
The lake was looking lovely in the early(ish) morning light, but with rush hour on the road behind us it was a noisy and fumey walk into downtown Kandy. Kandy is Sri Lanka’s second largest city and the most important Buddhist centre in the country, with the Temple of the Buddha Tooth Relic attracting large crowds daily.
The ancient bath house.
The golden roof of the Tooth Relic Temple.
On the way into town yesterday Benne had spotted a restaurant with a large “Munchee” sign outside, as it was only a couple of hundred metres up the main road from the temple we decided to check it out for breakfast. Munchee is a massive snack food brand in Sri Lanka and Benne’s day pack seems to always have some of their product buried in it somewhere, snack time has been renamed ‘munchee munchee time’.
I had a curry roll, egg roll and a muffin for breakfast – all washed down with a reasonably tasty but worryingly gray cup of milk coffee and a bottle of water. It was so ridiculously cheap, and not bad either!
We went for a walk up the main street for a bit and I had a good laugh as this bus got stuck trying to take the hairpin outside the main mosque. The hill country seems to have a larger, or at least more obvious, Muslim population than the more northern ‘ancient cities’ area.
I also found a piece of graffiti on a wall that was in English, hardly street art, which there has been none that I have seen so far, but some self expression is good !
We soon found ourselves back at the Temple of the Buddha Tooth Relic; where once I had zipped the lower legs on my trousers we went in for a look. The site was a lot larger than I expected with a number of side bits and pieces to look at, including this large Bodhi tree which we went and sat at for a while.
Surprisingly in the grounds there was also a small Hindu temple and a large Christian Church.
Eventually we braved the crowds, paid the entrance fee and entered the Temple. The temple itself is hard to define as it is a building within a building and has been burnt down, ravaged, damaged and eventually bombed in 1998 during the civil war. The tooth relic itself is contained within a golden casket under strong security. The tooth was supposedly rescued from the funeral pyre of Buddha in the fifth century BC finally arriving in Sri Lanka eight hundred years later. It has been kept in various holy locations since then arriving in Kandy in the sixteen hundreds when the fist temple was built.
We decided to not queue and walk past the window which the tooth casket is behind but just stand back and look over peoples heads – easy to do when you are taller than most people !
I then tried a little slow-mo stuff when I saw this boy offering a prayer.
We spent a fair amount of time in the temple and grounds, much more than I expected and it was most pleasant.
We walked along the lake side for a while, stopping to look inside the old bath house, which i am assuming is still being used.
We decided to walk up town and find the Muslim Hotel Restaurant as we were going to try it for dinner and wanted to get an idea of where it was before dark and also to get to the train station and organise tickets for tomorrow when we head to Hatton. I found this tuk-tuk on the way, magic!
After queuing for a while at the station we found there were no seats to Hatton at all. Hatton is the nearest station to Adams Peak, a very holy place in Sri Lanka and our intended destination tomorrow. I had kind of not really factored in the fact that tomorrow is the weekend and it is still pilgrimage season to Adams Peak, so it will be really busy. We will have to try and get a bus in the morning, it could be an interesting ride ! I did book us some accommodation later in the day though, just in case.
We took a tuk-tuk from the station to the botanical gardens which are six km from town. It was a nice afternoon for a walk in a park and Benne was keen to have a look. I loved these amazingly bent fur trees, I have never seen anything like them before. There were also hundred of large fruit bats hanging in the tress, some were quite massive and would occasionally fly between the trees. I have never really seen bats flying out in the open in the middle of the afternoon before.
The park was great, loads of kids in school uniforms on school trips and almost as many courting young couples walking on the shady paths. After the park we took a tuk-tuk back to the guest house and the driver asked if I was Benne’s dad, we had a good laugh, though his dad apparently is not much older than I am…
I spent the late afternoon doing the usual over a glass of beer and then we walked back into town to the Muslim Hotel restaurant. The view from the guest house deck.
I had an egg Kottu, which is basically a roti with egg and vegetables all chopped up, I had never had one before and it was damn fine, this was washed down with my first mango lassi for a while, which was only average compared to some I have had. The food was damn god, far superior to last nights meal and almost a third of the price. The waiter in the restaurant also asked if I was Benne’s father, a worrying trend. I may shave tomorrow and get my youthful good looks back…
On the way back to the guest house I bought a half bottle of Sri Lanka’s finest whisky – Old Keg. It is just passable, but not as a whisky 🙂 I did get this blog post completed while sampling it though.
Benne found this large spider in his bathroom just after we got back. i got rid of it with harm to either me or the spider.