We arrived to Sri Lanka at Colombo airport, the only way to enter to this island just south of India is by flight. There was a ferry before but it no longer runs. We decided to head straight to Kandy as we’d heard that there wasn’t too much to do in Colombo. We got a bus to Kandy, a short drive away from the airport in a tuk-tuk, Sara was lucky enough to get a seat but Jimmy had to stand half the way holding on for his life. Buses in Sri Lanka are driven by rally drivers that never made it, or at least that’s what it seems like. You also get a free movie or Sinhalese disco complete with surround sound. Our theory is that they put these distractions to divert your attention from the crazy drivers.
We were very excited because we were hooking up with an old friend and she had been travelling in Sri Lanka for a week before we got there so she gave us a lot of tips. She told us about a hotel in Kandy, the cheapest one she could find so we headed there. After being in India for 2 months Kandy seemed very modern to us. The city was very clean and people were obeying the traffic lights but we could still find similarities with India. It was early December when we arrived to Kandy and we were very shocked to find the place decorated with Christmas trees and all the shops playing the usual songs, even the shop assistants were wearing Santa hats!
Kandy is home to the famous temple Sri Dalada Maligawa also known as “The Temple Of The Tooth” which houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. Rituals are performed three times daily and we were fortunate enough to be there during one. It’s incredible how dedicated people are to religion, worshippers were there in the masses, praying and making offerings to the Gods. Unfortunately the Tamil Tigers bombed the temple in 1998 and you can still feel the paranoia in the air, there is a photography exhibition in side showing the damage caused by this.
Whilst in Kandy we visited the colourful and aromatic market where you can taste all kinds of exotic fruits as the vendors are very friendly and are always offering tasters. The market is famous for its spices, Ayurvedic products, batiks and traditional masks. It’s a good place to buy souvenirs and experience a Sri Lankan market.
Kandy is a very charming city and you can take a stroll around the man-made lake next to the Temple of the Tooth where you can see monitor lizards, turtles, turkeys, kingfishers and the funny monkeys that will rob you given the chance. Close by the lake you can enjoy the Ragahala Kandyan Dance at the Red Cross Hall. It’s a cultural dance and they also do fire walking at the end. For only 500 rupees you can enjoy an hour-long show, bargain!
We spent a few days in Kandy getting soaked by the rain and woken up daily by the local temple before deciding it was time to head up to the mountains…