Sri Lanka – our final stop. How had this happened? At the start of the year we were basking in the smug glory of 5 months off work. Now, we had just 3 precious weeks left 😦 I can’t imagine any of you feel hugely sympathetic 😉
However all was not lost. For Sri Lanka is the land of sun, surf, smiley people and epic curry. We flew into Colombo and spent the night in a nice place with a sea view. After a hearty breakfast in the calm of a converted tea factory we headed for the local train station and CHAOS ensued. We had chosen the day before the Buddha’s birthday to try and travel to Kandy – apparently 90% of the Sri Lanka population also had the same idea! The 38 degree heat added to a sense of meltdown as we ventured off with our heavy bags to try and find a bus instead. Buses in Sri Lanka are a little different to the UK – for starters the doors are always open and people literally jump on and off as the thing is moving (young, old, male, female, they slow for no one). They are also never really full. There is ALWAYS room for one more!
So after 5 fairly hair raising and sweaty hours we made it to the city of Kandy. The first thing we noticed was it is a very attractive city. The main area is based around a lake and nestled into a number of small hills. It’s very green and has plenty to do and see – from temples and botanical gardens to viewpoints, tea factories and giant Buddha statues.
We had booked into a place overlooking the lake called Villa 49. We were met by our host (Jess and I have both forgotten his name – I’m sure you’re all itching to know so we’ll send an update when we remember 🙂 and shown to a giant, nicely furnished room with the air con set to freezing. Perfect 🙂
Arguably one of Kandy’s biggest draws is The Temple of the Tooth Relic. I quickly decided this would make a great name for an Indiana Jones film hence the title of this blog. We wondered there at sunset and again were joined by most of the Sri Lankan population. The temple houses an actual tooth of the original Buddha and believe me when I say this tooth has had quite the history. It has caused fights, been taken by the British (surprise surprise), been moved around the country and had countless temples built in it’s honour. It is revered by the Sri Lankans and the queues to see the little golden temple it sits in were absolutely enormous (you can’t see the actual tooth – we can’t imagine it’s in great nick!). The dress, the music and the whole atmosphere there was pretty extraordinary!
We’d read that our hotel did excellent food and I’m happy to report that our fellow travellers on trip advisor were not wrong. Our first taste of proper Sri Lanka curry will stay in our minds for some time- healthy, delicious and vast quantities. Brilliant.
We had arranged a tuk tuk tour for the following day. Our friendly driver whizzed us around some of the sights I’ve mentioned with brace and poise – two crucial things for navigating Sri Lankan roads! The botanical gardens were incredible – loads of trees and plants, some native, some imported. We took particular note of the bamboo which was the tallest growing bamboo in the world – our friend Nalty has a strange obsession with the stuff so a selfie in front of it seemed appropriate. The giant Buddha statue was also a highlight – it sits overlooking Kandy and up close it makes the Statue of Liberty look like a garden knome. Impressive stuff. Our final stop was a tea factory – apparently tea is not made on the Buddha’s birthday so we didn’t see the machines working but it was fascinating nonetheless. Jess’ mum would have been in seventh heaven in this place – even she couldn’t drink all the tea they had on offer here.
We ate another sublime meal at Villa 49 and got really keen the following morning and went for a run round the lake. I don’t get the impression Sri Lankans exercise for fun. We got some pretty unusual looks from passers by as we jogged along. Or they may have just been concerned for our well being given how much I was sweating. We didn’t stop to ask.
So all in all Kandy was fantastic and highly recommended. And just in case George Lucas or anyone else involved in the Indiana Jones franchise is reading, I want crediting if you decide on The Tooth Relic as the next instalment.