Sri Lanka Ella to Kandy

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February 25th 2020
Published: February 25th 2020
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Saturday, 22 February, 2020

Move from Ella to Kandy today by train.

Heavy rain during the night. Woke at 7.00 am, stirred at 7.45 am and down to breakfast. Eggs, toast, roti, plenty of fruit and cups of tea.

Our train is 2.15 pm and check out is 12.00 pm. So when we paid our bill USD 39.12 (GBP 30.09) we asked about keeping the room for a little while. She said she had no booking for tonight, so no problem. We also asked them to book us a Tuktuk to the station.

We packed and showered and left the room at 9.30 am, for a last potter round Ella. Pat had seen a “Starbeans” she wanted to try. We found it and had a coffee and a coke. Then a meander looking in various shops. We walked down one road we hadn't yet and then turned back. Pat bought a top in a small shop and then back towards Ceylon Tea.

On the way the barbers looked empty so I went in for a haircut. Pat headed to the restaurant. Not long and I was done LKR 850 (GBP 3.65). I joined Pat and she had a non alcoholic mojito and I had a cinnamon tea. We shared a tuna mayo sandwich with fries. The staff are getting to know us in there. Back to the room for 12.00 pm.

Final sort out in the room. Our Tuktuk was arranged for 1.00 pm. so we started to move out of the room at 12.45 pm, and the Tuktuk showed up, good and early. Two suitcases and us jammed in, as always a tight fit, but doable, he charged LKR 200 (GBP 0.85) and this was our only tuktuk in Ella.

The train station was busy with people buying tickets, as well as catching trains and a train came in from Badulla while we were waiting. It was raining off and on.

Our train arrived at 14.15 pm, it comes in from Kandy and returns. So there is a melee on the platform, with people coming off and people waiting to get on. They clean the train, we got on and found our seats. Train left at 14.26 pm. Not as nice as the one before, but ok.

There were some families with kids making a fair bit of noise, but everything eventually settled down and at the beginning our tickets were checked three times.

The bus equivalent journey takes 2 and a half hours. The train takes 7 hours. The train weaves through the hills, which are covered in acres and acres of tea bushes. The weather was on and off heavy rain, we were in the clouds now and again, so overall visibility wasn't good. We are about 1900 metres up.

The conductor chap came to individuals to tell them their station when they were due to get off, which is a good idea.

We arrived at Kandy railway station and after following everyone else and a little figuring out, we ended up in a taxi for LKR 200 (GBP 0.85) to the hotel.

The hotel staff were very welcoming and we had a watermelon drink on arrival. Up to the room and straight out for some food. We were looking for a shop to buy bits and pieces, but ended up in a Domino's pizza. It was a little confusing at first, because when I ordered a medium size he said they didnt do them, only large. When I walked away he then said they did a medium!? Anyway food ordered at 9.12 pm, and took it back to the room. It went down a treat.

Lights out 11.25 pm.

Sunday 23 February, 2020.

A reasonable nights sleep. Plan for today, a gentle explore of Kandy.

Woke at 7.00 am and went down to a simple breakfast at 7.50 am, of omelette, toast, sliced fruits, coffee and fresh coconut juice. After we showered and did a little sorting, as we hadn't done anything last night.

Left at 10.00 am and headed for the lake. This was the direction we had walked last night. Saw the foodcity so we now know where it is.

There were plenty of people about and lots of sellers of things. We found the lake and had a look. Then we found the City Centre shopping mall. Had a look at the shops on four floors, then into the food court for a drink.

As you enter, you get a card. You charge your food &beverages against it, then pay at the cashiers on the exit.

Then over to the temple and palace complex. It wasn't our plan to visit today and the area was throbbing with people. So we started strolling along the side of the lake. There was lots of wildlife in and around the lake.

We spotted big carp, monitor lizards and turtles, to name the one's we know. There were various water birds and ducks. Most seemed unfazed by all the human activity. They are probably well used to it.

Our walk around the lake was 3.4 kilometers and was very much a stroll, we stopped often to look at things, take pictures and we also sat down at the end of the lake for a short while.

We were back in the mall area and spotted a Laksala souvenir shop, so looked around. Didn't buy anything today. Then into the mall food court area for lunch. Pat had Italian and I had Chinese.

Then down to Keell's supermarket for some water and stuff. Finally back to the hotel. In the room at 2.30 pm.

A quiet afternoon. Lights out 10.00 pm.

Monday 24 February, 2020

Plan is to explore more of Kandy today. A good nights sleep.

Woke at 6.50 am and went for breakfast at 7.50 am. Omelettes, toast, papaya juice, sliced fruits. Also, traditional Sri Lankan items, string hoppers, Dahl, etc. We have tried them before so were selective with what we ate.

Back to the room, showered and out at 10.00 am. We turned right out of the hotel, instead of left. The road system is on a grid, so we end up in the same place, but see different things. Near to the hotel the other way is a supermarket!

Our plan was to visit the temples and palace complex. We wore appropriate clothing because of this. Not as busy as yesterday, but still lots of people about. We were searched on the way in to the complex and my penknife was held at security.

We were in one part of the complex and looking at temples and different buildings. Somewhere at this point footwear and hats were no longer allowed.
So we were barefoot.

Then we went through another security check into another area and we were told we needed tickets and where to get them. So, off we went and paid LKR 3000 (GBP 12.82) for two adults. We found a side entrance and went into the palace that way. Searched again of course.

The relic of the tooth of Buddha is here. For the pilgrims therefore an important place. We tried not to get in the way or do anything that might offend. There were places you could take photos, but lots you were not allowed. To be on the safe side I chose not to take any.

In amongst the temples are museums, with information on the Kandyan kings, Sri Lankan history on so on. The site covers a large area. We got to the end of things we wanted to see and headed back. We retrieved our shoes. Then to the first security and collected my penknife.

Back outside Pat spotted a cafe sign attached to a hotel called Radh. We ordered a strawberry milkshake, a mugaccino, some water and a triple decker sandwich. Service took ages, but the stuff was all good and we weren't in a hurry. Bill was LKR 2557 (GBP 10.93).

Next was to look for the Kandy Garrison cemetery. We had seen this on maps and wanted to investigate. We managed to find it behind the police station and had a look around. Most graves were dated as dying in the 1840's to 1860's. A variety of ages, but lots of Scottish type names.Well maintained.

Then homeward, stopped in the supermarket, picked up water and in the room for 2.20 pm.

We did some research in the afternoon, as we have some gaps in our itinerary and we have now made a possible plan and things we would like to do. Just need to put it place.

Left the room at 5.45 pm to find some dinner. Bumped into nice hotel guy who we had questions for. Sorted out things with him, all good. He will help us with a trip or two.

Out to City Centre and the food court. Pat had Italian and I had Thai. Then I had an Apple fudge cake and a hazelnut mousse for dessert. Pat helped a little.

Back to the room for 7.45 pm. Lights out 10.00 pm.

Tuesday, 25 February, 2020.

Slept right through. Woke at 7.20 am.

Today a visit to the botanical gardens and maybe a CWGC cemetery.

Down to breakfast at 8.00 am. The usual.

Back to the room, showered and got ready. Out at 9.40 am. Heading for the clock tower bus station. We went down the next road along, to be different and see if we were missing anything. Nothing missed. The hotel guy had given us clues on which bus and he was spot on. The bus station probably has easily 30 slots, but with 40 buses!

The first bus we checked with was the right one, we were on board at 9.54am. Bus fare LKR 38 (GBP 0.16) for two. 8p each! We got a seat, but it filled up to standing room very quickly.

Journey was about half an hour. Dropped off at the Royal Botanical gardens, Kandy. Paid our entry fee for Foreigners LKR 4000 (GBP 17.09) for two. First impressions were not good, but it did improve. Things like no water in the lake present a poor image. There are many magnificent trees and palms. Lots of giant bamboo. Ground squirrels are flitting around. A group of monkeys knew where to hang out to get food and a large number of fruit bats were in big trees by the river.

The cacti and succulent house was disappointing, but the orchid house was wonderful.

We walked all over and saw most things. When we got outside we had a drink in a little cafe. Our next thought was to visit a Commonwealth War grave that was nearby. It was maybe possible to walk, but realistically a tuktuk was our option. We thought we would ask and if it seemed like the place wasn't known, we would simply catch the bus back to Kandy.

The first guy we asked knew the place and we agreed a price of LKR 300 (GBP 1.28). We were both glad we had got the tuktuk as it was quite a trek. When we got there we simply agreed a return price and for him to wait.

The cemetery was in a beautiful location and well maintained with about two hundred graves from the second world war. I signed the visitor log.

Back in the Tuktuk to the gardens, schools had finished and traffic was now a nightmare. Off to the bus stop and a wait of nearly 50 seconds for a bus. LKR 38 again.

Then to Kandy bus station and a walk along to the food court at City Centre. Just some sandwiches and drinks this time. There was a guy wanting to help and he got our food for us and made sure everything was ok.

Finally another walk back to the hotel and in the room for 3.10 pm.


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