Sri Lanka-the journey continues

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May 9th 2016
Published: May 9th 2016
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Greetings folks!

We ( maybe more me) left Ella reluctantly enjoying our last breakfast on the terrace. Our next stop was to be Kandy one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka. This time our journey was by train and our 100k journey took 7 hours but for the first half the scenery was absolutely stunning. The train trundled through the hillsides covered with tea bushes and then across the vegetable plains before hitting Kandy. We booked first class, which is fans with open windows for aircon and the hard seats do recline. Most of the other tourists were in the Rajah carriage which does have aircon but for at least half the journey it was us and the locals. The last 2 hours or so there was a downpour, which was sorely needed to clear the air.

It was dark when we got to Kandy junction and a tuk tuk driver found us and we set off for the city centre. He was a lovely lad called Sanka and we booked him for the next day to take us to see the sights of Kandy.

Our place was called Lake Bungalow and was on the edge of the lake. It was built by the British and it belonged to a family who owned a tea plantation. The spinster elder daughter was headmistress of the Montessori nursery which was part of the building we stayed in. It was all very faded colonial glory but clean and comfy. We were hungry so we walked close to the bungalow and had some food Chris had some chicken and curry and it did not looked properly cooked but he ate it anyway!! Guess what ? He was ill next day.

Breakfast next morning was a mixture of Sri Lankan and western, I had string hoppers, dhal and coconut sambal with fruit and yoghourt and Chris managed a bit of toast and egg. Our tuk tuk arrived and took us to see the huge stature of Buddha which towers over Kandy. Chris got part way up and had to stop and after a quick trip to the bank he was back in the bungalow. I continued on and we went first to the Commonwealth cemetery and then to a temple out of town. It was built in the 14th or 15th century, lots of things are very vague in Sri Lanka!! The carving was stunning and we arrived in time for the puja, when offerings are given. The temperature was rising so we stopped for a coconut, 50p for 2. It is a good thing to drink, perfectly clean and good for the hot weather. We got back to the city and it was really busy, it is pretty noisy and polluted. I also went to the very English St Paul’s church which the British built right next to two of the major Hindu and Buddhist temples in Kandy. That was enough for me, we had thought about the botanical gardens but I called it a day and got him to drop me off at the posh hotel on the top of the hill, OZO. I had a soda and a club sandwich on the breezy terrace and enjoyed the view of Kandy. I guessed Chris wouldn’t want to eat in the evening so had my main meal at lunchtime. When I got back he was still pretty ropey so just recovered from my day.

We decided to get up early and head to the Temple of the Tooth and arrived about 7.30, it would have been a nice walk but Chris was still feeling a bit off so we went by tuk tuk. As temples go it isn’t the best we have seen but it does have real significance for the Sri Lankans, it is a pilgrimage site and the Buddha’s tooth is here. You can’t see it as it is locked away. It was a good time to go very calm and peaceful; most tourists go for 9.30 to the very noisy puja. We walked over to the colonial Queens hotel for breakfast, in its day one of the best hotels in Kandy. Breakfast was 700R (£3.50) for a buffet, this is what we paid for that disaster in Tissa!! We were waited on hand and foot and I enjoyed a real feast of fresh fruit, Sri Lankan breakfast and some wholemeal bread!! We got a tuk tuk to take us to the garrison cemetery which was a quiet little oasis in the city where the great and the good were buried. The great being the man who brokered the deal when the British took Kandy and the good the last European trampled to death by an elephant. Our driver waited and took us back to the bungalow.

After a bit of a rest Chris started to feel a lot better so we decided to go to the Hotel Suisse, just next door. Another old colonial place, it was the SE Asian HQ of Mountbatten during WW2. Another place with faded glory!! Our plan was to use the pool, for 500R each but first a cup of tea was in order. The second floor was stunning, old parquet flooring and art deco lights and very calm and relaxed. You could just see it in the 1940’s with the ladies separate from the men after dinner, the men in the billiard’s room. After a pot of tea we enjoyed the pool till the thunder came and then back for another pot of tea and cake!! Back to normal Chris suggested we went back to hotel Suisse for dinner and I am glad we did. Sitting in the bar drinking a Manhattan felt very decadent and the food was good and quite European. A bit more expensive than our usual rice and curry but good nonetheless.

Wednesday we had another typical breakfast and then headed off with our driver to Polunawara. We usually use the local buses but the heat is so bad we have resorted to taxis. Our driver was also a tour guide so it was good to chat about life in Sri Lanka. He had lived in Japan and Saudi so had seen different cultures but then came back home to marry, no living together allowed here!! En route we came across a Hindu festival and the picture says it all. There were two men pierced as a sign of commitment and faith. The whole procession were walking 15k to another temple. We also spotted a lovely baby elephant on the way.

We arrived at our place at Tishan and were so glad to see the swimming pool, although it was like getting in to a warm bath. Dinner was the usual curry and rice and way more than we could eat. The local tuk tuk driver came by, Sugat , and we arranged for him to take us around the ancient city the next day.

Breakfast was included and was good; I am quite used to eating spicy food for breakfast now. Chris tends to have a little bit and then toast. We ate early and at 8am set off for the ancient city. It is a massive site that had lain hidden for centuries. It was built in 9th century and some buildings were still intact, stunning architecture and one of the original temples for the tooth relic. We spent a couple of hours seeing the different aspects of the site then back to the pool.

On Friday Chris went into town for a shave and head massage and then we just chilled by the pool. The place had an interesting mix of guest, a Russian snow-boarding instructor who works in Kirgizstan and his photographer girlfriend. A young French couple finishing an 18 month trip, a group of four German girls , two of home were doing a round the world trip and two Danish students who were on holiday after spending four months studying in Pondicherry , India.

Saturday we headed off again this time towards the east coast and the village of Uppuveli just north of Trincomalee. Our hotel is Anantamaa and we are here for a week in a resort hotel with a big room, outside seating area overlooking a garden. There is a pool and the Indian Ocean is 2 minutes walk away. We have given into the heat and decided that much as we would have liked to do more cultural stuff it is just too damned hot. Saturday night I booked a pedicure for Monday and we walked along the beach and had hummus, bacon toasties and wedges!! It was a welcome break for me after three nights of curry and rice.

Sunday we got up for 6am and went out in a boat and saw several schools of dolphin and three different sightings of a single whale. So our disappointment from the beginning of the trip was overturned and although it wasn’t blue whales it was good to see these giants of the ocean. We were back in time for our buffet breakfast which had a good selection but you are always tempted to eat too much. The pool is nice but we swam in the sea in the afternoon and it was fabulous, the average temperature of the water is 25 degrees C. It starts to cool down here about 5pm and the bit of sea breeze does help. We had a wander looking for the Whistle-stop cafe only to find it closed, which is a shame as it sounded funky!! We eventually ate in a little family restaurant the owner was Kevin and his two boys Kevin 4 and Godfrey 2. Chris had curry and roti and I had vegetable Khottu. Next door to our hotel is a huge place with frontage onto the sea, it is pretty rundown and we just had soda water and looked at the menu. There was a big group of Russians who were trying to haggle about the menu and in the end left.

So just about one week left till next time

Norma xx


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