( 4.9 )(
54 votes )
Kandy, Sri Lanka
Nov 15, 2003 01:05
Friendly, Kind People, cultural centre, interesting place
Cons: dirty beach and shanty
After our 'holiday from our holiday' on Koh Chang, it was time to
get back in travel mode again (no more laziness!). Arriving at the
airport near Colombo in the middle of the night was much less scary
than we envisaged. Thankfully we'd arranged for someone from a guesthouse
in the nearby beach town of Negombo to pick us up, so we were whisked
away without any problems. Straight away we realised how laidback
Sri Lanka is and how friendly the people are. Considering they've
endured a very recent 20 year civil war and are still experiencing
political instability, they are more hospitable and generous (and
smiley!) than people anywhere we've been so far!
We stayed for 2 nights in Negombo, which had a fairly dirty beach
complete with shanty town looking shacks and baskets of drying fish
everywhere. Apparently it was the place to be about 30 years ago
but is now a bit faded and decrepit. We soon learnt to appreciate
Sri Lankan food - beautiful vegetarian curries and rottis, walked
around town a bit, saw old churches and the Dutch fort (and accidently
wandered into the entrance of a prison!).
Next, we headed to Kandy which is set amongst hills with a beautiful
lake in the centre of town. It's a cultural centre and attracts
lots of tourists, so was quite a fun, interesting place to visit.
We went to the famed Temple of the Tooth, which suffered some damage
from a car bomb in 1998 and now has a huge security presence (you
get body searched several times before entering). The temple apparently
houses one of Buddha's teeth, taken from his funeral pyre. The tooth
isn't actually on display, so it's hard not to be a little sceptical!
It was a beautiful temple anyway, with monkeys running around outside
and an elephant out the front.
Speaking of elephants, we also went to the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage
just outside Kandy. There are 60 or so elephants there, ranging
from cute babies to enormous adults. The only thing scarier than
being so close to such enormous elephants was the abundance of tourists
sporting bumbags and sandals with socks - aarrhh!!!! The elephants
are fed, bathed and washed in the river and you can get as close
to them as you like, so in that way it was much more exciting than
seeing them in a zoo. They each have a keeper called a mahout who
try and get 'tips' from you if you pose for a photo with one of
their elephants. We're a bit over that kind of thing from Asia so
luckily managed to avoid it! Feeding time seemed a little cruel
as they were all chained up in a row, but when in the river they
were more free to roll around by themselves.
Back in Kandy we spent time at 'The Pub' (yes, that's what it's
called!), consumed many more curries, saw an enormous monitor lizard
in the lake and met lots of interesting people. Overall, we're really
impressed with Sri Lanka so far - it's a really beautiful, easygoing
place and not really touristy compared to other places in Asia.
The scenery, food and people are fantastic, and I don't think we're
going to see enough in 3 or 4 weeks!