It was sad to leave the chilled out town of Ella, as we had enjoyed it so much. It was such a peaceful town and the host at our homestay had been so kind, and we knew things will be a bit more hectic away from there.
Sri Lanka’s second-largest city, Kandy, does not hold much attraction for us, though it was worth a short stopover as we pass through, before we head to what’s called the cultural triangle.
To get to Kandy it was a 6-hour train journey through the spectacular central highlands of Sri Lanka, gazing out the train windows as we toddled along was a brilliant way to experience this part of the country.
We had organised a free pick up from Kandy train station arranged with our hotel, the Bethel Rest Homestay. The friendly owner was waiting to drive us up the hill to the hotel.
We had a quick freshen up, then took a shortcut walking back down the hill into town. We were not sure we were going the right way on this interesting walk, but we just keep heading downhill between the houses as we passed locals and lots of dogs.
As we got to the busy part of town, we first noticed that the markets were open, and made a mental note to come back tomorrow. We find it hard to resist a good market.
There were no obvious suitable places to eat, and the places suggested by our guidebook were hard to find. We settled on Devon Indian, it was airconditioned, clean, and Indian food fresh, though the place was new and very sterile and not the usual place we would go.
We picked up a few items to eat from a supermarket, our first of Sri Lanka. We were not keen to walk back up the hill so we took a cheap tuk-tuk, surprising ourselves with a quick successful negotiation.
Our homestay room was like a basement to a main house. We had to walk outside the building and back into the main house for breakfast, which we shared with the other guests and the family who lived there. They were very friendly even though it felt a bit uncomfortable sharing their breakfast table.
We joined the mass of tourists and locals visiting the very interesting Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, a Buddhist temple located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy. The key piece is apparently Buddha’s tooth. It was very busy, which we think is the same every day, and you can purchase gorgeous flower posy’s at the entrance as an offering to Buddha.
We joined the throngs of people and were shuffled along with the crowd. We only got a glimpse into the room holding the tooth, as most people were praying and it felt a little awkward onlooking in this holy place. There was so much gold everywhere the place sparkled. Thankfully the other parts of the temple were interesting too, but hard to appreciate with the crowds.
The stuffed remains of an old tusker elephant called Raja’s are kept in a special museum within the grounds of the Temple. The elephant served in important ceremonies for 50 years. When the elephant died in 1988, his death prompted the government to order a day of national mourning in Sri Lanka.
Directly behind the temple was the International Buddhist Museum, which gave an insight to how the religion had spread over the world and the different types of worship around the world. Next door was the National Museum of Kandy which has a history of Kandy which we did not go to.
We went to the markets, bought some lace and after some hard bargaining bought some t-shirts and Sri Lankan cricket gear for the boys.
After lunch and some amazing milkshakes, we were looking for something else to do and made a last-minute decision to visit a traditional dancing and fire show at the Kandyan Cultural Center near the Kandy lake. There were not many people there in the large concert hall, and we were able to make our way to the front row.
Waitresses were available to serve drinks at our seats. It was a very interesting show, with many different acts and styles of traditional Sri Lankan dancing. The show finished in spectacular style with a demonstration of fire walking with lots of flashes of fire and smoke. It was a little bit touristy, but worth it in the end.
After just one day in Kandy, we are ready to move on. Tomorrow we have a driver to take us to Sigiriya.