First train experience
Laura was already waiting for me at the airport and since we had time, we decided to head straight to the railway station (aka Colombo Fort) in a ‘pick me’ taxi (the local ride hailing app) in order to catch a connection to Kandy. It was hot and humid.
A single journey in 2nd class is Rp190 pP (about US$1.10). Seeing how packed 3rd class was… Definitely worth it (many fellow travellers went for 2nd too). 1st class gets you even A/C (vs. ceiling mounted fans in 2nd), but is not required for a comfortable journey and often fully booked well in advance. Even though we arrived only 10mins prior to departure and had to stand initially, we got a seat next stop. Towards Kandy there were plenty seats available.
By the time we arrived it was already dark and by now with a pleasant temperature. Our Sri Lanka adventure had begun…
Highlights of Kandy
We had one full day (well, half for me after jetlag forced a sleep in 😴) and an additional afternoon to check out Kandy – a key point on a Sri Lanka travel itinerary and the capital of the former Kandyan kingdom – Sri Lanka’s last kingdom.
The temple of the sacred tooth relic: Meant to display the old tooth of Buddha. The relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country.
Great White Buddha: A bit of a hike uphill to see this large statue (the 2nd largest in Sri Lanka). Great views of Kandy and its surroundings.
Kandy National Museum: A bit of history and artefacts of the last Sri Lankan kingdom called Kandyan period (1592 to 1815), afterwards Sri Lanka was under british control. The golden lion in Sri Lanka’s flag originates from the royal banner. The kingdom was the origin of Kandyan dancing that is on display in town every day between 5pm to 6pm. Apart from a Kandyan dance figure i have no pictures… Makes you wonder 🤔.
Central market: Typical Asian market place.
Kandy lake: Central feature of the former royal city. Boat trips possible. Swimming seemingly not 😂
Getting blessed (for a few bucks…)
Did we get scammed? Who cares, this was probably the best and funniest experience in Kandy. In a random pagoda a monk approached us and explained a little about the temple. Right after we received a blessing and he foresaw babies by 2020.
According to him it will be two starting with a girl 👶👶. Lets enjoy our few last month of freedom i guess…
We donated Rp2000 for the service and were promised a special request to Buddha at the tooth temple next morning. Let’s see. Maybe it was just a very entertaining way to spend some money.
What to make of it all?
I wasn’t as impressed as the Kandy advertising had promised. In particular the night life sucks (does it exist?) and food options are poor. When we arrived 9.30pm on our first night we had to rush to get anything at all – very different from many other Asian places we visited before.
In particular we found it hard to find a restaurant not made just for tourists – do Sri Lankan’s never eat out? On our 2nd night we skipped looking and went to pizza hut. Generally speaking, the green cafe is not a bad option for some Sri Lankan taste though.
As for the sights – pretty average though i have been told the botanic garden near Kandy is great. Still, worthwhile going for a day be it just to hop on the train to Ella. But that is another days tale…