Kandy, Sri Lanka: Big Buddha, botanical gardens and the town centre

The next day, I had a bit of a lie-in as it was only a travel day. Once I was sorted, I carried my backpack to the bus. I didn’t have to wait too long for the bus, which took me through the city to the airport.img_20161214_132917

After the normal airport procedure, I hopped on the plane to Kuala Lumpur, which was uneventful. Then I had a 3 hour layover at the airport before boarding the airplane to Sri Lanka. On the flight, I made myself stay awake because of the time difference. I was sitting next to an older couple; the husband from England and the wife from Sweden. They were lovely, telling me about their travels.

I landed in Sri Lanka smoothly, where I disembarked. I went through immigration and collected my bag. In the main airport, I exchanged some money. Outside, I tried to find a tuk tuk driver but it posed to be difficult. Every person I asked pretended they didn’t understand me and wanted to take me in a taxi and charge me a ridiculous amount of money. Eventually, someone told me and a found a few drivers. I managed to barter and agree a price, where they took me to me hostel, not far from the airport.img_20161214_082055

The hostel was tiny, where I think I was the only person there. I had my own ensuite double room, which was the first room I’ve had which wasn’t a dorm. It was bliss. With the time difference being 3 hours, my body was knackered so I slept like a baby.

The following day, I woke up and had a shower before starting my journey to Kandy. The hostel guy took me to the bus station in a tuk tuk about 10 minutes away. There was already a bus pretty full, nearly ready to leave. I placed my backpack in the boot of the bus and squeeze into the seat, I was shown. I was wedged at the very back between two youngish guys. The bus was packed full of people with windows wide open, a driver and a conductor, who took the fare money.img_20161214_133434

Once every seat was taking, the bus took off, blaring some Sri Lankan music out of the speakers, stopping off every few minutes to drop and pick up passengers. I listened to my own music as the bus wound through little towns and up to the mountains of Kandy. Originally, I got told it would take about 3 hours but in the end,  because of traffic, it took 4 hours.

Off the bus, I had several tuk tuk drivers wanting my service. I hopped into one, where the driver wanted to take my around for a day tour of Kandy for a certain price. He showed me pages of things other people had wrote about him but as I didn’t have an itinerary, I decided to decline. The driver even stopped on the way to the hostel to show me more photos. Eventually, I think he gave up and dropped me at my accommodation, which had moved a couple of the doors up the road. I was welcomed by a lovely lady, who checked me in.img_20161214_144300

By this time, it was mid-afternoon and I was feeling hungry. Down the road, there was a supermarket with a restaurant above it. I decided to try it out, where I had a vegetable curry, which came with three different types, and rice. I sat outside, gazing at the miraculous view of the hills and town.

I wandered back passed the hostel along the little street with not much around apart from the odd house and greeny, to the Big Buddha. This was a famous spot to go to but I was slightly disappointed. When I reached the top of the hill, I was asked to take off my shoes, where they were stored. The guy asked me for a donation so of course, I did as I thought it was part of seeing the Buddha. As I got closer to the temple, I was asked to pay to go in and they also gave me  a shawl to cover my shoulders. I climbed up the stairs, where you could go into a tiny temple. Even though there were stairs, you couldn’t climb to the top so it felt pointless but the view was nice.img_20161214_144758

Just as I was leaving, I got asked again for a donation, which I declined. I do find that these type of countries think you are full of money and therefore they are cheeky about it.

After retrieving my flip flops, I thought about heading towards town. A guy in a car pulled over and asked if he could give me a lift for free so I thought I would take it. It’s not usually like me to do this especially as I was on my own. I must have just gone mind blank for a second and accepted it. In the car, he started to talk about his business and telling me other places I could go. Then proceeded in taking me to botanic garden, which was out of town until I told him that I just wanted to go to the town centre. He dropped me off and I wandered the town. I found an inside market, where I looked around. A lot of the stall owners started shouting at me to take a closer look at their stuff because they wanted me to buy off them.img_20161215_103037

Then I walked back up to the hostel, where I chilled for a bit. In the evening, I walked down to vegetarian Dosai establishment, where I ordered a masala dosai. Dosai is like a savoury pancake. I soon realised that the potions Sri Lankans gave were huge. It was really tasty and cost about 2 AUD. After I just relaxed in bed before falling asleep.

The next morning, I had a shower before joining some other travellers from the hostel to eat the complimentary breakfast of toast, fried egg, banana and tea. In my dorm, I sorted some things out and checked out but kept my bag in the hostel as I was going to explore Kandy a little more.

I managed to wave down a tuk tuk, which took me to the botanical gardens. I knew it was a slight distance but I just find that they try to rip white foreigners off as they think they’re rich. When nI approached the gardens, there was a fee. I expected this but not the price it was showing. It was a bit extortionate especially as locals were paying a tenth of the foreigner price. However, as I thought I had got a tuk tuk all the way there, I might as well pay to go in.

img_20161215_102524I have to say the botanical gardens were huge with a complete variety of trees, flowers and plants. I walked against the grain so that I could have a peaceful wander. I did not know, however, there were going to be monkeys around. I am still scared of monkeys after my friend got bitten in Thailand and I saw the pain she went through. I looked at the monkeys climbing the trees but I didn’t go anywhere near them.

On part of the outskirts of the gardens, a bridge crossed a river, which made a beautiful view. There were a few ladies frightened of crossing the bridge as it was wobbly. It did make me a laugh a little.

As I was mooching around, a group of Sri Lanka children stopped to talk to me. There guardian explained that as part of a programme, the children go on excursions to speak to foreigners to improve their English. I thought it was a great scheme. They asked me loads of questions and then asked if I could dance or sing for them. At first, I refused and agreed that if they sing I will sing a song. One of the girls, aged 13, sang a popular pop song to me on her own. It was amazing. I then had to play my part. I thought as a teacher I would sing them a song so I did ‘if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands’. It was just so lovely. After, we took a photo and said goodbye. I love encounters like this. It just makes my time away even better connecting with the locals.img_20161215_104039

Once I had been in the garden for a few hours, I left to get a tuk tuk. Initially, I was planning to go to the tea museum and plantation but because of time and the drivers being funny, I just got them to drop me off in the town centre. I walked to the huge lake, which wasn’t anything special and then found a restaurant that the two Australian girls from this morning recommended to me.

It took a while to be served but once I did, I order a vegetable curry with rice. There were about 4 different ones, which were all delicious. I walked up the hill back to the hostel, where I rested for a bit before getting a tuk tuk to the train station. I wanted to try out different transport to compare them.

After waiting in the queue and eventually getting serve as the person was serving two counter at the same time, prioritising the locals, I found out the earliest train was full so I had to get the next one, which was in an hours time.img_20161215_105759

I found a seat on the train, where I just listened to music and gazed out the window. Next to me was a Sri Lankan family with 2 children and a baby. I have to say those kids were so well behaved without making a peep of a noise. The train took about 3 and a half hours with more beautiful scenery than the bus. It was also more comfortable and cheaper.

By the time we pulled into Colombo fort station, it was pretty late and I just wanted to get to my hostel. I bartered with a tuk tuk driver who, I later found out, gave me a super good price. When we arrived at the hostel, it was in a darken alley, which looked closed. I rang the doorbell and luckily, there was someone there. I checked in and got taken to my room.

After dumping my bag, I went in search of some dinner. I found a little café, which sold local food (not that I could read the menu). I just ask for a dosai and that what they served me with some curry and a bready ball; it all tasted good.img_20161215_115332

For the rest of the evening, I just chilled, talking to an English couple and a guy from Uzbekistan before heading to bed. I also decided what I was going to do until I leaving Sri Lanka. The Uzbekistan guy’s English was very poor so he wanted me to teach him as he found out I was an English teacher. I did say I was on holiday from teaching but he told me he was going to follow me to my next destination. I had to wait and see if he was as I planned on catching a train early the next day to make the most of my time there.

Unfortunately that night I didn’t sleep well; I must have eaten something that didn’t go well with my stomach as I was on the toilet every couple of hours. Luckily, it was out of my system before leaving the hostel.

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