We slept like a log for the second night in a row! Just as we got up, the electricity went out. No more air conditioning and, most importantly, no hot water. We decided to appease our grumbling stomachs first and went to have breakfast. Power outages are quite common in Sri Lanka and are usually resolved quickly. There were roadworks on the street, and they were renewing the pipelines. However, when we returned to our room, we were unlucky as there was still no power. There was nothing else to do but take another ice-cold shower. We both felt that they were charging too much for the room. After all, we had to go to a different room to shower for two consecutive days because there was almost no water pressure on the first floor. And now, on the last day, no air conditioning and an ice-cold shower. After a bit of resistance, we managed to negotiate a lower price. It may seem stingy of us, but for us, it’s about them asking for a fair price, regardless of whether we have more money or not. We have often felt like we were being taken advantage of from all sides.
We were able to get on the bus quite quickly and were ready for a very long bus ride to Kandy. The bus stopped for a mandatory rest break along the way, and we passed by Dambulla again. Luckily, we didn’t have to transfer this time and had a direct bus. Just before the bustling center of Kandy, we had to get off (thank goodness for Google Maps!). It was about a ten-minute walk. Neither of us felt like taking a tuk-tuk and stretching our legs wouldn’t hurt. However, we didn’t know (or hadn’t considered, because what can you expect from a name like ‘Kandy Mountain Cottage’?) that we would have to walk uphill.
Exhausted and drenched in sweat, we arrived at our homestay. Once again, we were staying with locals, but we had only heard positive stories. So, fingers crossed. We were immediately offered a King Coconut, which quenched our thirst! Our room was more than okay. There was a slight damp smell, but the room had air conditioning, and was ideal. We had a lovely terrace to ourselves, and the view was wonderful. From our terrace, we could see the neighbor drying red peppers on her roof.
We spent the rest of the day quietly in our room and made a phone call to our loved ones back home. We were expected at the table around six o’clock. The host had cooked a delicious meal for us: chicken soup, rice, fish, chicken, dahl, eggplant, and a tomato/pineapple salad. Finally, we were served fresh pineapple for dessert. Once again, there was too much food, but it was delicious!
At night, we were awakened multiple times by barking and especially howling dogs. It seemed as if we were surrounded by them, so loud! Afterward, we learned that they bark and howl like that to warn each other about wild boars and porcupines. Fortunately, the lack of sleep was quickly compensated with a delicious breakfast. Sri Lankan pancakes made with saffron and sugar, and coconut (I find these pancakes tastier than the ones we know at home), an omelet with onion and tomato, toast, banana, and papaya. Way too much. The nice thing was that the lady of the house took Ely’s diabetes into account. She herself had diabetes, so she was careful about what she gave him. He received pancakes with bananas instead of jam. There are different types of bananas here. The long banana (which we are familiar with), the red ones, and the small ones. The small ones taste the best. They are not as sweet and have a perfect flavor!
Before we left for the city center, our hostess gave us various tips she had written down on a note. Very sweet of her, as Kandy was said to be a bustling city. We quickly reached the city center by bus. The botanical garden was first on our list. We have seen quite a few gardens in Australia by now, but this one was the most beautiful for us. Perhaps it was because we had escaped all the hustle and bustle, and it was tranquil there. There was also a variety of plants, trees, and flowers. Moreover, we saw a lot of bats and, as can be expected, some monkeys. We walked in the garden for about an hour and completely relaxed.
The next activity was visiting the markets. What an experience! So many people, only locals, were trying to sell their products. They were shouting over each other, and it was very crowded. Occasionally, the pungent smell of fish would arise. After going through all the fruits and vegetables, we reached the second section: fish and meat. This was truly a culture shock for us. The way the meat was displayed, and cut was quite different.
Since my time in Australia, I’ve been eating less meat anyway (it just doesn’t taste good there), and here in Sri Lanka, I don’t eat meat at all. This market confirmed once again why I don’t eat meat here. I bought a red banana but ended up paying a lot for it. Nevertheless, we were very happy that we experienced this market. We wanted to escape the hustle and bustle for a while and went to have a drink higher up on a mountain with a beautiful view.
Around 5 pm, we walked to the city center because a Sri Lankan show was scheduled. We were hesitant to attend as it was intended only for tourists, but we decided to try it. Well, it was fun for just one dance. We quickly lost interest and felt it was merely a show for tourists and had nothing to do with Sri Lanka. Oh well, it was worth a shot. After this underwhelming show, we walked to the Temple of the Tooth. This temple is the most famous in all of Sri Lanka.
A legend tells the story of Buddha’s tooth being retrieved from his ashes after his cremation. Since then, the tooth has been preserved in various temples in Sri Lanka. The place where the tooth is kept became a symbol of the right to rule. You can’t see the tooth as it is carefully preserved in the temple. Monks hold ceremonies three times a day. We had to pass through security first because, in 1998, Tamils detonated a car bomb near the temple. Our first impression was that it was crowded. There were so many people pushing to get inside. Unfortunately, this made us feel rushed from the beginning, even though the temple was beautiful.
So many people were in the temple, and many went straight upstairs. We stayed near the “altar” because we thought the ceremony would occur there. We mainly saw offerings being brought in, such as food and flowers. Occasionally, someone played the drum or blew a flute. Not much else happened. Once we went upstairs, we almost had a claustrophobic attack. Everyone was lining up to make their offering and glimpse the casket. I was pushed several times, with my nose practically in other people’s armpits. Not exactly pleasant. We wanted to leave as quickly as possible.
I had mixed feelings about this temple. I understand that they open the temples to foreigners so that we can better understand their faith, but on the other hand, I feel sorry for the believers who are disrupted during their ceremonies. I saw many tourists lining up with a flower, pretending to have a purpose for being there. We quickly (well, after wandering around the city center for a while trying to find the bus station) took the bus and escaped from all the crowds. Once back home, we were served a delicious meal and chatted with the host. Our eyes closed quickly, but we were again awakened during the night by the street dogs.
X Inez & Ely