Sweet time in Kandy

Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
Trip End Aug 01, 2007

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Saturday, January 6, 2007

He Said:

So just like the last time I was in Sri Lanka, again we couldn't get motivated to
leave in the beach town of Unawatuna! We had the best of intentions to stay here just two nights then go to the highlands, climb a mountain called Adam's Peak, and trek through the tea
plantations. Before we knew it we'd been lazing on the beach for four days! Look back at the photos on the previous post and you'll certainly understand how tough it would be to leave that place, especially to go do a jungle hike with the distinct possibility of breaking a sweat! So we made a decision to axe the hiking, enjoy the beach then come straight to the town of Kandy.

Getting to Kandy from Unawatuna proved to be quite the ordeal. We decided to take the "scenic route" through the hill country. Indeed it was a totally stunning ride on a curvy single lane road through small villages, tea plantations, and untouched rain forest.  But...it took us nine hours to drive the 200 miles! Driving in Sri Lanka is quite the test of nerves. I think I've got the chaotic rules and pecking order (buses rule the road) figured out but I must say that you can't let your guard down for a moment! I've come so close to either hitting or being hit by so many vehicles and animals that I've lost count. Still though, I don't think it would be any less stressful with someone else driving! I'm sure Katie will have some interesting comments to add as well.

Kandy was the capital of a kingdom that one ruled the interior of Sri Lanka prior to British rule. Kandyians still carry on a rich tradition of crafts, dance, and Buddhist practice which draws lots of pilgrims and tourists to the town. We certainly enjoyed the cool air,
lakeside walks, beautiful temples, and amazing dance performances we took in during our time here. We are coming back to Kandy to spend our final night in Sri Lanka after we spend a few days visiting the ancient sites to the north.

She Said:

The driving here is crazy, and renting the car is somewhere between the smartest thing we have ever done and the most ignorant decision we have ever made.  However, when I see the
buses flying around sharp corners, I am glad Todd is driving.  But we certainly are getting tons of stares...I guess not a lot of tourists actually rent cars here. After spending 9 hours in
the car going an average of 20 miles per hour, we were both more than relieved to get to Kandy.  Our conversation during the drive was very repetitive and went something like this:

Me: Watch out!  There are a couple of cows on the left. 

Todd: I see them. What is that dog doing sitting in the middle of the road?

Me: Do you see the bus coming?!? Are we both going to fit? 

Todd:  Don't worry...I'll pull into the shoulder and let it pass.  Some of these people have a death wish!

Me: What is that guy driving?  It looks like a wooden cart with a lawn mower attached to the front.  Please don't pass this car here!  Wait until the road straightens out a bit.

Todd: Look at those guys staring at us out of the back of that bus.  Come on let's wave to them.

Kandy is a very cute town situated around a large manmade lake.  There is a nice walking path around the lake with benches every 100 feet or so, which is nice for a stroll.  We did however see large monitor lizards (5-6 feet long!) in the water, and bats hanging from the trees around the lake. The major tourist site here, the Temple of the Tooth, is the first Buddhist temple I have ever been to that is actually still functioning.  It was pretty crowded with locals making offerings and wishing for happiness (?) in the New Year.  I must say that it is quite an
extravagant showing to house a tooth! But, then again, I guess it is the Buddha's tooth. 

The highlight of our stay in Kandy was a dance show we attended last night at the Kandyian Arts and Cultural Center.  In the one-hour, $2.50 show, we saw about 10 of the local dances all performed by professional dancers on a stage in fancy costumes.  In addition to flat drum spinning, where each dancer balanced 7 spinning drums(which looked a lot like dinner plates) at a time, the finale was fire walking.  Hot coals were spread on the floor (we could feel the heat), and these men walked barefoot back and forth across the coals, some of which were still on fire.  Talk about job related stress!
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