Kandy...Even If I Don't Like Sweets

Trip Start Oct 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 19, 2011

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'm back on the solo traveler trail in Sri Lanka & am enjoying myself.  In Negombo, I woke up, packed my bag & walked the ~2.5 km to the bus station.  I use the term "station" rather loosely as it's only a big dusty lot full of buses.  One burps out tons of diesel fumes as it leaves to some destination every minute.  Bus destinations are marked in Sinhala, which doesn't help me much.  Already pretty sweaty, I wandered around asking bus managers (these are the guys that take the money and hang off the bus shouting the destination at every tree on the side of the road) if they were going to my destination. 

I quickly found the bus to Kandy and was happy to put my butt in the last seat.  Along the way we must have doubled the number of passengers...each hanging on to anything possible as they stood for the 4-hour duration of the trip.  Total cost of the 4-hour journey was 111 rupees - exactly $1USD.  Arriving in Kandy was much the same scene...a very long road on the edge of town packed with buses.  Jumped off, sorted myself for a hike & headed off to the lake to find accommodation.

Kandy is the center of things for an area called "The Hill Country".  Tourists are well known here & there are thousands of tiny shops, none of which sell the few things I'm looking for.  The lens cap on my camera won't stay on & I need to find a new one before the lens is scratched.  No real surprise that I can't find that here.  Dental floss, though?  No one in this country must floss because it is not to be found.  I've received some strange looks trying to describe it!

Kandy itself is known for a few things - the lake & the temple.  Tiny Kandy Lake was created in 1807 by Sri Wickrama Tajasinha, the last ruler of the Kingdom of Kandy.  Several minor chiefs protested because their people objected to laboring on the project.  They were swiftly put to death on stakes in the lake bed.  Harsh!  The small central island was used as Sri Wickrama's personal harem.  The island is quite small, but I guess it's not the size of a guy's harem...

The other key site is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth.  It is said to contain the most important Buddhist relic in the country - a tooth of the Buddha.  (A bomb was detonated here by the LTTE in 1998 and security remains pretty high to this day).  The tooth is said to have been snatched from the flames of the Buddha's funeral pyre in 483 BCE and was smuggled into Sri Lanka in the 4th century CE, hidden in the hair of a princess.  The temple itself was constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries when the complex was part of the royal palace.  Sri Lankan Buddhists believe they must complete one pilgrimage to the temple in their lifetime, as worshiping here improves ones karmic lot immeasurably.

In the end, the temple was a good place for a visit & I enjoyed 2-3 hours there.  I've always liked the change in travel & I haven't seen anything like this in a while.

Off to a few of the ancient cities to the north.
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mdemmons on

Mmmmmmmmm... Kingdom of Kandy

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