Written 8th Feb, Satun, Thailand
We spent 5 very unfortunate, ill days here in Sri Lanka, which, among other things, was a real shame for us.
Aside from both our illnesses, we only ventured out of our hotel once the whole time we were in Kandy in Sri Lanka, and that is about the only thing I can really comment on in this blog post, because it was all we did.I can’t even comment on the food here because of having been ill, I ate very bland food in the hotel most every day, cheese sandwiches and toast etc.
So, as mentioned in my previous blog post, detailing our last few days in India, we had a monster journey to get to Kandy, and when we arrived I was feeling like death warmed up, both of us were tired, and we got the run around by a local tuktuk driver…literally and figuratively. Once we had finally found somewhere to sleep (Kandy View, £15 for a twin room, at nearly 3am) and dismissed the tuktuk driver with a curt few words and a 500 rupee note (£2.50) for his horrendous services, we were able to get some shuteye.
The next day was a write off of sleep and the day after a write off of illness for me.
Finally on the third day we ventured out into the city of Kandy, a well kept, pretty place with plenty of vegetation and a large lake to add to the scenery. We wandered around the city for a little while, noting some of the differences between here and India (the more traditional clothing of the women was slightly different in style to the Saris I saw worn in India, and the market stall sellers were more insistent than those I came across in India as well)
After a little while we headed to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, where it is believed that this temple holds a tooth of Buddha.
A beautiful temple set in the leafy city of Kandy amongst the high peaks of the Sri Lankan countryside, this temple has a lovely outdoor area to roam in, with a small moat and wooden assembly hall area to investigate. The temple is situated next to a museum of Buddhism from around the world (which the 1000 rupee/£5 entrance fee didn’t cover) and is one of the most holy places in Sri Lanka, and arguably in the Buddist world.
A large incense scented room room inside the temple contained a huge sitting Buddha and the walls were adorned with many paintings and explanations depicting the story of how the tooth relic came to this particular temple – a story which unfortunately I was rushed around too fast to read, but you can read about it here.
At 6:30 pm daily the sound of drums can be heard all around the temple, and a short wander to the source of this drumming brought me to a stunning golden inner temple, where a ceremony I didn’t understand was taking place. Men dancing and beating drums and playing a small horn-type instrument in front of the temple, whilst older men wearing ceremonial clothing entered the temple and the doors were shut behind them. Several tourists and monks came to witness this ceremony, as it is well known around Kandy. I only wish I’d understood the significance of the ceremony and various elements within it!
From the drumming, everyone wandered up some stairs and through a large room filled with worshippers and flowers, to several smaller rooms with shrines to Buddha and items of religious significance including ancient texts, all elaborately decorated with golden carvings, flowers and rich colours – as is common in Buddhism.
After this ceremony we wandered back to the guest house in what was to be one of the creepiest and most disgusting walks I’ve ever taken. Without going into details, we had 3 separate bad experiences with men in this city, all of a sexual nature, and all in the same night (additional to another creepy man experience on our first night with a man on the bus who would not leave Poonam alone, even when she asked him to)
Once in the guest house, we both went to bed shaken up and nervy, and Poonam woke up the next day with a horrendous stomach bug, rendering her highly
Upon arriving in Kandy, we both had a nice impression of this attractive city, where the architecture looks a mixture of European and Asian, and where the call to prayer could be heard, giving the place a friendly religious feel.
However, our impression upon leaving was not favorable after the experiences we had on this 20 minute walk home, the initial tuktuk experience, the creepy man on the bus, and then having been abused aggressively and racially by a bus conductor on the way to the airport (we’d been given the wrong bus ticket elsewhere and the conductor wanted us to pay again, which we refused – eventually a nice lady who happened to work at the airport translated for us and were were able to work everything out – after much shouting by him – Saint Martha then got us to the airport safe and sound, an angel!), was enough to shake us both up and leave us with an unfortunate negative view of an otherwise lovely place.
As bad as it sounds, we were really glad to be leaving and getting to Malaysia…