A Travellerspoint blog

Touring Kandy

January 23, 2016


View Sri Lanka, The Maldives and India on katdill's travel map.

Last night we had arranged to hire a car and driver to take us around town to see some of the suggested sites. The driver (Kumara) arrived around 9:00 am and away we went. We invited a young French couple, Fabien and Sophie, to come along with us since he arrived in a brand new Toyota Hiace van with a/c and all the bells and whistles. So they joined us for the day.
Our most luxurious ride yet

Our most luxurious ride yet


First stop was the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage which is about 40 km outside the city - although it is so built up, it seems we were in the city the whole way. They take the elephants to the river every morning from 10 to 12, and we arrived in time to see most of this. It was nice to see the elephants so close up, but it seems a little sad that they cannot live free in the wild anymore. The orphanage was primarily designed to afford care and protection to the many baby elephants found in the jungle without their mothers. It has now progressed to breeding elephants in captivity very successfully.
Nursing baby

Nursing baby

Large bull elephant getting a bath

Large bull elephant getting a bath

Mahout with elephant

Mahout with elephant


As we were leaving the elephant area, we came across what is known as a "Homecoming reception". We saw a little bit of cultural dancing and singing. Apparently, when a couple get married and go on their honeymoon, they get a Homecoming when they return home. Very nice to get a little peek at this tradition.
Cultural dancers

Cultural dancers


We had lunch at a great little restaurant with a rice and curry buffet. Very nice food. Kumara then took us to an old temple built out of rock, from 1344 to 1374. It took 1000 people 30 years to build it. It wasn't large, but the guide we had there told us interesting bits about the building. Some of the original rock pigments that were painted on the interior are still visible. Amazing they would last so long.
Gadaladeniya Raja Maha Vihara

Gadaladeniya Raja Maha Vihara

Lord Buddha

Lord Buddha


Our next stop was the Botanical Gardens. This is a very large park with many different sections in it. We didn't have time to see it all, but we did enjoy what we did see. Kauri trees, a giant Java Fig tree, trees loaded with fruit bats, and the park was full of Sri Lankans enjoying their holiday.
Don with two giant kauri

Don with two giant kauri

Java Fig which looks like 3 trees, but is just one.

Java Fig which looks like 3 trees, but is just one.


We made a little detour to visit a lookout point above the city. A nice view, but of course, the salespeople are there as well. We went on to the Temple of the Tooth. This is a temple that was built to hold Buddha's tooth, which was left after his body was cremated. There is quite a legend about the history of the tooth. Of course, we didn't get too see it - it is hidden from view. The temple was packed with people, today is their monthly Full Moon Festival. The temple grounds are quite large with a variety of buildings.
Inside the Temple of the Tooth

Inside the Temple of the Tooth

Inside the Shrine Room

Inside the Shrine Room


Kumara brought us back to the Eco-Villas in time for supper. We were tired and hungry, but satisfied with all the sights we had seen.

Posted by katdill 07:03 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

A Very Scenic Train Trip

Friday, January 22, 2016


View Sri Lanka, The Maldives and India on katdill's travel map.

As we were finishing our last breakfast in Ella, a group of monkeys moved into the neighbourhood. Nuli had warned us about the monkeys sometimes visiting early in the morning and making lots of noise on the roof, but we hadn't seen them at all until today. Of course, they look very cute to us, but it's obvious they are not liked by the local people.
Nuli

Nuli

Monkeys

Monkeys

Closeup

Closeup


We got on the train about 9:30 am and rode in first class, which means we had air conditioning and everyone had a seat. It was not crowded and we were at the very back of the train, so we could view the front of the train going around curves and into tunnels. It was a lovely ride. The view was constantly changing, although there were more tea plantations on the slopes than we could believe. We traveled along a high ridge part of the way and even went thru a tunnel to the other side of the mountain. The train travels very slowly so there is lots of opportunity to see everything. The guys even spent quite a bit of time at the open doors at the end of the car, hanging out and taking pictures.
Inside first class

Inside first class


I broke the ice with this young man in the picture, by taking a picture of him as he was taking a picture of the train. He later stopped by my seat to chat. He lives in Colombo and is on his honeymoon. He offered to help us with any information we might need. A very friendly and helpful fellow, just like so many of the Sri Lankans we have met.
Wonderful vista

Wonderful vista

Tea plantations

Tea plantations

Tea workers

Tea workers


We got to Kandy around 4:15 pm. After connecting by phone with our host, Nandana, he picked us up at the train station and brought us in a van to Kandy Eco-Villas, which is a lovely little place with forest around us and the noisy city seems far away, even though it's just over the hill. Sunil, the manager/houseboy, speaks English quite well and is a helpful source of information as well as the supplier of breakfasts.

We walked over to a restaurant, about 1/2 km away, to have supper. Unfortunately, that involves walking thru a traffic tunnel that has no sidewalk and is just as narrow as all the other streets. Not very pleasant! The restaurant had very limited fare but we all managed to find something to eat. Finding food without chilli or tomatoes or peppers is very difficult here. It was so nice eating at Nuli's because she understood my problem and cooked delicious food that was good for me as well.

We also visited a grocery store to pick up some snacks and then back to our accommodation. Good thing we took our headlights with us - dark road to travel back. We met Kush, our host's wife, who helped us with plans for tomorrow.

Posted by katdill 17:31 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

Weaving and exploring

Thursday, January 21, 2016

sunny 26 °C
View Sri Lanka, The Maldives and India on katdill's travel map.

Today was a bit more relaxed. We set off this morning to explore the town of Ella a little. We visited a Handweaving shop we had seen yesterday. It was a great treat - so colourful. One older woman was using the loom and there were two younger women who were keeping her supplied with full bobbins. She was weaving with what I would consider fine sewing thread. I even bought a blouse made from their handwoven fabric. They have a website at Sunimals

Hanks of thread

Hanks of thread

Filling the bobbins

Filling the bobbins

Finished articles for sale

Finished articles for sale


We also explored a few other shops, even the local supermarket. This is a small town, whose main purpose is tourism, so the number of homestays and restaurants far outnumber any other kind of shop.
Bins of the many kinds of rice available

Bins of the many kinds of rice available


We had lunch in AK Ristoro, the number one rated restaurant by Trip Advisor. It was a nice place to eat, partly because it is away from the street noise, and it had good food.

We had discovered when we arrived here that the one ATM in town did not work for foreign credit cards, only for locals. So after lunch Don and I caught a bus to the next town, Bandarwela, which is quite a bit larger, to get some more cash. It was only about a 20 minute bus ride and there was an ATM at the bus depot. We did spend more time there, just getting some of the large bills changed and finding a new glasses case for Don. And then we were back on the bus again. The bus station there was very busy. Buses keep the country running.
Busy bus station

Busy bus station


Once we were back at our place, Don, Rob and Mani went off to hike up to the waterfall that can be seen from our balcony. The hike is along the railway tracks and over a railway bridge to get to the waterfall. So care must be taken to keep an ear open for a train coming along. They enjoyed the walk and I enjoyed sitting in the shade, relaxing.
View from the top of the waterfall

View from the top of the waterfall

Train coming

Train coming


We had another great supper here tonight and have to get packed up to take the train to Kandy tomorrow morning.

Posted by katdill 07:05 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

Little Adam's Peak

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


View Sri Lanka, The Maldives and India on katdill's travel map.

Today was Rob's birthday as well as the 4th birthday of our hostess's daughter. The little girl got a cake at kindergarten, but poor Rob didn't get any cake at all. He did get some chocolate with nuts that I discovered in the bottom of my backpack. What a tough life to have your birthday in Sri Lanka!!
We walked down the road to town (not too bad going down, but coming up would be a different matter) and took the road towards the trail to Little Adam's Peak. We passed the streetside market, where we saw more exotic vegetables which we could not identify. Don picked up a helpful little map of the town and surroundings so we would have a better idea of where we were going.
Street market

Street market

Weighing produce

Weighing produce


We walked 2 km, mostly uphill, along the road to a tea plantation called 98 Acres and then thru the plantation on a trail. Eventually we got to the staircase part of the climb - up concrete steps winding up the steep mountain. There were lots of people on the trail and having met a woman with a cane coming back from the hike, I knew I could do it. Quite the cardio workout! We made the top and enjoyed the spectacular views. After a bit of a rest at the top, it was time to come back down. Hard on the knees!! We took a different route for part of the way and saw a snake charmer with a monkey as well, trying to fleece the tourists at the side of the road.
Rob's 72nd birthday photo

Rob's 72nd birthday photo

One of the many views from the top

One of the many views from the top

Snake charmer

Snake charmer


We had lunch in the Curd Shop, a little restaurant which had very good food. We took a taxi to the Uva Halpewatta Tea Factory to have a tour. The road to get there was very narrow and at one point our driver was backing downhill to get to a spot wide enough for a big tea truck to get past! We had to wait awhile for the tour to start, but when it did, the guide was very informative. He had us smelling tea at all the different stages of preparation and feeling the texture of it. I had no idea there were so many steps in the production of tea. We could not take pictures inside the factory, just before the tour and afterwards. So not too much to show you from there.
Tea picker

Tea picker

Tea truck ready to unload

Tea truck ready to unload


Our taxi driver brought us all the way back to Chamodya (after a stop for me to pick up some cold beer) and we did some laundry and rested up before another delicious supper of rice and curry.
The door to our room

The door to our room

Our room

Our room

Posted by katdill 17:17 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

Travel to the Mountains

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


View Sri Lanka, The Maldives and India on katdill's travel map.

Today was another travel day. We decided not to take the 7:10 am bus, thank goodness, and go on the 1:30 bus instead. Don, Rob and Mani went off on a bike ride to a nearby lake, first thing in the morning. I tried to update my blog, but the internet was so slow, it was impossible. So I worked on identifying the bird photos we'd taken. Gem River Edge is in a beautiful spot and they serve traditional Sri Lankan meals, cooked in a traditional kitchen. Very interesting for us Westerners!
Off for a ride

Off for a ride

Fishermen on the lake

Fishermen on the lake

Beautiful lake

Beautiful lake

Carla and her cook

Carla and her cook

Traditional kitchen

Traditional kitchen


We got tuk-tuks into the bus depot in time to get some food for lunch. Then on the bus to Ella. We were the first on and there was plenty of room this time. The bus was a lot like a school bus for comfort. It was a 3 hour ride, with plenty of stops for people getting on and off. We climbed up the mountain valley, one minute rice fields, the next minute steep valley.
Ella is in such a beautiful spot, but it is steep. The road to our accommodation, Chamodya Home Stay, was narrow, winding and steep. I wondered if our tuk-tuk would make it, loaded with us and our luggage. But we arrived safe and sound, and were warmly greeted by Nuli with a cup of tea and a snack. After settling in, we went for a little walk further along the road. It's only a little steep in places and doesn't continue all that far past our place.
We had a wonderful rice and curry supper prepared by Nuli and were so impressed we think we might eat supper with her every night.
Waiting for tea on the balcony

Waiting for tea on the balcony

Fantastic view

Fantastic view

Steps up from the road

Steps up from the road

On our little walk

On our little walk

Posted by katdill 17:29 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

(Entries 46 - 50 of 62) « Page .. 5 6 7 8 9 [10] 11 12 13 »