Thursday, 24 April 2014

Culture capital, Sri Lanka

Our last leg of Sri Lanka...Kandy!

Can't lie, this was definAtly not our favourite stop. Mainly because it was a huge city. As Ashton and I are not big city kinda people, we found Kandy to be very overwhelming with its hustle and bustle. It was Loud!!(I didn't know it was possible for one city to have as many creaky buses that all honked at each other and at the tuk tuks.)' Crowded, (we often had to walk single file and push through people to move ahead), stinky, (from bat poop, to dog poop, to human pee, rotting food, and every other bad smell combined), and hot (standing still made us drenched with sweat), annoying ("tuk tuk sir?" Tuk tuk"???) Probably didn't help that it was nearing the end of the New Years holiday and people were
starting to head home, hence the transport being Bonkers!,

After 24 hours we knew we didn't want to be in Kandy so we went to the train station to attempt to change our pre booked ticket out of here. Every train, first class and seconds class was fully booked for the next couple days. Our options were to take a third class train (which meant standing in body door, sweat and pee for 3 hours while being crammed in with locals) or making the best of Kandy and then taking our first class pre booked ticket in three days...

We chose the latter....

We spent a day getting our culture fix in. Considering we hadn't visited a temple yet, we figured cultural capital Kandy would be the best place. The temple of the sacred tooth.!

Before entering the grounds, we had a short, toothy, old man approach us and offer to give us a tour for a price. He also started pointing his cane at Ashton's feet and insisted that Ashton would have to rent a pair of shoes from the old man because no one was allowed to enter in sandals. Well this was ironic, since we later removed our footwear and walked around in bare feet! Hah a.. Needless to say we did not take a tour ..or shoes from this old man.

The temple Was really quite beautiful with all the detailing and the gold and colourful Buddhas.

The sacred tooth of the Buddha is said to have been snatched from the Buddha during his funeral in 483BC and was smuggled into Sri Lanka in the 4th century. People tried to destroy the tooth, by smashing it with hammer, but it remained intact and even rose into the air and lit up by light. ( yes, were talking about a human tooth, as in teeth from your mouth)... Lol

After this miracle, the people decided it was an important tooth and many countries wanted it in their power. So it was fought over and stolen many times, until finally the Sri Lankan people built a shrine to hold it in. The tooth is only exposed a couple times a day for a short period of time. And during those moments people offer flowers to the shrine and pray to the shrine. Other times, visitors to the shrine walk around it, light candles, and pray to it.

 So in all, several temples and shrines make up the grounds of this historic tooth and people come from all over Sri Lanka to worship it.

After exploring the grounds of the temple we went to a haunted, horror hotel. A very eccentric lady built this over the top, extraordinary hotel, covered in decorations and interesting furniture.

We ended off our cultural day with a Kandyan Performance. Elaborate costumes, dance moves, and stunts, including back flips, made up this show. It was awesome.

 The next day we drove an hour by tuk tuk to an elephant sanctuary..we watched 30 elephants walk around the river and cleanse themselves. Some tourist would feed the elephants bananas and some would pay extra to take photos with the elephant or go for a ride. Elephants really are huge! Gigantic animals with lots of grace. It was nice to watch the elephants in the water. A few of the elephants had chains on them, which was difficult to see, bbuutt it was an orphanage and there are many tourists around, so I believed that the chains are a form of safety for the animal and the tourists.

The 30 elephants were then hearded back to the main grounds to be fed coconuts and leaves.crazy how they can eat a whole leaf or stump in a matter of minutes.

We watched a couple baby elephants play together, as they chased each other around and pushed each other into the water, then would flop down on one another ,haha

  Sadly the orphanage has become a tourist trap, along the outside, shops are lined along the street, selling everything elephant- from tshirt to shot glasses, to dung paper. They make paper out of elephant poop!!,! Eewwwww. (The amazing race had teams making the paper as one of the challenges,) so once again we smilied thinking we were near the area of the amazingly race challenge!
 Our final day in Kandy, and our second last day in Sri Lanka we treated ourselves to a pool day, up in the hills, far away from the city. Located in a beautiful hotel with many guests. We lounged around, drank beer, had lunch and supper, used the wifi and most importantly enjoyed the quietness. It was glorious. It also had amazing views.

We took a tuk tuk up the hills to get there which was easy because like we mentioned earlier, they are everywhere. I swear if you whisper the word tuk tuk quietly to each other, some guy will come out of no where asking "you need tuk tuk?" Getting back into Kandy was a different story. We wanted to enjoy the peace and quiet as long as we could but eventually we had to leave. By that time it was dark out and we were literally 20 some kilometres up a big hill. We asked the front desk to call us a tuk tuk to take us back to crazy land, aka Kandy but of course booking anything through a fancy hotel like that comes with a price. The ride down was going to be double what the ride up was. We saw a couple public buses on the the main road (about 2kms down from the hotel) on the way up in the morning so we were deciding if we should just walk down to the main road and try to catch a bus back. As we were discussing what to do, one the hotel employees overheard us and said, "you can find a tuk Tuk down on the main road "no problem" and it will be cheaper than the hotels rate". That sounded good to us so off we went, 2kms down the windy road to the main drag. When we got there, there was not a tuk tuk to be found and the road was empty.

Of course the one and only time we actually would be happy to see a stupid tuk tuk, there was none to be found or heard. We walked for a bit but it was pitch black so we decided to head back. There was a security guard at the start of the winding road up to the hotel so we figured we could get him to call us a tuk tuk or at least call up to the front desk to get them to get us one. Of course he didn't speak any English! So lucky us! Now we get to walk 2kms back up the hill to the fancy hotel to get the over priced tuk tuk. We laugh about it now, not at the time though haha.

From Kandy we took our train to Negombo which was a small town on the beach. It was lined with hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. As many people start or end their journey in Sri Lanka, with it being a beach town nearest the airport.

 We lined up transport for 2:30 am to the airport, bought a couple souvenirs, then enjoyed the pool until it started to pour rain then went to the room to watch some English tv. .. Haha .. You know when you haven't watched tv for a while, whEn your completely intranced with the movie Toy Story 3. We attempted to get a bit of sleep before waking up at 2:15 to head to the airport.

Anyways that about wraps up Sri Lanka. We'll post a blog of pictures and stories that we missed, then it's on to GRREEECCCeE!!

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