Relaxing in Sri Lanka: Day One: Colombo – Kandy

It is nothing to do with CTS, but while we were in Sri Lanka we had a second little holiday. Two nights in the centre of the Island. Telling you about it will at least help encourage you that if you are given half a chance Sri Lanka is a place you must visit!

Shop in a Kandy street

Shop in KandyThe first part of the Colombo to Kandy road runs through the urban ribbon that seems to spread along most of Sri Lanka’s lowland main roads. It’s fascinating for the visitor to watch all the little shops, so many like miniature Alladin’s Caves full to overflowing with different items for sale. The clothes – somehow often brighter than the restrained colours that the people around mainly choose, though in every town there are a few peacocks in bright striking saris – and the food shops are the most interesting. The range of lovely vegeatables and spices are almost as varied and decorative as the range of sari cloths. The streets, in town and out, are busy with busses (hundreds of them), tuk-tuks (here called trishaws), motorised carts, and the occasional cars and bullock carts, as well as people. Men intent on business, or chatting idly, older folk moving slower, children going to school (or busy not going home too soon after school), the younger boys and girls often accompanied by a parent or grandparent (for safety in the busy traffic?).

The lake at Kandy

img_2702.jpgSoon after we started to climb steeply to Kandy we turned off to the Elephant Orphanage. We were not quite sure what this would be like, the elephants in the tourist camp in Thaland had been somewhat sad beasts. Actually it was lovely. First in the light of the early morning sun over the hills, we watched the bigger elephants being fed piles of leaves and small branches. Then some of the babies, shoulder height only, getting milk from bottles – they have now quite a few babies born at the orphanage, as well as injured or troublesome beasts arriving at the reserve. Then down to the river where the group (50 – 60 animals of all ages and sizes) congregated to be washed down (elephants are otherwise permanently covered in mud and dust), drink, chat together in small groups, or for the younger and more adventurous head off to the far side in the hope of greener fresher food! We spent far longer than I’d have thought likely watching the elephants and have lots of video that our great-nephew Joe enjoyed watching with us.

Traditional dancers at Kandy Cultural Centre

dancers.jpgFrom there we climbed to the outskirts of Kandy, where we stopped at the botanic gardens. They are beautiful, and very well tended and labeled. Many of the trees in one section planted by a whole world of celebrities, from politicians and heads of state to Yuri Gagarin the Soviet cosmonaut (with thankfully no Holywood or reality TV names among them as far as we could see!) Here we saw some of the spices for which Sri Lanka is famous growing – nutmeg and mace come from a small yellowish fruit on trees somewhat like plumbs.

All through the gardens there were courting couples walking decorously, occasionally hand in hand, occasionally seated chatting seriously, the gardens are an accepted place where one can be “alone” but in plain sight, so a convenient place to explore the potential compatibility or to discover deeper beneath the surface attraction of a potential spouse!

At one edge of the gardens we came across a film crew. We were unable to walk across the suspension bridge – even though it had been signposted almost since the gate – as they were shooting a bevy of brightly dressed girls there. Nearby were a troop of monkeys, scampering across the ground, or swinnging rapidly through the branches. More video that we – and Joe – enjoy watching. Sri Lanka has just three species of wild monkey: Grey Langur, Toque Macaque & Purple-faced Langur (or Bear Monkey). We think these were Toque Macaques.

At the centre of Kandy there is a beautiful man made lake – ordered up by one of the ancient kings with an eye for beauty. It, together with fine architecture from both ancient and more recent times (the cooler climate encouraged the rich and powerful to build) makes the centre of Kandy one of the most beautiful city centres anywhere.

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