We had decided to cut short our stay in Nuwara Eliya as we felt that while beautiful we had seen enough of the tea plantations and walking around them wasn’t brilliant with the threat of a huge thunderstorm over our heads all the time. So it was a continuation of our train journey to Kandy for us this morning which as the crow flies was only 40 km away yet the train journey was due to take us 3.5 hours!
The train track wound its way through the hills descending about 1000m down to Kandy and although it took a long time it was really fantastic sitting watching the views unfold outside the window. The whole area was bright green tea plants interspersed with the run down villages of the tea pickers and the occasional grand house which presumably was either the tea plantation owner’s house or a hotel. We couldn’t have been travelling quicker than about 25kph and with our headphones in we sat back and really enjoyed the view. The journey is listed as one of the most picturesque train journeys in the world and it really lived up to its billing.
There were a few bigger towns down in the valley towards the end of our journey and there was a definite buzz of craziness when we arrived in Kandy. We managed to avoid all of the tuk tuk drivers who were trying to charge us extortionate rates to get to our guesthouse and found ourselves some food as we were famished. We had some “short eats” which are a selection of rotis and samosa type foods presented on a tray. You are given a selection of about 8 but you only get charged for the ones you eat, they are full of delicious spice and flavour!!
After checking in at our guesthouse where once again we were greeted by an amazingly friendly and helpful host called Herath, we set off for a walk around the Kandy lake into town. The artificial lake in the centre of town is huge and was built in 1807 and is quite a centrepiece of the town. More importantly for us it was cooler down by the lake as our descent out of the mountains had meant we were back in the heat and humidity.
The amount of traffic around the lake was incredible and the town centre seemed alive with people everywhere, lots of locals but plenty of tourists too. We were going to see the main sight in town, The temple of the sacred tooth, the next day so we decided to head towards the main markets.
The first market we saw was the main food and veg market which was nice although not nearly as busy as I thought it would be, still we strolled around looking at all the spices and fruit for sale. We were stopped at one stall where we found some red bananas which we had to try. Along with mangosteen which I had not tried before and once you peel it the interior looks like cloves of garlic. It has a consistency similar to a lychee and was quite tasty. I am sure we have mentioned it before but the quality of fruit is just amazing here. I am guessing it’s the difference between naturally grown and chemically enhanced.
On the way back to the guesthouse we decided to stop in and see a Kandy dance show, another thing recommended in the guide books. Since we see everyone clutching a copy of the same guidebook the place was packed with tourists but to be fair who else would come to a daily show of Sri Lankan dance.
The show was entertaining. I wouldn’t say the standard of choreography or dancing ability was terribly high but the costumes were fun and they crammed about ten different dances into about 50 mins. It wasn’t just dancing there was some plate spinning and acrobatics too. The highlight for me though was the drumming which seemed to be off beat but with the four guys drumming at the same time there was a rhythm that worked which was quite unlike anything I have heard before. The whole thing was a lot of fun.
The thunderstorm which had been threatening all day finally came just before the show finished so they weren’t able to do their fire walking outside which was a bit of a shame. Luckily though the rain meant that 90% of the audience were unable to leave the hall so we jumped in a tuk tuk and were whisked home to our guesthouse where once again we were treated to a fantastic meal of rice and curry. We can’t believe that we have had similar food now for just over two weeks and haven’t felt bored with it at all. I think it’s the fact that while it’s a similar format the differences in the flavours and the vegetables make enough of a variety for us not to get bored. Or maybe it’s just the fact that curry is delicious!!! T
We will never tire of watching these views out of the train window.
Eucalyptus trees in the tea plantation.
Just a bit of blue sky would top this off!
Short eats at the bus station
Our friendly tuk tuk driver.
The lake at Kandy.
The English influence.
A pretty splendid hotel on the shore of the lake.
The central market in Kandy.
One of the dancers from the show we enjoyed.