A Travellerspoint blog

JAN 25 UDAWATTAKELE PARK KANDY

A PLEASANT WALK

sunny 30 °C

UDAWATTAKELE PARK
We hire a tuk tuk to take us to the entrance to the park overlooking KANDY LAKE. The park has a well groomed trail through a mature forest on top of a hill overlooking the area. There are stands of ironwood, amazing vines growing into the canopy which is 100 feet above us. There is an impressive philodendron section where the vines encircle every tree in the area. The growth is rich and luxurious. We leave the park, catch a tuk tuk home, and pick up some dinner items from a small stand on the road, and spend the evening sharing stories with our hosts back at the ecolodge.

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KILLER VINES

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PHILODENDRON GONE WILD

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PESTS HERE BUT STILL FUN TO WATCH

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LAKE KANDY AT SUNSET

Posted by RDILL 09:03 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

JAN 24 KANDYAN DANCE

Dancing Around Lake Kandy

semi-overcast 30 °C

LAKE KANDY
Kandy is a bustling town and regarded as the cultural hub of Sri Lanka. We spend a lazy day shopping in the markets, buying elephant pants, and walking around Lake Kandy. It is a pleasant stroll in the late afternoon.

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KANDYAN DANCE
There are three dance troupes performing nightly in Kandy and we choose to go to the KANDYAN Cultural Centre to watch their performance. It is an hour long show of ceremonial dance, various folk dances, puja offering dances, and harvest dances. There are graceful dances by the female dancers and energetic acrobatic dances by the male dancers. The dancers are accompanied by drummers and horn players. The program ends with fire dancing and a fire walk at the end. A good one hour show.

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We head downtown for dinner and Don and Rob walk home (4 or 5 kilometres) while Kathy and Mani wisely take a tuk tuk.

Posted by RDILL 17:58 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged dance kandyan Comments (0)

JAN 23 KANDY IN LUXURY

Elephants Gardens and Temples

sunny 32 °C

TRAVEL IN LUXURY
We awake to the sound of birds at our Eco lodge set in the forest on the edge of Kandy. We have breakfast and share stories with a young French couple staying at the Eco lodge. The six of us arrange to hire a van and driver for the day. Our goal is to visit three sites in and around Kandy. To our surprise the driver arrives in a spanking new Hiace van. It is the most luxurious accomodation we have driven in to date. Transportation is the one real bargain in Sri Lanka. Cost to hire a driver and van for the entire day works out to $25 Canadian per couple.

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OUR ECOLODGE

PINNAWALA ELEPHANT SANCTUARY
Our first stop is the Pinnawala elephant sanctuary 40 kilometres west of Kandy. We drive through winding scenic hills descending 700 meters. The sanctuary was originally created to rehabilitate elephants injured or diseased as a result of the 30 year civil war. Many elephants have been rehabilitated and released and most of those remaining are not able to be released back into the wild. The orphanage is a major tourist attraction swarming with local and international visitors on this full moon holiday. There are lines of shops selling all kinds of elephant paraphernalia. We watch a homecoming celebration of a couple returning from their honeymoon. We see paper being made from elephant dung. In spite of it all it is fun to see the elephants hanging out in the river. After a couple of hours bathing they proceed through the main entrance to the fields across the way to feed.

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HOMECOMING CELEBRATION

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ELEPHANTS BATHING IN THE RIVER

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FEEDING TIME

GADALADENIYA RAJA MAHA VIHARA TEMPLE
We stop for a traditional Sri Lankan lunch overlooking the ravines and surrounding hills. Our driver takes us to an old temple off the beaten path. It is not on our itinerary but turns out to be one of the most interesting places we visit. It was built by a King and is dated back to 1344 and thought to be of South Indian design. The main shrine has a seated Buddha statue with 4 standing Buddha images surrounding. Next to the main shrine is a fascinating stupa carved into the rock. The main stupa is a devali shrine dedicated to Vishnu and there are 4 satellite stupas carved out of the rock on each side around the main stupa to honour the mythical palace of the god Indra. The walls contain surprisingly intact remnants of the paintings that once adorned them.

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MANI RECEIVING BLESSINGS

ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS
We spend a couple of hours exploring the 60 hectare botanical gardens dating back to 1371 and for many centuries the exclusive gardens of royalty. One could spend a day here exploring the orchid, fern, palm, cactus, bamboo, flowering trees and other areas of the site. The park is alive with families enjoying the day. It is as much fun people watching as checking out the exotic plants.

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THE MANI ORCHID

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PEOPLE WATCHING

TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH
Our last stop is one of the most important shrines in Sri Lanka. It is said the tooth of Buddha was snatched from the flames of his funeral pyre in 453 BC and smuggled to Sri Lanka in the hair of a princess. It was believed that whoever had custody of the tooth had the right to rule. The tooth is said to have come into the possession of the Kandy royalty in the 16 and 17th centuries and the temple was built as part of the Royal Palace. We shed our shoes at the gate and join the throngs of worshippers. Sri Lankan Buddhists believe that they must make at least one pilgrimage here during their lifetime to improve their karma. We read plaques outlining the turbulent history of the tooth. We are lead onto the room where a replica of the tooth is supposed to reside. We do not actually see even the replica and the original tooth is so valuable it is supposed to be hid somewhere unknown for safekeeping.

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VIEW OF TEMPLE AND KANDY LAKE

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DEVOTION

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THE SANCTUARY OF THE TOOTH

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YOUTH RALLY

Our driver patiently waits for us to move through the temple grounds and then drops us off at home as dark descends. We head down the road for dinner and return to the quiet of our rooms. It's been a full day.

Posted by RDILL 10:54 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged gardens temples elephants Comments (0)

JAN 22 ELLA TO KANDY BY TRAIN

We're on the Road Again

sunny 28 °C

TRAIN TRAVEL
We are sad to leave Ella. Nuli has been such a sweet host. But we are excited to ride the rails. The train station at Ella is an old colonial structure built to transport tea to Colombo for export. The train arrives on schedule and we take our seats.
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ELLA TRAIN STATION

The train travels through the highlands of Sri Lanka and is ranked as one of the worlds most scenic train rides. We leave at 9:20 am and arrive in Kandy 7 hours later. We climb to over 5300 feet, hug mountain cliffs, travel through a network of tunnels, pass small villages, farms, towering trees and amazing views over the countryside. We travel first class in air conditioned comfort but take turns hanging out the doors between cars to snap photos. The price is just over $10 Canadian per person.
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RIDING THE RAILS

We arrive in Kandy a bustling and noisy city, are picked up by our host and driven to a small eco-villa on the edge of town in a quiet forested area. We get settled in, walk a 1/2 kilometer to a supermarket with a restaurant above and have a leisurely meal before returning in the dark narrow roads plugged with traffic. One stretch is through a tunnel with no shoulders and we weave between cars coming in all directions.

Posted by RDILL 08:57 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged train by to kandy ella Comments (0)

JAN 21 ELLA WEAVING AND WATERFALLS

Climbing and Hiking Adventures

sunny 28 °C

ELLA
The sunrises from our balcony are stunning. A pack of monkeys hang out around our accomodation. One runs between Rob's legs as he's photographing others. We decide to explore the town of Ella which consists of a bunch of restaurants and back pack accommodations to cater to the tourist crowd, a few shops selling avurvedic items, a bank with an ATM machine that won't work for foreigners and tons of tuk tuk's lining the street waiting to take anyone anywhere for a price. We decide to walk.

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SUNRISE

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OUR DIGS AND EARLY MORNING VISITOR

WEAVING CENTRE
We hike back uphill to an interesting weaving shop we saw the day before. They are weaving very fine and colourful yarn into various garments and accessories and have outlets around Sri Lanka where they sell their quality products. We buy a few goodies We have lunch at an art cafe run by a Russian couple. We spend the afternoon relaxing.
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NEIGHBOURHOOD WATERFALL
We wait for the heat of the afternoon to dissipate and then head off along the rail tracks to explore a waterfall that we can see from our balcony 3 or 4 kilometres away. The sun makes it hard to get a good photos so we climb higher to get a great view. Mani celebrates her accomplishment. We get a coconuts to drink from a local household and talk with a farmer we meet along the way back. He climbs an avocado tree of his and hands us a couple of green avocados. As we are returning a train comes by. Mani lies helplessly on the tracks but Rob rescues her just in time. Another amazing meal and we prepare for our departure tomorrow.
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Posted by RDILL 08:14 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged waterfalls weaving and ella Comments (0)

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