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Sri Lanka 2022

Sri Lanka Day 16 – Kandy

We put our washing in to reception and had breakfast before we walked over to the nearby Temple of the Tooth from the Queens Hotel. It started to rain heavily and we popped our shoes in and sheltered for a while. A Dutch couple were filming his “Disposal of the Socks” ceremony, which she assured me was a one off and I shouldn’t come back tomorrow as there would be nothing to see – this was their last temple visit of their trip.

We went into the museum, slightly damp, and saw pictures of the damaged caused by the Tamil bomb attack in 1998 which killed 17 and injured more than 25 people at this World Heritage site. We also saw the replica of the holy relic of the left lower incisor of Buddha – held here in a cask within 6 other casks, the outer of which was displayed briefly three times a day to the throngs who attend the temple in great numbers.

We watched the ceremony, at 9.30am, which started with drummers and then we queued with hundreds of others to file past the open doorway with the cask visible to us briefly in the background.

If we had any fears of catching Covid, surely they must be dispelled by this occasion when we were crushed in a small area with hundreds of other people, yes wearing masks, but….

The other replica in the museum is of the footprint of Buddha that we are due to visit in a couple of days time at Adam’s Peak. Now unless Buddha was 20 foot tall, which he might have been based on the size of his tooth replica, the footprint we saw must surely not be to scale, as it was huge.

After the ceremony and a visit to the wooden hall where the final surrender to the British had taken place by the last kingdom of Kandy, we went back to the hotel where sadly the lift was broken. It was one of those brilliant old ones with two sliding trellice gates and we had enjoyed using to to spare us the three floors to our room. Still, good training for the big walk at Adams Peak I guess.

Shortly thereafter we took the bus to the Botanical Gardens which although only 5km away took almost an hour to reach due to the heavy traffic. There were long queues at each of the garages, stretching hundreds of metres as all types of vehicles an pedestrians with jerry cans waited for the rare appearance of any type of fuel. There is supposedly loads in tankers off the coast, but Sri Lanka has no hard currency to pay for it, hence the devaluation, which had helped us, but not the vehicle owners it seemed as fuel was still very scarce.

The botanical gardens were peaceful pleasant and extensive and we wandered around dodging the showers and crossing half way across the swing bridge, dodging the fruit bats hanging under some trees, photographing large bamboo and elephant feet trees before ending up in the cafeteria run by the gardens.

If you look carefully you can see the bats….
The bamboo is easier to see…

Lunch was a slow affair, waiting over an hour for two sandwiches, one tuna and one cheese and tomato. My tuna turned out to be fish paste and Heather’s cheese was most peculiar, several of the group got upset stomachs later including Heather and I think here was the culprit.

On the way back we stopped at a gem factory, showing us a video of the mining process along with a replica model mine. I eventually bought a star sapphire to go with the ones I bought in Nepal and South Africa and hopefully we can get a pendant made for Heather when we get back which will show off the three very different stones well. I’m still not sure about the heritage of the Nepalese one, but the Sri Lankan one comes with a certificate of authenticity.

We left Gillian there and went back to the hotel, leaving soon thereafter to walk alongside the lake and past the temple to the theatre where we were entertained by the Kandy dancers, drummers and firewaters/walkers. An hour of this was just right and for £3 it was excellent value and good fun.

We walked back and went straight out again, stopping in the Odel store conveniently almost next door, which was a good find. Having bought two great value linen shirts (£13 each), I tried to cross the road to get to the ATM but no chance. I’ll go tomorrow.

We saw the sign for the Red Stag pub and thinking that was the one showing the rugby, went inside, only to be whisked up to a rooftop bar which we soon worked out wasn’t the one other members of the group had been in the previous night. After trying every tv station on the tv and not finding the rugby, we settled in and decided we didn’t need to see the games, thinking Wales would beat Italy easily and France would do the same to England. As it happened Italy won their first six nations match in 36 or so, at the expense of hapless Wales and so we didn’t miss much. England capitulated to France as expected and Eddie Jones was in the press the following day saying “he wasn’t good enough”. Maybe time to go then….

We waited an hour for our meal – battered prawns, which were ok once they arrived and afterwards went back to the hotel where our washing was soon delivered to our room. It is, as I’ve said elsewhere, one of life and travel’s greatest luxuries….

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