The train journey from Colombo Fort to Kandy takes approximately two and a half hours. The scenery is pretty good and sitting in the doorway with other backpackers chatting away makes the time pass very quickly.
On arrival in Kandy I took a taxi to my new hostel, Kandy City Hostel. This is the sister hostel of Colombo City Hostel and booking through them gives you a 10% discount. Again the hostel is basic, but I felt it was nicer than the one in Colombo. There are two big social areas inside and a rooftop terrace which basically takes up the whole top floor. Melanie, the lady who runs the hostel is great and full of knowledge about Kandy.
I set off on an adventure to see what I could find. I walked around Kandy Lake which is filled with a lot of different wildlife. Unfortunately there were no turtles on display today, but there were a few huge iguanas (I’m talking about 6 feet long!). Going around the lake you will see a lot of local life with a few markets, people feeding the fish and those who are just out for a stroll.
I then headed into the main area of Kandy where the streets are lined with stalls and small shops selling everything you could think of. It is a very busy place buzzing with activity. I found it very hard to get my bearings as there weren’t really any signposts and also no obvious landmarks to remember. Everything looks very similar, all the streets are lined with shops and the roads packed with scooters and tuk tuks, so trying to figure your way around is quite difficult. I didn’t find Kandy to be a very pretty town, but maybe I was looking in the wrong parts.
Lunch was an interesting experience! There was a small cafe in the centre of the main market. The cafe was filled with locals so this was a good sign. I ordered vegetable curry and rice for 100 rupees (approx 50p). A huge plateful of rice and four different curries arrived. I had no idea what I was eating but it was full of flavour, only one out of the four being too spicy for me.
After lunch we walked back to the lake and headed for the Temple of the Tooth. This is a Buddhist temple and they believe the relic of the tooth is from Buddha. It is quite a big temple complex, lots of little temples within the one temple. You could walk around for free and see quite a lot, but we decided to pay the 1,500 rupees (approx £8) and go into the main temple. The decor of the temple is beautiful, a lot of gold and elephant tusks. You can hire a tour guide to give you more information, but make sure you get a certified one rather than a local on the street claiming they are a guide. There are a couple of different ceremonies on at different times so try to tie your visit in with one of these.
Jet lag started to set in and so after the temple I headed back to my hostel to chill out for a little bit. A couple of girls arrived in the dorm and we went out for some food. Melanie recommended a place called Bamboo Gardens so we decided to give it a go. We arrived to a lively rooftop restaurant and were greeted by very friendly staff. I decided to play it safe food wise and had vegetable noodles, but even this simple dish was delicious. The view from the restaurant is great and from there you can see the Big Buddha which is lit up at night time.
The next day I walked from the hostel up to a view point called Arthur’s Seat. The walk took about 40 minutes. The view from the top was spectacular. From there you are looking over the lake, the Temple of the Tooth, Kandy town, and you can see for miles into the countryside.
In the afternoon Sri Lanka were playing Australia in the final game of the cricket series. Even though I am not a cricket fan I decided to go along for the afternoon as I felt I had to experience it. Sri Lankans love their cricket! The streets were lined with cricket fans showing their supports with shirts, flags and decorated faces. The cricket ground is not in Kandy but in a little town called Pallekele. The bus there took about an hour and only cost 20 rupees. On arrival the atmosphere was already electric. Sitting on a grass embankment in the sun surrounded by locals going wild for their national heroes was a great experience.
That night I ate at a cafe called Garden Cafe which is just on the side of the lake. The food came very quickly and again was very tasty. It’s so cheap to eat out all the time rather than cooking in the hostel.
The next morning I was up biright and early to try to get a train ticket to Ella. I bought an unreserved ticket for 240 rupees (approx £1.20) and waited for the train to arrive. I bumped into some people I knew from the hostel and we jumped on and sat in the doorway again.
Next stop Ella.