Call me crazy, but I think that when you take a job driving some tourists to their hotel in a town 100km away, then the least you could do is check where you are going to drop them off before you set off! It’s radical, I know BUT it would save you an hour of driving round and round Kandy when everyone is hot, thirsty and tired whilst stopping every few hundred yards to ask for directions!!! We didn’t have a local SIM so google maps didn’t work and he had the kind of Nokia phone that I used to use 20 years ago!!!! But as a local you’d think he would have the sense to find out where he was taking us BEFORE setting off!
And the driving? Well, let’s say that the national pastime is clearly ‘traffic leapfrogging’. Particularly if you are a bus. The fact that a car is currently overtaking a tuk tuk is no problem. The bus will just go anyway. So three abreast on ordinary roads against oncoming traffic!!! It’s just all in a normal run for them.
Our driver was a champion of the ‘stabbing at the brake pedal’ motion and an award winner in ‘extreme acceleration’. The lurches were phenomenal and this only lasted 3 hours (4, if you count the hour we spent lost and trying to find our hotel). He wasn’t as proficient at honking as the other drivers who had reached master class level and who honked prolifically – especially when our driver just stopped in the road to ask directions.
The view from our room (once we finally arrived) is beautiful
And this morning we had a walk around the lake where we spotted lots of local wildlife. This chap is obviously very well fed but then again the lake was simply teeming with fish.
And even plenty of these
There is too much traffic though and no attempt at filtering the diesel fumes. Plenty of old busses just spurt out thick black clouds of exhaust, like the old days in the U.K. So the air is not pleasant to breath (which is a great shame and spoils the place).
Kandy is notable for having a relic, the Buddha’s tooth. It is so important in Buddhism that it was something which I learned about in my A level RS course and it stuck with me because I always that it ironic that a tooth relic should be in a place called Kandy! I never in a million years thought that I would ever come here…
I’m not entirely sure which one, but today was a festival and the shrine was closed to us until 6.30. Devotees wearing white flooded the town and they are seen here lining up to enter with their lotus flower offerings. Lotus for peace
The shrine itself is very impressive and structurally reminds me of the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem with the ornate inner building. This one however, has an upper and lower level. The upper lever is where the oblations and prayers are offered and the lower level in where the ceremonies take place.
There are tooth ceremonies three times a day and we were fortunate to see one. It involved much ceremonial drumming and key unwrapping. Monks and temple officials slipped into the shine where I am told that the tooth sits inside 7 bejeweled stupa caskets, one inside the other like Russian dolls. We weren’t allowed anywhere near those!
Once a day though, the tooth is washed with herbal water and the water then distributed to the people where it is said to have healing properties, something similar I suppose to Lourdes. We did see some disabled children in wheelchairs here which was good because you don’t see that very often at all in Asia.
The Tempe grounds had many smaller shrines, including this one with a halo of flashing electric lights
We also watched a cultural dance show (we have seen several of these now on our travels). This one had a particularly good mask dance which is supposed to ward off evil spirits and apparently is still used in psychiatry on the island today! Having seen the mask exhibition in Colombo it was nice to see one in action.
The show ended with traditional fire eating/walking to much oohing and ahhing from the audience.
But the BEST part of the day was our Indian Thali meal. All this for just £2! unbelievable!