The first stop for the day once we departed from Negambo to Kandy was at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. A must visit if you are within the same route in Sri Lanka (Maetaeng Elephant Park (Chiang Mai), there are a couple of activities in this huge area (Lion Park Johannesburg) to occupy your time for at least a few hours. We arrived at about 10.30am and walked towards the river alongside all walks of life people (Istanbul Topkapi Palace) in the scorching heat for approximately 500 yards via the dusty road lined with souvenir and clothes shops on both sides.
After seeing the elephants bathing and paying a couple of dollars for picturing, instead of crowding around while carefully watching our steps, on our way back to the main road, we quenched our thirst with fresh coconut water from the road side stall. Just then, before we knew, the roads were closed for the little and chained at their legs large elephants to march from the river and towards the main road. Literally blocked and rather impossible to follow the line of people, we soon lost sight where the elephants were directed to.
We then crossed over to the other side of the road to enter the Elephant Orphanage itself and spend ½ an hour by watching how the elephants were cared for, as well as the baby ones being hand-fed. Certainly quite an up-close experience, next, we hungrily tucked into the spicy (Claypot Sri Lankan Fish Curry) and not-spicy dishes at a nearby restaurant.
Back on the road after lunching, later we visited the "Island Spice Grove”. Definitely a different kind of experience compared to the crowded and blistered in the sun elephant camp, this garden surrounded with all sorts of spices, plants and huge trees was a breather as a leisurely-fun outing (Bai Orchid Chiang Mai), including the demonstration on how essential oils are extracted. Towards the end of the walk, at the spice store, I was tempted to buy some vanilla pods but hearing it loud and clear on the price, I decided to save keep my money.
Journeying from island spice grove, we then had a quick stop at a hilltop small wood craft centre. Except for admiring the large and small skillfully crafted wood pieces (Royal Thai Handicraft Center & Artisan dÁngkor Cambodia) what more ignored by the owner and staff, none of us even considered taking a second look or were tempted to buy those things.
Another few hours on the road, eventually we arrived at the said Kandy - the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and a World Heritage Site. Subsequently, we got down at the gem museum (Wangtalang Lapidary Phuket) and admired the famous-well-known Sri Lankan precious stones. Indeed, stunning original quality items, but buying was out of the question after noting the prices, well, better for the gem stones to remain where they are.
Thereafter, at about 7.00pm, we stepped foot into Temple of the Tooth Relic. Historically significant, this golden roofed Temple (Myanmar - Shwedagon Pagoda) houses Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic – a tooth of the Buddha. But you won’t see the tooth which is locked in a room, apparently shown on a tv during auspicious occasions.
As we walked into the beautiful lighted up compound with numerous other temples (Wat Na Phramen Ayutthaya & Angkor Wat Cambodia) and a museum, Temple of Tooth Relic was crowded with mostly local and some tourists queuing up in front of the altar for the prayers to begin. Instead of waiting, we quickly said our prayers and decided it will be best to spend the time viewing the entire complex that features the three Alut Maligawa shrine hall displaying dozens of sitting Buddhas donated by Thai devotees, the open-air audience hall with stone columns carved to look like wooden pillars and the World Buddhism Museum containing lots of photographs, models and displays illustrating Buddhism around the world.
Apart from that, for a small fee, the local tour guides will explain the journey of the tooth through all the various rulers of Sri Lanka. And, while you are at this temple, please take note of the rules and regulations on wearing decent clothes to cover your legs and shoulders, removing your shoes and picturing without flash is allowed.
Finally, after the tiring and walking non-stop day, we arrived at Hotel Kandyan Arts Residency for a night’s stay and dinner. Offering quite a selection of traditional Sri Lankan spread, we heartily tucked in, rested for a while and adjourned to the well maintained clean room with most basic amenities. However, I was told wifi connection is only at the reception area. Anyway, once I showered, before I knew, I was already sound asleep.
(P.S - Nava K is gonna be quite for at least a week. She is embarking on another solo travelogue).
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