Sunday, June 26, 2016

Kandy (Rambukkana/Mawanella/Kandy) - Sri Lanka

Negambo to Kandy. Indeed, the clear route for the day, but its not gonna be none more except just straight, all the way to Kandy straightaway. Two stops already plotted on our itinerary, the main highlight for most people who embark on the same route is definitely Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Pinnawalla Elephant Orphanage, as far as I know, has already been crowned as a clear winner. Recognized as a must experience. If you are asking me, if my opinion matters to you, whether you should include Pannawalla Elephant Orphanage, you might as well. Why hold yourself back or what should by the way hold you back? Coming this far and not covering this world known and world famed tourist spot? To those of you who potentially will be tour travelling Sri Lanka, do make it a point in checking if your trip is inclusive of Pinnawalla Elephant Orphannage. I somehow reckon it will be. Unless your travel agent is a nut case. 

Already in full force and abuzz when we arrived at about 11.30am, even during. this off peak holiday season, notably, as sighted by Nava K, for whatever reason, majority of the tourists were Westerners. Guess these are the lucky strike people, besides the out of China Chinese who travel throughout the year. Westerners on the other hand, very simple for them. They won't mind ditching their jobs, families or even spouses for hitch-hiking or on their own self discovery travelling. All the way from where they are till another end of the world. Basically, once they are set on travelling, lemme go is their motto. Hitchhiking, limited budget, basic accommodation and simplicity, mark my word, will take them as far as possible. Of course, Sri Lanka is affordable as well due to currency wise. Big money man! Against Sri Lankan rupee. I could have, if I wanted to, budget hitchhike Sri Lanka too, but glad oh boy I didn't because on the first day itself, right from our airport, I kept wondering why I am being stared at. Something wrong with me or what? Brushing it aside, maybe I thought I am over-conscious, but no. Those guys seated in the same row as me on flight kept glancing at me, simultaneously, slyly giggling among themselves. Additionally, throughout the time I was with my tour buddies and on my own in Negambo. Remember I have already told you? The male staff who gave me the impression that sex is free in the hotel I didn't expect I will end up in? I think hotel is a con job or mistake on the part of my travel agent. In fact, its not even a hotel, just a motel. 

Located in a huge open area, yes, I am right now talking about Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, be prepared for dusty flying surrounding and skin burned by Sri Lankan blistering sun as you walk alongside the hundreds, passing by stalls on both sides and petty traders in any which direction, towards the river bank where its elephants water fun or bathing.   
Nang! What a sight. Harmless, friendly, huge and small elephant darlings. As long as you don't act funny or show your tricks to prove you are stronger than their trunks or feet, you are assured of a safe elephant haven. Otherwise, face the consequences. Scary right? So, behave yourself. Picturing side by side, as close as you dare with the elephants, mind you is a price your have to pay. A couple of dollars. Its optional by the way. Not a must. No one can force or should force, but temptation like mine will run wild. Or just be contented crowding around, watch your steps though, especially on the slippery surface and also from being bolstered or pushed aside by huge human forces. Aplenty rolly-polly people mind you. Half an hour at the river bank, we detoured for walking back to where we started. To the main road. Taking an interval by quenching our thirst with fresh coconut water from the petty trader, timing was just perfect for us to watch the march, or call it parade of elephants. Right in front and so close to us, obediently they crossed over the road, though I couldn't figure out nor can I tell you where they were heading. Most probably, into the Elephant Orphanage itself. 

We too crossed over for entering the Elephant Orphanage. The breeding ground, where elephants are being cared and nursed. Subsequently, within the next half an hour, we adjourned to the restaurant for lunch. Come one, come all, calling all yea faithful touristy kinda buffet. Personally, to tell you the truth, no doubt food was favorably absolute power yum, but I am not someone who enjoy dining in a crowded all walks of life ambiance.  In this case, I quickly filled my tummy for the sake of doing it and off into the van.   

Back on the road, our next sightseeing took place in "The Island Spice Grove”, Mawanella. The wonder world of spices. Huge garden, surrounded and shaded by trees, plants and where, obviously, its the nurturing of spices and all things perfumy nice. Sensationally soothing to my senses and a different kinda of experience compared to Pinnawalla Elephant Orphanage. Absolutely a breather. Away from the hustle and bustle, quiet, serene, nature comforting and at our leisure. Towards the end of our walk, we sat through a demonstration which was the proven affirmation to essentials oils extracted out of flowers, herbs and spices. Thereafter, we browsed through the products in the spice store. Pricey until my initial intention of buying some vanilla pods flew in the air. If I am not mistaken, if I can still recall, I think at least RM150.00 for maybe 5 pods.  
Subsequently, we had a pit-stop at a hilltop small wood craft centre. Sincerely admirable hand crafted all sorts of designs, patterns and sizes of wood cravings, not that we had any intention of buying, what made it worst was the attitude of the owner and staff who completely ignore us. Like we cared anyway. In and then out immediately for this I think the extra pocket money commission earning deal of our tour guide.      

Another few hours on the road, eventually, oh my Kandy by late evening. Kandy, the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings, a World Heritage Site, one of the largest cities located in central Sri Lanka and set on a plateau surrounded by mountains, opened up interestingly. Constantly and continuously luring thousands of tourists throughout the year, besides the Temple Of Tooth Relic, the main stealer we will visiting later, a trip to Kandy or Sri lanka on the whole is not complete until and unless you get a first hand eye experience of their precious stones. Whether you buy or not, that's up to you, but relatively and conclusively, you must get the picture that Sri lanka genuinely is an oasis of gems. We too had the honor. No intention of buying, none of were keen in paying a fortune, except admiring those stunning, original and cut all ways quality studs at one of the outlets.    

By the next half an hour, by 7.00pm, we made our way into Temple Of The Tooth Relic. Historically significant, a golden roofed Temple and housing Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic. Tooth of Buddha which you won't get to see. It is instead kept in locked in a room, and apparently only shown on  tv during auspicious occasions. 

Gracious Buddhism aura, god's diviners I believe will touch you, even if you are not a Buddhist and even a non-holy grain like me could sense. Furthermore, those lighted oil lamps are the profound meaning for reminding us that god willingly, we must be grateful to god no matter what. Packed with mostly locals, within the compound and every section, I concluded that like the Thais, Sri Lankans too believe strongly in god's wisdom. We queued alongside them in front of the altar while hoping we can partake in the prayers. However, having no clue how long more we have to wait, 10 minutes of our time gone by, as well as no indicating when prayers will begin, hopefully god did hear our individual prayers, we moved on for viewing whatever we can in the entire complex. We did I think cover most of it. 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 photographs, models and displays illustrating Buddhism around the world.

By right, our tour guide supposedly should be around for explaining the significance journey of Buddha tooth. This guy, hack, I already sense he is in his own world. He conveniently bolted. Only if we knew he is going to disappear, we could have, most probably paid a small fee to any of the freelance local guides for the depths on the history of Buddha tooth. Lemme also tell you that dressing decently is a prerequisite, not optional. Get covered and remove your shoes before entering The Temple Of Tooth Relic, Picturing to your satisfaction on the other hand is allowed, whereas camera flash is prohibited.  
Sightseeing concluded, at the end of it all, to Hotel Kandyan Arts Residency. Heartily tucking into the various types and ample choices of buffet spread, good stuff, no complains whatsoever, I said bye-bye to my fellow tour buddies prior to entering my kept neat, tidy and clean room. The only set back, was wifi. Wifi users, please head to the lobby. Honestly, didn't matter to me because I was already exhausted. The only thing on my mind was hitting the bed after showering and after a day of journeying and walking from one spot to the other from Negambo to Kandy.    

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