I…want Kandy

27 Mar

We trotted round the Fort in the morning

and saw a bit more of the local wildlife

We also explored the Dutch Reformed Church which was a very beautiful and peaceful church built in the late 19th Century

and the madness that is the Historical Mansion – a gloriously cluttered showcase of one man’s private antiques collection. He collects everything and anything: jewellery, pipes, china, spectacles, antique lace, coins, knives…you name it, there are at least 20 of them in there.

It was a bit sad as the collection was dusty and mouldering away, unloved, but the number of interesting items there was amazing. I asked why the man collected all this stuff, and the guide shrugged and said it was because he was crazy. Of course! He makes his money selling gems and then buys shiny things and puts them in his museum. I think he needs about eight more of them to fit everything in properly!

Craig went off to get his hair done, but unfortunately still not the bright red result he wanted. The lady kept asking “why??” when Craig said he just wanted a little bit at the front to be red. “Like a bird!” she kept giggling. But the finished product is actually quite good – just a little bit redder so we don’t stand out any more than we already do!

Difficult to see in this picture but it’s the nice reddy-brown henna usually turns people’s hair.

We had another delicious lunch (this time, banana flower and also jack fruit curries, yum) on a rooftop terrace. The bottom floor of the restaurant was a shop, where I was severally tempted by this apron

In the evening, Craig went off to the hole in the wall alcohol dispensers for some arrack and ginger beer

I like how this makes him look like a giant :)

We sat on the roof by our room with candles and the arrack for a bit, wondering why everyone went to bed at 8. Perhaps they are also on Bangkok time after all…

The next morning we caught the bus to Mirissa. Although I don’t love their speed, you can’t argue with the bus prices. We have never paid more than £2 each, despite travelling significant distances. I think the bus from Galle to Mirissa was 28p each. The only thing that is weird after getting used to people travelling with live animals, big bags of vegetables, new bicycles for their children and the kitchen sink, is that the buses here do not have any storage. And I mean none. On some there is an overhead rack which is not big enough to hold a small bag, never mind a big backpack, on others there isn’t even that. We are confused as to how they move their stuff. Tuktuk?! Or maybe they just don’t travel long distances? Or hire a van? Either way, you can feel people huff and puff when they have to manoeuvre round our bags, but we don’t really have a choice! Craig raised a few eyebrows when he got on the bus with two massive bags plus a carrier bag full of calamari to use when fishing. He kindly hung it on the hook right over my head.

We found a nice guesthouse near the beach for 1,200 rupees per night with the added bonus of a balcony and wifi. We later found out that the wifi is free because they turn it off when they think no one’s using it! Very annoying when you’re trying to chat to someone or upload something and all of a sudden off it goes! The internet was so slow there though that I struggled to load pages, never mind the blog. But the location was great as it was only a few minutes’ walk to the beach and opposite a little shop.

Craig went off fishing (without success sadly) and I went to lie on the beach for a bit. We had tea – you can tell it was more touristy as the quality of the food went massively downhill – and then went to search for Gemma and Joe’s friends, Babi and Sunni. Two wrong Babi’s down, we asked at the next bar and the guy said he worked with a Babi. He called him and it was him! Five minutes later, there he was, beaming away and asking why Joe wasn’t with us. I hope this was the right one Joe!!

I think he thought Joe was coming too so we had to let him down that we were second prize unfortunately. I don’t think he minded too much though as gave him his presents, bought him a beer, told him Gemma and Joe missed him lots and heard about what he’d been up to since he’d seen them. The conversation was slightly interrupted by having to cook all the time, but he said he would be finished by 11. I went to bed but Craig took Babi back to the guesthouse later to fetch his harmonica so he could accompany Craig on his drum, and it turned out that Babi knew the owner so there was a fair amount of arrack drunk

but we ended up getting up fairly early the next morning to catch our bus to Matara where you can get the train or bus onwards…only we couldn’t because the bus was packed and they took one look at our bags and said it was too full; which was fair enough as we do take up more space. We went for breakfast – Craig went for coffee and I a tradition Sri Lankan breakfast – only to be rewarded with the usual string hoppers (rice noodles), dhal and sambal, but also a bread roll, pineapple, melon, oranges and bananas…more food than one person could eat in one day! So Craig gamely joined in and we managed about half of it between us.

As full bus after full bus passed us, we decided to treat ourselves by going by tuktuk. Despite how cheap the buses are, tuktuks are a minimum of 100 or 150 rupees, which seems odd considering you can go probably 25km on a bus for 100 rupees, whereas by tuktuk it will be 100 even it’s just round the corner. We settled on 500 rupees and off we went. As Mirissa didn’t have a cash point, we had to stop on the way to get some money. I think the driver saw his chance as by the time we got to the train station, he suddenly demanded 600, giving us the old “ah the petrol is so expensive…” speech. It’s not, we filled our motorbike up the other day for 400 rupees, went here there and everywhere and still gave it back with half a tank left. But Craig folded and gave him the extra hundred :I When we got to the train station, we found we couldn’t get to Kandy as the only train went at the civilised time of 4.05 am. Huff. We had decided to go to Kandy rather than work our way slowly up North as we could do day trips from there to everywhere we wanted to go, and hopefully saying we were going to stay for a week would enable us to get a good price.

So it was back to trying to get a bus for us, but luckily there were a couple of empty ones to Ratnapura (the direct ones to Kandy having left at stupid o’clock). It was a very long journey but unlike South East Asian buses, they don’t stop. At all. So if you need the loo, or some food, or water – tough. They don’t even stop to let people on – unless you start at the bus station, you have to take a running jump to get on or off! So we pulled into Ratnapura at about 2 o’clock and went to get some lunch. You could tell it was an area that tourists didn’t often visit as the food was very cheap. We went into the nearest dive we could find – napkins made of newspaper, grubby, dirty floor – and ordered the rice and curry and four cokes. This strategy works most of the time – if the locals are in there, the food is usually good, and if it’s fairly dirty, the food is usually cheap. The food was amazing: mountains of rice and curry arrived which we fell upon, not having eaten for what seemed like days. We finished a couple of bowls and immediately new bowls were put in front of us and another plate of rice! The bill was £2 for everything. Unbelieveable.

After eating, we found that we were stuck in Ratnapura because the last bus to Kandy had left. We found a little place for £4.95 a night with a balcony, and settled down in the evening to watch the sunset over the mountains with two newspaper parcels containing hot kottu :)

 

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2 Responses to “I…want Kandy”

  1. The Puppeteer 28 March 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    Love the blog! Good luck with the rest of your trip. If you need help or advice while in Sri Lanka let me know, would be happy to help out.

    • toaustraliathelongway 29 March 2012 at 2:52 am #

      Thank you! I think we’re staying put for our last week here but if we need a hand will be in touch. Thank you very much!

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