And we kicked off our shoes, and walked barefoot into the garden.

28 Mar

We got up early the next day to catch the bus which was a fairly uneventful two buses but amazing value at less than £2 each to go a hundred kilometres or so. By the end of it though, we were quite sick of diesel fumes and just wanted to get some food and chill out. This time our dirty caff strategy didn’t pay off…the place was full of gas fumes from the cooker and the food was the worst we’ve eaten the entire time we have been here. But it was at least cheap (eventually, after we pointed out that 140 + 150 + 250 did not equal 2,150 :I). Our guidebook is hopelessly out of date price-wise so after trudging round a couple of guesthouses that wanted £20 a night, we hailed the font of all knowledge, a tuktuk driver, and asked him to take us somewhere cheap. We ended up somewhere that charged £6 so not too bad (and a nice view of the neighbouring monkeys)

– until the lady came home and said that actually, there had been a mistake and it was £9. We could move into one of the rooms round the back instead for £6 tomorrow. Ho hum. We didn’t really want to because the hotel was being used for hourly visits by local unmarried couples and we were basically getting a ‘sexy time’ room but we thought for one night it wouldn’t be too bad. However, it was the most depressing ‘sexy’ room ever – the one window was broken so had cardboard instead of glass, there was mould on the walls and general unnamed grub everywhere. Not somewhere you’d want to have a romantic weekend away! Luckily we’d bought our own sheets! Onwards and upwards tomorrow!

We did use our time at the grubby hotel wisely though – as it was so dirty we had another bash at dyeing Craig’s hair, figuring that if the dye got everywhere you wouldn’t be able to tell.

There’s been a murrrr-derrrrr

End result: all kinds of awesome

Wow! It’s so funny because now Craig’s got red hair, everyone asks us whether we’re from Japan :D Before that it was Germany, I think because we’re too brown to be English now.

The next day was spent at the Botanical Gardens just outside of Kandy. We had our usual battle with the tuktuk drivers that laid in wait at the bottom of the guesthouse’s drive…patiently explaining yet again that we would get the bus.

“But tuktuk is better.”

“But the bus is cheaper.”

“I do you good price – 700 rupees.”

“But the bus is 15.”

“But tuktuk is better.” Repeat ad infinitum.

Needless to say, we got the bus without any problems and it dropped us at the door. The entrance price was £6.50 which was very good value, but slightly less when we saw what the locals paid – £0.25! But the park is 60 hectares of utter gorgeousness and once you see the time and effort that has been put into the place (over several hundred years), it is absolutely worth it and I would say an unmissable experience if in Sri Lanka. It was stunning, so peaceful and crammed full of plants, trees and flowers that we’d never seen before. We took our shoes off and padded through the entire park for six hours.

There were nice foresty-bits with trees that look like they should be in a fairy tale

This Giant Jave Tree’s canopy covers an area of 2,500 square metres.

This was covered in yellow flowering vines but because it was so massive I had to stand about 3 miles away so you can’t really see them.

There were manicured floral gardens with all sorts of exotic flowers

 

…an orchid house with every type of orchid under the sun

And just general gorgeousness

A lovely bunch of coconuts – they take 5 years to grow and weigh up to 20kg each.

A healthy population of enormous fruit bats…

…and even the rare, Lesser Spotted Cotton-Headed Ninnymuggins

It made me miss my garden so much – during the April bank holiday last year we turned the patch of scrubby lawn into a proper garden together and I miss pottering around weeding and watching things grow. It was really rewarding to see all our hard work pay off

Whilst we were having a drink in the evening we got talking about Ajit’s place and how much fun it was having a bike and being near the beach. You can rent a bike in Kandy but it’ll cost you 2,500 rupees, whereas we got ours from Ajit for 500. Suddenly we knew what we had to do: go back across the country and stay at Ajit’s for our last week, hire a bike, zip off to the beach and chill out a bit more. Sorry Temple of the Sacred Tooth Replic, I am sure you’re lovely, but you’re no match for Akurala. So we walked to the train station and found that the first train to the West Coast went at 5.10am. We booked a tuktuk driver to come and meet us at 4.30am but in my confusion about times, I set the alarm for 2.30am (1am Sri Lankan time) and 4am (2.30 Sri Lankan time) thinking I’d covered all bases in case Craig had changed his ipod time yet, but it actually needed to be set for 5.30 so we could get up at 4. Luckily I realised my mistake the first time the alarm went off!

The tuktuk driver pulled up in a cloud of incense, beads and tassles. “Good morning!”

“Good morning! Home please!”

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2 Responses to “And we kicked off our shoes, and walked barefoot into the garden.”

  1. maybemasha 28 March 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    Craig’s hair looks awesome! I can’t imagine how they would mistake you guys for Japanese people but…oh well P:

    I really enjoyed walking through the gardens with you, it’s a nice change from the frozen ice pelting down on me this morning in Montreal.

    Thank you for bringing some sunshine in!

    • toaustraliathelongway 28 March 2012 at 2:12 pm #

      It does, doesn’t it! It really suits him :) No I am a bit confused about that but as we’ve started lying about where we’re from to try to overcharging we might as well say Japan now!

      Thanks, they were really beautiful although ice sounds amazing when you’re somewhere where even the SEA averages 27 degrees centigrade and everything including your eyebrows sweat 24/7! Teasing us with your cold weather!!

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