Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Kandy is Dandy But Liquor Is Quicker" -W. Wonka

I can't believe how much Kandy we crammed into just two days!

1. Went for a run around the lake. My second time around I noticed so much more (plants, animals, men bathing)! Just shows you how important it is to take a closer look at things. There is so much to gain just by paying a little more attention. Saw turtles, giant crocodile-sized iguanas, ducks, so many kinds of birds, snails the size of my fist and a monkey riot! There were over two dozen jumping on cars and causing an awesome raucous. It felt like Kenmore Square after the Red Sox won in 2004.

2. Temple of the Tooth: The sacred relic was obtained from the sandalwood pyre in which the Buddha was cremated. It has a long history in Sri Lanka, before it arrived in its current resting place in Kandy. My favorite part was actually the story of Raja the Maligawa Tusker, whose body was taxidermied and has its own little shrine on the temple grounds. Apparently when the elephant came across the sacred tooth relic, he kneeled down as if to pay his respects. From then on it was his and only his privilege and duty to transport the tooth as it traveled from town to town.

3. Hit the shops: included tea, scarves and spices. Some awesome finds! Thank goodness for our Sri Lankan hosts and "local" prices.

4. Tea plantation. I never realized how tiny the actual usable part of the plant is. What tedious work to harvest! I'll have to remember this the next time I enjoy a nice cup of tea.

5. Drive through the hills above Kandy. The light was gorgeous! Views that help you understand where cliches such as "breath-taking" and "awe-inspiring" come from.

6. Drive through downtown Kandy in a trishaw. Makes you realize where cliches such as "death-defying" and "scared shitless" come from.

7. Traditional Kandyan dance show. Interesting costumes, fun instruments, fire dancing, hot coal walking.

8. Hiked around rock caves and giant rock of Sigiriya, home to a monastery in 1-2 centuries BC and then the palace/fortress of King Kassapa later on (plus his hundreds of mistresses). 

9. Several quick, drive-by views and activities on our way back to Kandy from Sigiriya. Wood carving workshop, Golden Temple at Dambulla, fruit stand where I tried bale fruit, "Ayurvedic" (legitimacy of this place questionable) spice garden tour (aka the place where I was offered "a full body massage, ma'am"), Aluvihara rock cave temple in Matale, Hindu temple in Matale.

10. The food: bittu (rice-shaped noodles made of coconut and flour), more curries of course, egg hopper (an egg fried inside one of those thin crepe bowls), egg roti, parata.

11. Drinks with cast and crew of Sri Lankan cricket film at Queen's Hotel. Met the Sinhalese voice behind Antonio the mouse on "Tom & Jerry." He's also guest-voiced for a few villains on "Scooby Doo!"

12. Three-hour dance party in room nine at Devon Hotel to send me off properly for my 2 a.m. solo ride to the Colombo airport.

13. The next time I'm given the opportunity to take a risk and embrace spontaneity, I hope I will always remember this trip. It doesn't have to mean spending a month's worth of income on a plane ticket across the world, but I'm glad this time it did.

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