Day 78 Kandy town

January 20th

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Earl Regency Hotel, Kandy

We walked down the drive to take a photo of the river that runs through the valley. It is the biggest river in Sri Lanka called Mahaweli River. There is a drought at the moment in Sri Lanka. The monsoons they should have had in October never arrived and now there is a water shortage. The river is certainly very empty but still the locals put it to good use. There were ladies doing their washing, stood in the water knee deep and using the large rocks to scrub their clothes on. The clothes were then laid out on the rock to dry. We saw one lady that was taking a wash,  in between washing her clothes. She used the same soap as she used on her clothes and the bottom of her skirt to give her face and neck a good scrub. She then used another part of her skirt to dry herself with. Then it was back to finishing the washing!!!

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We picked up a Tuktuk and went into town. The road into Kandy is always very busy and vehicles are bumper to bumper all the way but still the Tuktuk drivers want to get up front. This mornings driver kept going on the inside of other vehicles and very near to the deep ditch that runs alongside the road.

Tuktuk in Kandy
Tuktuk in Kandy

We were safely delivered to the railway station where we asked several questions as to how to get back toNegombo. Unfortunately we did not have the most helpful of information clerks working today. We decided to go straight back to Columbo and then we have the choice of another train up to Negombo or hope there is a car that can take us (us and big rucksacks do not fit into Sri Lanka Tuktuk like they did in other countries). Our alternative was to get off the train a couple of stations before Columbo and hope for some transport to be there, but having seen on a previous journey some of the stations are so in the middle of nowhere they do not even have a Tuktuk waiting.

Ticket to Columbo purchased at 600r each for tomorrow at 12.50pm.

As we left the station we saw the market so took a walk through there. It was mostly fruit and veg with some fish stalls. It was down very narrow lanes and hot and humid.

The market, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
The market, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
The market, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
The market, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan Lorry
Sri Lankan Lorry
Kandy, Sri Lanka.
Kandy, Sri Lanka.

By now the rain had started so we headed for a coffee shop. Being like other towns in Sri Lanka, coffee shops are very difficult to find. We found the Royal Hotel and were shown upstairs to a balcony overlooking the street. Now the rain was pouring down. The Royal hotel was a very interesting building set around a courtyard with trees and plants. There was a bar in this area and upstairs the balcony ran around the top of the courtyard serving food.

Royal Hotel, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Royal Hotel, Kandy, Sri Lanka
From Royal Hotel, Kandy, Sri Lanka
From Royal Hotel, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Once we had finished our tea the waitress took us to see the museum room which has some very old photos of Kandy. It was so interesting to see the street outside the hotel before any of the shops were there and the street was just a dirt track. There were ladies from the Victorian era in all their refinery seen arriving by rickshaw. The waitress was very proud of her history and happy to talk us through the photos. It is worth a cup of tea just to go and see this beautiful hotel and all its memorabilia.

The rain was easing off and we went in search of a shop selling t shirts. A man came up to us and asked what we were looking for, did we want tea or spices? Having told him we didn’t want anything he continued to follow us. I hoped that by going into the shop he would disappear but no he came in with us. He started taking things down from the display and asking if we wanted this or that. The sales assistant behind the counter got out some t shirts and before I could look at them the man picked them up asking if they were the right size. I caught the eye of the shop assistant and asked if the man worked here. No he didn’t but he continued to try and serve us. Once we had chosen the t shirt he grabbed it and went to the other end of the shop demanding a bag to put it in. He did the same when Paul got the money out to pay, he snatched it and took it to a sales assistant asking for the change. Once we were outside the shop he asked for some money for a cup of tea. He asked several times before taking our word of no to mean no and disappeared off down the street.

It was home time from school and the children were walking in their groups past the lake and into town. Some to catch the bus and others to walk on through the town. They always look so smart. Every school in Sri Lanka has white as its uniform. The girls have white dresses and wear white socks with white plimsoles. The boys wear white trousers and white shirt with black shoes. We have seen one variation on this when we saw some younger boys wearing blue shorts with their white shirts.

A local bus, Kandy, Sri Lanka
A local bus, Kandy, Sri Lanka

We watched as a group of school children tried to get on the local bus. Even when the bus is full they still pile in. Only when the driver starts to move off do they except they are not going to get on and the bus leaves with people hanging out the front and rear door.

We learned it was cheaper to walk the short distance along the lake and catch a bus from there rather than get one from the town and sit in traffic for half hour and pay more. Today there were no Tuktuks waiting at the end of the lake so we waited for one to come up the road. The first empty one to come along saw us and pulled in. I asked the price to the hotel and he quoted 300r. That was a very good price as we had paid 400 and 500 in the past couple of days. I didn’t bother to barter and in we got.

Transport in Kandy, Sri Lanka
Transport in Kandy, Sri Lanka

As we arrived at the hotel he asked if we wanted dropping at the gate. No thank you it’s a long steep climb up to the hotel so take us to the door please. He obviously had never been to the hotel before and started saying what a lovely place it was and it must be expensive to stay there. As we got out and Paul gave him the agreed 300r he asked for more. He said he told me 400. I said no he didn’t and he said well he had meant to. Explaining it was his fault if he told us the wrong price we walked away. That was the first time a Tuktuk had tried that on us. So far they have all been very honest and kept to the price agreed before we left. Lucky for him, he picked up a fare leaving the hotel. I hope he didn’t rip them off too much.

The rest of the afternoon we spent in the bar keeping up to date with the outside world. The temperature had dropped to 24degree and it continued to pour with rain.