On the road to Kandy

After lounging around on the beach we decided it was probably best to wander on and see more of what this country has to offer. So, we decided to go the hill town of Kandy.

The closest train/bus station to Uppuveli is in Trincomalee, about 6 kms down the road. There is a local bus that will take you there for 20LKR but seeing as we had all our bags with us we decided on the 300LKR tuk tuk. The busses to Kandy depart almost hourly with 2 AC services a day that leave morning and afternoon. We opted for the non AC bus as it was the next bus to leave Trinco. The journey took around 5 hours and cost 210LKR per person. It's a good idea to stock up on snacks for the ride as you may not stop on the way. The local bus generally has a space for you to put your bag, either  next to the driver or in the trunk/boot of the bus. It is also recommended trying to get there early in order to get a window seat as the bus has no AC and is very hot! 

Arriving in Kandy is a little overwhelming especially when you do so at night time! Try and look up some areas of cheap accommodation or even a specific hotel, hostel or guesthouse. Tuk tuk drivers seem to think that budget accommodation for tourists is $60 U.S. a night.....

We stayed at a horrible little hotel for 2000LKR called Green Guesthouse. The next day we moved to a home stay called Number 26D for 1800LKR a night. The beautiful home was built in 2011 and is run by two lawyers who are simply the most hospitable people in all of Sri Lanka. They take very good care of their guests- a wel one tea for all guests- and are quite knowledgable on the local area. We enjoyed some fantastic tea whilst staying with them and we're happy to be staying in the cheapest double room in Kandy (we think). No 26D also has larger sized rooms made for three people with attached bathroom for 2800LKR a night. 

                                      Enjoying a welcome tea at 26D.

Kandy boasts an awesome local market with virtually everything you could imagine. The lower level is all food. Dozens of fruit shop with an array of different fruits and colours. A local eatery for curries and breads. Sri Lanka is also known for its beautiful fabrics, something Em had been looking out for for a while. On the second level of the market there is a wonderful fabric/tailor shop that has a massive selection or saris, silks and cottons and more. We spent about three days looking through all the beautiful fabrics, and almost had an issue when a women tried to take some fabric Em was eyeing for a couple of days (There's no friends in the fabric game). In the end, we ended up with a pair of pants, a dress, and about 12 meters of fabric for a ridiculously cheap price. 
Shop contact details: 
The market also sells pashmina shawls, funky bed spreads, cushion covers, hippy pants, leather bags and all types of wooden artefacts. You can also purchase spices and natural skin care products very cheaply (As opposed to the spice garden).

                                              Inside the central market.

When talking to tuk tuk drivers, they'll generally offer you a day tour consisting of the following things: The Big Buddha, The view point, Elephant riding, tea factory and the spice garden. We opted to see The Buddha, the view point, tea factory and the spice garden. Elephant riding is not something that we ethically believe in, as animals are not here for our entertainment.

The spice garden itself is very fascinating. Em loves everything natural and the spice garden shows that everything you need can be harvested from the earth. Through the tour, the guide shows you different plants, all of which have natural and auruvedic properties and have been used for thousands of years for healing and general upkeep. We viewed sandalwood trees, clove plants, aloe Vera and various other herbs and spices that are used in everyday care, to things that are used to fight infections and to encourage healing. 
As mentioned before, the spices sold at the Spice garden are quite expensive, and can easily be purchased at the local market for less than half of what you would've paid.

The tea factory in Kandy is quite interesting, but don't be fooled by the tuk tuk drivers, they may make it sound like a plantation but it is actually the processing factory. If you're interested in the process of the tea leaves then this place is for you as you can get a free tour and purchase tea straight from the factory (once again, a lot cheaper from the central market). The tea making process is truly something. Most of the worlds tea comes from Sri Lanka and it is quite interesting to view the process that the tea has to go through from the plantations to end up in your tea pot.  

The Big Buddah is truly a sight. Situated up on top of the hill it watches over Kandy. A small amount of rupees gets you in. The view of Kandy from the Buddha is beautiful. Remember to take off your shoes before you enter. 

During our time in Kandy we really enjoyed just walking around and discovering it for ourselves. The lake is very nice to walk around or even to enjoy a picnic lunch. There are many birds that make nests in the trees surrounding the lake, ducks, Komodo dragons and fish.

One morning, as we were walking down to the main road, we met a tuk tuk driver, named Michael who was a retired gem factory worker (he also took us to the factory he used to work at and showed us gem polishing). Tuk tuk driving was a hobby for him and he did not want to charge tourist prices for anyone. We ended up in his tuk tuk for half the day and he insisted we only pay for the petrol. That night, Michael invited us to his home with his family to enjoy a home cooked meal. His lovely wife had prepared us our favourite Sri Lankan food dhal, coconut sambal, curried carrots, beans and rice. This was topped off with the gift of a beautiful purple sari for Em. At the end of the night, Michael and his son kindly drove us back into Kandy and we pumped gold fm on the radio. As it turns out, you can hear earth wind and fire on the radio in just about any country! 





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Budget travel advice from the lousiest beatniks that wander on this land.