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Sri Lanka

Kandy – Sri Lanka

The town of Kandy sounds like a lovely place when you hear the name, but it is far from it. The city is loud, dirty, stinky, and very busy. We escaped from the madness of the city center to accommodation up on the hill above the town. We stayed at Mango House, which was about a 15min walk from the center of town up some really steep hills. Once at the accommodation we were surrounded by forest again, and it was a lot more tranquil. We were the only people staying at the house (There are two rooms for rent), so we had the house to ourselves. It was nice to feel like we were at home again, with kettle, microwave, fridge etc, and the freedom to make your own food.

There is not a lot of attractions in Kandy, the main one being the Botanical gardens and the sacred Temple of the tooth. We were all ‘templed-out’ so did not bother with seeing another temple. However, we took a tuk-tuk to the botanical gardens on one of the days, and spent the day enjoying the tranquility and being in nature, surrounded by huge ancient trees. The gardens are large and have a wide variety of plants. We really enjoyed the many huge trees from all around the world that they have.

We found some really nice restaurants situated close to Kandy Lake, such as Cafe Secret Alley, and The Empire Cafe, which had great food. The Lake itself is nice to look at, but nothing spectacular. We did enjoy watching all the birds coming to roost in the trees around the lake and clocktower at sunset.

Three days was more than enough time for us to spend in Kandy, and we left the city by train. Our train took us to Columbo Fort station, where we then took a bus to the seaside town of Negombo, our last destination in Sri Lanka. We chose Negombo due to its close proximity to the airport.

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Sri Lanka

Ella – tea town in the mountains

Our accommodation in Ella was called Green Village guest house, and was situated on a hill with a great view of the mountains and Ella Rock.

The guest house was surrounded by forest, and was isolated from the main town, so was very peaceful. The surrounding forest was full of local birds, giant squirrels, some deer, and even lots of fireflies at night.

For some reason there was a few power-outages while we were at this accommodation, while this was annoying, it was awesome to see the stars and fireflies more clearly without any light pollution.

Ella has numerous attractions for visitors to the town, and we made sure to visit most of them. First we decided to walk along the railway tracks from Ella station to the Nine Arches bridge. This is an old bridge, beautifully constructed with nine arches. The walk along the tracks takes about 40min, and has some great scenery along the way. The walk also takes you through one of the many tunnels along the way, and it was fun to see the bats and birds nesting inside the tunnel.

 

One of the days we took the train from Ella station, over the Nine Arches bridge, to the next station, called Demodara Station. At this station we got off and watched the train go around the hill on the ‘Demodara loop’, to return on a track below us, and go through a tunnel under the station. We then walked back towards Ella along the tracks again.

Another one of the attractions in Ella, is a hike up Little Adam’s peak. This was a lovely hike through tea plantations to get to the top of the lookout point, where you have an amazing view of the town, and Ella Rock. The hike was pretty easy, and had some stunning views. We also passed a ‘snake charmer’ along the way who had two cobra snakes that he controlled with his flute.

We visited the Dunhinda waterfall, which is supposed to be one of the nicest waterfalls in Sri Lanka. We had to hike to the falls, which again took us through some amazing forest, and lots of monkeys along the way. Even though it was the ‘dry season’ the area, there was still a lot of water, compared to the Rawana Ella waterfall, which was pretty dry, when we drove past it on our way into Ella.

We went to visit the Dowa temple, which is an ancient rock temple, with a huge carving of Buddha in the rock on the outside.

One of the places we had dinner at while in Ella was Matey Hut, which had the most amazing curry, for really cheap. We saw that they offered cooking classes for 2000 Rupees per person, which was around R180 each. We decided to do the class the next day, which was lots of fun. We learned how to make seven different dishes (Mango curry, Dahl curry, Pumpkin curry, Eggplant curry, Coconut sambal salad, bean curry, and potato curry). There was only one other couple doing the class, so afterwards the four of us had a feast, when we ate all the dishes. It was really interesting to make everything from scratch, including coconut milk from fresh coconuts.

We enjoyed our stay in Ella, being higher above sea level it was much cooler than Arugam bay, and was much more greener and scenic. We left Ella excited for our train ride to the town of Kandy. The train ride is well known as the most scenic train ride in Sri Lanka. It took seven hours to make the journey, passing through the rolling hills covered in tea plantations and jungle forests with waterfalls.

The train ride is long, but the view is worth it!