Memos from SRI LANKA. 4th Memo: My Kandy-d opinion

Kandy - geographically and metaphorically Sri Lanka's navel: Everybody comes here, some people even straight from the airport.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Lake Sri Lanka
One of the nicest views of Kandy - and I didn't even have to climb on some mountain for it.

After three days in Kandy, I ask myself: Why?

Yes, there is the Sri Dalada Maligawa, Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Whereby, don't expect the tooth to be actually on display. It is hidden in a couple of precious boxes and three different people have to unlock them simultaneously.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Temple Sacred Tooth Relic Lanka
The devotees are waiting in line for leaving their flowers, the tourists for taking their pictures. 

So while to the faithful Buddhists, the Sri Dalada Maligawa is certainly a big deal, to all the other visitors it's really rather a chimera. The building itself might not be that breathtaking from the outside, but much more artful once you enter.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Temple Sacred Tooth Relic Lanka
The stairs to the upper floor where there is the relic chamber, the library, and more sacred places.

What's really neat is the World Buddhist Museum next door. On two floors, you can admire - and compare - artifacts from countries where Buddhist faith prevails. I enjoyed that a lot.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy World Buddhist Museum Sri Lanka
This Buddha statue in front of the World Buddhist Museum is a contribution from Japan.

Like I said, although in other places I've visited in Sri Lanka there was much more to see, busloads of tourists are carted here to push through the temple and eventually enjoy a Kandy dance show.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Dance Sri Lanka
Although it's a show for tourists, the costumes, instruments, and dances are real - I saw the same attire at a wedding in Anuradhapura.

In between, there is enough time to get screwed over by one of the tuk-tuk drivers or touts. That's the most annoying thing in Kandy - that obviously comes with mass tourism, with all these people that don't take their time to actually go with the Sri Lankan flow. That way, they develop no feel for situations and are suspicious and paranoid - and often sadly for a reason.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Sri Lanka
Tuk-tuk-drivers are a pretty shrewd breed of their own - to say the least.

After having seen the for non-Buddhist not so impressive Temple, after having made my way up to the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue - not on purpose, I lost my way in an uphill direction; one day I'll write a post on my non-existent sense of orientation - after having awed at the exotic trees and the incredible amount of flying foxes at the botanic garden and enjoyed the Kandy dancers dancing, it was time for an extra-share of real life.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Botanic Garden Sri Lanka
One of the most fascinating parts at the Botanic Garden is Cook's Pine Avenue with pines putting the Tower of Pisa to shame.

I decided on experiencing the country life and hiking to three different temples, starting at Embekke village. Knowing that I would walk a lot, I took a tuk-tuk to the bus station and regretted my decision within about 90 seconds. The fact that I intended to hike was, of course, unacceptable, that would be very difficult. Anyway, I should go see the botanic garden, the tea farm, the Buddha statue, the.... I explained relatively friendly that I had already seen all this and that hiking was totally my thing. I explained it relatively friendly the first five times. That I began my sixth denial with the words I think I made myself clear was already relatively unfriendly; but not unfriendly enough since he kept convincing me - until I told him to let me get off the tuk-tuk at the next corner.
That finally shut him up and we made it to the bus station where we actually parted as friends.

For me, taking public transportation is part of the fun: I love observing all the different people on the bus, the elegant old ladies in their colorful saris sitting next to the young professionals. Giggling teenage girls getting up from the first row as a trio of monks enters the bus. I'm eying them as they are eying me - and then we give each other a big smile.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Bus Sri Lanka
A ride on the public bus sets you back about 15 to 25 cents.

Since tuk-tuks are actually pretty cheap, even backpackers usually don't take the buses - at least not short distance. Therefore people are looking at me with the same curiosity I'm looking at them.

Walking from the village of Embekke, I got to the unexpectedly atmospheric Embekke Devalaya, the local Temple, in a couple of minutes.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Embekke Sri Lanka
You could hear the drummers playing at the ceremony at the Embekke Temple already from far.

From there to the Lankathilaka Temple it's quite a hike, especially since I got to Embekke around noon. But walking along the villages' main roads is so distracting that I forget the sun burning mercilessly my head and the sweat pouring down my spine.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Embekke Sri Lanka
It wasn't really necessary to stock up on water for my walk: There were many little shops like this one along the way.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Lankathilaka Sri Lanka
Getting some bananas as a refreshment before the longest part from Lankathilaka to Gadaladeniya.

There are far too many kids of all ages to be greeted: First it's at least one hello, then I answer either what my name is or which country I'm from, followed by an extended waving and calling of bye-byes.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Lankathilaka Sri Lanka
You know like you're always supposed to ask before you take someone's picture? Well, on my hike from Embekke to Pilimathalawa, kids of all ages asked me to take their picture. I've never regretted so much not having a Polaroid camera.

There is a dense jungle on both sides of the road, sprinkled with a tiny house here and there. Cicadas and birds are filling the air with their chants, from time to time, something scurries through the underwood. It's so idyllic and peaceful; and so hot.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Lankathilaka Sri Lanka
Filling my heart and soul.

As I reach the main road from where the bus takes me back to Kandy, I'm really exhausted.

However, I feel so happy and independent and like rubbing shoulders with pure life.

It was the nicest thing I've done in Sri Lanka so far.

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during former trips, in my Memos from SRI LANKA, I'm posting one chapter from every stop. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant travel information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy my narratives and reflections.

Wanna know what happened before? Here are the former Memos:

1st Memo: An unexpectedly scenic train ride to Anuradhapura 

2nd Memo: Little house on the P...olonnaruwa

3rd Memo: Rocking it in Sigiriya

If you choose to pin this post, please use this picture:

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Kandy Sri Lanka

Disclaimer: I appreciate that Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau is supporting my blogger trip by arranging a complimentary guided tour through the Sri Dalada Maligawa and the World Buddhist Museum. However, all opinions on these services are mine and weren't by any means influenced by my cooperation partner. 

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