|Kandy, Sri Lanka:
|Trip Stats to Date:
At the station bought a second class ticket and still had an hour to waste. Stepped into a little snack shop, sat down, and started experimenting with the local cuisine. These deep fried rolls with curried potatoes and hardboiled egg in them were the best, with these circular cream filled chocolate things a close second. But everything was good and very cheap (stuffed myself and had two cokes for $1), and the service was friendly and I think excited to have me there. I'll find out later how I cope with it.
Was waiting at the designated platform about twenty minutes early. There was already a train there so I asked and was told it was the one to Kandy so I got on. About fifteen minutes later someone else told me it wasn't so I got off and stood nearby just in case. The announcer said something and everybody rushed off the platform and onto a different train - I followed. Luckily on the train I found someone who spoke enough English to tell me what was happening - there was a track problem so the Kandy train couldn't get through - instead I'd have to change trains at the next station. At the next station there was a mad rush to (what I assumed was) the correct train. It was crowded but I managed to get a seat (a window one even) by crossing through a different train and boarding the right one from the track side.
The train ride was long and slow but also stunning. It was interesting to see several rusted out steam engines along the track. The scenery was spectacular - especially once we started to climb into the hills. There was a riot of green broken by random rocky hills and jagged mini mountains. Reminded me of the highlands in Guinea with a touch of Tahiti thrown in. Rice paddies tiered into the hillsides and small villages kept me glued to the window for then entire four hour ride. I tried not to worry about the dozens of wrecked train carriages we passed - especially not the ones at the bottom of the nearly sheer drop offs...
In Kandy caught a tuk-tuk to a recommended guest house. It's wonderful - cheaper than last night, clean tiled floor with beautiful wooden (teak?) furniture, my own spotless bathroom with hot water (!), and my own balcony. It would be a beautiful bed and breakfast place at home. Hired a driver to take me to some of the nearby "Ancient Cities" tomorrow. Settled in, had a shower, and set of to see the town.
The town reminds me a lot of a generic West African city (except the roads are paved and I didn't see any open sewers). It really is amazing how similar people are - even across completely different cultures. I wandered around the lake into the town proper, stopping to quickly check email and buy some water at the supermarket. Walked up the other side of the lake to take a look at the Temple of the Tooth - where one of Buddha's teeth is kept - but didn't go in (wasn't wearing long pants and it was late). The security at the temple was incredible - it was like the entrance to a embassy - multiple bag and body searches and no vehicles allowed anywhere near. Apparently the temple was bombed my terrorist in 1996. Walked further along the lake to look back at the temple then decided to walk all the way around to get back to my guesthouse.
Spent the couple hours until dinner working on my journal and reading. Dinner was a fantastic vegetarian buffet with a small piece of chicken. Predictably, most things were curried - the highlights were the curried bread fruit, and some unspecified (hot) curry sauce.