. OnHiatus.com > Journal 1 > Day Index > Journal Entry: June 25, 2000

Sunday, June 25, 2000
Colombo to Kandy, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's FlagCentral Province's Flag

Kandy, Sri Lanka:
Latitude: 7° 17' 14" North
Longitude: 80° 38' 32" East
Altitude: 1629 feet
From Seattle: 10119 miles
Lodging: Hotel - Sharon Inn

Today's Travel:
Country: Sri Lanka
Region: Central Province
Route: Train: Colombo Fort - ?, ? - Kandy
Path:Colombo - Kandy, Sri Lanka
Linear:61 miles
Weather: Overcast / Partial Sun

Available Photos:

Lake and Temple of the Tooth Kandy, Sri Lanka

Lake and Temple of the Tooth Kandy, Sri Lanka

All photo images © 1997-2000 Anthony Jones - Images may not be used without prior written approval.

Click on map to Zoom in...
Trip Stats to Date:
Day: 1172
Linear Dist: 225689
Countries Visited: 69
Regions Visited: 261
More stats...
Hotels: 395
Friends / Family: 302
Camping: 126
Hostels: 261
Transit: 74
Other Lodging: 13
Beers: 4113

Journal Entry:
The alarm went off at 5:30 but it was nice, cool, and still dark out and I just couldn't motivate to walk two miles with my pack. So I decided to take a bus and went back to sleep. Got up at eight and packed. Even though I thought I was completely packed it still took me an hour to do it - it's been a long time since I've packed for carrying my bag - just as well that I decided not to catch the seven o'clock train as I never would have made it. While checking out I found out that there was another train at 10:30. Caught a "tuk-tuk" (three-wheeler) to the Fort station. The three-wheelers are the perfect way to get around here - cheap, quick and agile in the traffic, and wonderfully ventilated (they're open air). Fort (the city center) is even more heavily fortified than the areas I was in yesterday. There are bunkers with heavy machine around every public building and cars are not allowed within ten yards of the fences (the rebels - the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - often use car bombs).

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.

Related Sites:
US State Department Consular Information Sheets: Sri Lanka
CIA World Fact Book: Sri Lanka

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