Tripin 2017 - 2018 - page 61

We took the train from Ella to Kandy. It is difficult to capture in
words the magic of what has been called “the most beautiful train trip
in the world”. The six hour ride winds its way through tea estates and
small, terraced farms and pine trees. On the way, either side of the
train features amazing vistas.
Kandy is my favorite place on the island and my home in 1984. It is
still lovely with an ideal climate, cultural charm, and natural beauty.
Its people are proud, friendly, and generous. Don’t miss it!
We arrived in town during Sri Lanka’s most famous and wonderful
celebration, the Esala Perahera, a sacred Buddhist procession
occurring over ten nights and one day. We were fortunate to see two
nights of this amazing annual festival, which features thousands of
drummers and dancers and dozens of elephants.
Because of the Perahera, there were thousands of people in town.
Nevertheless, Kandy was still a joy to explore, including its famous
temple grounds and beautiful lake, the wonderful Central Market,
and its interesting streets and alleys. In the middle of town, I was
amazed to find a large, ultramodern City Center Mall, which
somehow does little to detract from the otherwise traditional spirit
of Kandy. We enjoyed the air-conditioned break of the mall, then
had short eats (typically meaning a variety of small savory pastries or
fried snacks) and tea next door at the Devon Food Court.
We spent three nights in Kandy, two in town for the festival and one
in the beautiful, peaceful hills overlooking town. We stayed at the
Royal Bar and Hotel, a beautifully restored colonial establishment in
the city center. It was strangely quiet (as liquor is not sold during
the Perahera), but a great locale for the celebration. On our last
night, we stayed at the Buena Vista, a small, peaceful guesthouse in
Anniewatta, in my old neighborhood. We swapped the excitement
of the procession for the serenity of the Kandyan hills. We explored
the old neighborhood, tucked in to some excellent rice and curry,
and slept soundly.
ProTip: There are two Kandys, in town and out of town. I recommend them
both. If the Perahera is not in town (actual dates vary but fall sometime
within the months of July and/or August each year), don’t miss the beautiful
botanical gardens in Peradeniya and the wonderful small roads alongside
the Mahaweli Ganga.
Our final morning in Kandy featured a visit to the Mahaveli Ganga just
north of town. The river valley is a beautiful reminder that Sri Lanka
is primarily a land of villages, rice paddies, and lush green jungle. We
caught the afternoon train back to Colombo, and I said my goodbyes (to
Zak and Sri Lanka) the next morning.
Our wonderful adventure thus came to an end. Although it seems
impossible not to have a great holiday in Sri Lanka, there are some
key elements that made this trip successful: choosing a limited number
of locations with multiple nights in each, booking ahead, considering
transportation options, and including a variety of experiences. Enjoy
what opportunities come your way. And, as my daughter reminded me,
“Remember to put the camera down sometimes, Dad.”
Final ProTip: Choose a supportive, friendly, and fun travel partner!
DAY 7-9
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