Kandy was the old royal capital of Sri Lanka and the grand and palacious buildings offered a glimpse of what the town must once of been like. Situated high up in the hills and surrounded by a large lake the place has it's own unique charm. Think typical bustling Asian town mixed with a high altitude alpine village.
We'd come to see the famous 'Buddha's Tooth Relic' at the main temple but came away disappointed. Not only was there no tooth to speak of but also the aforementioned tooth had been placed in an incredibly ornate Gold Stupa. This had then been hidden away behind closed doors within the building. As we queued up with the pilgrims all we got to see was a picture of the Stupa and a firmly shut door. Who knew what was behind that door but 'team underwhelmed' weren't impressed.
We cheered ourselves up by watching a traditional Kandyan dance called Sinhaya. Two drummers flanked a series a elaborate dancers as they moved around on stage. The beat was very disjointed so it was hard to feel the rhythm but it was interesting to watch. The highlight had to be a plate spinning act who balanced six spinning disks on sticks with one balanced carefully in his mouth.
As we left the dance hall night was falling and we chose to walk around the lake. As we looked up to the sky we noticed lots of dark objects flying above the lake, it took us a couple of seconds to notice that they were massive bats. Seeing so many bats circling the lake was incredibly eerie but something we would notice more and more as we travelled across Sri Lanka and India.
We made our way up the hill to 'Helga's Folly' a eccentric and gothic hotel / restaurant that had been owned by Helga de Silva Blow Perera a famous Sri Lankan socialite and the place had hosted everyone from Paula Yates to Ghandi! Kitsch memorabilia was scattered everywhere you looked from odd paintings to creepy stuffed animals. We only stayed for an overpriced drink but would remember the location for a long time to come.
The following day we booked ourselves on a guided tour of the Knuckles Ranges. As it turned out our guide was little more than a glorified taxi driver. Luckily the route was fairly well signposted so as our guide sat chatting with the locals we headed off into the forest. First stop was 'Mini Worlds End' a panoramic view overlooking the ranges. The Knuckles Ranges are a series of hill plateaus that from a distance look like the knuckles on a hand. The accompanying photos should hopefully illustrate this better.
The walk itself was fairly uneventful aside from a couple of things. Firstly the ground was covered in tiny but blood thirsty Leeches. We had to be on strict 'Leech Watch' to make sure they didn't get onto our skin. This was especially hard for Briony who only had open toed sandals and had to wear thick walking socks to stop the little critters from drawing blood. The second thing was a bit of a revelation. Our New Zealand friends had packed their Steripen and amazing invention that would make any water drinkable after only a couple of minutes. We filled our bottles with cold fresh stream water and used to pen to make it drinkable. As we glugged down the delicious water we both wondered why we hadn't had the same gadget ten months previously.