To get to there, we took the popular scenic train ride from Ella to Kandy which really was 6 beautiful hours of stunning landscape (minus one for a nap obvs.) I braved hanging out the train door once, tightly gripped to one of the bars and although that was fun, I decided taking photos from my seat was a far safer option.
Kandy is a vibrant place with a rich cultural blend of beautiful colonial buildings such as Olde Empire Hotel and Royal Bar and Hotel alongside Sri Lanka’s most sacred Buddhist shrine, Sri Dalada Maligawar or Temple of the Tooth Relic, there’s a shopping district full of supposed gem jewellers, (some are definitely fake!), dried fish, electronics, a modern shopping mall, a city market of spices and vegetables, the lake at centre of the city, a national forest full of monkeys, Kandyan Dance, botanical gardens and a glowing white giant Buddha on top of the hill!
A cool spot to hang out was probably Slightly Chilled (actual name) bar and restaurant which has a decent terrace and view of the city. Previously Bamboo Garden, it’s run by a Chinese and British couple serving up pretty nice chinese food and Lion Beer.
But the spot that I truly fell in love with however, was on the balcony at the Olde Empire Hotel. Built around the 1800s, once a coffee factory and later a drinking house, the building was converted into a hotel in the 1970’s with the original guest book to prove it. It’s definitely a unique spot and you really feel like you are stepping back in time.
Admittedly, as it’s a budget hotel it has its flaws but the almost elderly staff who have probably worked there forever are very sweet and accommodating. The place is just so very charming and worth at least one night stay.
Sitting on the pretty balcony, there’s a view of entrance of the Temple of the Tooth grounds where water lilies (Sri Lanka’s national flower) are sold from street stalls. I’m surrounded by trees and I can just see the lake too. There is traffic noise but that is kind of balanced out by the many birds chirping away in the trees. Sitting here you feel like you are in a bubble of peace and stillness.
Those of you who know me will know that I don’t like to rush and so far, I think giving a place 3-4 days is just enough to get a real sense of the place. Rushing around and lugging my bag about every other night just doesn’t appeal to me. I know avoiding this means I won’t see as many places but I’m perfectly okay with that. I not only want to see the sights but I also want to spend some time mooching and wandering around – you never know what or who you will find!
Some fellow travellers and I were discussing recently that a lot of travellers seem to want to ‘do’ everything on a kind of ‘list’ whilst visiting a place. You are often asked did you ‘do’ this and do that. It actually creates a weird sense of pressure to do all those things too. I mean, and this is big… if I don’t feel like it, I might go to Dambulla and not climb up Sigiriya! In fact I probably will on this one as it’s the most fascinating rock structure in the entire country. I suppose I should.
It has played on my mind a little when planning my next move but there is really no need to allow this pressure to dictate your travel plans. Of course when travelling, there is so much to see and you can’t ‘do’ everything. I appreciate a lot of these places are visited for a reason and are important to see for some people, but I think it should be a personal decision based on what you enjoy and want to see. The beauty of travelling alone! For me, this is not a journey of tick everything off the list. And yes, sometimes you should push yourself out of your comfort zone (must climb Sigiriya) but this is my journey and I hope to keep that at the forefront of the rest of my trip.
Peace and love,