It’s not called the Teardrop Island for nothing, beautiful Ceylon / Sri Lanka really has the magical aura of a paradise in another dimension. Ancient train tracks with even older trains and schedules, sloping hills in the lush green of tea fields, colour bursting villages with VERY happy smiley people. Sounds like a cliché doesn’t it? Yes, exactly my thoughts when writing this but it is spot on. Sri Lanka has managed to maintain some of this old school magic you still read in books about (minus the resorts of course), the extremes between old and new and that’s what I love it for. Sadly it is destined to be another Cuba and Costa Rica – go now or you will miss the magic and it will turn into another resort driven holiday spot by the Indian Ocean.
A long flight, several fights with Qatar Airways about over-booked planes and a broken Macbook Air later, Colombo was quite the shock to the system. Loud, noisy, very polluted and suicidal Tuk Tuk drivers. I wouldn’t recommend it, I read a lot of raving reviews about Colonial houses and colourful food markets but we didn’t see any of that. Bear in mind we were there for 1 day only, but that was more than enough for us.
Train Ride to Kandy
What an experience. Ever watched those YouTube videos of the Japanese Metro where the saying “Sardine Can” doesn’t do it justice? Well come to Colombo Central station and try to board the morning train to Kandy. With a backpack. And a completely swollen shut eye, after being bitten by something indefinable the night before. This is why they recommend Travel Insurance when going to Sri Lanka, there can be no other reason – it is mental. The trains are literally stormed, conquered by brute force and people will use your backpack as a ladder to enter the train. Survival of the fittest and fastest at its best.
Once on the train with a few bruises, we didn’t book a seat or manage to win the fight with the locals, but it’s definitely an experience, swaying with the rhythm of the train for the next 3 hours towards Kandy, through lush rice fields and thick rain forest.
We stayed in the beautiful Kandy View hotel slightly outside of the city but still within walking distance, with our room facing the rain forest. Absolutely beautiful spot with a great in-house restaurant. In the morning you breakfast with the monkeys who wait in line for their morning bananas from the Chef and it was there that we discovered our love for banana pancakes.
Kandy itself it a busy little city with a lot of temples, religious sites to visit and hills to climb for one of the biggest Buddha statue. It has a beautiful market hall but a very busy town centre. I’d recommend a stay of 2 days max as it can become quite tiring, especially if you just arrived from Colombo.