We started the day with breakfast in the hostel- eggs, tea, and toast with jam and butter. We began the morning with a walk to nowhere. It was actually kind of a funny situation! There was a miscommunication. We asked our driver if we could go to the market, and then he asked us if we wanted to go on a walk. Kaylee and I had assumed that we were walking to the market, but we were incorrect I finally got the courage to ask where we were going, and he said, “I don’t know, do you want to head back on the bus?” It was just so funny! He paid for a bus back, and it was a good experience, and a nice exploring walk :]
We got off the bus at the ACTUAL market, and my plan was just to look around and take pictures, but people in Sri Lanka are so convincing! I ended up being roped into buying a piece of Batik art, for my dorm wall. It is beautiful, no doubt, but it just wasn’t my plan to keep spending money. But I guess I won’t get the chance anytime soon to spend money here again, so I might as well buy things when I can. We continued to explore around the market. America should have more markets like these- they are like farmer’s markets but on a much larger scale! Fruits and vegetables and spices and meat and fish and handicrafts. So much to see! Once we were done walking around and seeing everything that the market had to offer, we decided to walk around the Kandy lake.
Kandy is centered around this beautiful lake, and there is a cement walking path all the way around. We had seen it coming in, but we didn’t have the time yesterday to really see it up close. As we were walking around the lake, we made some stops to explore other landmarks that were next to it. We got to see the police station, and the Temple of the Tooth (which we went to later), and we decided to explore an old British colonist cemetery. This cemetery was beautiful, but sad at the same time. We only saw two tombstones that represented people that lived past age 40. Most were aged newborn to 25. I guess colonizing is dangerous work, but it is still sad to think about.
We finished walking around the lake, and decided to stop by a bakery for lunch. They have so many bakeries here! Ended up getting ice cream for dessert- it is hot here! We walked back to the car, and Shan, our driver, took us to another gem tour, but this time we actually got to watch a video explaining how the gems are mined. It was very educational. Gem mining is back-breaking dangerous, tiring work! We left the gem shop, and went to a shop that is owned by one of Shan’s friends. It was a beautiful shop, but definitely geared towards tourists, and was priced so. We spent some time there just looking at everything, and Kaylee and I each ended up buying a few small things.
From here, it was time to visit the Temple of the Tooth! It was truly a work of architectural art. We didn’t actually get to see the tooth of Buddha, because the ceremony only happens in the evening. This temple is supposedly holding a tooth from The Buddha himself, after someone stole it from the cremation pyre. We explored the main temple, and then went upstairs to sit and listen to the monks chanting. I hope you all get the chance someday to listen to Buddhist chants. They are mesmerizing. We then headed downstairs and outside to see some of the other buildings surrounding the temple. One of the buildings was a glass shed with oil lamps inside. In both the Hindu and Buddhist religions, it is believed that by voicing desires over fire, the desires will come to pass. In the Hindu religion, they believe that the smoke from the fire carries the wish/prayer up to the gods. I am not quite sure what Buddhists believe in regards to the fire. We also saw a taxidermied elephant- the only one in the world. This elephant was sacred to the temple, and therefore when it passed they decided to preserve him. It was a fascinating story actually, and it was very cool to see the elephant display in person. We weren’t allowed to take pictures with our back to the elephant though, as a sign of respect.
We then ventured to the museum, which told the story of The Tooth, where it has been stored in history, and the various relics and jewelry and donations that have been made in its name. There were silver platters, and gems, and works of art that were all virtually priceless. One of the workers at the museum approached me, and asked if I wasn’t to see something else. I brought Kaylee over, and we decided to see what he was talking about. He took us through a door we hadn’t even noticed, onto a tiny balcony that looked over the lake and the city. It was such a cool, random experience! These are the types of spontaneous events that travelers live for.
We had to leave the Temple of the Tooth before the evening festivities started, because we wanted to go to a cultural dance presentation instead. It was very interesting and unique. There were many traditional dances, and then at the end, a couple of the dancers walked on hot coals and ate fire. It was pretty outstanding. We also met up with Aashish (the man we met on the plane) and his friend Samee at this cultural dance, and made plans to meet up with them later. As we were leaving the building, Kaylee saw two of our flat mates- Andi and Kelsey- there too! What are the odds!?
We left the cultural dance and went to the guest house that we were staying in. It was kind of far out of the way, but it was a very beautiful house, and the owner and his wife were outstanding people. She made us tea when we got there, and we got to talk to the both for a while, and sit on the balcony for a while too. Since we had told Aashish that we would go to his homestay tonight to visit, the woman of the guest house called an auto for us, and had him wait until we wanted to go home. I love how nice the people are here! She went out of her way to help our plans work out, even though she didn’t have to at all.
We got to the guest house that Aashish and Samee were staying at, and pretty much had a spectacular night. We could only stay for a few hours because we didn’t want to keep the auto waiting too long. But it was plenty of time and not long enough, all at once. We really did find some awesome friends- talked about everything under the sun. I love how knowledgeable and curious people from these parts all seem to be. In my opinion, it is very different from the average American. Anyway, I pretty much had the best night of my whole traveling experience so far. I am so excited to get to know these two people better.