24 Feb - 28 Feb 2011 Kandy

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
(i) The Hotel +94812235585 kandycenterin@gmail.com
Adequate twin room for LKR 1,500.- or US$ 13.50 per night.
(ii) The Olde Empire Hotel +94812224284
Nostalgic twin room with a great communal balcony for only LKR 890.- or US$ 8.- per night.

(i) Click below for an interactive road map of The Hotel in Kandy and for directions:

(ii) Click below for an interactive road map of The Olde Empire Hotel in Kandy, which we would recommend, and for directions:

Exploring busy and noisy Kandy which still retains the living traditions of its sovereign kingdom era and learning (i) that Buddha’s holy molar tooth, the traditional symbol of Sinhalese sovereignty and an object of supreme devotion for many Kandyans, which is kept and safeguarded inside the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth (admission: US$ 10.- per foreigner), measures at least three inches, unlike any human tooth ever known, (ii) that Kandy’s Maligawa Tusker, the strong male elephant who carries this remarkable tooth during the Esala Perahera, must fulfil a couple of peculiar physical requirements (e.g. all seven parts of the elephant's body, namely his four legs, his trunk, his penis and his tail, must touch the ground when he stands upright), and (iii) that Robert Knox, a British traveller and captain in the service of the British East India Company, observed already in 1660 CE about the proud aristocratic Kandyans: “They make no account nor conscience of lying, neither it is any shame or disgrace to them, if they be catched in telling lies; it is so customary...”
“I don't mind being called a liar. I am. I am a marvelous liar. But I hate being called a liar when I'm telling the perfect truth.”

Hiking Kandy's countryside and visiting three different 14th-century CE Kandyan village temples: (i) the rustic little Embekke Temple aka Embekka Devalaya (admission: LKR 150.- per foreigner), dedicated to Kataragama, famous for its fine pavilion with intricately decorated wooden pillars full of peacocks, entwined swans, dragons, dancers and horsemen, (ii) the Lankathilake Temple (admission: LKR 200.- per foreigner), an imposingly solid-looking structure with a very atmospheric shrine, built on a huge rock outcrop and founded in 1344 CE, and (iii) the Gadaladeniya Temple with its pronounced South Indian appearance - an appropriate foretaste of what is to come: our next trip to the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Passing successfully the final hurdles of the incredibly bureaucratic steeplechase of purchasing two Indian tourist visas: (i) to queue up and to identify the right forms and meta-forms in a chaotic service wasteland with the pompous name India Visa Application Centre VFS Global, (ii) to find a functioning photocopier in their neighbourhood since the India Visa Application Centre VFS Global couldn't provide a copy machine, (iii) to remember nonsensical details, to invent lies and to write down oodles of irrelevant information from our old and expired passports, e.g. our fathers' birthdays, our non-existing home address, some fake donor’s fictive residential address, (iv) to pay in cash the non-refundable visa fee, plus service fee, of LKR 5,244.- or US$ 47.25 per person, (v) to queue up again and to supply two passport photos per applicant, numerous photo copies of our passports and piles of completed forms, (vi) to overcome the wary receptionist, to find the visa officer of the Assistant High Commission of India and to make a plea about our requested duration of at least 126 days for our upcoming tour to India, (vii) to bridge the communication gap between the Assistant High Commission and the rather inflexible and incompetent India Visa Application Centre VFS Global, (viii) to queue up again and to submit our precious passports exactly ten days, seven personal visits and a dozen of phone calls after the first hurdle (see above), and, at last, (ix) to pick up our mechanically damaged passports, equipped with the sticker of a valid 126-day double-entry tourist visa for the Republic of India, the world’s largest bureaucrazy; namaste Incredible India, (x) here we come!

"They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
for trying to change the system from within.
I'm coming now,
I'm coming to reward them…"

Taking the Ravindu Travels express bus from Kandy to Negombo (LKR 111.- or exactly US$ 1.- per person for the 3-hr long, very scenic ride) and thereafter the S.L.T.B. bus no. 905 from Negombo’s bus station to our beach hotel north of Negombo proper for LKR 12.- per person.

Click below for a summary of this year's travels

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