We landed in Colombo on Sunday, January 18th. Our first treat of a tropical environment. It was hot and humid. We also had out first experience with the locals trying to separate you from your money. We get a taxi into the city to John's friend, Jekhan and his wife, Kshirabdhi and and son, Karman. We spend the night with them and then load into a mini van for a day's driving to the resort hotel Kandalama, built over the Kandalama Wewa (or tank, in english - lake). A fabulous place built into the rock overlooking nature. We utilize the remaining hours in the day to see our first site, Dambulla Temple, built into the rock.
Our first experience with the Buddhist temple. There are 5 temples, ranging from 1st century to 1915. I also relearn an old lesson, long trousers are a must when visiting temples. During the next couple of days we see the local sites, the high point being the rock fortress of Sigiriaya.
We climb to the top to view the remains of a summer palace/fortress - observation deck, swimming pool, etc. All that you could want (provided you have a staff to tote it all up there). The cardinal rule also becomes, tote lots of water around with you to replenish the body. We also see the old capital of Ceylon, Polonnaruwa.
We can't help thinking, looking at structures over 1000 years old, will anything that we are building today last this long? We spend our last night in Kandalama and then a drive back down to Colombo. Where, we relearn another golden rule - reconfirm, reconfirm those airline tickets. They have canceled our seats and now out departure is delayed 2 days. We make the best of it and travel up to Kandy to see the Temple of the Tooth. We get a spectacular train ride through the mountains (but a bit rough). We stay in an old colonial hotel, a step back in time. The town is in a bit of a state as Prince Charles is coming in a couple of weeks for Sri Lanka's independence celebration. We see a boa tree, started from a sprig from the boa tree Buddha was seated under when he received enlightenment. We also later enter and see the temple of the tooth. In the evening we gather with the pilgrims (and tourists) to see the inner sanctum opened up and the reliquary opened to see. Here is a side temple dedicated to the story of Buddha's enlightenment.
Temple of the Tooth
For a travel story on the temple bombing click here
For a travel story on a tout story at the temple click here
We also see a cultural show where they are keeping many of the old traditions alive; many traditional dances, songs, and the main event - the firemen. We see the usual eating of fire, juggling, etc. The out treat, a real fire walker. Out comes the bed of hot coals!
Walking on Fire
We rail back to Colombo and board our evening flight to Madras, India. On board we discover life on an Asian carrier. People are carrying on air conditioners, refrigerators, TV's, etc. These are stacked in the aisles, in front of their seats, etc. A western stewardess would be shocked. After an hours delay, we are off.