Sri Lanka – DISCOVERING KANDY

So today is a free half day, with some scheduled excursions first followed by a free afternoon! And wow did we do some exploring, I urge you to watch the YouTube footage because it was all so beautiful and amazing.

We woke up and headed over to our usual breakfast spot located directly across the road from the mission called Kandayan King!

Just getting across the road was a mission itself. Although there is a zebra crossing you are lucky if they stop for you! You have to wait for solid lul in the traffic to get across. Then once you’re halfway they’ll stop for you! But only if!

Here we had our typical breakfast of Toast, spreads, fresh fruits and omelettes. Ready for a day full of tea, spices, gem factories, amazing street markets and Buddha views!

Gurunanda Tea Factory!

We arrive at the tea factory in our busload and were taken around the factory itself to see how tea bags and loose leaf tea is made! It was amazing to see.

We saw where the tea leaves are dried and then where they are placed in machines to be sieved and it is incredible how fast it can go from harvesting tea to drinking the tea itself! It was a very nice and fast insight into how the tea is made in the factory.

Once we had seen all the machines and learnt how everyone was processed we were brought upstairs to a nice dining area where we were able to try some fresh tea, it was so lovely and I LOVE a brew so I was over the moon.

Afterwards I brought an entire tub of loose leaf Jasmine Tea and Vanilla Tea to bring home with me. They are without a doubt the nicest flavoured teas I have ever purchased or had and taste amazing.

The Spice Gardens

Once we were done with drinking tea we headed over to a Spice Garden!

Once we arrived we were ushered down a pathway where we were given fresh coconut water straight from a coconut! We watched him hack the top off and pop in a straw! It was so lovely and fresh. There was also the most beautiful puppy, so naturally we were all crowding around the fussing the little furball.

Once the puppy and coconut excitement had passed we were given a full tour of the area where they grew pineapples (which I learnt in my 21 years of life are grown from the ground? I was absolutely astonished). We also saw where all the other herbs and spices are grown, cinnamon, garlic, aloe etc. It was really interesting especially when they grind and blend these herbs into herbal remedies.

We were then seated and had a lesson on how these remedies were made and what they could assist with medical wise and then were given the best shoulder and neck massage with their homemade Aloe Vera. Man it was amazing I could’ve quite honestly gone to sleep afterwards I felt so relaxed.

Then we were shown to their store full of herbal remedies, where everything was massively overpriced so I bought nothing. I enjoyed the massage though and cuddled the puppy instead of browsing their shop, a great alternative.

Gem Factory

Our next stop was the gem factory.

Here we learnt about the mining of diamonds and the process in which is taken to get these diamonds into our jewellery and just as they are! We arrived and were taken down a fake underground mining area where it showed how the miner would dig these stones out from these shafts and bring them up with them.

The gem industry is huge, we then watched a 15 minute video on how these gems were brought to manufacturers and how they are made. We were shown how these gentleman within the building were cleaning these precious stones and shaping them ready to be placed in jewellery or sold as they are. We were taken into a small viewing room where there were all different types of diamonds and gemstones dotted around with explanation of their origins and where they were found. 

It was really fascinating to see the process and afterwards were lead downstairs to their gem shop. My favourite gems being the Topaz gem stones, a beautiful pure blue gem which was only £17! It makes you wonder how much of the gem trade is a real hoax.

LUNCH? DOMINOS M8

We were dropped off back at the mission with a mission to find FOOD. And we had seen on the bus through our journey in Kandy that there was a Dominos not far from the mission. You best believe we found that Dominos and ATE our body weight in pizza. It was SO tasty and everything we needed ready for our free afternoon!

TEMPLE OF TOOTH

So the first place us group of girls headed was Kandy’s sacred Temple of Tooth. A beautiful temple where you could visit at a price. We headed into the ground and enjoyed the building for what it was but we did not pay to go inside as it was very busy and you can only go inside at certain parts of the day.

I personally enjoyed putting on our sarongs, we all had such beautiful and colourful clothing options as you cannot bare skin so shoulders and legs must be covered due to be it being a place of worship. It was also located next to the Kandy lake, or Bogambara lake, and was just such a beautiful setting for a beautiful building.

The Temple of Tooth is named this due to housing the sacred relic of the canine tooth of the Buddha and was erected in 1595. The building itself is all white on the outside and is known to be very calming even though it does get very busy, it is recommended to take flowers as offerings for the Buddha! There are stalls located outside of the temple where they are lined with the most beautiful of flowers to offer to the Buddha!

MARKETS (& UNDERGROUND MARKET) OF KANDY

Next up was the markets!

We walked over to the markets that were inside a large white building with rows and rows of tuk tuts outside! It was SO Busy, these stalls included fresh meat and fish, little trinkets and souvenirs, endless hareem pants, sarongs and general items of clothing! It was really interesting to see how this is where the people of Kandy would do a lot of their shopping. We even saw red bananas!?

The market itself was two stories high, we headed into a small shop that offered lots of incense sticks that smelt heavenly and we all collectively brought half the shop. I love burning incense.

There was also an underground market which was centred in a roundabout! There was amazing street art and it was so cool knowing that this hustle and bustle of the market was going on underneath a busy road and roundabout!

we split off into two groups and then re-conveined afterwards by the entrance where all the Tuk Tuks were for the next and BEST part of the day!

BAHIRAWAKANDA VIHARA BUDDHA STATUE

We jumped in 2 separate tuk tuks and it was amazing! We were heading straight for the Bihirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue at the top of the mountain in central Kandy!

They tuk tuk drivers agreed a price for all of us and also agreed to wait for us whilst we explored and also drive us back down the mountain! it certainly was a rickety journey and terrifyingly tight at some points with the cars and trucks zooming past as as we made our way up! We were even holding hands between tuk tuks!

Check the video here!

The views were stunning and the Buddha itself was beautiful. We covered ourselves up and headed up the stairs where we were given a piece of paper of instructions and rules and then said a small price as donation. We had a photoshoot on the stairs up to the buddha because it was an absolute must, and then headed upwards to explore!

The top of the Buddha was closed but that didn’t stop Shaista and I from climbing as high up on the Buddha as we could! It was late afternoon and the sunset was just phenomenal. It was so beautiful and serene, Me, Mel, Shannon and some of the other girls bought flowers as inside the Buddha itself you could give the buddha offerings!

It was a really beautiful experience and I was so happy to share it with the most amazing girls!

We got the tuk tuk down the mountain once more and headed back to the mission. All in all a very successful day!

Stay tuned for the final few excursions and days of the trip!

Sri Lanka – Jet Lag Chilling & Impromtu Sri Lankan Night’s Out!

Our First few days were lazy ones, and a crazy one too!

Our hotels didn’t have swimming pools so we had to find a hotel with a pool to lay by for the next 2 days to help us recover in the sun!

We ended up and a hotel called the Camelot on our first day! It was 1000 Rupees for a sunbed for the day which amounts to around £4.50! This hotel was so nice, it had 2 pools, a bar and was beachside. They brought around cold towels and cucumbers for your eyes and if you ordered food they delivered it straight to your sunbed! It was an awesome place for so cheap for the day. They did some amazing spring rolls as well.

As it was beachside we also all went beach exploring! Taking a walk and swim along the coastline, especially taking a fancy to their amazing fishing boats that are on the shoreline with all beautiful coloured sails and the way they are structure. Some photos on the boats were an obvious must for us gyals. The water was warm and choppy so it must take some skill to drive one of those!

The next challenge was finding our first lunch out!

Serving Sri Lankan food we jumped right in, walking down into a small open restaurant on the side of the road. The walls were covered in writing and signatures from all the other travellers who had visited this place over the years! SO WE HAD TO HAD ADD TO IT WITH OURS. It would’ve been rude not too!

We decided we didn’t want to stay in the hotel to eat on the first day we wanted to go out and try somewhere new! So we headed across from the Camelot to a small restaurant called Ammehula!

Once we sat down next to so also amazing wall art I ordered myself some Chicken noodles. Naturally they were delicious, all 6 of us who headed over enjoyed the food and we all made sure to have something different each!

That evening we were in search of dinner & a drink!

Us group of 9 girls were HUNGRY.

We headed out of the Ocean View guest house turning left down the road heading to a place the girls found on maps/recommended! This restaurant was called The Ice Bear and it was SO GOOD. Our first night and the food was already top notch.

As you arrive to the restaurant you walk down a garden pathway surrounded by trees and plants, signs also pointing out there were Tortoises in the garden! It was awesome, we then walked through an oriental archway and there was a tree swing! They also had hammocks! We all definitely had a quick go on the swing and had some pictures before heading up to get seated.

Dinner was quick and easy, I had Calamari and it was so incredibly tasty. Myself and a couple of the girls also bought fresh coconut water and this was brought to us in the coconuts with a hole in the top and a straw. I love coconut water so it was SO delicious and refreshing!

Next on the agenda, a drink. Which ended in an Impromptu night out… Oops!

Now this was not something we expected AT ALL.

We wanted to find a bar with nice music, good vibes and good drinks. After trekking our way back to the hotel we asked the owner of the Seajoy, where we all dined the night before, where was good for a drink.

He sent us right out of the hotel and all the way down the road, PAST The Camelot which is just under a mile in itself to a small bar called Dolce Vita! When we arrived it wasn’t exactly how we expected it to be but it was lovely and there was alcohol nonetheless! There were 2 men also singing and playing guitar on stage, there was a group of men dancing (who were a LOAD of fun and so funny!) and there were a few english couples there as well.

After a few drinks the girls were UP ON STAGE, Singing Despacito! We were dancing with the boys who were dancing before and buying plenty of drinks, it was a lot of fun. bUT, We wanted some more upbeat music. The same guy who told us to come to this place was there so we asked him, where to next? 2 doors down. So off we went.

Well. This was an experience. We walked into this bar, which was basically a club! The music was some awesome house music, there were flashing lights and a dance floor. A gentleman came up to us and ordered our drinks and then brought them to us. He then explained that the 3 large men stood around us were there to LOOK AFTER US.

It did get us a reputation the following days known as ‘The Dancing Girls’ out night out. The club was called Serendib! Which in the day is a restaurant and pub! We smoked shisha, were given cigarettes and bottles of alcohol. We were looked after like VIP’s in a club back in the UK. If we were sat outside and Mel and I wanted to dance? We let the boys know and one would come inside with us in and stand closeby whilst we got our groove on and then walk us back to the table outside to make sure we were not pestered.

It was fascinating and exciting to learn and experience. I also felt safe. I know that we have these boys to look after us but It felt comfortable, everyone was enjoying themselves and we were dancing with so many people! Including the boys who were dancing with us in Dolce Vita who came down to Serendib!

When the night was over at about 3:30 – 4am they even drove us back to our hotels on their Bikes & Tuk Tuks! The Tuk Tuk had loudspeakers and it was a basic party Tuk Tuk with 4 in the back and a lot of bassline! If they hadn’t of taken us back Me, Mel & Shaista would not have gotten into our hostel as the gate was locked and we were not tall enough to open it, luckily the boys were!

Our hangovers the next day were the ultimate payback.

The next day was spent at another pool, The Rani Beach hotel, a little closer and cheaper than the Camelot to crawl to in our states. We spend the day eating and sunbathing our hangovers out to prepare ourselves for the busy next few days!

That evening we had another group dinner all 28 of us and our lecturers who are also on the trip with us. We had the whole food area to ourselves on two big long tables and a buffet with a mixture of Sri Lankan curries! It was delicious and good fun, there was also some live music for us too.

After being very full and very hungover, bed was calling as the REAL University Crisis and Disaster trip started the following day!

Whats next? Negombo Lagoons, Buddhist temples and a gamma toe.

STAY TUNED, J x