Dancers, Flowers and the Temple of the Tooth in Kandyland:
Most tourist spots have their short list of go-to suggestions, and the Traditional Dance performance in Kandy is one. It’s on every night at 5 pm, and the Buddhist religious service at the Temple of the Tooth Relic is on at 6pm, almost next door, so lots of people opt to do both in quick succession.
After the dancing, we chose to walk around Kandy Lake instead, which started off ok, but night fell very quickly after 6pm and by the time we got to the far side of the lake we found that the sidewalk was under construction and peak hour traffic was careening along the lake front, so it wasn’t the serene walk we’d anticipated but a bleak struggle to survive without falling into a hole or the lake itself or being struck by an Ashok Leland bus.
However, serenity was indeed ours when we went to the Peradeniya Botanic Gardens, probably one of the best botanic gardens in the world. Certainly among the tops in our experience. It is huge and varied, with notable features like the orchid house which has over 150 different types of orchids, all of which seemed to be in bloom, large, miniscule, and in every colour. Just spectacular. If any of you ever go to Kandy, we think it’s the number 1 thing to be sure to do.
We were there on Poya, the monthly full moon holiday, and were pleased to find that it was a favourite spot for young Sri Lankan couples to spend their day off, strolling close together, sometimes even with an arm over the other’s shoulder (my gosh!) in an unusual expression of physical closeness. And under tree after tree we saw couples had staked out a private spot to talk or picnic. Always upright, mind you. Remember that old college rule–if you have a man in your room, there must always be three feet on the floor? Well, they may have been sitting on roots, but they were otherwise very proper.
And here’s my traveler’s tip: If you want an affordable and excellent buffet lunch or a decent coffee, try the Queens Hotel by Kandy Lake. It’s another grand old lady of the Victorian era hotels in the former colonies, still clinging on to standards. They serve a good gin and tonic, too.