Sri Lanka Day 6

Hi Everyone

Today was a partial rest day and so I thought. Last night skipped dinner and went to bed at 7:30. Woke up at 10:30 to write and then went back to sleep at midnight. Finally woke up at 7 AM. Breakfast is served starting at 7:30 and then it was off for a short day adventure and so I thought. I must say this is the first hotel where the coffee was not great. In this heat, I have been drinking less java, but still need my tank filled each morning.

We left then hotel at 9:30 for a short drive. Don’t forget, we are in Kandy. Kandy is almost all buddhist and there are lots of buddhist statues around town. We first went up a large hill for a view of the city. Kandy is built on hills overlooking the center of town. One famous buddhist temple is located here. The temple is the “Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic”. Why is this temple called the “Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic”? In current day India, there are three temples that have three different teeth of Buddha. There used to be four temples. In the fourth century, an Indian king was afraid that the fourth tooth was going to be taken by invaders so he sent the tooth to the then current king of Sri Lanka. Both kings had a close relationship. That tooth was eventually placed in a Temple in Kandy. The Temple is gold roofed. The tooth is located in a small casket within the temple complex. The tooth is not on display, but has been seen by the monks who take care of the Temple and dignitaries throughout the years. The Temple is one of the most sacred sites in Sri Lanka. Many buddhist people come to visit the Temple complex and bring flowers and incense. When we arrived at the gate, I was wearing shorts that were considered to short to enter the complex and was denied entry until I could cover my legs. There were two other men with the same problem. Our tour guide took us to a local merchant where we each bought a sarong to wrap around our waists and cover our legs. We were finally allowed to enter and the rest of the group had a great time laughing and taking pictures of us. Our tour guide showed us a strange looking tree. The tree is now called a “Cannonball Tree”. The fruits are shaped like cannon balls and not edible. We were told that Buddha was born in a field of these type of trees. Of course, there were also lots of monkeys making their presence known. We finally arrived at the Temple entrance and had to take our shoes off before entering. Inside, the Temple was a mass of humanity of men, women and children all in some form of prayer and or meditation. The scene was almost mass chaos as we walked amongst the people praying and waiting to enter the main Temple entrance. There was an interesting buddha that had large elephant tusks on either side. The main Temple entrance was on the second floor where there was a whole floor of people sitting on the floor either praying or meditating. We were told that the crowd is at least double this when a full moon occurs. I could not imagine that scene. We were able to look inside the main Temple area where the tooth casket is housed, but could not see much. I did not try to take a picture out of respect and felt it would be inappropriate. There were lots of buddhas in almost all the corners of rooms where people were praying and meditating. I felt somewhat out of place being there, but was glad I saw this showing of strong belief. We then went into another large room where there was a beautiful buddha setup with lots of flowers and incense all around. The roof was interesting. There were gold busts of elephants on the white ceiling. It was then time to leave. “Africa Hot” had set in and the sarong was making me even hotter.

We then went for a walk through Kandy and the local Market. There is an old hotel across from the Temple named the “Queens Hotel”. The hotel looks and feels like it is two hundred years old and you could feel the history. I went inside to get a drink at the bar. The bar is named the “Lord Montbatten Bar” and was established in 1840. I could not describe the traffic and mass chaos as people walked up and down the shop lined streets in “Africa Hot”. We arrived at the local Market, where vendors were selling all sort of leather goods, clothing, sarongs and shoes. Olivia bought some pants. We also sampled some local fruits and finally made our way out into the chaos of people outside. It was then time to walk back to the Temple area for our bus ride back to our hotel. The bus arrived at 2 PM and I was so happy. By this time I was drenched and needed to decompress from the heat, traffic and people.

We were told to meet at 6:30 in the lobby for a special dinner. I spent four hours looking and editing my photos. I love doing this and my mind goes into a different process.

The dinner was special. We were driven to a local families house for a local dinner with them. We were only served local food. There was an interesting dish of a rice kind of noodle that looked like white pasta made into a large cookie. Quite good. We were also served red rice and various curry and coconut dishes. Some of the dishes were hot and spicy. Not my cup of tea. The family also served us a coconut patty that is made with a special type of wooden instrument that we were shown. There were also lots of items made from palm leaves and sesame. Something called “jadggery” or palm sugar was very good.  Not my type of food, but interesting.

Not too bad for a day of rest. It appears that rest will only come when I get home.

Hope everyone is well and enjoying the journey