Galle, Kandy & a day with elephants

Posted by on Apr 12, 2016 in Asia, Sri Lanka, Travel | 0 comments

Galle, Kandy & a day with elephants

With stunning beaches, beautiful mountains and rainforests, buddhist temples, national parks offering safaris and some of the best tea in the world there really is something for everyone in Sri Lanka.

A direct flight from Beijing to Colombo with Sri Lankan airlines and we arrived on the tear-drop island located off the south coast of India.

We had arranged for a driver to pick us up from the airport as we landed early in the morning and were headed straight down the coast to the district of Galle.

The drive took about two and a half hours and cost us 70 euro for two people, which seemed expensive for Asia however was cheaper than getting a taxi from the airport and significantly more convenient than public transport options.

We arrived at our beachfront accomodation Rockside Cabanas which overlooked beautiful Dalawella Beach, about 6 kilometres south of Galle Fort.

The place is owned and run by a lovely German woman who makes sure everything is spotless and service is good.  The staff were friendly, the food excellent and there was a great natural lagoon for swimming as well as decent waves for surfing.

 

Deck

 

The beachfront cabana had amazing views and a great deck for reading books and enjoying candlelit dinners.

Our only complaint about the cabana was that there are no flyscreens so we had a few visitors of the animal variety, which I was coping with until finding a giant eight legged friend!

We spent four days here doing a lot of not much, and it was divine.

 

Rockside

 

A day was spent wandering around Galle Fort, an old town full of Dutch style colonial buildings and many tourist shops and cafes.

We had lunch at Lucky Fort, a restaurant hidden down one of the alleyways that serves up 10 curries for only 950 rupees (and is enough for two people).

The Sri Lankan cuisine was right up my alley, consisting of curries made with fresh coconut milk and plenty of vegetarian dishes like lentil dahl.

Tuk-tuks are the easiest way to get around if you’re not going too far, and the usual rate is around 100 rupees per kilometre.

 

Tuk Tuk

 

 

Kandy

After a few blissful days by the beach we headed to the cultural heart of Sri Lanka, Kandy.

Kandy is a city in the mountains of central Sri Lanka famous for housing the tooth of Buddha in the aptly named ‘Temple of the Tooth’.

We visited the temple which was clearly an important and revered Buddhist site, however don’t expect to see the tooth as it is housed in a casket inside the temple.

Near the entrance to the temple is Empire Cafe which is a good place to stop for lunch offering salads and proper coffee at a reasonable price.

We stayed in a homestay with a lovely older couple who fussed over us as if we were family.  At meals we were told to eat more of everything and when heading out they’d make sure we were equipped with an umbrella or hat depending on the weather.

 

Homestay

 

They live in a beautiful house with a view over Kandy and in the evenings we would listen to jazz music and their stories from 40 years spent living on a tea plantation.

It was somewhat surreal with a strong colonial feel including their two servants or “domestics” who waited on us.

We went to the touted Kandyan cultural dance, however weren’t that impressed and felt it was really a tourist money spinner with about five companies offering this dance every evening from 5-6pm.  We couldn’t help but compare it to the cultural dance we watched in Ubud, Bali and felt it was nowhere near as impressive.

 

Dance

 

We loved the Royal Botanical Gardens, the grounds are sprawling and we spent an easy two hours strolling around.  They have plants from all over the world and many shady areas to relax.

Such a tranquil place it felt so peaceful compared to the mayhem of town.  I would recommend taking a picnic and a good book and settling in for a few hours here.

 

Garden

 

 

A day with elephants

Our final day and night was spent at the Elephant Freedom Project.

Ideally I would have liked to do a safari in one of the national parks and see the elephants in the wild, however we didn’t have enough time.

The Elephant Freedom Project rescues elephants that have been used for logging or tourist riding, and allows tourists to interact with elephants without riding them and without the mahouts (keepers) using bull-hooks to control them.

 

Wayne feeding

 

They currently only have two elephants, as it is difficult to get owners to agree to rent them to them when they make more money from renting them to riding or logging places.

We went for walks with the elephants and helped bathe them in a shallow river.

It was a good experience, however it is a whole day from 8.30am – 4.30pm so is quite drawn out and there is a bit of standing around.

We also did a cooking class during the day which was fun and we learned how to make Sri Lankan curries, including making coconut milk from scratch!

A week in Sri Lanka was nowhere near enough time to really explore, and I would love to return one day and discover more of the beautiful country.

 

Lake

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