Enjoying Sri Lanka’s cultural capital
We really enjoyed Kandy. It’s a very green city nestled in the northern part of the tea country. We went there first so we could see my Aunt Maryannick who was spending a few days there on one of her annual visits to the country she loves so much.
For Matilda, the main attraction was the traditional Sri Lankan dance performances. We saw one at the Kandyan Art Association on the first day with Maryannick, and another two days later at the YMBA hall, at Matilda’s request. Between the two venues, the programme is the same, the costumes are a little different, and the drumming equally thunderous and well synchronised.
The firewalkers also made a big impression on Matilda, who play-acted firewalking repeatedly for the next few days.
For John, the highlight of the visit was the Sri Lankan cooking class we took. Our hosts at Best Kandy Kitchen took us to the market and then showed us how to cook a dozen different dishes on which we then feasted. It was delicious, and we now have a sense of the main techniques for cooking a curry. The class takes place in a family home, and Matilda enjoyed spending the evening playing with the little girls in the house. We had an excellent evening.
Kandy is also an important centre of Sri Lankan Buddhism, as a relic of the Buddha is kept here at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. We visited it during one of the daily ceremonies where we heard traditional drum music and saw devotees making flower offerings. Our guide shoved us in front of them so that we could see the golden reliquary before the shutters that normally hide it were closed—this made us feel very uncomfortable.
We saw our first elephant, walking with its mahout.
On the last day, we went to the Peradinya Botanical Gardens: former royal gardens, this is also the place where the British first introduced the tea plants stolen from China and brought over from India. We saw some monkeys, but it was the ferns, orchids and giant bamboos that caught my attention.
Next episode, our adventures in the mountains!
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