Sweet as Kandy in Sri Lanka

 

I tentatively turned my back on the sun-kissed shores of Hikkaduwa to visit Kandy which is located inland in the centre of Sri Lanka.
Kandy initially shocked me with it’s beauty. As my tuk tuk from the train station chugged up the hillside I was rewarded with stunning views of a city nestled among the mountainous jungle. The views were literally breathtaking and I was keen to snap some shots of the fiery sunset as soon as I had placed my backpack back in the hostel.
I met an English guy in the hostel and we decided to explore the city of Sri Lanka together. After walking what seemed like miles in the low morning sun we finally made it to the town centre. To be honest I was a little disappointed when we found the town. It was gridlocked with traffic and the smell of traffic fumes burnt my nostrils. As we approached the centre of the town and the vast lake my opinion quickly changed.
You can clearly see the effects of colonisation in Kandy. English style churches and Dutch and Portuguese architecture sit happily next to sprawling temples. It feels very European in some parts which actually made me feel home sick.

 

At the centre of the city lies a vast lake. This lake was built by the British and I had a peculiar bout of deja-vu. I really felt like I was in England (Despite the blistering sun, we don’t see much of that in England!) which was quite a peculiar feeling. Nevertheless the lake was absolutely beautiful.

 

kandy lake

Like any other city Kandy has a fair portion of people trying to ‘rip you off’ or people offering tuk tuk tours for an extremely inflated price. The English guy that I was with decided that we should follow a guy to buy tickets for traditional Kandy dancing. I warned him that it will be a rip off but he had still not got used to the charming nature of Sri Lankan’s. When we got there we had to wait for ages and were offered an extremely high price for the tickets. We walked off (with a smile) and told the guy that we would think about it. In my mind at least the guy got a small financial reward because we followed him to the ‘ticket office’. We went to watch the traditional dancing on a different day, it really was a spectacular sight but the hall was full of tourists. I loved seeing the normally shy Sri Lankan women dance in their colourful saris with wide smiles on their faces.

wood carving workshop

 

A wood carving workshop

 

washing an elephant

 

Washing an Elephant at Millennium Elephant sanctuary

 

 

Tourist attractions

 

  • Kandy is home to many tourist attractions. One of the most impressive and interesting was the colonial graveyard behind the Temple of the tooth. This held the graves of all of the (Mainly British) settlers in Kandy. The graves were quite amusing to read and very honest. One poor chap died from Diarrhea!
  • The Temple of the Tooth is the main temple in Kandy. It’s a place of pilgrimage and worship for many Buddhists and is said to hold the actual tooth of Buddah himself!
  • Traditional Sri Lankan dancing is found everywhere in Kandy. I found the act to be very entertaining but the dance hall was full of tourists and no Sri Lankan’s.
  • Saint Paul’s church is found right next to the temple of the tooth and is a brilliant example of Sri Lanka’s tolerant ways towards other religions. It’s very traditionally Anglican, just like you would find in the UK!
  • Rent a tuk tuk and just outside of Kandy you can find various Elephant sanctuaries, herb gardens, traditional wood carving workshops and factories where tea is processed.
  • Kandy is such a surprising city, unlike anywhere else that I visited in Sri Lanka. It’s a lot cooler than the coast too which makes a refreshing change!
  • Have you ever been to Kandy? If not would you ever like to visit? Do you prefer to visit beach resorts or inland destnations on your travels?

Six months of Travel: Summary and Review

cambodia

After the craziness and stress of Vietnam the smiling Khmer people were a heartwarming surprise.

As I arrived in the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, I was shocked by the disparity of poverty and wealth around me. Right next to the stupidly ornate Palace there was naked children searching for God knows what in a pile of rubbish at the side of the road.

 

The roads were also filled with brand new luxury cars. Expensive brands like Lexus and Toyota. This was a slight culture shock to me as well after spending a month in Scooter loving Vietnam.

I’ve never seen such a contrast between rich and poor before, the audacity of it turned my stomach.

 

Whilst in Phnom Penh I visited the sobering killing fields and the former prison of the Khmer Rouge: S21. I’m no stranger to ‘dark tourism’, I visited the harrowing concentration camp Dachau when I visited Germany on my second solo trip abroad. The main tower actually holds the skulls and bones of the people who were killed here by the Khmer Rouge, organised by sex and how they were killed.

The more I learn about the Khmer Rouge and year zero the harder I find it to comprehend and the more questions I have. 

 

 

 

 

The Khmer people were the friendliest people I have ever met, despite having the thoughts of such atrocity fresh in their minds. Every smile and wave was genuine and innocent. Even the tuk tuk drivers though persistent, were very polite. It was very strange seeing no people over 50. I could literally count the number of elderly people that I saw on my hands. It’s estimated that as many at three million Cambodians were killed by the Khmer Rouge during their three years of mass genocide.

Unthinkable.

I then moved to the more modern city of Siem Riep where I spent 4 days partying at the amazing Angkor What? bar, swimming in the hotel pool and gasping at the amount of brothels in Siem Riep (Many were obviously disguised as ‘massage parlors’).

 

 

Then I spent 3 days at the awe inspiring UNESCO world heritage site: Angkor Wat.

I purchased a three day pass for Angkor Wat and I never got bored looking at and exploring the many vastly different temples. Every temple was a pleasant surprise and very eccentric.

I felt like Lara Croft! (Sadly there was no butler to shoot or lock in the freezer…)

 

 

 

 

 

After parting ways from my travel friends it was time for a completely new travel experience for me. I spent two weeks at Hariharalaya retreat which is situated near the Angkor Wat temples in Siem Riep.

My time at the retreat was spent meditating, practicing yoga, learning about self development and reflecting on my travels.

After travelling so fast for so long it was just what I needed. I enjoyed having a routine, friends and literally no stress in my day.

My time at the retreat changed me as a person and I made many great friends. I loved eating a vegan diet and having no caffeine or alcohol. I felt so healthy and glowing from the inside and out.

 

 

 

I had shiatsu massages and tried traditional Khmer cupping! I never got tired of being able to ride a bike to see some of the out-lying Angkor Wat temples and watching the cows meander across the dirt roads and the children smile and wave with such enthusiasm.

After leaving the retreat I had a day in Siem Riep with my Hariharalaya friends. We enjoyed a traditional Khmer food cooking class at Le Tigre De Papier. I prepared delicious Amok curry and fresh spring rolls and enjoyed cooking for the first time in months.

 

After recharging at the retreat I was ready to face more partying. My next destination was the infamous Sihanoukville on Cambodia’s beautiful coastline.

Detox then retox!

Total countries visited=2, Vietnam and Cambodia

Yoga sessions completed= 14, every day at 7am at the retreat.

Modes of transport= Nightbus from Saigon to Phnom Penh, day bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Riep and tuk tuks to the retreat and Angkor Wat.

Number of naked children seen= 84 (Why don’t Cambodians put nappies or trouser bottoms on their children?)

Lessons I have Learned= Always spend some time on your travels relaxing and reflecting on your travels thus far.

Number of Shiatsu massages= 2 from the blind masseuse at the retreat. Heaven

Number of children that smiled and waved at me= 1052 (approx)

Have you ever visited a site of ‘dark tourism’ like the killing fields of Dachau?

If so how did you feel?

Have you ever been to a retreat or would you like to go to one?

 

 

 

Advice for staying safe in South East Asia for solo female travellers: Guest post on Ytravelblog!

staying safe in Suth East Asia

I’ve been travelling for seven months so far and I’ve learn’t an awful lot about how to stay safe in Asia. Even though South East Asia is a very safe destination it’s always sensible to take precautions, especially when travelling alone as a woman.

I’m proud to announce that I have had an article published on the amazing www.Ytravelblog.com . It’s one of my favorite travel blogs and I love how each article is written with love and honesty.

Read on and let me know what you think!

http://www.ytravelblog.com/female-solo-travel-south-east-asia/Vietnamytkohchang