Day 9 – I Want Kandy: Temple Run, Exorcist Slime & Crap Spiders

I’ve chosen Beauty Alice as the image for today because she’s always been fascinated by sweets and candy, despite not eating a lot of them herself. All her drawings are of candy shops or sweet factories and yet when presented with a load of the stuff, she doesn’t go bonkers. I think the real thing is a lot more underwhelming than the imaginary… like so many things in life.

Kandy is the third city we visited of the trio that make up the apexes of the Cultural Triangle (after Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa). It’s a bustling metropolis compared to the other two and the whole thing hangs on a backdrop of colonial heritage. The presence of the British is palpable, from the Queen’s Hotel to the Empire Cafe where we had lunch. Ads ordered the special – something I like to call Insta-Jizz – avocado juice. It’s exactly that: whizzed avocados. Reader, I can report that juicing an avocado is like fitting wheels to a fish: pointless. They’re so nice in solid form so why bother and the resulting lurid green gloop is just a tiny bit Exorcist.

Before this delight, we knocked off three major temples: Gadaladeniya, Lankathilake & Embakke. It will take me until the day of my cremation to remember these names, let alone spell them, so please don’t ask me to write them again. I’ll simply refer to them as G, L and E. The first – G – comprised a dagaba (Star Wars Stupa made of bricks, hiding a relic) and a main temple. The star attraction, though, was Cutey McCuteFace the puppy (see all pix below) who the kids fell for in a big way. Eddie, in particular, used about a MEG of digital memory on him. The stray dog situation in Sri Lanka is pretty out of control though, and it was just another sad moment when we left, knowing this pup probably won’t see out the month. Captain Gloom here – strap in.

The second temple (if you can momentarily peel your face off the desk and matchstick your eyelids open) was Lankthilake – quite the showstopper and on the edge of a valley. It appears on the 500 rupee note in all it’s pagoda-esque beauty (again, pix below).

And finally E for Embakke – this is the one with the amazing wood-carved roof. And that’s pretty much all I can say about it. By this point I was cursing the Buddha ever set foot on planet earth and wishing he’d stayed as plain Siddhartha (let’s call him ‘Sid’) and became a bricklayer or something.

After lunch (already covered: Exorcist) we went to Peridenaya Botanic Gardens. Now this prospect filled me with about as much excitement as the words ‘let’s visit a garden centre’ used to as a kid but…. very pleasantly surprised. It is truly beautiful. Once again, the colonial touch is very evident in sweeping lawns, curved flower beds and Victorian greenhouses. But what this place has, which Kew doesn’t, is proper jungle. It’s even got jungle dwelling weirdos to match: a sinister bloke limped out of a bush in one of the jungly bits and offered to show us a ‘Spider – Big One!’ Turns out it wasn’t all that impressive, even to an arachnophobe (me and most of my kids, alas) but he still tried to stiff us for a tip. The cheek of it. Hey, I’m joking: it’s a genuine service the guy was offering. It was just a crap spider. I didn’t even get a shot of the blighter. If he’d found a tarantula we’d have definitely given him 100 rupees and then scarpered.

Finally we knock off and retreat to the Elephant Stables for lashings of Lion beer and a spectacular sunset. Adam got his drone out (oi – stop sniggering – an ACTUAL DRONE) and flew it a few kilometres off the valley edge towards the white Buddha on the horizon. That’s the kind of thing he does for relaxation. I drank cold wet alcohol until the day dropped into a mozzie soup and then we all retired.

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