This morning we planned to sleep in, but I was up at 6:45 anyway and snuck out to have a cup of tea and watch the waves roll in from the balcony overlooking the sea. I’ve slept in plenty in my life. I haven’t sipped a morning cup of tea reading the Sri Lankan Daily News with the Indian Ocean at my feet that often. Pam joined me for breakfast, and what with the view and the near endless buffet, it was nearly 10:30 before we felt inclined to move on.
First on the list was the National History Museum, a sprawling colonial structure that once housed the British governor. Now it is stocked with the relics of Sri Lanka’s pre-colonial past, a civilization that spans fifteen centuries and is filled with the peaceful development of trade and agriculture. Much emphasis was given to religion, with a particular fondness for female deities that seemed to be unusually well and firmly endowed. Apparently gravity has no effect on celestial physique.
After a good look around we went for a stroll in the neighbouring park that featured numerous couples sporting with their consorts. Apparently the attraction for the female form endures to the present. Both the park and the museum show evidence of the war in the shabby deterioration of façade and grounds. But renovations are underway to restore what obviously was once quite pleasant and attractive. Our presence as tourists was noted and welcomed.
We went on to Pettah Market, a veritable warren of narrow, dank alleys crammed with vegetables and spices. Here we were greeted as curiosities, many simply wanting to say hello and ask where we were from. Clearly tourism is still a novelty in some parts of the city. We progressed to the craft and trinket part of the market where we bought a much needed electrical adaptor for the computer. They use the same three prong arrangement familiar in South-East Asia, but in this part of the world the prongs are all round, unlike the rectangular ones we are used to.
With the rain threatening to turn the dirt pavement into mud, we caught a Baby Taxi back to the hotel where we had parked our luggage. A final goodbye to the ancient hotel greeter, something of an iconic figure in Colombo, and we were on our way to the train station. We had read much about the fabled rail passage to Kandy, and were not disappointed. The train was old and decrepit, but we never doubted its reliability. It pulled its way steadily up the ascending hills, rocking gently past rice paddies of emerald green and hills wreathed in smoky clouds. The views were stunning, terraced slopes and swooping valleys around every corner.
We pulled into Kandy at dusk, and were met by the owner of the lodge where we will stay for the next three days. He and his wife run Freedom Lodge, just on the edge of town. We were too late for dinner at the lodge, but a short Tuk-Tuk ride took us into town for a lovely meal overlooking the main street. We are looking forward to exploring the city in the morning.