After Udawalawe we made our way back to Matara by bus, same journey as it was on the way there although the bus was busier.
We only spent an hour in the town of Matara before heading to the apartment we booked, which was was actually on the outside of the town, 15 minute tuk tuk ride.
The owner was very friendly, but the listing of the apartment wasn’t completely true, it seems to be a common thing we have come across, that there would be things listed that did not exist or extra charges that are not mentioned. The one downside we came across with the location of this apartment was that it was far from shops and restaurants, everything nearby only sold snacks and drinks. Luckily the owner kindly picked up some food for us which helped us out. The next day the owner showed us a secret beach, this beach was far from any tourist beaches around the area and completely empty. It was so beautiful and we could spot turtles swimming in the distance, the water was too dangerous to swim in though so we tried the little natural pool in the rocks which was refreshing but when the waves crashed against the rocks and reached us, we would lose our balance.
Another downside of this apartment was the noise coming from one of the shops on the main road, they felt the need to play music at full volume between 9am- 5pm, which was incredibly annoying especially when we we had lessons to teach. It was a lovely beach to be close to but we were happy to leave this place, and head off to Dehiwala, which is near Colombo.
was mainly used as a resting location for us to break up the journey to Kandy from Matara, it was a 3 and half hour train journey from Matara to Dehiwala, and we had to force our way through the mass amount of people on the train as most people were travelling to Colombo centre. We were back in Uber and PickMe terrain, this meant we could cheaply travel at local prices without the hassle of negotiating and being obviously overcharged. Our airbnb apartment was right next to the beach, although the beach wasn’t the nicest with lots of litter. We were also near lots of shops and restaurants so this meant we had a lot of options for once. The church that we went to on our first Sunday in Colombo, told us about a young couple who lived in the area and were keen to meet up with us. We invited them over to our accommodation and bought some food. You can read about our encounter here.
We took an Uber to Colombo Fort railway station as it was rush hour and did not feel like squeezing into the train with our luggage. Once at Colombo Fort we took the 4 hour long train to Kandy, the journey was long but luckily we had a seat and the train was a little nicer, slightly more modern compared to the Matara route trains. The views from the train were pretty amazing as you venture into the mountains, make sure you are sat on the correct side of the train (right side). Once you arrive in Kandy there seems to be the similar rush for your business with the Tuk Tuk drivers, we chose one and made our way to the guest house which was up in the hills, so it meant we had a long slow ride up the hill in the Tuk Tuk with all our luggage. The views looked pretty awesome, and soon after we arrived at the guest house, we seemed to be the only guests staying so we had the whole place to ourselves. The owners were very friendly and made us tea which is also what this area is well known for tea and beautiful views. The room was nice and had some views over the landscape, the only downside was the terrible bed which was uncomfortable and very noisy, the towels provided were disgusting we had to ask for new ones. The guest house was very far from anything due to the steep hill, and even shops were far away, I managed to find one stall that sold a few snacks and drinks. Even seeing a tuk tuk was rare, so hailing a ride to the city could only be done with a contact number, although we found out PickMe app worked in Kandy we didn’t realise this until a couple days later.
The guest house cooked us a meal luckily which was a nice curry one of the nicest we have had, although some of the side dishes weren’t our favorite but it was lovely to have a meal and rest afterwards.
We booked a tuk tuk driver for the next day, he came and picked us up after the breakfast (curry again). Most tuk tuk drivers do the same tour around the city but we wanted to go to some nice locations. The first choice was more the drivers choice, a tea museum. It was interesting to see how tea was brought to the area and find out about the history and how tea is made. We had some tea afterwards as it was included, I am still not overly keen on tea but felt that I needed to just go with it and drink it. After the museum we jumped back in the tuk tuk and went all the way to Hunnas falls, this was about an hour away north of Kandy. Not a usual place for drivers to go to, but the driver we had remembered the area from childhood and was happy to go and see it again. The journey was long and bumpy inside the tuk tuk and went up some steep roads with sharps bends, buses even went up and down this road, driving fast and dangerous as usual.
A cheap entrance fee of about £1 each and a nice little area to enjoy the waterfall, not the most amazing one I have seen but pretty nice. There was even a little pool at the bottom where you can swim around, no one brought swimming stuff so we just jumped in wearing our underwear, well Sassi just kept all her clothes on. Luckily Sri Lanka is hot so everything dries quickly, which it did. After this we asked the driver to take us somewhere with a nice view so he gave us two options and we decided to go to the Temple on the mountain which was about an hour away. The road was similar and possibly a little more steeper and it didn’t help that we were stuck behind a lorry for most of the way. When we arrived he told us that we needed to take our shoes and socks off and leave them in the tuk tuk as it would be safer there. So this meant a game of jumping and hopping over dirty puddles to get to the nice white stone stairs. The view was really nice although they were doing some building work to the temple so some areas weren’t as good. We seemed to be the only tourists here as it was a little further outside of Kandy and not really a tourist area.
We then rushed back as Sassi had a lesson and we needed to eat first, the journey was mostly easy until we arrived in the city centre, and suddenly we were back to the crazy traffic. We got back in time and the driver wanted to talk to his aunt first (owner of the guest house) he then came back and told us a higher price for the trip, from what his uncle told us because we had gone a lot further than most people do. We ended up just giving him the money as we could tell it was mainly his aunt pushing for the extra money.
As we were staying up high on a hill we got to see a beautiful sunset over the city, we ended up finding a secret path up to the peak of the hill which gave us a lovely view.
We left the next day with all our luggage and took a tuk tuk to our airbnb apartment, we originally booked to stay at Sigiryia but decided that we were doing too much in Sri Lanka and Sassi really needed to rest her knee, plus we really needed some downtime as this was only the first 3 weeks of our long trip. The airbnb was on the other side of the city but closer to the centre, we dropped our stuff off and then made our way to a church we found online, they messaged us back and told us to come along. It was mostly full and there were many foreigners. We later found out the preacher was actually one of the founding members of the church, he was American married to a lovely German lady.
After the service we went to the temple of the tooth but due to Sassis interesting skirt they would not allow her in, so we decided I would go in for a little bit to take photos and Sassi would wait around the lake. It was very busy so I decided to take some photos then dash off to the exit so we could go back to the church as they invited us out for lunch. We ended up having a lovely lunch and spoke to another German lady who was volunteering for Child Action in Sri Lanka.
They took us back to our apartment and we properly checked in, and checked out what the place was like, we had a swimming pool for the first time, YAHOO. Although there were many downsides such as the wifi not working in our room…this causes many issues when you need to teach online. The room was nice but quite run down and many things didn’t work and the electrics didn’t look all that safe. Otherwise the guy was nice and made us some tea, and helped us out when needed.
The next morning we went to Child Action in the centre of town, we met with some of the people that worked in the office while we waited for ….. She then took us over to the day centre for children, the children were from poor families in Kandy, mainly street beggars. Here they are offered some clean clothes during the day, a place to shower, food and time to learn. Looking at all these kids they seemed so happy and you wouldn’t know they were from street beggar families, they all wore the same uniform and were playing around but once you hear about stories you realise how hard it must be to work with kids in this situation. Check out our other blog to learn more about Child Action.
We took a tuk tuk to another temple on the mountain which overlooked Kandy, the view was nice but it seemed again like a tourist trap having to pay for entry and then pay to keep your shoes safely stored, they asked for money to store them then asked for more money to get our shoes back. Best to just hide them in a backpack before you get there.
We went back into the city for food and decided to choose some western food for once, we ended up having some burgers and chips, in this huge restaurant which had gates to enter and leave, which was quite strange, maybe they have a lot of dine and dash guests. There isn’t really much to see in Kandy except for a few temples and a lake, otherwise it is just a big busy city.
After spending a few days in Kandy we left on the train to make our way to Negombo which is a town near the airport, as this was the very last part of our journey. We used our time in Negombo to just rest up before leaving Sri Lanka. Something we learnt from this trip is that rest it something we both need and without it, we will just exhaust ourselves. Maybe we are older than we thought but either way we know that for the rest of our trip we will spend more time in each area to make sure we are not rushing around even if that means missing some parts out.