Negombo to Kandy by Bus
09.09.2013 - 09.09.2013 25 °C
We had decided to get the local bus from Negombo to Kandy and so checked out promptly and went for some breakfast at a small local restaurant. We were immediately approached by a tuk-tuk driver who had seen we had all our bags and we said no thank you, maybe later. He then hung around outside while we ate our breakfast impatiently. We got a tuk-tuk to the bus station in town and the whole way he tried to convince us to let him book us a train for 3000 Rs (£15) rather than get the bus which we had to politely decline more that ten times. At the bus station all the buses line up and the destinations are in Sri Lankan and English so it is easy. We easily found our bus to Kandy and a young man directed us to the back and put our big bags in. We found a seat and only had to wait around five minutes for it to set off. The are very regular, every half an hour all day and it cost is 143 Rs each ( about 75p) for the three to four hour journey. The bus is a basic local bus, absolutely packed out with people both sat and standing with all the windows open and music playing. It's not luxury but it is crazily cheap for the distance we did.
It was a hair raising journey and the driver was a maniac. He zoomed through the hills beeping his horn with the off and on rain blasting through the windows so we had to periodically open and close them all. It wasn't that bad though to be honest and we would recommend it to anyone off to Kandy. It wasn't at all intimidating being on a bus full of locals as we were worried it would be and it took around three and a half hours.
When we pulled up in Kandy we decided to get a tuk-tuk rather that walk the kilometre or so as we knew it was up hill. He quoted an extortionate rate for the couple of kilometres max but we bargained to a reasonable but still expensive 200Rs. Our first choice was McLeod guesthouse as it had awesome reviews but after enquiring they only had rooms over our budget. The tuk-tuk driver then quoted us double to take us a few more hundred metres to which we said no thank you we will walk and he threatened it was a further 3km which we knew it was not. We looked at our map and the lovely man from McLeod showed us a shortcut to some other places. We checked in at the next one down the hill, Highest View guesthouse for 2000 Rs a night.
Kandy is a hill station in the Sri Lankan mountains. It is a valley surrounded by lush green peaks and the view from our guesthouse is beautiful. In the centre of the town is a lake. After settling in we went for a drink upstairs and sat on a balcony admiring the views. In the distance you can see big mountains.
After relaxing and showering we were ready to explore and went out in the late afternoon. We walked down the steep hill to the lake and leisurely wandered around the lake and into town. The lake is man made but it is gorgeous and has a tiny island in the middle. The town comes off the north-western side of the lake and is in easy walking distance. The town is bustling and as we reached everyone was on their way home from work so the streets were manic. They were filled with people in a rush and we were a little overwhelmed as people greeted us hello and asked us where we were from. The roads are busy with cars and the streets are full of small shops selling all sorts. There are lots of cake and sweet shops and a lot of very small places to buy cheap eats, rotis and curries as well as some pubs, small places selling cheap beer with bars on the windows. We wandered around a lot and then went into a place that was full of locals called The Kandyan Muslim Hotel. It serves really cheap curries, rotis, rice, fried snacks and more and we both ordered curry and rotis and fresh lime sodas. It was delicious, Chelsea had potato curry for only 50Rs (25p) and Liam had chicken kottu, both with rotis for 20 Rs each. The lime juice was fresh and spiked with sugar syrup and was yummy.
Afterwards we walked past the shops, bought a piece of cake and wandered back around the lake at sunset.
We ended our first night in Kandy enjoying a Lion beer in our guesthouse cafe veranda and watching literally thousands of bats migrate over the skies towards the east. The valley was dark apart from the Buddah Tooth Temple which was lit up and we could hear the monks chanting from our veranda. We are planning on visiting the temple tomorrow.