After flying into Colombo we stayed one night in Negombo where we saw fireflies (fairies!) at night and our garden was surrounded by palm trees. Still exciting, two months in.
We had curry buns (bread rolls with curry filling) for breakfast, not loved massively by Imogen or Lachlan, then left early. We took a bus from Negombo to Kandy, a 3.5 hr journey costing us all of 159 Rupees each – just under £1 – and although it got typically squashed an hour or so in, we had plenty of space for the first stretch! The kids loved the tassels and beads and religious pictures in the bus.
Sri Lanka is a small country – just 244 km at its widest point, and is the road to Kandy was inhabited pretty much the whole route. The roads are crazy busy with tuk-tuks and buses vying for position.
As we climbed higher and higher – Kandy is 500m above sea level – the towns and buildings started to thin out a bit and from time to time we could see the luscious, green mountainsides appearing, with paddy fields by the side of the road.
We arrived by bus and then two tuk -tuks (which cost nearly as much as the three-hour bus bus but for just a 10-minute journey) and explored Kandy a bit. Much more developed than Tanzania but the people are just as friendly and welcoming. The kids are greeted warmly by many, particularly older people and the police men and women. We saw monkeys and elephants in the street now vying for position also with the tuk-tuks and buses.
For our first full day, we went for a hike in a rainforest, the Uddawattakelle Sanctuary, which was amazing. We heard sounds of the rainforest that are piped through spa salons back home, and saw trees the size of giants with leaves the size of the children! Numerous toque macaque monkeys greeted us as we entered – my favourite was this little one who peered out at us from behind the tree leaves where he looked to be sheltering from the rain – and we spotted a water monitor lizard in the smallish lake, alongside a black turtle, a small cormorant drying its feathers, and a stork of some sort.
The vines hanging from the trees were Tarzanesque and took the kids’ weights easily. The bamboo trees were taller than we could see, the leaves were huge and we felt truly in the jungle, especially once we went off the track a bit.
As we left the forest, we came across another troop of toque macaques but this time they were on the ground in amongst the leaves and digging around for grubs. There were so many of them and were so human like in their mannerisms, they were fascinating to watch.
The Buddha and temples were really beautiful and interesting, and gave us a good opportunity to teach about Buddhism (much as we did about Islam in Zanzibar) and the kids did a mini project on it when we got back to the guesthouse. The view were stunning too although the rain clouds loomed menacingly.