Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sri Lanka - Visit to Kandy

Kandy, the last royal capital of Sri Lanka is a major tourist destination. (115kM from Colombo at 465 meters above sea level). Though it does not seem that far, the narrow 2 lane roads with fast buses and slow scooters make the ride "exciting" and long. (3 hours at least)

Famous for the Temple of the Buddha's Tooth Relic and many other temples the city could be called the cultural capital of the island.

Part of the city is on the side of hills and they make a spectacular view! Kandy city central is full of life, and near the vicinty of one spot, Temple of Buddha Tooth Relic, you can find lots of old Hindu shrines, Buddhist temples and a church!

One thing I like about Kandy among the beautiful architecture, is the great sky! The blue and whites are simply amazing!

The building are really beautiful and unique, and with the coconut trees surrounding the area, the atmosphere is relaxed and it just feels great to be here.

There are lots of nice scenes to see, but here's a tip: WEAR SANDALS! -- You have to take off your shoes often here!

This place is crowded, and there are lots of things to see, above is a Hindu Shrine.

I would love to see this at night as the holes have candles and they will definitely make the picture look better at night.

Here is a satellite map of Kandy (Courtesy of Google Maps)

View Larger Map

Next Stop: Temple of the Tooth, Kandy, Sri Lanka

There is an entrance fee for tourists and an extra fee for your camera. You have to leave your shoes at the ticket booth, and there is a fee to keep the shoes, and seemed to have a tip (mandatory) as well. At the entrance, there are a few guides that will show you around the temple:

Remember: Negotiate for a price first before accepting the guide. A fair price would be Rs$300 (About US$3) as there are many other things to pay for (like tips for taking care of your shoes!)

Greeted by a golden dome from the outside, the walls are elaborately carved and the walls are beautiful!

On the outside, the temple buildings are kind of plain. White with red roofs, they cluster around Kandy Lake, and one building with a golden roof, but that is pretty much it.

In contrast to the plain exterior, the interiors of the temple buildings are richly carved and decorated with inlaid woods, ivory, and lacquer.

The relic of the tooth is kept in a two-story inner shrine fronted by two large elephant tusks. The relic rests on a solid gold lotus flower, encased in jeweled caskets that sit on a throne.

The Relic is further down on the left...

The Buddha's tooth Relic.

The temple is joined to the Pattiripuwa (Octagon) tower, built in 1803, that was originally a prison but now houses a collection of palm-leaf manuscripts. The king's palace is also in the temple compound.

Manuscript Room

Manuscript Room

The courtyard is also very interesting and the pillars and columns are intricately designed.

Again, the sky in the courtyard is amazing.

There is another building behind and it stores a lot of Buddha's from all over the earth!

Around the hall, there are lots of pictures which tell the story of Buddha's journey.

More information on the story can be found here...

There are still many interesting things to see outside around the compound.

I remember seeing this in JAPAN!!

There is something beautiful every corner.

There is also a church outside. (Not so strange as it was controlled by the British some time ago)

Be sure to look around and find interesting things.

Next Stop: Kandy City

The city is very pretty and architecture varied throughout. It is definitely interesting to look at.

Although there were barriers to keep out cars, it was still very walkable and interesting.

There is always lots of cars and lots of people.

Kandy lake is absolutely beautiful, and a must visit to anyone who has not seen it.

Wait, there is a big Buddha on the hill? We gotta check it out, but first food.

I would like to review some food places in Kandy, however, since I am only there for a day, I only had food at "The Pub"

The Pub

Founded in 1999 "The Pub" has established itself as one of Kandy's most outstanding casual restaurants. And ist not only the amazing concept of "eater-tainment" but the range of competitive priced wines which are making "The Pub" the place to go to while in Kandy.
PHONE: 94-812234868, 94-812234341
Pub Restaurant Kandy Sri Lanka

The food was great, and beer was good as usual. No worries to find a nice spot to drink at all!

Next up: Towards the big Buddha on the hill!

There are definitely spots for Great Photography.

With Kandy City below, it is indeed a great place for great shots!

The big Buddha which was visible from a far, was not as big as expected.

This is a picture to give you a better idea of the size.

There are many interesting finds and beautiful relics inside.

Check out the sculptures!

They are indeed beautiful and the picture could not do them justice.

Even the entrance look very interesting.

From this high point, you can see Kandy Lake and the city of Kandy below!

It is very interesting to see the city from the top!

There are lots of greenery around and a beautiful sight, even when I am going back. Adam's peak from the distance is visible and I hope one day I can visit there.

Kandy is a great place to visit, and I highly recommend it!

--Reviewsguru Review

I tried to book a Ticket online from Singapore to Colombo, Sri Lanka and I searched several online sites to check for cheapest price. A few sites from UK would not allow me to use my Singapore Credit Cards, and the next lowest price was

I've tried booking the same flight from but since it was $4 more expensive for the same flight, I decided to go with

Initially I got this shocking message, which I thought the flight will be confirmed the next day, however it was not true.

Dear Mr xxxx xxxx xxxx,

Thank you for booking with

Regret we are unable to confirm your booking instantly as airline is currently experiencing heavy load on their system. Your booking has been well received but is now subject to seat availability and confirmation by our customer service office within the next 24 to 48 working hours. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.

Your booking details are as follows:

If the booking summary is not viewable in your email, please click Here.


ADULT Ticket No:


Title Mr
First Name: xxxx xxxxxxxx xxxx Passport: ExxxxxxxxB
Last Name: xxxx Passport Expiry: xx Aug 2012
Flight Itinerary
DepartureFlightDeparture Arrival Class Total Travel Time
UL312 16:30hrs, 18/09/2009
Singapore Changi Apt
17:35hrs, 18/09/2009
Colombo Bandaranaike Apt
Economy3hrs 35mins
ReturnFlightDeparture Arrival Class Total Travel Time
UL312 07:25hrs, 18/10/2009
Colombo Bandaranaike Apt
15:25hrs, 18/10/2009
Singapore Changi Apt
Economy5hrs 30mins
Note: includes 1 technical stop at Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Remarks: E-Ticket will be issued.
Contact Details

Name: Mr xxxx xxxx xxxx xxxx
Price (Charged)
  1 x Adult (@SGD 285.00 per pax) SGD 285.00
  1 x Adult Taxes & Surcharges (@SGD 47.00 per pax) SGD 47.00
  Service Fee SGD 40.00
Total Amount SGD 372.00

 Payment Mode : Online
Credit Card Details
Credit Card Type None
Cardholder's Name
Credit Card Number XXXX XXXX XXXX

Kindly be informed of the following:

Conditions, Rules & Restrictions:
Prices are not guaranteed until payment in full is received and your ticket(s) is issued. Ticket refunds, re-issues, and changes (where permitted by the airline) may incur airline and AsiaTravel penalties. If your trip involves any international destinations it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the relevant visa(s) and travel with a passport with validity of at least 6 months. Flight times may change at the discretion of the airline. It is important to reconfirm your flight departure times and terminal with the airline at least 24 hours before departure.

Passengers are responsible to check the accuracy of the information on their travel vouchers. Any discrepancy between a travel or hotel voucher and your Original Booking Requirement must be reported by sending an email to or visiting our Customer Service Center within 2 days of receipt of the relevant travel or hotel voucher.

Yours Sincerely, Holdings Ltd
Tel: +65-68874347
Fax: +65-68875489 +65-62351416
Working Hours :
Mon to Fri - 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (GMT: +08:00)
Sat to Sun - 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM (GMT: +08:00)

Please delete this mail if you are not the intended recipient.
We are transmitting this electronic mail message at the request of the intended recipient. If you are not the intended recipient, any use, disclosure, recording or copying of any information contained herein is unauthorised. 

The next day, after I went to get some last minute shopping done, I got this email the next day.

Dear xxxx xxxx xxxx,

Thank you for booking with

We saw an attempt on your end to book a flight with departing from
Singapore to Colombo on 18 Sep but booking was disrupted as seats were taken up before you finalize your booking.

Kindly re-book at

Once again thank you for using and we look forward to be of service to you always.

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely, Holdings Ltd
Tel: +65-68874347
Fax: +65-68875489 / +65-62351416
Working Hours : Mon to Fri - 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (GMT: +8:00)
Sat to Sun - 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM (GMT: +8:00)

Please delete this mail if you are not the intended recipient.

We are transmitting this electronic mail message at the request of the intended
recipient. If you are not the intended recipient, any use, disclosure,
recording or copying of any information contained herein is unauthorised.
So my flight was cancelled just 2 days before flying off, and I did not even receive a phone call to let me know the booking failed? I am really really disappointed in the service and all the other available flights are double the price.

Well I booked on and I managed to get tickets to arrive 2 days later, not so bad considering that I still have half a day to settle in.

I am not going to use anymore and if you are reading this, I would suggest you pay $4 more to use and trust me, instant confirmation is defiitely worth it.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sri Lanka August 2009.

My first arrival at Sri Lanka was fine. The airport was ok, and I got my luggage in good time. No one hassled me at immigration. It was indeed a pretty good start.

What to expect:

  • Relatively clean airport with air-conditioning.
  • Lots of disoriented brown people.
  • 80's looking duty free area, selling lots of 80's electrical appliances.
  • Relatively hassle free immigration.
  • Small area to get luggage. (very small airport)

Day 1: (Colombo / Dehiwala) 
My first beach encounter was at Dehiwala. Dehiwala is a suburb of Colombo situated between Ratmalana and Wellawatte along the Galle Road. The roads around Dehiwala are quite nice, occassionally chaotic, you can get around on three wheeler, and there are a few good places to eat to eat.
Point to note: 
When you get on a three wheeler, they will charge you a higher price because of the color of your skin and how you speak. Ask for the price before boarding to avoid getting cheated. If you are familiar with the location of the destination, for short distance less than 3 miles away, you should pay less than Rs$200. Even for a distance like from Dehiwala to Colombo, it should only cost Rs$350. 
For further locations, it will definitely be cheaper by a cab (taxi).
Lunch and dinner spots: (Recommended)
The Cricket Club - Great burgers, good price. (English Pub food) - $$ (Burger and Beer for US$10)
Address: 34 Queens Rd. Colombo, Sri Lanka

(Had a great burger and Lion beer for about US$10. Great taste, great price)
Bay Leaf Restaurant - Authentic Italian Food. (Italian Food) - $$$$ (Pasta and Beer for US$25)
Address: 79 Gregorys Road | Colombo 7, Colombo, Sri Lanka
(I customized my order to have Aglio Olio with Fried Calamari in Salsa on top, and they did it Al Dente. Food is good but a little pricey. Had wine as well and bill exceeded US$80)
Address: 706 Galle Road, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka
(Food is good, and you get to buy things made by villagers using traditionally eco-friendly methods. Great book shop there too!)
Other things to try:
Kothu Roti is very good with cheese and fried chicken bits. 
Day 2: 
Elephants at Pinnawela elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka
Boy does Sri Lanka need highways. The distance to the Elephant Orphanage is about 90 - 100km, and yet it took us 3 hours to get there. All the roads were 2 lane roads and lots of pedestrians, cyclists and slow vehicles everywhere.

If you have seen elephants, you have seen them all. Though it is one of the places where many people think its a must see, I would say, it is not worth it. Locals go there and pay Rs$50 and Tourists pay Rs$1250. And for what?? Stinking elephants?

There are a few elephants, baby elephants chained up so that tourists can feed them. Then you get to see and feed a few more elephants standing around, and the trainer can bring them close to you for a photo opportunity. And of course you have to tip them. you can buy bananas to feed the elephants and over priced shirts. It is a Tourist Trap. nothing interesting, not worth the money.

Video of a three wheel ride in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Next: Geragama Tea Estate

The roads towards Kandy and Pilimatalawa have great scenes and mountains in the distance. Definitely a scenic route. You can stop midway to buy fruits at the local stores along the roads. The fruits are not really cheap, but pretty fresh and good.

Point of Note:

Geragama Tea Estate - Pussellawa Plantations Ltd, Pilimatalawa.
This is a very small tea estate, but they allow a free tour of the estate, showing you the process of how the tea is processed from picking to packing.

The tour was very informational and you get to try out their tea for free as well. Its great tea, and you can purchase it later at the store.

The environment is very cool and relaxing, you can see the plantation and the workers at work picking leaves too!

-- Reviewsguru

Next Blog: Kandy!