From Sigiriya, we travelled the short distance to Dambulla by tuk-tuk. We were in two minds whether or not to visit the Dambulla Cave Temple. The deciding factors were time and the weather. It was still raining, and we didn’t want to delay our bus trip to Kandy. We were heading for the Kandy lake Comfort Hotel.
Whenever possible, we prefer to arrive at a new destination in daylight so we can get our bearings. We were also in full travel mode with loaded ruksacks – which we would probably have to entrust to someone before entering the temple. So, Dambulla Temple will have to wait until our next visit.
The bus trip from Dambulla back up to Kandy had some nice mountain views but was otherwise uneventful (around 3-4 hours). On arrival, we found ourselves back in the main sprawling bus station.
Our plan was to head off on foot to locate the northwest edge of the Lake. From there, we could just follow the lake around to find our hotel at the opposite side.
Kandy Lake Comfort Hotel
We had booked the Kandy Lake Comfort Hotel for 2 nights. We chose this place since it is located in a quiet area next to the lake. It is also within reasonable striking distance of the town centre and Temple of the Tooth.
Compared to other establishments in this central area, the hotel was reasonably priced ($45 per night for a double, breakfast included). Of course, you can find cheaper places further out from the center, but this suited us for a short visit of 2 nights.
Nevertheless, this was the most expensive place we stayed in Sri Lanka.
The Comfort Hotel is well-located for discovering Kandy by foot. Although it’s on the main lake road (which is really busy), it is set a distance back from the road, so traffic noise is no real problem.
The staff here were really friendly, smiling and helpful – lending us adapters and umbrellas when we needed them. The room we had was at the front, facing the lake, and was clean and spacious. Breakfast was good, with wifi in the reception/breakfast area.
This is the only place in Sri Lanka we visited where they provided Vape plug-in mosquito repellent instead of mosquito nets. It actually works pretty good – I shall remember to take these with me on my next trip.
They have signs on the doors saying “Beware monkeys”. Looking out from our window onto the roof I could see monkey droppings – so they weren’t kidding. We made sure to keep our windows closed when we went out.
From this hotel, you can walk to the Temple of the Tooth in around 15 minutes (it’s on the opposite side of the lake). A walk to the city center will take around 20-25 minutes.
You have to be really careful crossing the road to the lakeside! All vehicles drive crazily fast with no regard for pedestrians. As there are lots of bends in the road, its difficult to see what’s coming. You need to walk a while to find a straight area of road with better visibility for a safer crossing.
Even then, you’ll need eyes in the back of your head! Patience advised…
We didn’t find much in the way of eating places in the immediate vicinity of the hotel, but if you don’t mind a short 15-minute walk around this end of the lake (and who wouldn’t), you can find the History Restaurant, which is worth a visit.
The History Restaurant is not easy to find. It is located 2 streets north of the southern end of the lake (27A Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha). Basically, you need to look out for a small bakery store: The restaurant is above the bakery. We quite liked this place: Interesting decor and concept, nice photos, and even a running silent video projected onto one of the walls.
The service wasn’t fast: The only other table was occupied by a large Sri Lankan family who took all the attention of the staff. However, we finally enjoyed a decent curry at a reasonable price.
In Kandy town center there’s a variety of places to eat, none of them too cheap. Our best discovery was a small juice bar promoting a variety of exotic juices. One of these was called wood apple juice – a new one to me, so I had to try it.
I watched the barman as he prepared it for me. The shell of the wood apple is tough, and the inside is a brownish pulp. It’s nt particularly appetizing-looking; even the smell is a bit off-putting.
Soldier on… After blitzing 2 or 3 wood apples in a blender, he poured the mud-coloured mixture into a tall glass and popped in a straw. And the taste? Absolutely delicious. It’s not often you get to taste and enjoy a fruit that you didn’t know existed.
Later on in our trip, we found local supermarkets selling a commercially-produced version of the drink. Also not bad to drink (cold), but not quite as good as the freshly squeezed product.
After all the running around up to this point, it was very pleasent to settle into a nice hotel by the lake. Our first trip the next day was going to be to the elephant orphanage at Pinnwalla. After that, we planned to visit the Temple of the Tooth (Buddhas’ tooth, that is).
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