We arrived in Kandy on the first day of the Buddhist festival and found ourselves a great little hotel with some really lovely staff and a great location. After settling in and chilling out for a while playing cards (obviously), we made our way into the festival. It was raining pretty hard but we were told that “festival start, rain stop”, which was pretty on the money.
After managing to find ourselves a free little spot to stand on the street and watch the parade (people had been lining up for hours and shops wanted to charge us $70 for a seat to watch), we waited for another hour or so to see any action. Finally the parade started and, while a little exciting at first with some whip crackers and fire twirlers, it all came a little repetitive after a while – more or less drummers followed by a man riding an elephant who was dressed in bright colours, covered in fairy lights and chained up so that they could barely walk. All of us swore that the first elephant was actually crying – not very nice to see! We didnt realise that, when we found our spot to watch, we had actually been bordered in by the road that the parade goes down so we had no option but to watch all 2.5 hours of the parade. Needless to say we were exhausted by the end when the parade finished and the rain started again!
We spent our next few days checking out the town – the main temple and big Buddha that sits atop the mountain looking over the town of Kandy. There was some very cheeky little monks-in-training up at the big Buddha who were blowing up balloons and then running past tourists (me) to make them jump out of their skin. Cheeky monks: 1, Shailei: 0.
Two days ago Liam and I made our way back to Colombo in order to get our Indian visa’s, which have been a nightmare from the start and I’m not in the least bit surprised to say that they continued to be a nightmare. We were told that we simply needed to drop our passports off on morning and pick them up the next morning between 9-11am. Turns out that you cant pick them up until 4-5pm the next day, which does not fare well for a 2.35pm flight to India and hence a mad dash to the Indian High Commission the next day which involved a little bit of pleading, a mad tuk tuk dash to print out a copy of our flight details (yes, Liam, you were right), and then another mad dash in a taxi to the airport. Happy to report that we made it with time to spare – in fact, we were at the airport earlier than Grace, Mark and Mitch who were taking their time due to a hangover and almost missed check in.
So we’re now in India! Flew into a relatively small town called Madurai last night, had a seriously amazing feed and then jumped on a sleeper train where, despite the strong stench of urine, we’ve all had a fantastic sleep. We’re currently somewhere on the south coast of India, shortly arriving in a town called Varkala near there beach where we’ll be staying for a while. Loving it but it’s certainly an adjustment – Indian people are not afraid to stare but are all friendly enough. It will definitely be an interesting time here at the very least!