Day 5 saw us check out of Kandalama and head for Kandy, hoping to have a pit-stop at Peradinya Botaincal Gardens before checking in to the hotel (Earl’s Regency). It’s a good few hours between Kandalama and Peradinya, but the drive is well worth it thanks to the beautiful views and the fact that our driver/guide knew some great places to stop along the way. Before we left our guide decided to stop by the cave temple, and though we were not up for making the climb, we got to see the temple from the outside.
Heading to Peradiniya, we passed through the spice belt, an area known for growing spices such as cloves, pepper, cardamom, cinnamon among others, so our guide stopped at a spice garden where we were given a tour of the miniature version of the real sprawling 7 km spice garden. We saw, as we entered, a huge tree filled with ripened jackfruit hanging off the trunk and coconut shells creatively decorating the base of the tree.
The spices we came across included vanilla, cardamom, jasmine, cinnamon, cloves, curry leaves, sandalwood, ginger and red pineapple among others. We learnt of their various applications, particularly in ayurvedic medicine. Once the tour of the garden was finished, we were ushered into a tiny wooden “schoolroom” where we sampled some spice tea. My mum loved it, but the strong ginger taste meant I gave up after the first sip. While sipping tea, we were handed leaflets detailing various spice concoctions for different ailments. We were particularly interested in the treatment for acne and sinusitis so we picked up some bottles in the store where we got another discount (Yayy for being a SAARC member).
We finally reached Peradiniya Botanical Gardens and went in, taking along our driver/guide. The botanical gardens which sprawl around 60 hectares were once royal gardens. The area is too vast to cover on foot in a day and the garden offers the option of being driven around in a cart (similar to the ones you get at the airport). There weren’t any available when we reached, so we opted to go on foot, enjoying ourselves and taking in whatever we could. We came across a stunning variety of palms, ferns, trees that I can’t even name, flowers that I’ve never seen, a spice garden, a herb garden and even an orchid house which housed an amazing range of orchids. We took pictures ,of course, but nothing can truly capture the beauty of the gardens except an appreciative eye.
We even came across giant bamboo which can grow upto 30cm a day.The weather turned hot and sticky soon enough and we decided to call it a day, but not before stopping at the sir-conditioned souvenir and coffee shop where we indulged in some drinks and got some keychains.
One the road to the hotel, we were going through the heart of Kandy, past a multitude of shops and another gorgeous lake situated next to the Temple of the Tooth and Royal Palace. While we didn’t go in, we could easily spot the temple’s golden roof. We got stuck in traffic because the school’s had just gotten off so the streets were filled with buses and children in spotless white uniforms. We finally arrive at the hotel, Earl’s Regency, to the cool towels and refreshments but it was tough to cool down because there had been some sort of mix up and they didn’t have our booking, despite our having it confirmed it once before leaving for Sri Lanka, and once when he had reached Colombo. After much back and forth and analysis of email confirmations, they finally booked us in a for a night. We were accompanied to our room by a lovely lady, Nilu, who assured us again that all food was Halal and that we should feel comfortable going to the spa because there were only female employees and all ladies would be segregated from the male customers. The hotel setting was scenic, having being built along the same lines as Kandalama, upon a rock. The plus point of Earl’s Regency was, in the words of Nilu, the notable absence of monkeys which meant we could enjoy the view from the three balconies afforded by our corner adjoining rooms from where we could see the Mahavali River. We called for a quick lunch of pizza and pasta while my brother headed for the gym. The gym didn’t quite live up to his expectations, so he came back up rather quickly and we all ended up relaxing and enjoying the breeze from the balcony. And it’s a good thing we did because shortly, the wind picked up and, and much to our surprise and delight, it started to rain.
Once the rain subsided, we decided to take advantage of the gloriously cool weather and explore the hotel. We found the passage between the rooms and the main hotel lobby branch to the left, so we took the road less travelled and found ourselves in the children’s play area where we spent the time swinging in the rain.
Back in the hotel room, we spent the time before dinner watching Argo. It’s a really good movie but unnecessarily nerve-wracking at times. Just as the movie ended and our eyes started drooping, it was time for dinner. The trouble getting dressed to head down to the restaurant was worth it in the end, with what was the best buffet of the trip thus far. I indulged in the creamy mushroom pasta and the Napolitana pasta and for the first time actually went for seconds. The choices were varied and everyone had a hearty meal. We roamed the dark veranda outside the restaurant before returning to bed, resolved to wake up early, do some shopping in Kandy before finally heading to the famous Nuwara Eliya on Day 6.