On to Kandy

The morning I went to Kandy Irene made a huge breakfast for me, roti, hoppers, prawn curry, and a special sweet made from stringhoppers filled with honey and coconut. Saying goodbye to Ruki, Irene and Toby was sad, but I was ready to leave Colombo and get settled somewhere more permanent.

The trip from Colombo to Kandy was beautiful; the road winds through small towns, and rice paddies. One town was known for its pineapples, another for its cashews and another for its wicker furniture. Halfway to Kandy the driver stopped at a fruit stand so we could “Enjoy banana and king coconut.” First the fruit vendor cut a hole in the top of the coconut so I could drink the milk. Once I’d finished that, he cut the coconut in half and I ate out the meat.

The traffic was light because Wednesday was Poya day, the full moon, and a Buddhist holiday. When I arrived in Kandy the streets were filled with people. Kandy is a small city set on a man-made lake. The city center is made of 15 blocks of shops and vendors on the west side of the lake, and houses and side streets rim the lake all the way around. My guesthouse is up a little road, and overlooks the lake and the Temple of the Tooth, the shrine built to house the Buddha’s Tooth.

I was lucky to come to Kandy on Poya day because people were in a festive mood. Once I was settled in at my guesthouse I took a walk along the lake into town. Along the way I paused for a man who was praying at the temple across the lake. He took this an opportunity to invite me to visit the Malwatta Monastery. He was a meditation teacher, and when I told him that my father also teaches meditation, he took me to the 92 year-old chief monk to be blessed.

After the blessing I went into Kandy town to explore, and to walk by the Temple of the Tooth. I only saw four other white people, and two of them were Ben and Paula, the other Fulbrighter in Kandy and his wife. Together we watched the parade for Poya day in front of the Temple of the Tooth. There were men and boys dressed in elaborate costumes involving headdresses and finger cymbals, and elephants with ear covers and costumes of their own. We sat at the back where the parade started, and the Kandyan dancers seemed as interested in us as we were in them. One elephant carried a gold casket on its back that holds the Buddha’s tooth.

I don’t have any pictures of the parade because I didn’t have my camera on me, but Poya day happens every month, so there will be pictures then. I also promise to add more pictures when I have my own apartment. The internet cafe here is cheap, 1 rupee a minute, but very very slow.

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4 responses to “On to Kandy

  1. What an awesome opportunity…blessed by the chief monk!!! It sounds like things are going really well. Can’t wait to hear about the rest of your time there!

  2. Do they ever display the tooth — or will many Poya Days come and go and you’ll only see the tooth’s special box? Just wondering

  3. Hi ! so glad you are getting settled, sounds wonderful, I would love to see all the flowers and birds. Great to hear about your adventure. BW is getting better, and I will see him on Thursday. It has turned cold here, enjoy your sun and warmth! Love ya.

  4. Hi Allison,
    I’am so glad Sally sent me this link. It all sounds so interesting. I really enjoyed seeing the monkeys, I had to see it to believe it!
    Happy Thanksgiving and best of luck with your work.
    Nancy Russell

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