Clacking along on the rail in Sri Lanka is to take a step back in time. No smooth, super-fast train like those found in Europe or other Asian countries. To ride a train in Sri Lanka is to sway and clank at a snail’s pace, stopping entirely on occasion to allow an oncoming train to pass before heading on.
It’s strangely soothing. A Sri Lankan lullaby.
Bound for Kandy, we booked passage in first class to obtain a/c and avoid standing for all or part of the six-hour trip.
The train trip through the mountains was picturesque, one lush valley after another, the hillsides covered with tea.
I found the way farmers cubed the mountainous terrain to grow all kinds of veggies very ingenious.
We left the rural landscape to enter the noise and bustle of Kandy, the cultural center of Sri Lanka. Our main objective was to tour the Temple of the Tooth.
Buddha’s tooth was not on display which was fine by me. I find the display of the bones of saints in cathdrals rather morbid.
Nothing creepy about the Temple of the Tooth! The lovely aroma of lotus blossoms floats through the air and the shrine is surprisingly simple and not overly ornate.
About 70 percent of Sri Lankans are Buddhists and this temple was quite busy as followers brought their lotus blossoms and prayers to lay upon Buddha’s shrine. This was no dark, cold, deathly quiet tomb like so many ancient cathedrals. The subdued noise of children chattering away added to the warm ambience.
The train ride from Kandy to Colombo was a jerky, loud ride. First class was sold out, so we booked reserved seating in second class. The toilets in our coach emptied onto the tracks below. No toilet paper unless you knew to bring your own.
That toilet pretty much sums up my experience in Sri Lanka. The natural beauty of the landscapes and the warmth of the people are lovely; yet, while edifying, it can be challenging for a first world resident to acclimate to the noise, dirt and poverty of the third world.
Yet all those things are just another verse in the Sri Lankan lullaby.