Kandy – first day in Sri Lanka

I just recently came back from my trip to Sri Lanka. I was planning this visit  for the last five years. Last Easter I even booked the tickets. But Air Asia stuffed it up and I went to Sumatra instead.

Anyway, Sri Lanka is wonderful. I loved it to pieces. My adventure started in Kandy – cultural and historical centre of Lanka. I arrived there late at night straight from the Colombo airport by a private taxi.

Next day I followed the advice of my host Matura and took a tuk-tuk to  the Royal Botanical Gardens.

 

 

This is a very special place. The gardens are kept in immaculate condition, very clean and inviting.  And here I saw my first and last cow in Kandy. This city doesn’t have cows walking around.

 

 

Beautiful sweeping footpaths with carefully planted colourful layers of flowers.

 

 

Shady passages take the visitors to pergolas and other cosy places.

 

 

Even if Christmas trees can’t grow in the tropical climate, the skilled gardeners cut normal trees into topiary. Or maybe it was due to the coming Xmas celebrations. It was very impressive.

 

 

Here and there are 3D shapes made from the short ground-cover plants.

 

 

A young mother with a baby found a quiet place among the rhododendrons.

 

 

There are a few ponds and one lake. I liked this one because of this interesting feature in the middle.

 

 

Looooove tropical flowers. In Australia we have a similar one heliconia or “crab’s claw”. But this one is much bigger and brighter.

 

 

Another one of my favourites is this is gloriosa lily. I have this flower at home, but mine is not as spectacular.

 

 

This is a flower from a canon tree. Interesting, but the flowers grow straight from the trunk, not on branches like others. And the fruit looks like a canon ball, hence its name.

 

 

This one looks like a fireball. Very pretty, nice smell but I have no idea what is the name.

 

 

There is a nice conservatory with orchids and other delicate flowers. So many different varieties of orchids and ferns. So beautiful.

 

 

There was a spice garden nearby. My newly found friend and travel companion Lou wanted to visit this garden, so we walked there. A young guy took us for a walk around and explained about different plants and spices. This one  is a cocoa fruit. They can be three different colours and the colour defines the grade. The red is the best and the most expensive one. The pink one below is a mid-range.

 

 

The white one is the most common one and the lowest quality. The guide showed us the actual beans and the  Cocoa powder. The smell was totally divine.

 

 

For those people who has never seen a fresh nutmeg ( like me and Lou) it was quite a surprise. The name NUTmeg sort of points in the right direction, but I saw and used it in cooking as a powder. But it actually looks like a nut.

 

 

I bet you have no idea what it is. This is citronella. Everybody knows and probably uses citronella candles or coils to get rid of mosquitos. But this is an actual plant. The spice garden was quite humid and there were huge numbers of mosquitos. All of them attached me at once. I swear, bloody (pardon my pun) insects choose me as a meal even if there 100 more other people. The guide noticed my distress and offered a few leaves from this plant. Following his advice I rubbed those leaves over my hands and legs and mosquitos disappeared. It worked! That was quite a surprise.

 

 

This is peppercorn. They can be different colours and value. The most expensive is white.  This is  because it is more labour intensive as the outer shell needs to be removed from the seeds to reveal the actual pepper. I did not know that peppercorn is actually a vine, not a tree.

 

 

And this is a star performer in any Asian cuisine. They are cloves – the flower buds of the tree which is native to India. I have never tried any proper Indian curry without cloves. Even my beloved masala tea requires a few pieces.

 

 

Imagine our surprise when we walked through the footpath both sides of which were planted with these magic trees. This is Maldive or double coconut tree – the most remarkable palm in the Royal Botanical Garden Collection. The mature nut weighs between 10-20 kg, it takes up to 5 years to mature and the seed resembles two- lobed coconut joined like Siamese twins. Make and female trees are different, but have to grow in close proximity to get results. The nuts can be eaten young and can be used for some medicinal purposes. These palms were planted in the gardens in 1850. Isn’t it shocking? And the size….

 

 

This is a main market in Kandy. The galleries with produce surround the cute little garden. Everything is so lush and green.

 

 

Lots of fresh and dry fish. It looked quite cheap for me, but locals were buying it in small quantities. Maybe, it’s not so cheap, or maybe they prefer to buy it fresh every day?

 

 

I was too scared to try those chilies, even though the seller offered it to me for free. But the produce looks so good….

 

 

I loved how artistic this display of spinach looked. The sellers spent a lot of time to arrange their produce in the most presentable way. The guys were very proud of their work and asked me to take their photo. I happily obliged.

 

My first day in Sri Lanka was over. Tired, but happy I went to my hotel. The new adventures were waiting for me in the morning.

 

 

 

 

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