From Dambulla To Kandy

Once I’d freed myself from the toilet at the Dambulla Cave Temples and committed a bit of vandalism in the process we collected our backpacks from the ticket office where, it seems, they no longer sell tickets – so the left-luggage office then – and left the temple complex.

We crossed the road to the same bus stop we’d been dropped at when we arrived in Dambulla from Habarana earlier that day.

Naturally we were accosted immediately by a local tuk tuk driver who wanted to take us by tuk tuk to Kandy. I dread to think how much that would have cost. When he saw that there was no chance, he wanted to ‘help’ us instead by taking us in his tuk tuk back into Dambulla Town “where the bus starts,” he said. “Because when the bus comes here it’s already full and doesn’t stop.”

Nice spiel but we figured we’d take our chances, and about 30 seconds later a bus arrived and did in fact stop for us. It’s true that it was quite full but we still managed to get a seat.

The ride from Dambulla into Kandy was a good two hours. As we reached the city the bus got more and more packed and seemed to get hotter and slower. It was a further half an hour through the gridlocked city to the Goods Shed (Kandy’s bus station). The traffic in Kandy was horrendous – worse than Colombo if that’s possible. It was quite a shock after the ancient cities.

dambulla to kandy

Kandy Lake looking serene; something which Kandy is NOT!

We were dumped at the Goods Shed and left to grab our luggage and battle our way through the mayhem.

We didn’t get very far before we were accosted by Anas. Anas had a tuk tuk and he desperately wanted us to ride in it. Once we had bartered his ridiculous price down to a less ridiculous price and had been assured that he knew the way to the guesthouse we’d booked, we piled into the tuk tuk.

We made a brief and unsuccessful stop at the train station and then set off for the guesthouse. Of course Anas didn’t know the guesthouse and proceeded to take us completely the wrong way into the relentless traffic.

The guesthouse was called Lake Front and we were driving in the opposite direction to Kandy Lake. Now, even I knew that ‘Lake Front’ did not actually mean in front of the lake, as half the accommodation in Kandy was called something similar, but I knew that it was at least near the lake.

I got my info out from booking.com and loaded the map on my phone.

When I finally convinced the driver that we were going the wrong way and he finally admitted to being lost, we stopped in the middle of the road, nearly rolling back down the steep incline and forcing other traffic to go around us or stall from losing power on the hill. The din from a thousand horns blasting at us was deafening. And even more so when another tuk tuk stopped beside us after being flagged down by Anas.

The other driver seemed pretty clueless too but with the help of my map and the address, he pointed us in the right direction and we were soon heading back down the hill towards the lake and back into the worst part of the traffic.

Then round part of the lake, up the mother of all hills and we were there. Our short stay in Kandy was finally about to begin…

Filed Under: asiafeaturedSri LankaSri Lanka Cultural TriangleSri Lanka Hill Country

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About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....

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