We spent Christmas in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Kandy, pronounced like the sweet treat, is the second largest city in Sri Lanka, but feels more like a small town. Perhaps it is the lake in the center of the city that leads to its quaint feeling. Wandering on the path around the lake is downright peaceful (if you can ignore the noisy traffic on the road right next to the path).
We stayed in a guesthouse on the hill on the south side of the lake. On our first day in Kandy we meandered down the hill and explored the lake. Along the path we spotted cormorants, monitor lizards, and a pack of monkeys.
On the far side of the lake from us we found the Kandyan Cultural Centre where we were offered tickets for the Kandyan Dance show for 1000 LKR (about 7 USD), which we declined hoping for a better price from our guesthouse (online sources listed the tickets at 500 rs per person, but our guesthouse wanted 1000 as well, so we decided it wasn’t worth the cost and didn’t go.
We also skipped the Temple of the Tooth because of cost. We couldn’t justify 7 USD per person entrance fee, a really high admission price in south Asia. But we did see the grounds from the outside and observed the locals, mostly dressed in white, clustered around the entrance.
After passing the temple, we found St. Paul’s Church, an old colonial church that looked like a castle.
Behind that we found Maha Vishnu Devalaya, a Hindu temple. We quietly observed, not taking any pictures of people, so as not to disturb the worshipers.
On the west side of the lake, the little city is bustling. We were getting used to crossing the street in Sri Lanka, but were still cautious, often tagging along with a local.
On Christmas Eve, we attended a caroling service at St. Paul’s Church. So far the Christmas season had not felt very “Christmasy”, so it was nice to feel little Christmas spirit while singing carols with the locals and other tourists that night.
For dinner we ordered pizza from Pizza Hut (a little comfort food from home) and brought it back to our rooms where we watched the movie A Christmas Story from our hard drive.
On Christmas day, we had breakfast at The Muslim Hotel Restaurant. We ate delicious roti and dahl and the staff all wished us “Happy Christmas.”
Then we wandered through a market and the girls each picked out a nail polish, their only physical gift since any new items purchased would have to be carried around for the next 7 months. We also bought some chocolates from the local supermarket.
That night we ate a very yummy Indian meal at The White House Restaurant and started getting excited for the next country we would visit (India).
We had a nice Christmas in Kandy. If the girls were sad about the lack of presents, they didn’t show it. Attending the caroling service and watching A Christmas Story helped make it feel more like the holidays. And I loved that the Muslims at the restaurant were so excited to wish us happy Christmas greetings.