Kandy Stories and Tips

Things a traveler should know

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The golden rule is "don’t get annoyed." Travelers travel because they want to see something "new," not because they want to find their utopia. Sri Lanka is full of wonderful, surprising, and uplifting possibilities. If you want happiness, first you have to be in control of yourself, because we only really make ourselves unhappy. There is nothing wrong with disassociating yourself from any scenario and sometimes this is the best thing to do. I think it’s a good idea to know when to be open and generous too. I’m writing a guide to what I think of things, it may not suit you but it is another view. I have lived in Sri Lanka since December of 1999.

The first night I spent at my sister-in-laws' house in Dompe, and I remember I was awoken about 2am with a ratterling sound, and an elephant passed my bedroom widow. I had been visiting Sri Lanka since the late '80s, and have seen the troubles and many changes... the things that impress me mostly concern my fellow human beings. Now I am in Kandy. My Singhalese wife and I are building a guest house on the top of a hill in Kandy—cheap rates for "thornies." It’s a brilliant view; we sometimes have wild boars, and it’s only a walk down the hill and a bit to Kandy, and its safe. We know our way around, so if you want a friendly stay with a Sri Lankan family—bedroom with toilet/shower and doors to balcony—come and stay with us.

If you have other plans, have a nice time. Here is my help. I haven’t finished writing yet, but start with a look at the character and make up of the Sri Lankan people.

The biggest problem with any travel now is the hassle from people with mental problems: tourist guides, con men, thieves, persistent beggars. Often you can spot a genuine friendly voice and we all want to meet people. For some reason, tourist guides seem to be relatively young so when an older person talks to me, normally he has no ulterior motive and wants to just have a chat (maybe this will change with time). If someone is persistent, (even if at the beginning, you were friendly), for goodness sake ignore them. It may seem rude, but remember; you are new here, probably everyone else around knows the person giving you trouble is a "guide" and knows that they are only interested in getting your money in any way they can. So, you have to just pretend they are not there; it’s easy with practice. If this doesn’t work, walk towards the nearest police station and go inside (they will disappear like magic).

Just to give an idea, in Kandy there are a few well known such people. One of my favorites not only targets tourists, but also locals. He made the mistake of picking me twice, and on the second occasion I saw just how remarkable his act is.

This is how it goes. An elderly (yes!) man with spectacles approaches, desperately looking though his pockets/wallet, approaches, and asks for help. It appears that he is a retired English teacher and is on his way home, but has lost his money and so has no way of getting there. His act is brilliant; he is very charming, well educated, well dressed, and does very well. How could anyone refuse.

Outside the Kandy market is a woman who tells about her poor children, and has been for many, many years.

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