Cunard Cruise 2012
Trip Day 10
Friday, March 30th
Colombo, Sri Lanka

Today's port of call is Colombo, Sri Lanka. This is the cruise's only stop in Sri Lanka.

The time in Colombo, Sri Lanka is 10.5 hours ahead of home or 1.5 hours earlier than Langkawi. India which follows shortly after Sri Lanka is in the same time zone which is IST or India Standard Time. There is no daylight time in Sri Lanka or in India so it stays this time year round.

The shore excursion that I have selected for here is called "The Best of Sri Lanka". It is scheduled to take 10¾ hours and the departure time is shown as 7:30 am in the information I am working from at this point . Here is the description from Cunard's information:

Experience a memorable day filled with traditional Sri Lankan culture, history and scenery.

As you drive to the picturesque city of Kandy, you’ll pass many colourful sights including little villages, paddy fields, coconut estates and rubber plantations. Kandy itself is nestled in the foothills of the Hill Country on the banks of a beautiful tree-lined lake.

On arrival at this naturally fortified town, there will be a stop at the Royal Botanical Gardens, which is renowned for its varied collection of orchids. The Gardens contain more than 300 varieties of orchids, tropical flora, spices, medicinal plants and palm trees.

From the Gardens, you’ll be taken to a luxury hotel for a delicious Western and Oriental buffet luncheon.

After lunch, you’ll continue on to the Royal Palace complex for a visit to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic and the National Museum of Kandy. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a Buddhist temple which houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. The National Museum of Kandy has over 5,000 objects including weapons, jewelry and tools which depict various aspects of historical and cultural events of the Kandian and post British Colonial era.

Before your scenic return journey, a stop will be made at the Spice Garden to see the different spices which Sri Lanka is famous for.

As always there are some additional notes and here are those;

Note: The drive to Kandy takes approximately three hours. The terrain is uneven with 20-30 steps to negotiate. There is a small charge to use video/cameras at some venues. Please remember to carry US$ for any additional purchases.

So, this is the plan for this day.

What actually happened!!!

Sri Lanka (formally known as Ceylon) is an island just off the southeast coast if India. Below is an image captured from Google Earth showing this.

Island of Sri Lanka from Google Earth.

India is in the upper left corner of the map. You may remember that a war occurred here a few years ago.
That occurred on the northeast corner of the island. Tourists are not allowed to go there at present.
The ships route arriving here came from the right, around the south coast of the island and north to Colombo.
The blue line shows the route of the shore excursion I took. A larger map of this follows below.

As noted above the shore excursion was scheduled to leave at approximately 7:30 am. The groups met in the theatre and then were taken to the busses awaiting on the shore. The two pictures that follow are pictures of the ship as the bus I was in departed on the excursion.

Ship from bus
Ship from bus 2
The front of the ship from the bus.
The back of the ship from the bus. This was taken before the previous one and is smaller because it was created for the Cruise Update 2.

This excursion did not occur exactly as described in the description above. The botanical garden was left out all together and the Spice Garden became the first stop instead of the last stop. The rest, that ended up in the middle, occurred as described.

Here is an excerpt from Cruise Update 2 which talks a bit more about this excursion:

This was one of the few I have been on that had its own police escort. There were these two policemen on a motorcycle that stayed with our group of three busses the whole day. There was another group that had their own escort. The reason for these was that if the escorts were not used it would have taken 60  to 90 minutes longer to get to a town called Kandy where most of the excursions visits were. Sri Lanka only has one express highway and it does not go where we wanted to.

Below is a second Google Earth map showing the route the excursion took to Kandy.

Shore excursion route closeup from Google Earth.

The spice garden is located at the downwards bump in the blue line about 3/4 of the way to Kandy from Colombo.

Below are some pictures taken from the bus on the way to the first stop at the spice garden. The roads are not in the best of shape and the lighting was awkward to say the least.

To spice garden 1
To Spice Garden #2
Heading east out of Colombo.
It was on either this river or one near by where the movie
The Bridge on the River Kwai was filmed.
The traffic was something else.
The policeman in the foreground was hot helping too much.
To Spice Garden #3 To Spice Garden #4
One of many roadside fruit stands which as you can see has many bunches of bananas hanging just inside. Another fruit stand.
To Spice Garden #5 To Spice Garden #5
A local bus station outside of Colombo. All kinds of stuff here!
To Spice Garden #7 To Spice Garden #8 (Escort)
The first of many of auto wreckers we saw. The motorcycle escort mentioned above.
To Spice Garden #9 To Spice Garden #10
A religious site on the top of the hill. A scene in the country.
To Spice Garden #11 To Spice Garden #12
A group of stores in one of the many small towns the coach passed through. A movie theatre along the way with DTS surround sound.
The movie that was playing, shown on the sign on the front,
was The Three Musketeers.
To Spice Garden #13 To Spice Garden #14
I think this is a temple of some sort. A new car dealer I think.

To Spice Garden Panorama #1

Need a car seat? There was a good choice here!
There were many more on the second floor above the sign which cannot be seen in this picture.
There were many places that looked just like this along the road to the spice garden and Kandy.

The first stop in this somewhat altered excursion was at the spice garden. Spices are a major export item for Sri Lanka. Here are some photos from there.

Spice Garden Sign Spice Garden #6
The sign for the spice garden. Several different types of spices growing here.
Spice Garden #3 Spice garden #3
A Cocoa pod as the sign indicates. It says this is pepper but I am not sure which one actually is the pepper.
Spice garden #4 Spice garden #5
I cannot remember what this is. A closer view of the previous tree.
Spice garden #7 Spice garden #9
Apparently there is some tea somewhere here. This is a somewhat drippy rubber tree.
Spice garden #8 Spice garden #10
The plant at the left is what the sign on the right says it is. That really is a tiny wienie wild pineapple in front of the sign.
Spice garden #11 Spice Garden #12
A collection of various spices here. Some of the group learned of the medicinal uses for same of the spices and tasted some of them as well.
Spice garden #14 Spice garden #13
One final view of the spice garden. The coach I was on at the spice garden.

The group spent about an hour here and then departed for the ancient city of Kandy which is enclosed in mountains. Here are some pictures taken on the drive from the spice garden to Kandy.

To Kandy 1 To Kandy 2
Some of the mountains as we approached Kandy. Another view of the mountains slightly further along the road.
To Kandy 3 To Kandy 4
Another one of those auto wreckers. More stores and the local transportation as we near Kandy.
To Kandy 5 To Kandy 6
These are some old pieces of steam powered equipment outside of a tea processing plant. The local taxi stand.
To Kandy 7 To Kandy 8
The other river that may have been used in the
Bridge on the River Kwai movie
I think this is a school.

Here is another section of Cruise Update 2 talking about this area followed by some additional information:

The next stop was in the town of Kandy at the Temple of the Tooth which is a Buddhist temple that houses a casket containing the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha. This relic is only brought out once every 6 years or so and there are massive throngs of people who come to see it. Needless to say it was not available for us to see.

The major visit in Kandy which was the Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic also known in Sri Lanka as the Sri Dalada Maligawa. This temple originates from approximately 1592 with several rebuilds since then. The tooth relic is believed to be the left canine tooth of Lord Buddha who died in Kusinagara, India in BC 543. Over time it came to be believed that whoever possessed the Sacred Tooth Relic had a Devine right to rule that land. As one can imagine this means that there have been wars fought over this and the relic has been relocated a number of times as a result.
It ended up in Sri Lanka because Lord Buddha had apparently declared that his religion would be safe on Sri Lanka for 5000 years. It ended up in Kandy because this was the location of most of the recent kings (since around 1550 or there about) to rule Sri Lanka, the last of which ended not that long ago.

The first group of pictures below are some of the city of Kandy as we approached the Temple.

Kandy 1 Kandy 3
Lots of fruits, especially bananas, here. Pedestrians in Kandy.
Kandy 2
I wonder if one could get a banana split here?

This next group of pictures is of the Temple and its museum. The first picture is a panorama taken across Kandy Lake of the view from the entrance to the Temple.

Panorana from Temple 1

Temple 1 Temple 2
The entrance to the temple probably the most religious place in Sri Lanka. The front of the lower level of the "Main Shrine".
Temple 3 Temple 6
The side of the lower level of the shrine. One part of the inside of the Temple.
Temple 4 Temple 5
Another part of the inside of the temple. This is a picture of a picture showing the "casket" that the Tooth Relic is stored in. There are six smaller caskets inside this which all need to be removed to get to the tooth. You can see how important it is just from the very ornamental way it is decorated.
Temple 7 Temple 8
These four monkeys were running along that ledge quite quickly. Lots and lots of people and many school children.
Temple 8a Temple 9
I think these are probably Princess Hemamali, who carried (smuggled would be more accurate) the Tooth Relic to Sri Lanka in her hair from India, and her husband Prince Dantha. The lower level of the main shrine, I think.
Temple 10 Temple 11
This is the upper level of the main shrine.
The Tooth Relic is kept in an altar behind the door in the back centre of this picture in an area called the "Handun kunama". When it is displayed it is done on the red carpeted area in the foreground.
Some more of the Buddhist symbolism.

Here is a section from Cruise Update 2 which talks about the museum shown in the pictures below:

The next stop was the Kandy Museum. It may be important to Sri Lanka but it did not impress many of the group I was with including me. 

Temple Museum 12 Temple Museum 13
People in the museum. Some bowls in the museum.
Temple Museum 14 Temple Museum 15
I do not know what this is but it looks interesting. I suspect this is a tribal mask of some sort.
Temple 16 Temple 17
The view outside the museum. One of the ships groups waiting for everyone to get together outside the museum.

Again from Cruise Update 2:

With the stop at it spice garden it took almost four hours to get to Kandy so that did not leave much time for anything else other than lunch which was held at another Suisehotel. The hotel is the converted home of Lord Louis Mountbatten when he was the governor and military commander in Ceylon.

From the Temple the group went on a short drive around the lake to a high class hotel on the other side for a late lunch, late being between 1:30 and 2:00. The next group of pictures shows a view of the Temple across the lake from the hotel, a view of the lake and some pictures of the hotel.

Kandy 4 Kandy 5
The Temple of the Tooth from across the lake. The building by the water is the Queens Bath with the Golden canopy, which is over the main shrine, in the background to the right. A view of Kandy Lake from near where I had lunch.
Lunch Hotel Panorama
The Suisehotel Kandy where we had lunch.
Lunch Hotel 1 Lunch Hotel 2a
A view up the front entrance driveway. The swimming pool, part of which can be seen in the panorama above.

Here is what I wrote in Cruise Update #2 about this last portion of this excursion.

The trip back was one of the fastest and most bone jarring rides I think I can ever remember having in a bus. It took just over three hours with the policemen on the motorcycle moving vehicles out of the way as much and as fast as they could. Was it worth it? One person described it as a long ride for limited gain which I think is likely a good description.

Here is a group of pictures taken during the "bone jarring" ride back to the ship starting with some taken as we departed Kandy.

Kandy 6 Kandy 7
The Kandy jail in the centre.
It apparently it has quite a reputation in Sri Lanka.
Some of the local housing.
Kandy 8 Return to Colombo 1
A communal cloths line.
Apparently the entire neighborhood hangs their clothes here.
More of the religious spots, this one on a street corner, in Kandy.
Return to Colombo 2 Return to Colombo 3
Some of the train near Kandy. School kids awaiting transportation home.
Return to Colombo 4 Return to Colombo 5
More interesting shops on the way back to Colombo. More shops!
Return to Colombo 6 Return to Colombo 7
Another local three wheel taxi stand. Need a post? There is quite a collection here!
Return to Colombo 8 Return to Colombo 9
More locally grown fruits and veggies. Need an inflatable animal or ball? Many to choose from!
Return to Colombo 10 Return to Colombo 11
Here are some pottery items. More stores and a motorcycle policeman.
Return to Colombo 12 Return to Colombo 13
More inflatable items. More auto junk!
Return to Colombo 14 Return to Colombo 15
Another Buddha. More three wheel taxis.
Return to Colombo 16 Return to Colombo 17
I think this was a small construction company.
One of the better looking places we saw along the way.
The home bound late afternoon traffic in Colombo.
Return to Colombo 18
A better picture of the river at the top of the page (the one where Bridge on the River Kwai may hve been filmed).

The excursion returned to the ship at approximately 5:15 p.m. and sailed for Cochin, India at 6:00. Before sailing I took the following two panoramas of Colombo's harbour.

Colombo Harbour panorama 1

Colombo Harbour Panorama 2

So enddith day 10 of this cruise so on to day 11!

Created: Feb. 23, 2012
The"What actually happened" update was started: August 20 (pictures), September 10 (page update)
The "What actually happened" update was completed: September 15, 2012
Last Updated: Saturday, September 15, 2012 4:12 PM