Day 8, Wednesday 11 March
Surviving the night, I most certainly need to make some changes today. It starts with preparing a list of attractions in Kandy that I can give to the driver. As there are dozens of possible sites it means a second night in Kandy. After breakfast that was better than I expected it’s time to try and arrest more control over this tour. With the accommodation last night only half the price I would normally budget for, I select more suitable accommodation near the lake and insist the driver calls ahead to arrange that. After handing over a list, the conversation is over hopefully improving things no end. Now we can carry on with the tour.
Kandy Lake Viewpoint……..
The Kandy Lake Viewpoint is located on the hillside south of the Kandy Lake where a number of hotels are located. It’s the location of Arthur's Seat with a nice view but not that big a deal.
Located on a hillside overlooking the town, the large white painted Buddha Image is the main feature of the Bairawakanda Temple. If it doesn’t inspire you then the view of Kandy might. Entry is 250 rupees.
Known as Sri Maha Bodhi Viharaya, the monastery was started in 1972 by the founder, the venerable Ampitiye Dammarama Thero. He decided to build the big buddha's statue with the help of people's donations. It was opened on 1st January 1993 by president Premadasa and soon became an attraction for visitors worldwide. The Buddha statue can be seen from everywhere in Kandy city. It’s just a tuk tuk ride to the Temple just 1 km from the city.
Kandy War Cemetery……..
Only just aware of the Kandy War Cemetery not far from the city, it’s a must do site visit for me. Although it relates to much more recent history than I’ve so far been used to (WW2), I soon become aware as to why there is a CWGC cemetery here at all.
Formerly known as Pitakande Military Cemetery, Kandy War Cemetery was acquired originally by the military authorities, and was subsequently taken over by the Commission as a permanent war cemetery. The Army Graves Service transferred to this cemetery service war graves from Divatalawa Boer Military Cemetery; (including graves which had previously been moved from Divatalawa Camp Cemetery and Diyakaduwa Cemetery and from Bandarawala in the Punjab); Galkissa General Cemetery; Ihala Vitiyala Burial Ground; Kandy Civil Cemetery; Kollonawa Burial Ground; Kotagala Forest Creek Cemetery; Mahaiyawa Cemetery; Murugampola Cemetery; Rawatawatte General Cemetery, Moratura; Tibotugoda Etakorasa Cemetery and Trincomalee Hindu and Buddhist Cemetery. The Special Memorial commemorates a naval man known to have been buried in the cemetery but whose grave could not be precisely located. It bears the superscription "Buried near this spot". There is 1 Commonwealth burial of the 1914-1918 war and a further 196 Commonwealth burials of the 1939-1945 war commemorated here. In addition, there are 4 Foreign National and 2 non world war burials.
In terms of why there were casualties in Sri Lanka at all, it has to be remembered that Sri Lanka had a sizable military presence on the island and was a reception area for ships returning from operations in the Far East. In addition, there were air raids, in particular the Easter Sunday Raid carried out by Japan on Easter Sunday (5 April) 1942 on Colombo and a few days later on Trincomalee. These were undertaken by a Japanese carrier task force also involved in commerce raiding and the harassment of the British Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean.
Three servicemen who are buried in Kandy War Cemetery have been selected to represent those who died in WWII and who are buried here.
In Memory Of:
Squadron Leader John Theodore Bouwens,
Service Number 37552, Died 22/04/1942, Aged 25, 11 Sqdn. Royal Air Force. Son of Bethell Godfrey Bouwens and the Hon. Mrs. Margaret Bouwens; husband of Mary Gwendoline Bouwens (nee French), of Thetford. Norfolk.
For the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) - BOUWENS, John Theodore, A/S/L (37552, Royal Air Force) - No.51 Squadron - Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 23 September 1941. As Acting Pilot Officer, to No.70 (Bomber-Transport) Squadron, Hinaidi, 10 September 1936. Public Record Office Air 2/8900 has citation drafted when he had flown 22 sorties (165 operational hours). "This officer has displayed great keenness, courage and devotion to duty in all his sorties, most of which have been carried out as captain of aircraft and in extremely difficult winter weather conditions. He has set a very high standard of efficiency at all times."
11 Squadron was redeployed to Colombo, Ceylon in early 1942, the squadron involved in attacks on Japanese shipping. It was equipped with Bristol Blenheims....view.
Chief Petty Officer Supply, Edwin Dixon Attwater,
Service Number D/M37532, Died 13/11/1939, Aged 35, H.M.S. Gloucester, Royal Navy. Son of Edwin Arthur and Mabel Attwater, of Plymouth; husband of Gladys Mary Attwater, of Camel's Head, Plymouth.
HMS Gloucester was a 9,400 ton cruiser built at Devonport in 1937. The Gloucester had left Colombo after refueling on the 12th November to resume patrols in the Indian Ocean.
Ordinary Seaman Eric Pope,
Service Number C/JX355572, Died 28/01/1944, Aged 18, H.M.S. Highflyer, Royal Navy. Son of James H. Pope and Lilian Pope, of Poulton, Wallasey, Cheshire.
HMS Highflyer was a shorebase at Trincomalee in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
Business with Sri Lankan Airlines……..
We head back into Kandy where there are a number of things I need to attend to. The first is to change some more currency. The rate I find at a money changer is quite good but as in other countries there is concern over the quality of the notes; no marked or damaged notes are accepted. The next job is just to make an enquiry at the Sri Lanka Airline office I located yesterday evening. Recent events have put this on the table but at the office there I more bad news than good. The good news is that they’ve waved an amendment fee due to coronovirus but there is a fare adjustment which proves to be more than I would spend on accommodation and travel in the remaining days.
Falling on Deaf Ears……..
Now into afternoon the list of sites I compiled seems to have become an irrelevance as we start looking for accommodation. Aware that my suggested accommodation is east of the lake, I’m really confused as the driver heads out of town for half a dozen kilometres at least. What’s going on? Reaching the accommodation, it’s not what I suggested and even worse than the previous night. We persevere for a while but it takes a lot of adjustment to make the room tolerable. As I get an internet connection and I realise where we are, it’s the final straw. I’ve had enough.
I now have a couple of options. I either confront the guide and ask for at least an adjustment to the price or I simply up and leave. Given the general conduct of this tour package when I’ve put in a number of complaints already, I’m not confident of any satisfaction going forward. This latest twist is a blatant attempt to get away with inferior conditions and save cost. Believing that further complaints will achieve little I decide to go with my instincts and as we have hardly unpacked, we just up and leave. Number one priority is to find better accommodation near the town which I know exists. Hailing a tuk tuk in the street we’re off!
Initially we have difficulty in locating the accommodation I selected. We just can’t find the one I selected on Google Map. Finally, not far from the Kandy centre we find something suitable.
There is only a family room available at Lake Kandyan but the manager makes a price adjustment. At 5,000 rupees it’s more in line with my budget and we will have the advantage of being able to walk into the city for shopping, dining or whatever; something we’ve sorely missed so far. The room itself provides everything except a fridge. The latter is very much a luxury I’ve found. After a break we head down into town with a new feeling of relief. We will manage much better this way.
Kandy City Centre……..
Kandy City Centre is actually a shopping mall on four floors. It is much smaller than their equivalent in Thailand but it’s a pleasure to be here all the same. The food court offers international cuisine of Thai, Italian and Chinese as well as local food. It’s Thai food that we eventually order and it is really authentic, tasty and relatively cheap. Inevitably released from her bondage, Katoon is anxious to explore but I’m no quite so enthusiastic. Nevertheless, I doubt if I’d have had any choice with other arrangements planned for us. It’s chance to take some photos and on reaching the market, a chance to buy some herbs and spices. Back to Lake Kandyan by tuk tuk, I’m feeling more relaxed but I’m still trying to make sense of a day that was far from productive.