We are on our way back to Kandy, after a day of visiting the botanic garden and the elephant orphanage.
Our helpful tuk-tuk driver proposes to stop in a unique spice garden where we could learn about plants and spices used in the medicine and the local cuisine.
Surely, the visit is for free and we enthusiastically accept the offer, looking forward to our next discovery.
A local guide welcomes us and introduces himself as a professional massage teacher and specialist in Ayurveda medicine. After a hot tea we follow him while he gives explanations on the plant species growing in the garden. Although it sounds very basic and not really new, we acknowledge his wise words by nodding politely our heads. After all, we did not pay anything for this visit and it is always nice to get to know local practices.
After the visit, our host guides us in an open wood shelter where one of his student is already waiting for us. He introduces the body treatments extracted from the plants of the garden which we can smell and try on our skin.
“Sir, remove your shirt.”
What?! Ok, if he says so…
Carefully, Dom removes his shirt…and ends up half naked, laying on his belly on a hard wooden bench and the young student is now starting to massage his back. For free of course…
1 mosquito bite…2 mosquito bites…3, 4, 5, 6, 7 mosquito bites…Still, Dom seems to enjoy his free massage!
In the meantime, the guide is massaging Emilie’s shoulders…thankfully, she kept her shirt on.
15 minutes and 10 mosquito bites later, Dom puts his shirt back on again…and starts to nervously scratch his bites like a mad dog while his eyes are turning already blood red!
The torture is finally over and we are requested to give some tips to the talented Mr Ripley for his work.
Providing we haven’t really asked for either any massage or free mosquito bites, we are a bit surprised and give a small tip.
“Don’t you feel all of this was strange? Did you like it?
The massage or the mosquito bites?!…I must have caught the Malaria…!”
Finally after gaining back our healthy suspicion, our guide leads us to a very small shop next to the garden. Three more advisors are already waiting there and staring at us intensively. As freshly born backpackers in our South-East Asian adventure, we feel very uncomfortable with the situation.
“I think we HAVE TO buy something…
We are backpacking! Why would we buy oil massage after our first day?
Because you have to take care of my back pain (lol)
Let’s buy the cheapest thing we find…
But there are no prices indicated…
Then let’s buy the smallest thing, that should be also the cheapest”
Sounds logic, uh?
Not so much: we choose the smallest bottle of oil…which ended up in a bill of 30€ for 25mL.
We pay, leave the shop and try to contain our anger. Needless to say we feel very frustrated after our first day of traveling…
Our tuk-tuk driver brings us back straight to our guesthouse, and we pay him without giving any tip, this time.
We enter our guest house and our nice host welcomes us:
“Guys, how was your day? Was everything ok with your tuk-tuk driver? I forgot to tell you, but never stop at any spice garden in Kandy, this is a real tourist trap!”