We woke up in the morning and had fruits and eggs for breakfast. It felt like a detox meal, I hadn't had fruits in months! Left Araliya and sat in the car for the next 4 hours. Stopping by at a local hotel restaurant, it was the first encounter with 'curry and rice'. 'Curry and rice' simply meant a USD10 buffet with two type of rice at least, tons of curry dishes, and coffee and tea. Coffee there was Sri Lankan, with the powder unseived and an awful choking taste.
After lunch, we reached Sigiriya or Lion's rock, an ancient rock which used to house a palace and was used as a monastery. Sigiriya is one of the seven World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka. All that remains of the palace now is it's foundation with little signs of what used to be there. There are still tons of tanks, reservoirs and steps to climb though. Had to walk 1026 steps, or something close to that, to reach the top of the rock, taking almost 3 hours up and down. Along the way, you could see the elephant rock body, lion paw entrance, mirror wall leading to paintings of busty damsels, and a cobra head shelter. The guide told us that the damsels in the painting had 6 fingers and 3 nipples, because the paintings were fresco and mistakes made cannot be erased. Ended the day tired and wiped out. Next stop was at Thilanka Resort. Hated the reception, as they whispered and laughed, as if they saw aliens. Thilanka is a four star resort, which deserved only a 1 star rating. There was an old tv inside, but the only thing watchable on tv was Sri Lanka Dream Idol.
The following day's meals were buffet breakfast, buffet lunch and buffet dinner. The only thing enjoyable in the cuisine was the sago with gula melaka, which I felt was pretty good. Off to the ancient cities!! First stop Anuradhapura, another one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. Saw tons of dagobas starting from Jettava, Mahapura and Abhayagiri Dagoba.
Bought flowers and headed to see the sacred bodhi tree at Sri Maha Bodhi Temple, a tree grown from the remains of the original tree from which Siddharta Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. The guide told us that a princess which became a nun brought a cut of the bodhi tree from india back to sri lanka, and presented to the king. The king then built this temple and had the bodhi tree grown inside it. Tons of people still visit the tree, which is thin and small, surrounded by other bigger trees. The way to differentiate which was the tree is to look at the golden poles supporting the tree. Coming out of the temple, there was a white dagoba we were supposed to go to, the Ruwanwelisaya Dagoba. One thing about all these dagobas was that you needed to take off your shoes as a sign of respect. And with the scorching sun, the guide warned us that our feet will burn stepping into the dagoba. Ran in with the guide and we had to like sprint from shadow to shadow to avoid getting the sole of our feet cooked. He got tired midway, and stopped to catch his breath, and I was like "eh, faster lei.. my leg cooked liao!!" I think I got thicker skin now, after coming out of that dagoba. Ended the visit seeing a boat that housed rice given by the people for buddhist monks. Gave the guide USD15, for a job well done.
After lunch (guess what we had?) we went to Polonnaruwa, the second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms. Starting off at the royal palace, and heading off to gal vihara to walk a meditation chamber, ending off with the lotus pond where buddhist monks went to meditate. There was a moonstone, which ended up being a floor mat. On our way back to the hotel, the driver almost hit a drunkard, had like 3-4 near misses, and landed up making me feel like puking. Imagine this, compared to his driving, mine is mild. And there are no street lamps. Only car headlights letting you know there is a car there. Dinner is... drum roll... buffet!
Next morning, we started off with the Dambulla rock cave temples. These temples are surprisingly well maintained, with tons of Buddha statues inside the 5 caves. If you are going there, start from the furthest, temple 5, and move back to 1. The nicest one is at temple 2. It gets grander if you start at 5. There is a museum and a giant golden buddha statue below the cave temples. We then headed to miscellaneous places like a hindu temple with a buddha statue, a spice (mafia) garden with a guide that looked like he would kill you if you didn't give him tips, and finally lunch opposite a primary girls school. We had chinese food (yes!!), though their chinese food is nothing to shout about. Drove for about 40 mins to the next hotel, Rundholee. Finally, a decent hotel with less mosquitoes and complimentary coffee! And the hotel has western food!! yess!! Oh by the way, this place is called Kandy. Sounds sweet, but its more like a crevice covered by mountains.
In Kandy, we woke up and headed to the botanic gardens. Dem expensive. Locals pay peanuts, we pay royalty to get in. But there is a part of the gardens which was... uhm.. interesting. There were like millions and millions of fruit bats hanging above the trees. You don't see couples even holding hands in the streets of sri lanka. But in the botanic gardens, it is as if they were given licence to frolick. I had a bottle of EGB (elephant ginger beer; consisting of real ginger in a softdrink), and we continued to other mafia shops brought to us by the driver. We went to some carving shops, some gem museum and finally to Kandy museum. This museum used to be the kings harem, and house like 100 concubines, a thing the guide didn't fail to mention multiple times. We finished the small excursion and headed to our next accommodation, the Serendip Stone Bungalow. No kidding, the place was all stone. Toilet no door de, and apart from wifi, there is little or no entertainment whatsoever. Of course, this was the same owner as the first place we stayed in, Villa Araliya, and the owner, an ang-mo lady greeted us with a smile. We rested a while then went for a cultural dance show. The locals were shooing away the japanese tourists so that the ang-mo tourists could sit in front. It all ended with a fire dance, with people walking on burning coal and eating fire and stuff. After the show, we ran to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic to see the buddha's tooth remains. When the Portugese invaded Sri Lanka, they claimed that they took the tooth and smashed it to dust. Those that have seen the tooth says it looks like ivory, and is 3 inches long. So, either the tooth there is now fake, or as legend has it, the tooth magically reappeared in Sri Lanka after it was taken by the Portugese. We also saw Raja Tusker, the elephant that carried the relic for many years during festivals. The poor thing is now stuffed with cotton. Had dinner at a place called History. The food was just delicious! and cheap! But the guy brought over beef and vegetable rice, with no beef. Had to call the waiter and ask him...how come no beef?? haha.
Next day, we woke up and caught a train to Nanuoya. They say the sights are great when you sit the train and look at tea plantations. I say the smells were greater than the sights. Someone forgot to air their smelly shoes. Once at Nanuoya, we switched back to the car, and the driver brought us back to the next hotel, St Andrews Hotel. Not too bad, except for the occasional musky smell at the corridor. We went to see the tea factory and bought some tea bags. Then headed to a local supermarket (first one we saw the whole trip) and bought tons of potato chips and titbits and drinks. Saw a 1100 rupee ($10SGD) Nike Bag there. Nothing much else to do, so we went to the Grand Hotel to take pictures, but the hotel wasn't really all that Grand. Went back to the hotel and ordered room service. "Hi I'd like to order room service. May I know what is the soup of the day?" "No, no soup, call bar 402" "This is the restaurant isn't it?" "Ya, call bar 402" "I wan to order soup! Not beer!" "Ok I bring soup" "and a tiger prawn and mushroom platter pls" "ok i bring"..... tik tok tik tok... ding dong. "sir I bring menu, wat u wan?" arrgggghh.. tomorrow had to wake up at 430am to go to Horton Plains.
Early in the morning, got our breakfast packed and headed to Horton Plains. The sunrise at Adam's Peak was sooo nice. We reached Horton Plains and had a nice brisk walk about 7-8km long. Legend has it that Hanuman (Sun Wukong) took his pole and levelled the entire place, forming the plains. We were supposed to spot deers, elephants, monkeys and leopards. Only saw a gecko (lizard) that was resting on a stone bridge and birds. Highlight was the "world's end", a nice view at an edge that falls hundreds of metres downwards and "bakers falls" a waterfall in the middle of the plains. Went back to the hotel, and went out to have dinner. Had sweet and sour fish, but they used ikan kembung (the ones ppl use for nasi lemak) for the fish.. yucks.
The next morning, there was NBA on tv!! Miami vs Bulls! Then we had buffet breakfast again. Then we went to Ella Gap, saw a waterfall, and then a tample at Buduruwagala. There were these giant buddha carvings at Buduruwagala. We then traveled to Tissawala to have Hawaiian Pizza before heading to the hotel.
In the evening, we headed via jeep to Yala National Park. Sitting in a jeep and spotting animals is really an experience you should try. We managed to spot mongoose, jackals, hare, great owls, monitor lizards, a painted stork, elephants, peacocks and a blue bee-eater bird. The leopards were again elusive, and we couldn't catch them, or any armadillos or ant-eaters for that matter. The jeep driver was a dick. Went early, reached the latest and left the earliest. Not that we didn't spot enough animals, but could've been a better experience if he hadn't been in a rush to go. We reached back at 7pm and had king beef burger. The nice waiter offered us free ice-cream but we declined.
After breakfast, we traveled to Galle. We saw fishermen standing on a pole to fish. Its like a balancing act while fishing. Ate nasi goreng and went to Galle Fort to walk around. From the fort, you could see the cricket stadium. We went to Era Beach Hotel, and that must've been the nicest hotel ever. Had drinks at the beach, saw the sunset and waves, it was just relaxing and slow to see the nice waves hit onto the shore. Did wonder if one of those waves are going to rise up really high, but it didn't. Just high enough to sigh in awe and then rest again.
Got a nice english breakfast with bacon and toast. yumm. Then headed to Kotawa Rainforest. We only saw lizards and leeches. Got bitten by a couple of them, but got rid of them before they could move further. In the car, there was a smooth cold sensation in my jeans at the back of my ankle. I told the driver to stop so that I could remove the leech in a restroom. Yucks. Got rid of the bugger who became fat. These are just 6mm long leeches, 1mm thick.
We then headed to a mask factory to see mask making and then to a turtle hatchery. This was the first time I carried an adult turtle! Ok first time I carried a baby turtle and a turtle egg too. We then headed for lunch at another hotel, where we saw a Hindi Movie on TV with the ang-mo owner of the hotel while having our lunch. End of the tour was at Colombo, their main city. Going for a tour of the city, independence hall, hindu temple, shopping etc. We had a McD impersonation for dinner.
And finally we headed to the airport to fly back home to civilization.