Published: August 6th 2010July 19th 2010
Monday, July 19th
Trying to fit in we rented what they called “very-ordinary bikes” (I think the ones grandpa and his friends used as a kid) and rode around the ancient city of Anuradhapura
(see what we mean about the names?) - the largest and most important ancient site in the country. We kept to the left side of the road and called out “Are you born?” as we passed. Aryubovan
is a greeting that means “wishing you a long life” in Singhalese. At one point we stopped to look at an elephant getting bathed in the lake. I went down to take a picture and the man beckoned for me to get into the water too. “No I can’t,” I thought and gestured to my sneakers and he indicated that I could take them off. “Well I could,” I thought. Next thing I knew I was mud deep in the lake, eying up the elephant. “I bathed elephants in Thailand so this should be no big deal” I thought, but only for a second as the elephant moved his trunk (which was the length of me) up and down. From there we went to a temple where we
were blessed by a monk and made wishes by tying strings around our wrist which should come true when they fall off. Mine came off within the day but weeks later moms is still holding tight…we’re optimistic.
Stupas in Nepal, pagodas in China, and dagobas in Sri Lanka. The name changes but the temple structure is basically the same. Cycling around was fun because it was like a game of hide and seek, exploring and discovering the different monuments and sites - much like Ankor Wat & Tikal. The focal point was the sacred Bo tree which was brought as a sapling from the Bodhi tree in India where Buddha gained enlightenment and represents the start of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Mihintale
After climbing 1840 steps we were rewarded with spectacular views of Pagodas, and monasteries throughout the caves. Originally the Sri Lankans were animists so the Bo tree or rock formations proved a good link and made religion accessible to the masses (much like in Latin America where there is a synthesis of voodoo and Christianity).
There are more photos below