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Published: February 25th 2019
Almost new mountain bikes awaited us for the start of our tour after some basic sizing & setup the night before. The day then started with a test-ride through the streets of Negombo visiting the fish market before setting off on a 40 km ride to Chilaw.
Along the way we passed quaint fishing villages in picturesque coastal settings with endless coconut plantations surrounding these villages. We also passed canals built by the Dutch to transport spices but now used by the local fisherman for access to the sea. The canals link lagoons & marshlands & are now the setting for abundant bird life and a growing tourist destination in their own right.
From Chilaw we swapped the bike for a 90 km coach ride to our two night stay at the Ceylan Lodge, Anuradhapura. After settling in we went to dinner as a group as our guide (Sam) is a passionate local & has outlined a plan for us to sample the full spectrum of SriLankan food over the course of the tour. Dinner was great & at $5 a head with beer was amazing.
Next day we cycled 20 km out of town for a full
day touring the ruins of Anuradhapura, a UNESCO World Heritage site, before a return cycle back to our hotel. The site was once a great ancient city of Sinhalese political & Buddhist religious power and was at its peak during the 9th century. The ruins are spread out & best seen by bike and understood with the help of our Buddhist tour guide.
The ancient city included temples, immense stupas (or dome-shaped shrines), huge man made pools & palaces. At the heart of the ruins is a 2000 year old Bo Tree. The tree was planted from a cutting of the original tree where Buddah sat & received enlightenment. Although looking it age it is considered sacred and a spiritual reminder of the beginnings of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and the inspiration for Anuradhapura's great buildings. Judging by the unbelievable engineering feats Sri Lanka was at the centre of all the ancient civilisations.
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