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January 22nd 2017
Published: January 25th 2017
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Mihintale TempleMihintale TempleMihintale Temple

Some of the 452 steps I did get up
We arrived at Colombo airport at some ridiculous hour made even more confusing by a 30 minute time difference. By the time we got through immigration, tracked down our bags on an unnamed carousel and queued for the only working atm we were pretty spaced out. The airport taxi counter was asking a ridiculous amount for the 2 mile trip to our hostel so we went out to look for an ordinary one. Then made the classic rookie mistake of being led away by some guy who had a taxi, we never do this normally but we're so tired we did.

Actually it wasn't a total disaster we just had a fair distance to walk before we came to the car but after getting in and realising what we had done I spent the journey in panic....needlessly thanjfully, as he did take us to the hostel but the price was the same as the airport taxi durrrrr

At the Hang Over Hostel (I kid you not) we just went straight to bed but soon realised the room was full of mosquitoes, little buggers! This is where Deb's extra 2 plug in killers came in really handy, thanks Deb!

Up again after what felt like minutes and it was time to meet our driver, we decided to hire a car and driver for the first 5 days and as Howard isn't well I'm so glad we did.

Sajith and his Honda Fit aka Jazz arrived and we set off in glorious sunshine. My first impressions of the country were wow it's so green and lush with palm trees and stray dogs everywhere.

The journey was just spent gazing out the window taking it all in, we stopped briefly at a bakery as it was the only place open on Sunday and the guys working there were so friendly and chatty, what a lovely change!

It rained a little bit and we arrived in Anuradhapura and found Heaven Over Rice Fields (our guesthouse) down a windy little lane across the railway line, which despite being totally overgrown was still in use.

The room was lovely and had a balcony overlooking the rice fields and the people running it were equally lovely.

As it was so far out of town we arranged to have dinner there and then went out to visit the sacred temple of Milintale.

When we arrived I could see the top of the white temple above the trees on top of a very large hill....uh oh!

452 steps later and we reached the gate where you pay and saw a few ruins of outlying almshouses. Then a sign saying there was 1,840 steps up to the temple!!! I had already had to use my inhaler once and I knew there was no way I could climb another 1,388 steps, so I didn't!

Howard and Sajith went up and apparently there were even more steps at the top level leading to various points.

We then went on to visit a beautiful lake - Kaludiya Pokuna, quite a few people were swimming in it and I don't blame them it was a gorgeous spot and also had a few ancient ruins close by.

Back at the guesthouse once more and Howard went to bed for a much needed rest. Dinner that might was delicious curried chicken, dahl, green beans, onion and tomato with rice and poppadums. I even tried the fresh buffalo milk curd and honey. It was a bit like creme fraiche and a bit too flobbly for
Mihintale TempleMihintale TempleMihintale Temple

Howard coming down some of the other 1,388 steps
my liking.

We chatted to the only other guest - there are only 3 rooms, a lovely young German lad who was doing a similar route to ours but the other way round.

That night it POURED down.

The next morning we slept in and didn't set off until 10.30 am to see the sights and ruins of the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura.

First stop was Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya - the Bodhi Tree Temple and we were straight back into the old shoes off walking barefoot routine again. The only difference being unlike Burma they dont seem to sweep the ground here and you can keep your socks on - pity i wasnt wearing any.

We walked round, prayers were taking place at a shrine and people were sitting and praying right round the compound. In the centre was a gigantic Bodhi Tree, propped up in places and surrounded by walls and gold coloured railings.

After this we walked onto the Ruwanwelisaya Temple, still in bare feet, big mistake. We discovered much to our annoyance that we could have worn shoes between the two places but instead we hobbled and hopped along the part built path with lots of tiny stones and sharp sand grinding into our feet. Howard nearly gave up but Sajith convinced him it wasnt much further....it was.

We did see loads of monkeys though with the most enormously long tales and lots of poor mangy stray dogs and I swear the green looking one lying in the middle of the path was dead. It is quite shocking to see how many stray dogs there are here and the state they are in.

The temple was a huge white stupa, not decorated but very beautiful. We walked round it and then limped back via the dead dog, more monkeys and yet more mangy dogs until we were finally reunited with our shoes hooray!!!!

Then it was off to see the ruins - the vast original capital city of Sri Lanka back in the 4th century BC. They were set in lush jungle and it must have been a stunning sight back in its day.

The Jethawanaramaya Dagaba was another huge brick built stupa but my feet were killing me so I just looked at it. Then the Twin Ponds and then the bloody rain.
Kaludiya PokunaKaludiya PokunaKaludiya Pokuna

Ancient ruins

We saw a few more ruins, the Elephant Pond and the Moonstone and a rock carving. By now it was tanking down and Howard was feeling rough and worn out so we headed back to the guesthouse.

Somehow Sajith had managed to get us round all these sights without paying, not sure how but I'm guessing he is a smooth talker. He was so chuffed and when we realised we were too, saved us £25 each. Sri Lankan sightseeing is not cheap.

The rain was unrelenting, even the birds took refuge on our balcony that afternoon!




Additional photos below
Photos: 22, Displayed: 22


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Ruwanwelisaya TempleRuwanwelisaya Temple
Ruwanwelisaya Temple

Sajid and Howard
Ruwanwelisaya TempleRuwanwelisaya Temple
Ruwanwelisaya Temple

There's a bird on Buddha's head
Anuradhapura RuinsAnuradhapura Ruins
Anuradhapura Ruins

Statue of the king
Anuradhapura RuinsAnuradhapura Ruins
Anuradhapura Ruins

The Elephant Pond
Anuradhapura RuinsAnuradhapura Ruins
Anuradhapura Ruins

The Moonstone


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