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Published: September 7th 2017
As seems to be the norm in Sri Lanka the day began with confusion. Firstly we came to pay and, as the price had gone up when we got here, we hadn't changed enough rupees... And we haven't seen anywhere to get more but somehow we managed to pay some in pounds and the rest in rupees.
Manuel checked this on the phone with his manager in Kandy who said it was okay and then asked to speak to me. He asked if we'd had a nice stay and asked for a good recommendation on booking.com. I told him about the room price change and he asked me to give a good review on booking.com. I'm not sure he understood me... And then Manuel asked us to sign his visitors' book.... He has really tried to help despite the communication problems so I was quite pleasant in my scribblings
Then we asked for one tea and one coffee. In a country that grows the stuff you don't expect to end up with a jug of coffee and a jug of hot milk.... Claire said she'd just have the milk but Manuel (actually Bandara) went and got her some tea.
And then the driver that we'd booked was late. Claire phoned him and he was a few km down the road and someone had toldi him we had gone on safari....
Apparently there is another Wilpattu Holiday Home, which is understandable but when he asked for Claire there they said she'd gone on safari....what are the chances of that!?!? When he turned up our driver had been confused as well but we were soon on our way in an air conditioned car with someone whose English is good.
Thuminda will be our driver for the next few days and he seems a decent chap. We started off stopping at Anuradhapura which is an ancient Buddhist temple complex. We basically saw the free stuff as you apparently need a guide to see the rest but we enjoyed what we saw. As yesterday was a full moon many Buddhists had come to pray so it was very busy but not like The Golden Palace in Bangkok busy. We could walk around easily enough and, as the pagoda thingies (apologies for the technical term) were very tall it was easy to get a picture without people in.
type thingies were stunning though and we enjoyed wandering round them despite the hot sun. Despite not being religious myself I always find it interesting what people believe in and what they do to follow their religion. If I had to choose a religion to follow I think it would have to be Buddhism because it's peaceful and it always smells good!
During the drive Thuminda stopped off and bought us some guava chopped up with chilli and salt which was really nice. Plus a coconut each to drink....no straws so up to the mouth....and over the floor, well mine did anyway. It was nice and a bit different tasting than coconuts I'd had before.
We next attempted to change money. I hadn't changed all our money at the airport due to a poor exchange rate but it was a lot easier than what we went through today. As there are no banks in Sigiriya we stopped at Dambulla and went into a fancy looking bank and stayed there for quite a while.
It might have been easier to rob the place and it would certainly have been quicker. As part of the transaction the teller had
to write down the serial numbers of every note I gave her and I changed £620..... I had to sign a few bits of paper, show my passport, go and get the address of where we're staying tonight out of the car before someone else finally gave me the rupees. We did a quick lap of honour of the bank and then the other customers and guards formed a tunnel so we could exit the bank in style.
Next stop, Dembulla cave temples....which they put at the top of a steep hill which Thaminda gamely climbed but didn't seem to enjoy. He waited outside while we went in to see the amazing interiors. Each cave is decorated with fabulous paintings and has some form of Buddha statues in them, some reclining, some upright. Well worth the climb especially as there had been many monkeys hanging around and posing for pictures too.
My Pokemon Go told me there was a golden temple to see so we told Thuminda and he said he'd get the car and drive round as it was a different exit. The temple was pretty much a statue of Buddha but a huge one nonetheless. There
was a museum which we paid £1 to get in and I guess it was almost worth it.....maybe....
There were various Buddha statues from around the world and a few trinkets too but it was all rather dull.
After taking some pictures of the garish front of the museum we met up again with Thuminda and headed to our accommodation-Sigiri Lion lodge. This place comes highly recommended and the owners speak English and haven't tried to deny the price I booked at....yet...
The room is good though and we're already been given free tea and coffee. We said goodbye to Thuminda for the night and he went off to find somwhere to stay while went off for a walk. We found Chooti but took some pictures of Sigiriya rock first.
I was voing to try a sweet roti but my main course of vegetable curry and rice was so filling I couldn't manage it. Maybe tomorrow. A chipmunk wandered by as we were eating so that was special.
After a lollipop and a shopping experience it was time to head home to write and upload blogs. We have an early start tomorrow.....hooray.....
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