The first thing I saw this morning was the smiling face of a monkey. And no, 'monkey' is not a pet name for my wife or kids. Our day started as most visitors to Kandalama begin their day, with a troop of monkeys playing on our balcony. Mother and father look on while the monkey-kids swing from tree vine to vine, pulling each others tails, scratching and spitting, and generally doing the same things my kids do. It a breathtaking site, enhanced greatly by the fact that it takes place right beside your bed. The glass-faced rooms of Kandalama that open directly on to the jungle are indeed an experience to be enjoyed. And the glass extends everywhere, including the bathroom. Our kids enjoyed splashing in the bath tub while macak monkeys played a meter away from them on the other side of the glass.
After a scrumptious breakfast, we met up with Kumara our driver and planned our day. Today we planned to visit Polonnaruwa. the old southern singhalese capital. Enroute we did the typical stop-at-every-sri-lankan-bakery ritual and stuffed our bellies with rolls and patties. I also discovered another great find, cardammon flavored milk, and also rediscovered a childhood
My favorite part of Polonnaruwa
Note this is not my photo (my camera ran out of battery)
treat, Faluda milk.
We pulled into Polonnaruwa early afternoon and were welcomed by a scorching sunny day. Polonnaruwa is a large area, with lots of distributed sites of interest, so we were thankful we had our driver to drive us between spots. First stop was a museum that introduced us to the history of the place. Lots of long names of kings, the compulsory fragments of pottery and spears that all history museums are required to exhibit, but nevertheless an interesting overview of hundreds of years of Sri Lankan history.
We then headed out to the outdoor sites, seeing places such as the old palace baths, throne rooms, a huge stupa, and lots of lions (they love those lions). They were all in various degrees of disrepair, but at least 40% were either near completely intact or had been tastefully restored. Most of the structures were from carved rock and it was amazing to see many of the intricate carvings still well defined.
The most breath taking though was the buddhist temple area. This was a collection of various shaped building that were in beautiful condition. The most awe inspiring was the mandala, a structure of concentric
circles decorated with striking carvings. We definitely weren't expecting things are well preserved as this in Sri Lanka - Polonnaruwa was definitely a great experience.
All that remained for the day was another 2.5 hour drive back to Kandalama. Along the way we stopped at a giant buddha statue - nice ... but after Polonnaruwa we were all buddhaed out. We did also stumble across a wild elephant that happened to be hanging around on the side of the highway. That was unexpected and definitely very cool.
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