Yesterday we drove up to Sigiriya from Negombo, it was quite a drive. The New Year holiday meant more traffics than normal was out and about as people took advantage of the day to visit relatives. At one point we covered maybe 2km in about 45 minutes, although it wasn’t dull by any stretch, we watched cars and tuk tuks turn a single one road into at times 3 lanes. Quite a feat and amazingly no accidents and no real road rage. After just over 5 hours we made it to our hotel and settled into our home for the next 4 nights.
The Hotel Sigiriya is a little out of the way, but it’s set in beautiful grounds with a stunning view along the pool deck of the Lion Rock Fortress, which is tomorrow’s climbing adventure. The hotel is very back to nature with bird trail walks and a resident troop of monkeys that run long the roof to entertain people. The clientele are very mixed in terms of age range, languages heard around the pool and attitudes to staff. Again today after our day out, which is coming, we’ve seen people click their fingers at staff to gain attention as well as those who use four pool lounges for two people.
So, let’s turn to our day’s activities. We started with a leisurely drive through back road to head to Mihintale, with traffic and a few photo stops it took about 2 hours. And wow was it worth it, such a beautiful temple with amazing views. The climb to the top of the rock though was not happening today, the crowds made it just a mere thought. There’s one path and then the same path back down, very chaotic. We watched as food for the monks was taken to the temple to be blessed, people rushed to touch the platter as apparently it’s good luck. As with most temples it’s a no hat, no shoes zone, so with the sun taking hold the head was starting to cook and the feet were feeling a little warm.
Back at the car a monkey has decided to settle on the drives side mirror, Susantha (our guide and driver) was not impressed with this. They can be a little destructive at times and have been known to pick at wipers and window rubbers. From here we travelled down the road a short way to a site known as the oldest hospital in Sri Lanka. The ruins are quite interesting, there’s a sarcophagus type setup which is actually a herbal bath used to treat what ails you. I did suggest Helen got in for a photo but she wasn’t keen, can’t blame her though it did have some stagnant looking water in the bottom.
Next stop was Isurumuniya Temple, another temple and more hot ground for our bare feet. But it’s pretty special so you don’t want to miss out. There are some amazing relics in the ‘museum’ section, no photography is allowed though, and the guard seemed keen to not let it happen. The shots from outside though show the importance of the site in Sri Lankan culture.
Susantha had suggested lunch at a place he knew which also has a Sri Lankan Ayurvedic spa attached. Kelly’s dine-in apparently has a sensational beef curry which I was wanting to try. All through our two hour treatment I was salivating over the upcoming meal. The treatment is amazing, it started with a body massage, let’s just say not much of the body didn’t get massaged and that was the same for both Helen and I. Following that is a steam bath with local herbs for about 15 minutes, lastly a 10 minute sauna. If we’d put any weight on in our first few days here then we just lost it all! After we’d finished our treatment and gotten dressed we made our way to our very late lunch only to discover that the chef was still on holiday and the kitchen was closed.
Susantha did say though that the beef curry is that good that we should make a special trip back just for that. Hopefully tomorrow after we’ve climbed Lion Rock we can sample this curry.
Back at our hotel we decided that the rest of today was about lounging by the pool and relaxing, oh and let’s not forget a by now very late 5pm lunch. What a great day and we’ve got so many more to come.