Thursday 14 March 2013 – Anuradhapura.
Some days I just wonder if there is something odd about me or if my travelling luck/karma/whatever is just bad. I am happy to acknowledge that at times I can be a bit grumpy and after a few days on the road could even be taken as being rather feral. But why do I always seem to end up in restaurants on my own!! Take tonight for instance, I am clean (ish) – I did shower after a hot afternoon, my hair is not standing up crazily, I am in good humour and I don’t stink of booze. Yet here I am utterly alone in Lonely Planet’s pick of restaurants AND the number one on Tripadvisor. What more can I do ? I guess I didn’t have to go in the door!
But it gives me time to write blog posts, though service was so fast I only go this far. Food was OK.
Back to the start of the day. For my first night ‘back on the road’ I kind of slept OK. My room is not too bad, it is the cheapest I could find on-line at $17NZD per night and is actually better than I anticipated, it even had its own bathroom – with the weirdest shower combination I have ever seen….
It took me a while to get to sleep, I read for ages; finishing another Inspector Rebus novel – I am addicted to them, so consequently I did not wake until quite late – almost 9:00. I exchanged a series of miss-timed messages with Benne and we did not manage to hook up. I had planned on renting a bike and riding to some of the sites around town, avoiding paying some of the entry fees if I could. I will buy the approx $25USD pass that is required for the whole area, but am not happy to then pay fees at individual places as well – though not all charge them of course.
I got a bike from one of the neighbouring guest houses, the normal humiliating slightly small step through style is the rental norm and that I look ridiculous on, but a bike means freedom, and for me this meant getting utterly lost – about five times, well maybe not lost, just not always going the right way….
Before I set off on my adventures I rolled down the road to get breakfast, I chose a selection of ‘small eats’ as they are known here, in my case two vege curry rolls and a sweat pancake along with two cups of lovely sweet coffee.
I was pretty much completely lost after about five minutes on the road, no-one seems to have a map and my three year old lonely planet is hopelessly out of date as so much work has been done on the roads. I will say that by the end of the day I had kind of worked out all the places I went wrong, but not entirely.
The first thing I found was this large Buddha figure standing by an intersection, there was no info about it and by the state of the grass and gates I guess it is not used much anymore, but I liked it anyway.
I then got a bit lost for a bit more, it was very hot, sunny and humid and I was starting to wonder how much I could actually do today and was really glad I had allowed two days here. But I did find my first historical object, Yay ! Mirisawatiya Stupa, which was built in the 2nd century. It is believed it was fully surrounded by walls with elephant carvings.
There were a few herons and monkeys about, but the monkeys were just too quick.
I liked these discarded coconut oil candles, there was a huge pile of them out the back and the nearby steps were heavily oil stained.,
To visit all the Buddhist sites you have to remove hats, sun glasses and shoes. The ground was excruciatingly hot and my feet are completely soft these days, it hurt a lot to walk so it was quite a quick visit and I was wondering if my feet will be OK for tomorrow. I saw a number of people wearing socks at sites the other day and wondered why they didn’t take them off, now I know !
I met an English couple and they pointed me in the direction of some other ruins close by and I actually found them 🙂 First was the Ranmasu Uyana, the goldfish park. I really liked the elephant heads carved into the rocks.
I followed a dirt path for a few more metres which lead me to Isurumuniya, the first Buddhist temple built in Sri Lanka, back in 200BC. I was shown around the temple by a guide and again did not have anything less the $5NZD for a tip, far too much money. I must learn to say no when I do not have any small bills…
This dying Buddha is only a couple of hundred years old, not an original piece.
There were some great Buddha feet.
After the temple I went off seeking the famous Bodhi Tree, but could not find it. As it was approaching 4:00 and I was extremely hot I cycled back to the guest house, only misplacing myself the once !
There was a wedding going on back at the guesthouse and I got invited to join a bunch of very drunk youths, but I got a bit frustrated with them as they were taking the mickey a bit – I think. Anyway I was hot and needed a shower so didn’t linger, plus I wanted a beer and they were not being served anymore ! Luckily the wedding was all over soon after I arrived back as it was really loud.
So after a shower I went into Main St for dinner and we are back at the start of this post – which I finished in my room after eating.