A Travellerspoint blog

Part 3

8th Nov 2018

We had a later start this morning. When we pulled the curtains back this is the view from our room.

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We thought every room was like ours, but we ended up being lucky and had a suite. We had a lounge and dining area, cocktail bar and large bathroom with a spa bath.
We headed out for the day. Our first stop was to visit Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery which is home to Sri Lanka’s pioneering sea turtle conservation, established in 1981.

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They have 5 species of turtle that come and lay eggs here. They are Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle and Leatherback Turtle.
We were shown around the hatchery. The eggs are collected by fisherman who see the turtles arrive on land. They collect the eggs and are then paid to hand them in at the hatchery. They are then buried until the eggs hatch.

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Once the turtles hatch, they are collected and put into a tank. They are kept 3 days until they can see and are much stronger. Then they are released at night.

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They also have quite a few turtles that are resident at the hatchery. These have been attacked by sharks and are missing flippers. One of them is blind.

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Every time Shane went to take a photo, they would come up to him.

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There are even albino turtles.

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We got to meet Monica who is a Loggerhead Turtle. She weighed 15kgs.

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We then stopped in Balapitiya and went on a boat trip up the river and around the mangroves.

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There were coconut stalls in the middle of the river.

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There were fish traps in the river.

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This man was proud of the crab he had caught.

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There were cormorants, but they did look different to the ones at home.

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There are over 60 islands in this area. Most have people living on them.

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They grow and process cinnamon.

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They showed us how the cinnamon is collected. They scrape the bark off the branch, then they use a tool to slice the cinnamon off. It is then put on a rack to dry.

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We finished off near the mouth of the river.

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We then continued on towards Galle. Sri Lanka was one of the countries struck by the tsunami resulting from the Indian Ocean earthquake on December 26, 2004. In the eastern Ampara District alone, more than 5,000 people died. A holiday train, the "Queen of the Sea", was struck by the tsunami near the village of Telwatta as it travelled between Colombo and Galle carrying at least 1,700 passengers, killing all but a handful on board. They have a memorial.

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Most shops and houses have been rebuilt but there are still some abandoned properties.

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We arrived in Galle. We had heard it would be busy as the England versus Sri Lanka cricket test was on. Well it was amazing to see. There were both locals and tourists all over the fort wall getting a free view of the match.

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We even went and had a look ourselves, but they were just walking off for lunch when we finally made it up there. It was a lovely little cricket ground.

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We spent the afternoon walking around Galle Fort. Built by the Portuguese in 1588, it was fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century. Covering 36 hectares, the fort contains an amazing number of buildings from over the years. Considered one of the best examples of a fortified city built by Europeans in Asia, it was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage listed site in 1988.

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This is the main gate

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The fort has two major gates. The portcullis that forms the first gate of entry from the port is inscribed with the year ‘ANNO MDCLXIX’, as well as the image of the Dutch Coat of Arms, the rooster and lion insignia and the inscription VOC (which stands for Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or United East Indian Company in Dutch).

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These are the East Indian old spice storage facilities. They kept spices there before they were shipped overseas.

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The Galle Bell Tower

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We then saw the Galle Lighthouse. Stunningly located on the edge of Galle Fort, the lighthouse is one of 14 left in Sri Lanka and is considered the oldest.
Dating back to 1848; the lighthouse was built by the British to ensure the safe arrival of their ships at the Galle harbour. This original structure stood 24.5 m tall (80 feet) and was located at a site approximately 100 feet from the current lighthouse. Its light was made with a prism lens of glass, which floated in a bath of mercury (to reduce friction); and was powered by a weight driven machine. This lighthouse was destroyed in 1934. The current lighthouse structure was built in 1939; erected within the walls of the ancient Galle Fort with a height of 26.5m (87 feet).

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In front of the lighthouse is the old powder house.

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Then the Dutch Reformed Church. Originally founded in 1640, the present building dates from 1752 to 1755. The floor of the church is covered with granite tombstones and there is a small graveyard on the premises.

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The clocktower which was built in 1882.

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They even had an old British mailbox.

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There was a square with these big trees. We had a rest in the shade as it was quite hot.

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The court house that is still in use today.

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This is the old Dutch hospital. The building was initially designed as a hospital for the soldiers and personnel of the Dutch East India Company. The hospital’s close proximity to the harbor also allowed it to serve Dutch seafarers. It has now been turned into restaurants and shops.

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The old police barracks that are still in use today.

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The town that came into being inside the fort at the time of the Dutch invasion is still in use today. The streets are laid in a rectangular grid and the low gabled houses and terraces in the Dutch Colonial style are quaint.

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After another full day we headed back to the hotel.

9th Nov 2018

This morning we headed for our final destination of Colombo which was about one and a half hours drive. We drove along the southern expressway. This road was built by the Chinese. There is a toll to use it, so it is not very busy. It was much quicker than following the smaller roads.

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Colombo is the formal capital city and the business and commercial centre of Sri Lanka. Originally a small sea port, Colombo became prominent in the 15th century with the arrival of the Portuguese. The Dutch later arrived in the 16th century but it wasn’t until the British arrived in the late 18th century that Colombo developed into a major city. We had a look around the town in the bus. There were lots of colonial buildings remaining, but it is becoming a very modern city.
This is the new parliament from afar.

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The National War Memorial in front of the Parliament complex is dedicated to all military personal killed since World War I and police personal killed due to militancy.

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The names of all the deceased is listed on these panels.

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Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall was built between 1970 and 1973. It was a gift from China.

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Viharamahadevi Park (formerly Victoria Park) is a big park in the city. This is only a small part of it.

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This is the Old Colombo Lighthouse or Colombo Fort Clock Tower. It is a clock tower and was a lighthouse in Colombo. The lighthouse is no longer operational, but the tower remains and functions as a clock tower. It is strange seeing a lighthouse in the city and not on the coastline. The lighthouse was deactivated after its light became obscured by nearby buildings.

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Independence Memorial Hall is a national monument built for commemoration of the independence of Sri Lanka from the British rule on February 4, 1948. The monument was built at the location where the formal ceremony marking the start of self-rule, with the opening of the first parliament by the HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester occurred at a special podium.

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Located at the head of the monument is the statue of the first prime minister of the country Rt. Hon. Don Stephen Senanayake "The Father of the Nation".

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The Town Hall of Colombo is the headquarters of the Colombo Municipal Council and the office of the Mayor of Colombo.

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Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque is a historic mosque, it is one of the oldest mosques in Colombo.

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The Khan Clock Tower was built by the Khan Family of Bombay.

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Temple of Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil.

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The Lotus Tower is under construction. It is 350 m high. When completed, the tower will be tallest self-supported structure in South Asia.

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The Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre. It was such a modern theatre.

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We also stopped at the Dutch Church of Wolfendhaal. It was built in 1749. It is one of the most important Dutch Colonial era buildings in Sri Lanka. The church is in the form of a cross, with walls 1.5m thick. The floor includes intricate tombstones to Dutch colonists. Unfortunately the exterior looks run down.

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Some other colonial buildings.

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The Old Parliament Building, is the building that houses the Presidential Secretariat of Sri Lanka. The building housed the island's legislature for 53 years until the new parliamentary complex was opened in 1983.

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The city was really busy and it took us a long time to get anywhere.

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Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple was incredible.

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Inside it was so colourful.

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We then headed to the Ramada Hotel to settle in for our last full night here in Sri Lanka.

10th Nov 2018

We had a day in Colombo today. We had a walk around and then a late checkout. We are heading to the airport for a late flight at 55 minutes past midnight. We are flying home via Hong Kong again. That's it for this trip. Shane and Nicola signing off.

Posted by shaneandnicola 20:00 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

Part 2

3rd Nov 2018

Today was the best day so far. When we awoke this morning, we had a lovely view of the cloud in the valley.

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After breakfast we had a wander around the hotel.

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We saw this massive snail. It had an unusual shaped shell and was about 8cm long.

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We headed out at 9am to the Sri Dalada Maligawa or Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The temple houses an important Buddhist Relic, a tooth of the Buddha. Stolen at his funeral, the tooth was smuggled into Sri Lanka hidden in the hair of a princess who fled from India. The relic of the tooth is kept in a two-storey shrine fronted by large elephant trunks. It is in the royal palace complex. During puja (offerings or prayers), the heavily guarded room housing the tooth is open to devotees and tourists. However, you don’t see the tooth. It’s kept in a gold casket shaped like a dagoba, which contains a series of six dagoba caskets of diminishing size. The entire complex is over three centuries old and has seen many a king’s rise and fall. It has seen bloody wars and peaceful reigns and is one of the most historical places still standing in Sri Lanka.
To get there we passed the big artificial lake called Kandy Lake.

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You can see the temple to the left.

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Before entering the temple there are lots of flower vendors selling flowers for offering to buddha. It smelt wonderful.

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As you enter the main gate and walk down the pathway you can see The Octagon and The Golden Canopy.

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We left our shoes at the shoe counter and headed inside. There were people everywhere.
First, we crossed a moat.

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Then we followed the worshippers.

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This wooden temple had beautiful art work all over it.

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We then entered another part of the complex. They had a moonstone entrance.

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Inside was another temple.

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You exited the temple from the other side. There were lovely stone carvings.

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We then moved on to a wooden prayer area.

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This is the old Royal Palace

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This was the Royal Baths

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We then headed out of the temple.

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We then travelled to the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, which are the largest botanical gardens in Sri Lanka.

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We first had a picnic lunch on the Great Lawn.

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After lunch we explored the beautiful grounds. There were lots of different areas.
The flower gardens

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Giant Bamboo

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With a family of macaques grooming each other

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Cabbage Palm Avenue

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Suspension Bridge

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A Candle Tree

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Along with heaps of other trees and plants.

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We could not believe we saw a cow in there. It had really long horns.

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There were also some birds.

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After a full day we headed back to the hotel and had a swim.

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4th Nov 2018

This morning was much clearer with no low cloud in the valley. We were in for a fine day.

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We said farewell to Kandy and headed three hours to Nuwara Eliya. Before leaving Kandy, we had a look through the university area. It spans 700 hectares.

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There was a really old ficus.

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We then started winding our way through the beautiful countryside. There were rivers and lots of waterfalls along the way.

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We stopped for a break at a lookout.

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There were soon tea plantations everywhere, so we visited the Blue Field Tea factory.

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We got to see the tea growing. It is an excellent location for tea production due to the cool climate, which creates tea with a unique flavour.

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We then went to the factory.

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We got to see how the tea was manufactured and learned how tea is graded. They use lots of machines to prepare the tea for drinking.

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Here is the finished product.

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We had the opportunity to taste a lovely cup of pure Ceylon tea.

We stopped at Ramboda Falls for lunch. It was a lovely spot to look out over the waterfall.

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We continued our journey slowly climbing to 1893m above sea level. The funniest thing this afternoon was seeing a boy in a red shirt on the side of the road trying to sell flowers. We passed him and then around the next bend he was there again. He had taken a short cut through the bush when we went around the bend. We passed him again and there he was again and again. By then he was puffing. The bus stopped and let him on. Everyone felt sorry for him so either bought a flower or gave him a donation.

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Along the way there were rows of tea plants as far as the eye can see.

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There were even terraces for growing vegetables.

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We then arrived at Nuwara Eliya.

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It is the main hill station of Sri Lanka and is known as ‘Little England’, as it resembles an English country town. We are staying at the Grand Hotel and you can see how English it looks. The hotel used to be the residence of the British Governor.

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We had a wander around the beautiful gardens. There were lots of flowers including dahlias and hydrangeas and hedges pruned into shapes.

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We then had a look around inside. We found a billiard room where the tables were over 100 years old.

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There was another lovely room with a piano playing.

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We then had a drink in the wine bar. It was all timber and really lovely.

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5th Nov 2018

We departed the green hills of Nuwara Eliya. Just outside of town was a Hindu temple with gold all over it. The detail was amazing.

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We continued towards Udawalawe until we stopped at Rawana Falls.

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After 5 hours of driving, we arrived in Udawalawe where we had lunch. Whilst there I found a pond which had an unusual frog in it.

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There was also this amazing dragon fly.

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We then continued on to the Elephant Transit Home. Here we learned about the care of orphaned and abandoned baby elephants. The home provides them with food, shelter and medical care before they are released into the Udawalawe National Park. This was lots of fun. The elephants are in the Udawalawe National Park but come to be fed 4 times a day. They know when feeding is so arrive in time for the feeding.

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There was one elephant who had been segregated as it was not well. It was having a mud bath when we arrived.

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Slowly they allow the elephants in 3 or 4 at a time. They came running. You would have thought they hadn’t been fed for a week, but their last feed was only 3 hours prior.

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They know exactly where to go, and no sooner do they arrive at the feeding station their trunks go up and they suckle the tube. The milk is then poured into a big funnel.

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Once they have had their milk they continue grazing on grass. There were babies of all different sizes.

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After they had all been fed, they herded them up and sent them back to the National Park.

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The elephants all looked so healthy and happy, so it is nice to think they are being rehabilitated so they can return to the wild.

We then drove a further three hours to Yala National Park. Yala is the largest National Park in Sri Lanka and is most famous for its herds of elephant. It is also home to many other wild animals, including boars, buffalos, leopards, bears, dears and crocodiles. Hopefully tomorrow we will get to see most of these. It had been a long drive and we arrived just after dark.

6th Nov 2018

Today was safari day in Yala National Park. This morning we were up at 5am to do an early morning safari and then we did a late afternoon one too. We decided to spend some extra money and have a private safari for just the two of us. We enjoyed the time by ourselves and saw a lot of wildlife but unfortunately, we did not get to see a leopard.
The park scenery varied from thick lush green shrubs to rocky outcrops to water holes.

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When we arrived in the park, we were lucky enough to see two bull elephants eyeing each other off. You could see there was going to be trouble. You could hear bushes and trees cracking where they were trying to get to each other. They did end up having a bit of a confrontation and it spilled out onto the road.

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There were spotted deer everywhere. They were quite timid and hard to photograph. They did not hang around for long.

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We were surprised by how many crocodiles we saw in the park.

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There was wild boar everywhere.

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We even had them wandering through our hotel with their babies.

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By mid afternoon it had got quite hot. The water buffalo were cooling off.

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We took this small track and there was a water buffalo bathing in a deep hole on the road. We had to go around him as he had no intention of moving.

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We also saw a mongoose.

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A black-naped hare.

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A chameleon

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We also saw lots of bird life on the safari.

Peacocks and Hens

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Sri Lanka Junglefowl – which is their national bird

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White-bellied Sea Eagle

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Changeable Hawk Eagle

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Indian Pitta

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Malabar Pied Hornbill – We were lucky enough to see a male and female together. The female has the white ring around her eyes.

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Little Green Bee-eater

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Blue Tailed Bee-eater

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Parakeet

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Indian Pond Heron

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Greater Sand Plover

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Grey Heron

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Black Backed Robin

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White-throated Kingfisher

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In between safaris we had a walk around our hotel. It is called Cinnamon Wild.

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This was our bungalow.

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It is a lovely spot right by a lake with lots of bird life.

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Some of the birds were:
Spoonbills

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Spot-billed pelican

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Painted Stork

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In the middle of the lake is a small island.

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It had sun bathing crocodiles on it. We now understand why after dark they ask you to ring reception and get escorted to dinner. Although we are just outside the park there are still crocodiles, wild boar and elephants that roam by the hotel.

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It was almost dark when we returned, but the lake looked beautiful.

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7th Nov 2018

We went for breakfast and were lucky enough to see a Giant Squirrel. The staff had given it a piece of fruit.

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We then had one last opportunity to see the birdlife in the lake.

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We headed off at 8am today as we had a big drive along the coast and up to the other side of Sri Lanka.
We drove through Tissamaharama, also known by the name of Mahagama. In the ancient times it was founded by Prince Mahanaga, brother of King Devanampiyatissa in the third century BC. The settlement rose to prominence during the reign of King Kavantissa, father of King Dutugamunu.
There were quite a few dagobas.
This is Yatalaya Dagoba.

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There was a moat around the dagoba with elephants shaped with bricks.

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This was another one as we went through town.

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After 3 hours we had a longer stop at Mulkirigala Rock Temple. This cave temple contains Buddha figures surrounded by wall paintings depicting scenes from the life of Buddha. It is believed to have been constructed in the 3rd century. It is built on a 205m natural rock.

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There are over 500 steps and 3 levels to get to the top of the rock.
Level One

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Level Two

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Shane got a blessing

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We then continued up to Level Three.

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Half way up there was a small dagoba to the side of the path.

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There was a bigger dagoba at the top.

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We went a different way coming down and the steps were cut into the rock.

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On the way out, we couldn’t miss the big smiles on the faces of the children at the school. They were so happy, friendly and happy to talk with us. They all posed for a photo.

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Our next stop was Dikwella Wewurukannala Temple which is one of the most remarkable Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. The temple is dominated by the largest Buddha statue in the country, which stands at 50 metres high.

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We had lunch in Dikwella on the coast. The scenery was lovely, and it was nice to have a sea breeze to cool you down.

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We then visited the Hummanaya Blowhole. It is the second largest of the six large blowholes in the world, located at the top of a fissured cliff about 20m above sea level. It was difficult for the bus to get there so we took a tuk tuk (they call them three wheelers here).

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There were lots of school children at the blowhole and they were all shrieking whenever the spray came up. It was lovely to hear them so excited. You can see Shane in his blue t-shirt amongst their white school uniforms.

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Our last stop was to view the famous stilt fisherman at Welligama. A tradition kept alive by only 500 families, the fishermen balance two metres above the water on a cross bar tied to a vertical pole, planted underwater. With one hand, they hold the stilt and the other their fishing rod. A truly remarkable sight! What made it even more beautiful was arriving at sunset.

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We then arrived in Ahungalla. It was now 8pm so we had been travelling for 12 hours. It is a small coastal town located in the Galle district, Ahungalla is the perfect spot to relax and admire the sandy beaches. It was dark so we are yet to see them.

Posted by shaneandnicola 04:59 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

Part 1

28th Oct 2018

Today we headed to the airport via Beaus Pet Hotel where we dropped Mika off for her holiday. We checked in at the Cathay Pacific desk as we flew international from Adelaide and went Premium Economy. This time we didn’t get an upgrade like last time. Oh well you can't always get what you want. We were heading to Colombo via Hong Kong. As the plane taxied out the pilot welcomed us to the inaugural 1pm flight to Hong Kong. It used to be at 6am in the morning which meant an early start. Last time we had to leave home at 3am for this flight. After over 30 years of uneventful travel some of you have been following our last few blogs and read about all the bad luck we have had lately. Well yet again things didn’t go smoothly. We were meant to have a 50-minute layover in Hong Kong to get from our Adelaide flight to the Colombo flight. We were 20 minutes late arriving. As we disembarked there was a Cathay Pacific representative holding a sign for the Colombo flight, so we thought we were going to be whisked away to our next flight. But no, she was there to advise us that it was too late to get to the flight. She remained with us and took us to a counter to get a new flight to Colombo. To our surprise we had to go Hong Kong to Bangalore in India then change flights again to Sri Lanka. Instead of arriving around midnight we would now arrive around 5am. We were more worried about our bags than anything. They confirmed in Hong Kong that they had been diverted onto our new flight so this took some pressure off.

29th Oct 2018

Upon arrival in Bangalore just after midnight, we were again met by a representative, but this time from Sri Lanka airlines. They advised us that our bags had to be collected and put through again with Sri Lanka airlines. She told us that we did not need to be involved in this process. They would find the bags and do this for us. She needed our passports. So nervously we handed over our passports and waited for her to return. They found our bags and did return with our passports so that was a bonus. We had never travelled Sri Lankan airways so another experience we were not expecting. At 2.55am we boarded our flight for Sri Lanka. We had still only snoozed and were getting tired. We arrived in Colombo just before 5am. We had a smooth transition through immigration as we had already done all the paper work in Australia and had our ETA approval notice, no queues to get the right paperwork, like a lot of people that arrived. We then found our luggage which was again a bonus. It only took 15 minutes to arrive at our hotel at around 6am in Negombo. We had now been up for 25 hours as we had left home at 9.15 am Adelaide time. Negombo was once an important commercial trade centre, well known for offering the best cinnamon in the world. It was one of the first towns taken by the Portuguese, only to be captured by the Dutch in 1640 and then recaptured by the Portuguese some months later. The British eventually took control of the town in 1796. We went to bed for a couple of hours and set the alarm to go to breakfast.
This was the view from our hotel balcony when we awoke. All the hassles were well worth it.

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There were lots of traditional fishing boats out.

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Shane at breakfast. What a view to enjoy at breakfast.

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We wanted to stay awake, so we could get a good night’s sleep so we spent a relaxing day hanging around the hotel. We went for a walk along the beach.

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This is the hotel. Jetwing Sea Hotel. The staff are so friendly.

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We watched the fishermen bring in a big net on the beach. They took it out quite a way to sea and then slowly they pulled it back in.

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Their catch. One of the ladies we spoke with told us that this was not a very good catch.

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Shane in the pool cooling down. It was getting quite warm.

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30th Oct 2018

Before heading out of Negombo this morning we had a look around the area where the fish are dried. It was quite smelly.

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This was one of the fish markets.

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We then passed the big fishing fleet.

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The Dutch Canal in Negombo was used as the supply route in the times of the Dutch administration along with the Old Churches and fishing villages and is still being used today. It runs across the town and is hundred kilometres long. It was constructed by the Dutch people from Colombo in the south to Puttalam in the north.

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We then travelled five hours to Sigiriya. Once out in the countryside there were lots of rice paddies. Some were getting ready for planting and others had just been planted.

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We also went through a village that makes bricks.

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Some of the local shops

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We stopped half way for a break at this man-made lake.

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The ancient city of Sigiriya lies at the 180m summit of the granite peak known as the ‘Lion’s Rock’. It is apparently one of the most dramatic sites in Sri Lanka and it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. So, of course we were to visit the Lion Rock also known as the Rock Fortress. We are going to climb to the top. This would be done tomorrow but we got our first look at it on the way to the hotel.

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We settled into our next hotel which was the Sigiriya Hotel. We are spending 3 nights here and just venturing out each day. So, it’s nice not to have to move each night.
We had a wander around the hotel. Even from the hotel you can see the rock.

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There were lots of monkeys running around on the roof of our room.
These are toque macaques

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These are Grey face Langurs.

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There were also parrots in the trees.

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We relaxed and enjoyed a drink watching the monkeys.
Shane had a Sri Lankan Lion beer while I enjoyed a mocktail.

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31 Oct 2018

We had an early start today as we were heading for Lion Rock to make the big climb to the top. Nearly 200m high with 1,200 steps leading up to the top of the Rock Fortress the climb was very steep. OMG we will only ever do this once in our life but we both felt good when we finally made it to the top. It was built by King Kashyapa for his new capital. The rock fortress is also known as the ‘Lion Rock’ because a massive lion carved out of the rock once sat at the entrance to the palace. Today only the lion’s paws remain. This was a big complex. Upon arrival there was a long walk firstly across a moat.

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We could see the rock and it was quite misty as it had rained most of the night.

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We then walked through remaining ruins of the gardens.

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This is a natural boulder arch that they took advantage of when building the fortress.

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We looked up and this was the view of the rock.

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We continued our climb.

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We climbed up steep spiral stairs to see some frescoes. But we weren’t allowed to take photos of the frescos.

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We then walked along the Mirror Wall. Originally this wall was so highly polished that the king could see himself whilst he walked alongside it. It is made of brick masonry and covered in highly polished white plaster.

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We finally arrived at the lion’s paws.

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Once on the summit we saw the foundations of the Royal Palace built for King Kashyapa.

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Along with the Kings Bath

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It was a bit hazy but there were panoramic views of the town and the gardens.

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You can see where we walked to get to the rock.

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The rest of the ruins at the top.

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We then started heading back down. Part of the way down was the same way up. Once we hit the lions paws we headed back down a different way.

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This is the audience hall. They split the bolder in half. When one half fell over on its side they carved the top out for the audience hall.

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After this adventure we were soaked with sweat, so we headed back to the hotel for a shower and change of clothes. We then drove two hours to Polonnaruwa. We were really lucky as on the way we saw 2 spotted deer that ran across the road and also a wild elephant bathing in the lake.

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We also stopped to see this replica buddha statue.

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We visited the UNESCO World Heritage listed site of Polonnaruwa. This was the capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to the 13th centuries and was a thriving commercial and religious centre. In the 10th century the South Indian Chola dynasty conquered Sri Lanka. The Cholas chose Polonnaruwa as their capital and moved the capital from Anuradhapura. In the 13th century the city was fading and was abandoned. The capital moved to Colombo where it is today.
We first visited the museum which gave us a bit of an introduction to what we would see. It was pretty warm in there, so we didn’t spend too long in there. They had scale models of the buildings and temples showing how the capital would have looked back then.
We then stopped at the 800-year-old stone carving of the king who developed 3 man-made lakes into one large lake to assist with water problems during the dry months. It is about 25 square km. His name was King Parakkramabahu. He reigned between 1153-86.

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We then visited the main ruins of Polonnaruwa. Firstly the Royal Palace. Today only some of the walls are left.

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This is the King’s Audience Hall.

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It had various carved elephants around the walls.

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The stairs to the Audience Hall was lovely with lions guarding the entrance.

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and the King’s Bathing Pool. It didn’t look too inviting today.

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There were lots of toque macaques around the ruins. So, we couldn’t resist some more photos.

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We then headed to the Sacred Quadrangle. This had some beautiful and impressive ruins. This is The Vatadage, it is a round relic house. The outer terrace is 18m in diameter and has 4 entrances.

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This is the main entrance.

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There were also a lot of smaller temples and ruins in the quadrangle.

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Our last stop was to Gal Vihara, which is a magnificent group of rock temples consisting of four separate statues all cut from one length of granite; a meditating Buddha,

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a smaller Buddha said to be visiting heaven,

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a standing Buddha which is 7m tall

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and the reclining Buddha entering Nirvana, which is 14 metres long.

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We also saw a variety of other wild life today. We saw:
A couple of monitor lizards

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Palm squirrel

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Some Chameleons

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We then headed back to the hotel for Halloween celebrations.
They went to a lot of trouble at dinner. All the food had ghoulish titles. Here are some of the deserts.

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This was the cute towel art on our bed.

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1st Nov 2018

We were up at 5.45 this morning. This was not by choice. We were both woken by the monkeys having a party on the roof of our room. They were so noisy. After breakfast we drove two hours to Anuradhapura. It is one of Sri Lanka’s most ancient cities. The city’s greatest treasures are its dagobas which are domes enshrining sacred relics. It was first settled by Anuradha, a follower of Prince Vijaya the founder of the Sinhala race. Later, it was made the Capital by King Pandukabhaya at about 380 B.C.
As we headed towards Anuradhapura we could see the Ruvanveliseya Dagoba, dating back to the 2nd century BC. The dagoba is one of the world's tallest ancient monuments, standing at 103 metres and with a circumference of 290 metres. The original dagoba had been about 55 metres in height and was renovated by many kings. The dagoba was a ruin in the 19th century and after fundraising efforts it was renovated in the early 20th century.

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We then saw it closer.

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There are elephants all the way around it.

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We then visited several other ancient locations.
Jetavanaramaya dagoba which is 122 metres high. It was the world's tallest stupa and the third tallest structure in the world when it was built by King Mahasena of Anuradhapura (273–301). A part of a sash or belt tied by the Buddha is believed to be the relic that is enshrined here.

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There was a lot of decoration around it.

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One of the entrances.

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Kuttam Pokuna or the twin ponds is a monument of superior engineering, it was built for Buddhist monks at Abhayagiri Vihara for their daily baths. The ponds are from the period between the 8th and 10th centuries.

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Samadhi Buddha is a 2m tall Buddha statue, popularly known as the Samadhi statue. It is a masterpiece of Sinhalese sculpture from the 4th century.

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Abhayagiri Dagoba

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Isurumuniya Temple was built by King Devanampiyatissa. The temple is built partly into a cave with a pool in front and with a boulder forming the rear wall. It has carved stone sculptures.

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Beside the temple was a crack in the rocks housing bats.

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Moonstones serve as a doormat at ancient buildings of Sri Lanka. The stone carving on the semicircular doormat is given an interpretation that the ring of animals depicts the four states of birth, disease, ageing, and death. Going beyond these sorrows on your path of emancipation there is the creeper and leaves that symbolize the life force. When you surpass this craving, you reach the swan representing purification.

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Each of the animals.

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The stone carving on the steps was in immaculate condition.

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Dakkhina Stupa also called Dakkhina Tupa is a 2nd-century BC structure. This structure currently identified as a Buddhist stupa, but considered until the mid-1800s CE as Elara Sohona, the tomb of 2nd century BCE Tamil king Elara, who invaded Sri Lanka from the Chola Kingdom, in the Tamil country and ruled in Anurahapura.

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Thuparama dagoba is 20m in height and 60ft in diameter. It is one of the smallest ancient stupas which was built by King Devanampiya Tissa in the third century BC. It is believed to enshrine the collar bone relic of Buddha. By the seventh century, the stupa was renovated by King Aggabodhi the second in the 7th century. The monolithic pillars surrounding it once held a circular roof making the shrine a Vata Dage (Circular Relic House) which is characteristically a Sinhalese architectural feature. The roof doesn’t exist today. It is meant to be the first dagoba built in Sri Lanka.

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We visited the Bo Tree which is the most renowned Buddhist relic. It is said that Emperor Asoka’s daughter brought to Anuradhapura a branch of this tree, under which Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment. Planted over 2,250 years ago, it is the oldest surviving historical tree in the world. It was not what we expected as it was only one limb being held up by poles.

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We also stopped to have a look at a cannonball tree. It is named this due to the fruit looking like cannonballs.

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This is the flower, it was the size of your hand.

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Once again, we saw a bit of wildlife.

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Their buses are certainly colourful.

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We then headed back to Sigiriya. This afternoon we heard about the trouble in Colombo. The president has sacked the Prime Minister and there are demonstrations in the streets. One person has already been killed. We are nowhere near Colombo at present so are hoping things resolve themselves before we arrive in Colombo.
Once again, we had a lovely piece of towel art on the bed to brighten our day.

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2nd Nov 2018

We left Sigiriya this morning and our first stop was to do some retail therapy. We stopped to buy some t-shirts.
We then stopped at a wood carving factory.

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They had beautifully painted elephants.

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Shane couldn’t resist this piece of wood carving. It is a seat but looks like you are sitting down with your pants down.

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Then just down the road there was a batik factory. Once the pattern is traced onto the fabric, they start putting wax on the parts that they do not want to dye.

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We passed the Golden Temple which had a large gold buddha on the hill.

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We continued our drive another half an hour to view the Dambulla Rock Temple. There are 800 steps you need to walk up to get there.

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You could look out across the valley.

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Of course, there were lots of macaques around.

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Dating back to the 1st century BC, the Dambulla Rock Temple is made up of five caves that have been converted into shrine rooms containing around 150 Buddha statues and colourful frescoes.

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In the first cave we saw the 14m statue of Buddha cut out of the rock. At the Buddha’s feet is Ananda, the most loyal disciple, as well as other seated Buddhas nearby.

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The second cave is the largest, also known as the Cave of the Great Kings, where there are 16 standing and 40 seated statues of Buddha. The frescoes on the ceiling depict scenes from Buddha’s life and important events from the country’s history. Inside the cave is a spring created from the drips from the ceiling, which is said to have healing powers and is used in sacred rituals.

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The third cave was much smaller.

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We did visit the 4th and 5th caves but to us they were alike but were still impressive when you considered how old they were.
We then continued towards Kandy. We stopped at a fruit stand to have a coconut drink.

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We then stopped for lunch and a visit to a spice garden in Matale. Sri Lanka is famous for its spices, so we enjoyed walking around and seeing the spice garden where cinnamon, cardamom, pepper creepers and other spice trees were planted.

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Not only do they use the spices for cooking but also for herbal medicine. Shane had a 10-minute shoulder and neck massage and they used chilli which Shane said cooled him down, he was quite surprised.

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This is a large Hindu temple in Matale.

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We then arrived in Kandy. Kandy is situated 500m above sea level and is known for its culture and beauty. It is a sacred Buddhist city, famous for the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Dalada Maligawa. Each year the tooth relic is honoured in Esala Perahera, a religious parade with elephants, drummers and dancers performing in the streets.
Before heading to our hotel, we went and saw a cultural show.

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They even did some fire walking.

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After the show we had to board shuttle buses to get to our hotel on a hill. Our bus could not go up the small steep streets. We are staying at the Amaya Hills Hotel. We arrived in the dark, so it will be nice to have a look around in the morning.

Posted by shaneandnicola 20:11 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

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