Sri Lanka: To Sigiriya and back [YQrtw Day 5 Apr 12]

[Heat stroke on Friday meant more sleep and no posts. But here it is, a day late.]

My hostel lady recommend that I visit Sigiriya on Friday since the weekend was the New Year holiday when buses are not as frequent.

I woke up at 6:00 am for my tuk tuk. It only came at about 7:00 am and charged me an extra 100 rupees (~S$1.00) as he came because of hostel lady’s call. It’s pretty ironic since I could have caught any other tuk tuk during that time.

Anyway! At the bus station, I was pointed to a general location at the upper right corner for the bus to Sigiriya. The conductor for another bus said the Sigiriya bus leaves at 7:30 am and pointed in the general direction of a roofed building.

So I waited and waited. Finally, a man came up and asked if I was heading to Sigiriya. He guided me to the right bus.

On the bus, a family of four’s two young girls giggled at me and pointed me to their dad. Later at Dambulla station, the father came over and talked about the Temple of Tooth and his family (wife’s from Sigiriya while he’s from Kandy). He also gave me an ice cream. Thanks kind Kandyan man!

Ice cream from kind Kandyan father
Ice cream from kind Kandyan father

The bus was quite empty when we started our journey. However, it got pretty crowded soon.

It took about 3 hours for me to get to Sigiriya. The conductor told me to hop off at the unpaved road leading to the rock castle. Unfortunately, that was the exit and I had to trek for about 10 minutes to the ticket counter.

There was a small stream by the road where I washed my feet. The stream turned out to feed into the moat. How cool is that.

Near the gates, a man asked if I was going to climb the rock. I ignored him because he felt like a tout. Instead, I asked the security lady where to buy the tickets. She pointed to somewhere further down. As I walked to the ticket area, the man said: “You have to buy your ticket first.” Hello sir, that is just what I’m doing.

In case the tout was following me, I headed to the public toilet. Outside the ladies, there were two men lurking. That’s not good news.

Turns out, the man was holding some tissue to try to scam people into paying him for his “service”. I used my own supply instead and was indignant when he dared hold out his palm–with a 50 rupee note on top.

The ticket for Sigiriya is slightly more expensive compared with Anuradhapura. US$30 but it’s worth 10 times better than Anuradhapura.

The walk to the castle on the rock is gruelling, especially in the heat. I ended up with heat stroke later in the day.

Sights of Sigiriya
Sights of Sigiriya

A quick summary of The Rock. Cool rock. Not so cool weather. Very few left of half-naked-half-cloud-clad fairies (used to be 500 but were vandalized). View from top of rock amazing. Going up and down not so great.

Stairs of Sigiriya
Stairs of Sigiriya

After the visit to The Rock, I haggled a tuk tuk ride to Dambulla (from 300 to 150 rupees). At Dambulla, everyone gawked at the Chinese tourist (that’s me!). Brave ones come up and suggest a tuk tuk ride to Dambulla (that would be crazy money, no thank you).

The bus to Dambulla came. I gave 100 rupees to the conductor who didn’t give me any change back. (Hey! That ride should be less than 30 rupees.) Maybe that’s the universe’s way of getting me to pay the difference of my tuk-tuk haggling.

At Dambulla, I ate a meal of rice and curry (featured on Food Friday!) along with a malt milk tea (tea with Horlicks).

After lunch, it was time for the bus. The sun was crazy hot but I had to stand by the road for the buses that head to Kandy. An air-conditioned bus zipped past. A bus packed to the brim with people stopped. I didn’t want to be squeezed like a sardine so I waited.

The guy who pointed me to the site to wait for Kandy-bound bus told me that all buses will be packed as it’s the new year. I sucked it up and boarded the next Kandy bus.

Luckily, I had a standing space right in front of the front row. I stood there, holding on to the railings for one and a half hour, all the while trying not to fall on the passenger.

Nearer to Kandy, a lady told me to sit at the seat which she “reserved”. I demurred but she insisted. She dropped off a few stops afterwards and I am forever grateful.

However the passenger next to me thought the area around my hip bone was an elbow rest and decided to put his elbow there for the entire trip. This wasn’t as bad as having someone’s crotch on my shoulder during my ride to Mihintale.

The bus finally rolled into Kandy at about 7:00pm. I caught a 200 rupee tuk-tuk (I seem to remember things involving money) back to the hostel.

I didn’t have an appetite as my head was throbbing from the heat. After a few tumblers of tea, I went to bed at 8:30pm.

[Summary: Went to Sigiriya. Ate first pain killer of the trip.]

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