Highlights: Polonnaruwa Ruins, Dambulla Rock Temple, Kayanwala village (including canoe trip), and Herbs and Spices Garden (including back massage)
Today was an epic adventure with multiple activities to make up for those that were postponed yesterday. In many ways I was lucky with yesterday’s postponements as one of those activities I would have missed since I was meeting up with the group midday. To make things easier today I put to good use my recently purchased sarong, yes I’ve finally gone native.
We started off with the Polonnaruwa Ruins a 11th century city which is home the Royal Palace and Gal Vihara, a monument with four images of Buddha carved out of rock. Apparently the Royal Palace was built at 7 stories height which if you think of it is a huge accomplishment for the times. Another interesting point was that there were also Hindu artefacts as well given our Southern India occupied that site at one point.
There were also a lot of monkeys in the area, playing, eating and fighting.
A visit to a local village was up next as we headed to Kayanwala village. We changed from our luxury bus to the back of utes to get closer to the village. Near the village we changed again onto canoes as we were paddled into the middle of a lotus field on the lake. The paddlers of our canoe made us all hats out of the lotus plant and gave the women lotus flowers. Very peaceful floating in a sea of lotus flowers.
We had a more traditional lunch at the village. Our hosts made the entire lunch from produce on their farm including the fish, coconut bread, rice, bananas, and pineapple. The farm is totally sustained by itself and they use everything from the land for their needs including building of the house from local clay.
We then headed for the Dambulla Rock Temple which I briefly saw yesterday as initially this was the point I was supposed to meet the group. At the base is a Golden Temple built in the last 20 years and which several monkeys like playing around. The real reason to come to Dambulla however is the caves with date back to the 1st
Century BC. This meant another hike up a hill as Buddhists put everything as high as they can. At the top there are 5 caves
containing many statues of Buddha.
Our last activity for the day was stopping off at Matele at the Luckgrove Spices, Herbs and Indigenous Medicine Garden. The owner took us though the garden pointing out the different plants and what they do. We got a demonstration of a plant that’s oil removes hair from your leg with no pain or heat whatsoever. I could imagine a big market for this product with some women I know. At the conclusion trainee students gave us all massages, everything received a head massage and you could pick another area for work, a lot of people in the group selected legs given all the hill hiking I went for my back. The students used a special oil which appeared to work wonders, hopefully the effects last a few days.
On arrival into Kandy I suddenly realised it’s a lot small than I had imagined. We had to change from our bus to a smaller shuttle bus to access our hotel which is on a hill overlooking the city. The hotel is very upscale. Tomorrow’s mission is laundry followed by locating an ATM to strengthen my low rupee reserve.