The costly cultural triangle
Trip Start Jan 16, 2012
31Trip End Jun 07, 2012
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13th - visited Sigiriya 'Lion Rock', the no.1 attraction in Sri Lanka, according to all the guides. After paying the (extortionate) entrance fee of $30 (US) EACH, we made our way through the garden, the oldest in Sri Lanka and began our climb of the rock. This climb turned into something of an ordeal, as we made the decision of visiting in the heat of the day, with the sun blaring down on us, and reflecting back off the rock we were climbing, it felt like we were being roasted alive (or should I say boiled, due to the amount we were sweating?!) Nevertheless, it proved an incredible experience, including some stunning views during the ascent; there were also several old but perfectly preserved caves with extensive wall murals, some giant lions paws carved into the rock (see attached photos) and the ruins of the old palace at the very summit
14th - we decided to make the arduous journey (5 minute walk) to Dambulla cave temples. On arrival we were greeted by an entranceway described by the guide as 'kitsch'; on closer examination 'hideous' seemed more appropriate! Despite the rather Disney-esque entrance (see pictures), the caves themselves proved phenomenal; all temples had been carved around the hundreds of Buddha's which littered each, and the murals which covered every surface in the caves, from floor to ceiling were painted on uneven rock, showing an incredible level of craftsmanship. In addition to the caves themselves, we had some great views of the surrounding countryside, and some not-so-great views of scraggy dogs and monkeys which had literally scratched every inch of fur from their skin. If there was one thing we could change about Sri Lanka (other than their obscenely high entrance fees and constant staring) it would be the way they treat their animals; no where in SE Asia have we seen them treated so appallingly.
15th-16th - the bus journey from Dambulla to Negombo, passed without event (unusually)! We spent our time in Negombo shopping (found some great leather bags, hand stitched, for very low prices - 3 for £40), eating (at a nice little Swiss restaurant which did excellent wiener schnitzel), reading and sleeping.