Day 3, Friday 6 March
The night wasn’t uncomfortable and I slept reasonably well. However, another issue soon arises. The water for a shower is hardly luke warm. Even by the standards of Yangoon and Istanbul where we found ourselves in a congested inner city area, the room standard at Metro Port City Hotel is not great for the price. Another issue is that the Sri Lanka SIM card I purchased is not working. However, now we can look forward to the planned travels for today as our driver arrives to pick us up.
Leaving Metro Post City Hotel at around 9.30am there are a few attractions nearby. By nightfall we will be well away from here so it makes sense to visit these now as we may not have the chance when we return to the city. The first is the Red Mosque where we need only stop to take photos. Similarly we stop briefly at the old Colonial Cargill (Ceylon) Building now home to banks, shops and offices. We next arrive at Beira Lake where there is a Buddhist temple, Seema Malakaya. However the most important Buddhist temple complex is close by.
Arriving at the Gangaramaya Temple Temple we are introduced to how things work here as there is a fee to pay of 400 rupees. There will be no concessions for Katoon as there is in Thailand. Having said that, when we enter the complex, there’s an awful lot to take in here with its origins steeped in pre-history. We soon realise that it functions in a number of ways e.g. as a religious centre of learning, as a museum of countless artifacts and as a centre for performing ceremonies and investitures. All these I try to record with videos and photos. The best part of an hour is spent here then after rejecting other options for the time being, we head north.
Obviously around the city, the roads are really busy; the most popular transport the tuk tuk creating mobile chicanes at every turn. Out of the city the roads are still busy. Rather than have small villages evenly spaced, humanity has seemed to want to locate near the roads. I guess that’s something to do with the lack having the means to own a vehicle. When the roads do open out to reveal more natural surroundings, there are coconut, banana and rubber trees but also the natural tropical forest. The scene in places is the same as in Thailand but the roads here are not nearly so wide or well maintained and certainly used more. One obvious absence are the excellent filling stations I’m used to with all the facilities for travelers. In short supply too are suitable roadside restaurants; most that appear offer only Sri Lankan buffet food. When the driver does find one, it’s closed for renovation but we will soon discover what a Sri Lankan buffet is all about and whether we can put up with eating curried fish or chicken with dal and sambul.
After more than 4 hours out from Colombo, we arrive at Villa Lorenta around 3.30pm. Having booked the first four nights in Sri Lanka, this is for nights 3 & 4. The arrangement is that these nights were obviously not included in the package price. Villa Lorenta is within walking distance of the town of Anuradhapura, a city in the North Central region of Sri Lanka. I have to admit that it’s a fair improvement on the previous two nights. Our hosts at Villa Lorenta are really helpful and the room spacious with a fridge. I would however, prefer more workspace for my netbook. Then there is also an issue with the wifi connection. As we’re very close to the router, this issue is obviously down to the service provider. At this point we don’t need the driver and rest up for an hour or two.
Just before dark we head out to investigate our new surroundings, find the peaceful Nuwara Wewa Lake nearby, then walk along one of the main streets to look for food. Anuradaphura is a busy little town but not at all as it was in the port area of Colombo. With few options to eat anything more than local food we find ourselves in a local shop preparing dosa, a type of pancake. It comes with a dal and sauce and is a type of finger food. However, we believe that eating food without utensils is a bit crude. Katoon just picks at hers while I simply tolerate the sauce running everywhere. It’s different but I guess we won’t be repeating it. Finally we find a grocery store and bring something back to the room. Now I can only imagine what tomorrow will bring as we find ourselves in an area of great historic importance.