Climbing Sigiriya Rock & visiting the spice garden

Trip Start Feb 23, 2008
Trip End Jun 05, 2008

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Friday, February 29, 2008

Today was a busy day ... we were in the bus at 5.45am to drive to Sigiriya.   It was pouring rain and we were going to attempt to climb Sigiriya Rock - about 200m high.   As I will probably never come back here i was definitely going to attempt to climb it - rain hail fog or shine.  
We set off along the path and started climbing the stairs - the rock was partially covered in mist and we really couldn't see all that much...  At the top of the stairs there is the entrance which leads to the mirror wall.  This is a metal path that clings to the side of the rock -- you are protected by a huge wall though... on the old path you pretty much had to cling to the side but things have improved.!   Turning the corner we came across the Lions Paws and saw the stairs that we were going to climb.    In the old days you would walk through the Lions Paws and into the Lions mouth to ascend the rock - the mouth had long since gone but the paws remain.    Unesco has build some stairs and platforms along the rock but it was a pretty precarious climb - luckily there was a handrail.!  At the top there is the supposed ruins of the Kings Palace - historians aren't too sure about this but whatever the outcome what a Palace with a view it would have been.!    It was totally fogged out for the first 30mins we were up there but the gods were kind and it cleared.   The views were magnificent!   There was a huge pool built - not sure if it was used for pleasure of storage.   There was even a chair that had been carved -- apparently so he and his harem could watch the sunset... haha...
The climb down was definitely more scary than going up... a lot of the stairs has rusted and when you step on them you are just hoping they will hold.   
Back at the mirror wall we climbed a spiral set of stairs to view some frescoes - they were of women who look like they had had breast implants..  A local guy was sitting up here and for a small tip we could climb over into the restricted bit to see a few more - this was a little freaky as it was just wooden boards attached to the side of the rock not the solid metal we were sanding on earlier...!   A quick photo we were out of there...
We climbed all the way down (passing a heap of tourists heading up - our 6am climb was an excellent idea as the 5 of us were the only ones up there).   We saw the caves that the monks lived in and also Cobra rock ... because it looks like a cobra!   Back at the hotel we had a quick swim and a shower then we were on our way to the spice garden to see how they grow spices, herbs and fruits.    Our driver was pretty maniac and I took this great video of him overtaking on a blind corner when all of a sudden a car comes the other way.. .we quickly put on the brakes and pulled back in...  We did stop for a mid morning snack of corn on the cob on the side of the road..
Our tour around LuckGrove spice garden was great, we saw all the usual cinnamon, aloe vera etc etc and we saw a cocaine tree...The most interesting fact we found out is that the shell of a nutmeg contains mace...   We stopped under a shelter where some workers gave us a 10min massage..A quick shop later we stopped in Matale for lunch then made our way in the pouring rain to Kandy.. the traffic here was pretty bad. 
We set up camp at our new hotel complete with above ground below ground pool and a bunch of entertaining monkeys out the back.    We pre-ordered our dinner and soon set off down the road to watch some Kandy dancers perform local style - complete with drums, bells, hoops, spinning plates and back-flipping men.   After you can go outside and watch the men fire walk.   We left pretty quickly to go see the Tooth Relic Temple (as 1/2 the crowds from the dancing would eventually go there) & it was lucky we did.   We flew down the entrance, flew through the first body pat down, the second body pat, took off our shoes and entered.   We rushed upstairs and quickly got in the line - the sound of beating drums surrounding us.   We quickly bought a floral arrangement as a donation and moved through the line.   Offering our flowers you quickly get a look at the dagoba that apparently contains the tooth of Buddha - it was rescued by someone in the ashes of his cremation.   It traveled extensively before coming to rest here.   You only get a 10-15 sec look at the dagoba before you are ushered along.   We flew around to see the crystal Buddha then we were able to wander around at our leisure. 
The temple is a beautiful structure over 250 yrs old.   There is a small hall where the story of the tooth relic is told which is excellent.   You can also go into an octagonal room that contains hundreds of monks manuscripts... We walked around for a little before leaving in the rain to go back to the hotel for dinner... i had a big veggie chop suey then headed to bed about 9 -- an exhausting day!
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