When Hornets Attack!

Trip Start May 11, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Monday, March 23, 2009

     Sri Lanka has this area called the cultural triangle.  Within this area there are 3 main sites that most people visit.  The only problem is that these sites are not that interesting for the 55 U.S. dollars they charge!  So instead of paying that outrageous price I decided to poll other tourist to see which was the best.  The clear winner was Sigiriya.
      For some reason I thought there would be a town around Sigiriya (forgot to do my homework again)  but instead there were only 3 guest houses smack dab in the middle of a jungle.  I had shown up with barely any money thinking I would get more in Sigiriya.  The entrance fee was 25 bucks so I had to catch a bus (the next day) at 5 a.m. to the nearest town to get money.  DOE!   The guest house owners told me not to wander in the jungle at night because wild elephants had killed some tourist a month before!  After getting money and defending my breakfast from monkeys (cheeky buggers) I set out to check out Sigiriya.

    From the bottom Sigiriya is quite impressive.  It looks like a massive rock fortress with the remains of a castle on top.  The Sigiriya rock is a hardened magma plug  from an extinct and long-eroded volcano. It stands high above the surrounding plain, visible for miles in all directions. Most people think it was a monastery while a few others think it was a fortress.
      I got there early and was once again surrounded by hundreds of Sri Lankan school kids on a field trip.  I scampered up the the stairs, checked out the historic wall frescos, snapped a picture by the lions paws and worked my way to the top.  I was really not that impressed.... yeah it was kinda cool but 25 bucks cool?....am I getting jaded from seeing to many sites?   Well at least I checked it out......
     After getting to the bottom of the lions paws (which is only 10 percent of the way down)  Another huge group of  school kids started to climb the stairs.  Since it was ragingly hot I decided to take a rest in the shade.   One thing that I failed to mention before was the huge wasp nest I saw on the way up.   There were even random signs that said to keep quiet so as not to anger the wasp.  I had thought this was odd but had paid it no attention.  As I was resting in the shade watching the kids ascend the stairs a loud shriek arose from the group.   Suddenly hundreds of people were running past me looking into the sky.  I thought it was going to rain since it was monsoon season and I had seen people react similarly before.   Then I looked at the stairs and saw the entire group of kids throwing themselves down the stairs as fast as possible.  I started to move down the mountain thinking this was bit extreme for rain.  One of the guides ran past me and shouted hornets!    People were literally running for their lives.   I was not scared but since everyone else was freaking out I high tailed down the mountains as fast as I could.  Behind me I heard the loud angry buzzing and screams of pain as people were repeatedly stung.   I ended up running with a local guide and a European couple.  The guide had hornets under his shirt so he ripped it off while furiously smacking himself with a tree branch.   We ran and ran but the hornets kept coming!  The girl could not keep up and was getting tagged left and right!  She was screaming and crying while her boyfriend ran along side me.  He was confused because he wanted to run but he wanted to help her too (but what could he do?)  At one point I took a wrong turn that led into a dead end.  I then had to run back onto the correct path.  To do this I had to run into the edge of the swarm and that's when the hornets started to crawl all over me.  I had a bunch in my hair and some stuck to my shirt.  I kept running, smacking and waiting for the stings.  The whole experience was surreal because of the mass pandemonium I was witnessing.  Screams of pain, shirtless people running full throttle while the black cloud of angry hornets followed was freaking mental!   In the end I made it down the mountain in record time with not a sting on me!  What a rush!  That experience made the whole trip worth it!  An hour later ambulances arrived and people were rushed to hospitals.  I checked the news later to find that no one had died but 2 years ago the same thing had happened with a couple of fatalities.   I cant believe I did not get stung!
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