Wishing Myself Away...at the Test Match

Trip Start Nov 16, 2007
Trip End Dec 15, 2007

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Where I stayed
Randiya Hotel

Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Monday, December 10, 2007

Back home in London, I can't say I ever give too much consideration about the weather, but here in Sri Lanka, that first sleepy-eyed peak through the curtains is absolutely critical to the day's plan.  Based in Giritale overnight, we were right on the cusp of the north-eastern region that is now coming into monsoon season, so rather unsurprisingly the early conditions were once again overcast and threatening rain.  Sigiriya would have to wait again as I firmly pinned my hopes on the long-distance weather forecast (how foolish and desperate!).
I decided to tour Anuradhapura on the Monday (10/12), and await better weather, so Karu and I had another low-key day and a reasonably long drive.
The first of two stops was at the village of Aukana, some 30km northwest of Dambulla, and home to a magnificent 12m high standing Buddha.  The statue has become one of the defining symbols of Sri Lankan Buddhism, and full scale copies can be found all over the country.  Built in around the nineth century, the statue is in the unusual (for Sri Lanka) asisa mundra, the blessing position, with the right hand turned sideways to the viewer, as though on the point of delivering a karate chop.
The second (and far longer stop) was Mihintale, 12km east of Anuradhapura, and famous as the place where Buddhismwas introduced to Sri Lanka in 247 BC.  Although modern Mihintale is little more than a large village, it remains an important pilgrimage site, especially during Poson Poya (June), which commemorates the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka, during which thousands of white-robed pilgrims descend on the place.
The ruins and dagobas at Mihintale are relatively ordinary compared to those at Anuradhapura, but the setting - with rocky hills linked by beautiful old flights of stone steps shaded by frangipani trees - is gorgeous.
I finally arrived at the Randiya hotel in Anuradhapura just in time to watch the last session of the first day's play in the second Test match played in Colombo.  From the comfort of being 167-1 at the tea interval, I sat and watched four wickets fall in quick succession, leaving England on 258-5 at close of play, and Sri Lanka marginally ahead on balance.  Listening to the Barmy Army cheering on the lads, I couldn't help but wish I was there with them, and wondered why I'd made the decision to wander around some "poxy" ruins all day (- the clatter of wickets, and a couple of beers, briefly brought about a certain negativity to my day's cultural option!).
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