Ancient cities, elephants & sneaking into temples

Trip Start Jun 18, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Friday, November 9, 2007

Ancient Cities
With only a limited time in sri lanka we decided to get moving ASAP so after a huge breakfast of curries, bread and tea (of course) that came to about $1.50 we were off to see some temples.

Being cheap we decided to not hire a driver (like everyone seems to be doing) and instead taking public transport. After all where we were going was only 70kms and cost both of us a $1.

Well after a nail biting 3 hours!! We made it to Sigaraya - in essence it is Sri Lankas version of Ayres Rock - that is, a temple complex on a huge rock. To be honest it looked amazing but then we found out it would cost us $22 EACH to get in. While we had an idea of this cost we were hoping that the book was mistaken - not so. More so locals get in for free!! After pleading with the ticket person and mentioning that this was the same price as a DAY at Angkor Wat he refused to budge. So it was decided that only matt would go.

To be honest it was great, wonderful views and some amazing frescoes BUT $22 worth it was not especially when I had climbed it and came back in 1.5 hours.

We hoped on the local bus back to Kandy, but on our way we decided to stop at Dumbulla which had some caves with Buddha's and frescos - well you wouldn't believe about it but the tourism board decided to double its price for whities from $5 (still a rip off) to $10!!!

At that moment I almost chocked on my curry. Again the locals got into it for free.

Well Nic was sent in to see it and get some pics after being shown by me how to use the camera in low light. After coming back it was obvious that Nic would never win any awards for photography :) but she said they were nice.

After spending most of our days budget on temples we had a quiet night and went to bed       
The Elephant
The next day was my birthday and what better way to celebrate ones birthday than go to an elephant orphanage. So we once again set of on the public bus and got there in time to see the elephants get fed and walked to the local river for a cooling bath. It was pretty cool; nic especially liked the baby elephants when they were getting fed. Of interest was one of the elephants had decided to step on a mine a while back and therefore half of his leg was gone. 'Stumpy' as we called termed him was nevertheless an adventures little fellow and was differently the center of attention when he started 'hopping' around.   
The last thing that happened during our stay was that while walking towards the river with all the elephants down the main street (about 50ish) we passed a small kid who had a whicker basket what kept on saying 'picture Sir'. After saying no thanks he popped the lid of the basket and up jumped this huge frigging cobra which the kid then 'whacked' on the head to calm it down, Nic almost fainted.
As it was my birthday we decided a little celebration was in order so we headed off to the local pub to have some beer - to be honest, the lankans know how to make a decent drop and the view over kandy lake was wonderful. 

The tooth temple issue
The most famous thing in Kandy is a temple called the 'temple of the sacred tooth', as it contains 'the tooth of the buddha'. The Lankans are crazy for this temple and music, drumming and screams of religious ecstasy can be heard from its high walls all day.
It is so famous those crazy tamil tigers decided to pull atruck up next to the temple a few years ago and blow it up - sorta like they do in Iraq. Some of the temple was blown up, it has since been rebuilt and no it looks like a fortress with armed gurads everywhere, checkpoints and heaps of metal detectors. So of course we had to get in and see the 'tooth'.
Again those crafty folks at the tourism board were aware of the temples popularity with whities so decided to slap a $5 fee on us getting in. HAHA HA not likely we said. We had heard from one of the tuk-tuk drivers that if you went to the early punju (celebration) at 6.00am, the ticket man wouldn't be there and you could get in for free - Score!!
So we were up early on our last day in Kandy and quickly made our way to the temple, going through TWO body frisks and metal detectors before we even got into the temple complex.
I can tell you what there is nothing like trying to get into somewhere for free - the adrenaline was certainly pumping and lucky for us the ticket booth was empty so we harried pass. We started lining up with the locals and proceeded to the tooth. Well it certainly looked impressive but as we only got about a 5sec look at it before being told to move on we really can't commit anymore than that. What a joke, moreso that at any other time it would have cost more than $10. We got the hell out of there before a guard figured out we hadn't of paid. What was funny though was that several people made the comment that we 'had got in for free' - this was followed by an all knowing smile. Obviously the locals weren't dumb as to why this tourists were up at 6.00am.          ;

The bloody Indian Visa Escapade
After this we waited for the 'calm' Indian consulate to open so we could pop in and drop off our visa. Well we got there when it opened put we certainly weren't going to just drop it off. Unless all the Lankans before us dropped dead. Not to mention there visa cost $5 and was ready the same day. So after three hours and asking very nicely for the visa to be ready by Friday as our flight was going on Saturday we got our bags and headed to tea country.        &nbs p;
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