The cave temples were hard to photograph but really amazing! After all the other excitement of the day made it there just in time to get in and after watch the sun set from the top.
I biked to Kandalama Wewa from Sigiriya cottage. The free bike rental from the hotel was much too small. Mid ride the chain also popped off but a nice farmer waiting the rain out with his son helped wedge the chain the rest of the way off so I could get it back on. Throughout the trip people starred at the odd soaking wet white girl on an undersized bicycle - most also jovially waived and said hello! with many kids also yelling out “what’s your name?!” The slim minority had a flirtatious quality, it was mostly all curiosity. Perhaps my favorite was the girl who reached way out to give me a high five as I rode by. One group vehemently tried to beckon me to stop at their tiny shop but then their dog angrily chased me down the road thwarting their already hopeless cause - much to the amusement of another group across the way. In one open building their was drumming and dancing - likely for the new year.
The reservoir itself probably would’ve been more attractive on a clearer day but there was still a huge swarm of various birds. I spotted what I think was a huge water moniter (or small crocodile) in the run off pond and peered curiously under the bridge at it. A tuk tuk pulled over and said “danger - don’t go that way - danger!” I couldn’t elicit whether he was talking about the lizard/crocodile infested pond, the slippery rocks leading too it, or something else I actually was unaware off - but it seemed best to heed his advice and go no further. The reservoir itself seemed to be safe though. As I headed back a truck with dozens people crammed in the back pulled up and piled out for some swimming. All in all an excellent experience.
I went out a second time for a walk once the rain had stopped and saw a nearby lake with a view of Sigiriya and a little lake boat perhaps our fishing? Also went to one of the national handcrafts villages and though it was mostly shut down for the holiday there were still some nice paintings and carvings to be seen.
In the yard at Sigiriya cottage there were some bright blue colored White-throated Kingfishers nesting. I’d seen them before in Colombo but had a better view here, though still couldn’t capture them as well as this photographer.
“Hotel” here confusingly just means place to eat - we had delicious Kuttu and milkshakes. An elephant trucked past us after a bath just down the road.
Occupying 32 acre blocks it’s not really a single place… Early on a tuk tuk brought me to an unfamiliar entrance and I made him drive around for quite some time looking for something I recognized. I recently learned that the number on the chart (or “Bed head ticket”) refers what number admission it is for the year… it’s in the 62,000s in 3.5 months!
Earlier today the registrars took me with them to a buddhist temple within the complex. A monk dipped leaves into oil and brushed it over each of our heads to bring us good fortune in the new year. Then we ate tasty (coconut) milk rice and tea.
After the park we walked to this temple - had been recommended by several people. There were carvings, pantings, silverware, pots, tapestries, idols and elephant tusks stuffed into every corner!