Sri Lanka is famous for their 6 cultural World Heritage sites. The last several days we visited a couple of sites on the list. Our first stop of the day was Sigiriya — the Lion Rock.
When I first looked at the site, I thought about Uluru. Well, they are similar since both of them are giant natural rocks. The difference is the site in Sigiriya was human modified: they built palaces, digged swimming pools, and drew paintings on the wall.
The day we went there, it was very hot and humid. And to see the breath-taking frescos, we had to climb more than 1000 stairs. We were literally sweating like pigs. But it was good to know after all those years, I was still an energetic person.
And the frescos on the walls are just fabulous. Back then, there were no chemicals, so all the color used were natural. After centuries, the paintings were still colorful and vivid. Sigiriya used to be a palace of the king, and all the half naked ladies featured in the paintings were the king's cocubines. Some of the paintings were peeled of by monks who occupied the caves in the rock for meditation before and after the king. As the tour guide put it, "monks don't like naked ladies".
On our way back, we went to the Golden Temple, another World Heritage site. It was famous for caves with huge rock Buddha sculptures. And of course, it was on a hil. When we were in Sri Lanka, it was just several days before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year. A lot of people climbed up to the Temple to give offerings to the Buddhas. And I bought a Sari — Sri Lanka's traditional women clothes. It fited in quite well.
The Temple and the Buddhas were fantastic, but walking on rocks that had been baked under the sun for the whole day with my bare foot was something I would never learn to enjoy. I had to tip toe and hop in the shade to avoid getting burned, literally. Luckily when we came out from the site, it started to rain, just in time to save us from heat exhaustion. So, if you are going to Sri Lanka, make sure you bring socks. In places that are not so strict with the bare foot rule, socks can make you feel much better and save you a lot of energy. And girls need to cover their legs to get in the temples, so no mini skirts or shorts.
We had a relatively relaxing day compared to Day 4. We went to Polonnaruwa, the ancient city to see the ruins. Even though they were ruins, they blew our mind with their beautiful designs and grand structures.
A picture is worth a thousand of words.
We saw some students doing research projects in the site. And some of them came to us, nervously said "hello" and ran away. How cute was that!
Just beside the site of Polonnaruwa, there was a beautiful lake, so serene that it felt like heaven.
On the way back to hotel, we saw a wild elephant on the side of the road. "You don't get to see them all the time," said the driver. I felt so lucky!
Last day in Sri Lanka. All I could think of were hot showers and non curry food back in Melbourne, in my mind I yelled "yayyyyyy" . But at the same time, I felt like I was unwilling to part, so I said "awwwww".
Before we finally departed to the airport, we went to our last stop of this trip, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. The Orphanage was established in 1975 for the sake of orphaned baby elephants. Now after decades of development, the Orphanage had become one of the most well known elephant orphanages in the world.
Everyday in the morning and afternoon, the elephants would go for baths in the nearby Maha Oya river. And we, travellers, can have our lunch while watching elephant bathing. It was such a delight to see some elephants pooping and peeing in the river, while others bathing and drinking. Well, that is the cycle of nature.
Well, so much for my trip to Sri Lanka. It was interesting and unforgettable. If someday you decide to go for a trip there, make sure you bring some medicine for diarrhea in case the curry cuisine does not agree with you. Apart from that, have fun!!
Story by Sherry Chen
Photo by Sherry Chen and Vivienne Zhou