04.25.2017 - 04.27.2017 98 °F
25 April 2017
No reason to get up really early, buses to Anuradhapura are frequent. Breakfast again is awesome. (The breakfasts on this trip have been so substantial that we rarely have a desire for lunch.) This morning it's hoppers, egg hoppers, fresh fruit...a good way to start the day.
Sisira arranged for Dilan to take us to the bus station for the same price as a tuk tuk and with our bags, it's just easier. There was a local bus waiting. We weren't sure whether to take that or wait for the A/C bus BUT there were seats available on this bus and the A/C bus wouldn't arrive for another hour...and the trip is only 90 minutes. Seemed like the thing to do and it really worked out well. It's beginning to look like the holidays are over and people are returning to schools and their jobs. Much less traffic on the roads.
We made it into Anuradhapura right on schedule. Of course, as always, tuk tuks are waiting and a tall, handsome man approached us - asked us where we were staying. Of course, he knew where it was - 350Rp ($2.50) and we were off.
Driving away from the city center, we turned onto a dirt road, traveling slowly over the rarely used railroad tracks and continuing around a corner onto another dirt road, we arrived at Andorra Tourist Rest. We're greeted by "J" the owner and shown to our rooms. J is a quiet guy who runs the guesthouse with his Mom as the cook. Our rooms are nice with a rice field view. Winter rains never came to this region this year and the rice fields are dry and brown. Many people are making offerings with hopes for a better rainy season.
Again, it's hot here...hope you're not sick of hearing that but really...it's hot. Tropical, humid heat!!! We hang at the hotel for a bit and later in the afternoon decided to walk around and see what's close by. Just down the road is a hotel/restaurant/bar....???Bar?? It's really not all about alcohol but with the heat, a cold beer is just really refreshing. We walk down the palm tree shaded driveway past what looks like a hotel. From the outside - we're not really sure it's open. But Brenda walks up the front steps of the Leoni Hotel and finds a gentleman who appears to work there. "Open?"..."yes!".."Do you have cold beer?"...."yes!".....YES!!!
We sat on their back patio and enjoyed our freshing Lion Beers.
The one thing here that we find odd is that dinner is served at 730pm. Everyplace else in Sri Lanka they've served us at 6pm-630pm. If their intention is to make sure we're hungry - they're succeeding. Dinner back at our guest is house (Rice and Curry) is very good and homemade by J's Mom.
What to do tomorrow?? Our decision: to see the ancient sites that Anuradhapura is famous for. J arranged for a tour with the tuk tuk driver from yesterday (his name is Wasa and they are friends). The tour will be about four hours - 2500Rp.
26 April 2017
Woke up early but breakfast wasn't until 0730 so I tried to be productive.
One thing that I have been trying to do is secure our ferry tickets for Karimunjawa for later in the trip. After our Orangutan trip in Kalimantan, we'll be heading there (island off of Java) for some beach time. We need to get the tickets ASAP and are being assisted by our guesthouse owner on the island. BUT...to do this they use "Transferwise" similar to PayPal. There have been some minor difficulties and some emails back and forth, hopefully with the information I've sent out this morning - all will be resolved.
Wasa picked us up about 0830 and we were off to see the ancient temples and sites. Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka (from 4th Century BC) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anuradhapura
Price for tickets to the sites are $25USD. Sometimes there are "deals" to be had and Wasa made sure that we got the best "deal" possible.
Four hours was just about right - any more we might have literally melted.
Our guesthouse doesn't serve lunch but Leoni does. It was ok but again (sorry) the beer was really cold.
Back to our guesthouse...
Dinner tonight (again made by J's Mom) was string hoppers....yeah!!!!! I love string hoppers. They were served with curry chicken, potato curry and of course coconut sambal. There were two young couples at dinner tonight. One couple from France and the other from Austria. We had a great time chatting with Michele and Jay (Austria).
27 April 2017
Up early and I decided to head downstairs to work on the blog - internet service is much better down there - a lot better actually. I was able to download pics to this site for the Sigiriya post but shutterfly was slow now....no clue as to why that happens. I'll get to Shutterfly and post more pics when I can.
Finally, had to move inside - my hands were so sweaty they were sticking to the keyboard.
Before breakfast, we noticed that the local mongoose was wandering the patio area. Cute from distance BUT none of us really wanted to get up close and personal. We were eating breakfast and all of a sudden both Jim and Brenda screech and jump....unbeknownst to me the mongoose had invited himself to our table and was wandering around their feet. After the commotion he caused, that was the last we saw of him.
What to do today?
After checking out the internet and Lonely Planet, we determined that Wasa had been very thorough and we had seen all the sites. Originally, our plan had been two nights here, then we changed to three....didn't really need three. So we put a call into Gerry at Palms Villas to see if he had a room for tonight. (We've got confirmed rooms with him tomorrow). He's full, but we know that there will be a room somewhere. Jim went and talked with J - he was gracious and didn't charge us for the extra night. It's amazing how quickly we can pack when we need to. By 1230, we were on our way to the bus station. #4 bus to Colombo was waiting and get on - seats are available and by 1pm, with a relatively full bus, we were our way. The #4 ends in Colombo but we got off in Negombo. It was a NO A/C bus, 3 1/2 hour ride and we were glad when it was over.
Arriving in Negombo, we checked with a couple of hotels from booking.com and they either had "no room" or no answer. Tuk tuk drivers always know "someplace" and the young man waiting around while I made my phone calls was no different. We told him -" nice, but not too expensive, near the beach and it had to have a pool". We don't ask for much. Olanro (formerly Canal View) was where we ended up - the pool was very nice, fairly priced and not too far from the beach - Score!!!
After catching the final remnants of the sunset from the beach and enjoying a nice dinner overlooking the Indian Ocean - we were very, very glad that our quick decision worked out.
Tomorrow - massage (full) and then back to Palms Villas, retrieve our left luggage, probably a swim and a nice dinner our last night in Sri Lanka. How did three weeks go so fast???