An early morning swim set me up for the day. It was quiet by the pool as the waves crashed against the the rocks below.
Breakfast on the terrace was relaxed and fun with our group coming together to plan the day ahead. Eating egg hopper with curry and dahl certainly lines the stomach.
We even had breakfast entertainment provided. A man in uniform had a slingshot and was shooting stones at the local crows. Quite a sight !
The bus with our guide Hema arrived on time at 9.45 and we headed off. Hema has a big smile, a gentle nature, is tall & slim and keen to help us discover Sri Lanka. It’s a pity he’s been given a microphone that makes him sound like he’s in an echo chamber.
Today we head to Sigiriya Rock. The ancient rock is probably the most visited site in Sri Lanka and tomorrow some of us are climbing. It has something like 1,000 steps to climb to reach the top where there are the remains of the palace.
The bus trip was slow – the roads fairly narrow with the usual style of driving. Cars overtaking and lots of beeping feature. We passed padi fields, businesses selling all manner of things, tuk tuks not to mention trucks! We had a short stop to buy bags of local cashews. So tasty.
We reached Karunegala and Pinnawala Elephant refuge just before the daily wash began.
We had time to see the elephants where they roam, before heading down to the river to watch the elephants enjoy a little freedom.
It is a refuge for elephants injured or orphaned. It started in 1982. There are varying reports that say it’s not humane to keep the elephants like this and that they are never released back into the wild. Yes, we did see some chained. They are apparently the males who can be hard to control. But the elephants we saw in the river seemed to be really enjoying their time playing and lying in the shallows.
We had lunch on a terrace overlooking the river while the elephants were relaxed and playing. It was beautiful to watch.
It will be interesting to compare this with seeing elephants in their own environment in the national park in Yala when we get there.
We continued on after lunch for the final drive past Dambula to the hotel Aliya. The bus bar opened and rum and coke and G and Ts were served. There was a little singing and the boys down the back were relaxed and having fun. We arrived at Aliya. A truely beautiful place. Our welcome was warm and our welcome drink cold and yummy. The hotel has rooms set along pebbled paths, surrounded by trees which in time should grow and disguise the resort from above.
Our room is big and comfortable with lovely leaf designs on the bed. ‘Welcome’ it said and we did feel very welcome.
Dinner was a buffet. Full of tasty curries it was hard to know where to start. But we all finished with curds and treacle a local favourite.
Tomorrow we climb Sigiriya. I hope my knee holds up. Only about 1,000 stairs.