Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Unsuccessful in finding p max or shorts so far. Something I’ve noticed.. Sri Lankan cows are fatter and happier than the Indian/ Nepali cows I saw…. And after non stop breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets in the last few days, I too was fatter. At every buffet, our tour guide Suresh said, “Buffet is ready for maximum damage”…. There is a lot of damage happening.. and it’s not to the buffet. I’m in Habarana, a small city in the Anuradhapura District of Sri Lanka. Taking a bullock drawn cart ride through a local village… Feeling bad for the bullocks having to carry the weight of multiple buffet binges, a few of us opt to get out and walk the track through the village, patches of jungle and past Chena cultivations (an old Sri Lankan way of farming) and rice patties. We take boats over Habarana Lake to a small mud house, in a field, for a hot coriander drink and a glimpse into the day to day lives of the locals. As I watch the manual process of rice being de husked and sifted, it’s clear the remote village of Habanara remains surprisingly unchanged by modern methods and advances. These people have skills. At a Chena cultivation, I climb up to an elephant lookout (tree house)… It’s common for wild elephants to come through the farm lands in search of food and unlike the elephants in popular 90’s cartoon “Babar”, these elephants aren’t friendly, and have been known to kill… Humans.. A traditional Sri Lankan lunch is cooked and served at a local village house before our next stop, Lion Rock Fortress. A short drive to a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site, Sigiriya (Lion rock) fortress. Nothing worth doing is ever easy… And nothing is easy in high temperatures and high humidity. The climb to the top of Lion rock was far more physically demanding than yesterday’s little 1840 stair climb. These stairs were big, steep and seemed longer to conquer. A third of the way up, I witness a dog fight… I see a pattern developing… Yesterday roosters fighting, today dogs… I wonder what animal fight tomorrow holds? At the halfway point of the rock, are ancient paintings called, Frescoes. Further on is a plateau, where the reason for the name “lion rock” becomes apparent. A giant pair of lion paws (once a whole lion) function as an entry to a palace (now destroyed) at the top. A born climber, and a frequent user of the stair machine at the gym #iworkout, I was the first one to the top…. Not that it’s a race… that’s just how I roll. At the top, brick foundations and ruins of a the palace that once was. The views – only a picture can begin to describe the views up here… And an iPhone 5 camera doesn’t quite capture just how impressive, and vast, the landscape is from this point. I’m “Sweaty Betty” from the climb and thankful for the strong breeze blowing. On the climb down, there’s a creepy snake charmer (pictured in the gallery) and locals pedalling trinkets and carved animals… Let me tell you, after this climb, you are not wishing you had a new wooden elephant statue… Perhaps these guys are banking on heat exhaustion and delirium to impair their customers/preys better buying judgement. Highlight of the drive to the hotel – Saw wild elephants bathing in lake at Minneriya National Park. An afternoon of birdwatching by the lake ended up being me, watching a procession of local men, bathing in the lake for 2.4kms, until I reached the town… Sri Lankan men, old and young, in their underwear & sarongs… The only woman I saw, was washing clothes, so I figure the women must bathe at a more discreet time or place. Past the lake and in the small town of Polonnaruwa, where I scoured the streets for diet pepsi unsuccessfully. Walking back to the hotel, past the lake, it’s 6:35pm and the sun is setting over this great body of water… At the risk of sounding like a complete Aussie bogan, I thought, “f*ck, this is beautiful”. Then I see the locals are still bathing… but only the silhouettes are visible for now. I passed one guy sitting on a rock, brushing his teeth wearing a scrap of material around his waist… He says, “hello, how are you?”… I look to the ground, pick up my pace and reply, “Hello. Good”…. Probably not the best time to initiate a conversation… This guy had no shame, and made the moment more awkward than it already was…. For me. Number of animal fights = 1 x dog fight Diet Pepsi found = 0 Suitable shorts found = 0 (shorts with a ****** so low they could potentially be worn as a jumpsuit, do not count) Number of visually unappealing Sri Lankan males in underwear seen = too many Number of buffets = 3 x maximum damage.