Friday, September 11, 2015

SIGIRIYA - 11.9.15

Day 6 cycling: DAMBULLA to SIGIRIYA:

Ride details (from Garmin):

Distance: 18.9km; ODOMETER: 309km; Moving Time: 1:01; Elapsed Time: 1:11; Avg Speed: 15.9km/hr; Avg Moving Speed: 18.6km/hr; Max Speed:; Total Ascent: 109m; Total Descent: 85m; Max Elevation: 200m; Calories: 656 C; Avg Temperature: 27.4 °C; Max Temperature:  30.0 °C

It was a very short ride this morning and I arrived in Sigiriya by 9am. Last night I rang a place the guidebook recommended - the Lion Lodge - but they were booked out so I thought I'd try my luck elsewhere when I arrived in town. The Flower Inn had a room - it's large & clean, with all the basic requirements (fan, towels, power point), right in the heart of town, yet quiet, and within walking distance of 'the Lion Rock'. And only 2000Rs (for some reason cheaper than previous guests appear to have paid, according to the sign-in register I was obliged to complete). It's strange how some places need to see and record your passport details and others couldn't care less.

I fell into a deep sleep quite quickly last night but was woken around midnight by a tremendous thumping sound coming from above. For a few seconds I had the horrible feeling that the ceiling fan was about to detach from its mounting and 'thermomix' me to death but eventually figured out that it was probably langurs or monkeys engaging in a vicious squabble on the rooftop. Prior to that, I'd found them quite endearing - they're everywhere, and quite fascinating to stop and just watch for a while, especially the mothers and babies. I'd even begun to think how cool it would be to introduce them into Australia - it'd be such fun to watch them hassling koalas and hanging around in gum trees.

After checking in to the Flower Inn, I headed out straight away to see 'the rock'. I must say however that the 3960 Rs ticket price is a bit rich. That's roughly equivalent to USD $30 (or AUD $40!). No doubt about it, it's an impressive sight...  but really! I note that it costs USD $20 to see Angkor Wat for a day, $20 for Borobudur, $10 for the Pyramids, $11 to see the Taj Mahal, and AUD$25 for Uluru (for 3 days). You don't even get given a map or information handout.

The sights include the Royal water, boulder & terraced gardens, frescoes (in a niche on the sheer rock face), the so-called Mirror Wall, the Lion's Paws (surrounding the final ascent to the summit) and the Summit itself - a broad terraced area that contains the ruins of previous structures, and with spectacular views in most directions. The Cobra Hood Cave can be seen on the way down. There are some steep, precipitous climbs, although it's all fairly safe, but definitely sweat-inducing. A hat & a bottle of water are advisable. Overall, despite the cost, worth seeing.

Back at ground level, near the ticket office, the Sigiriya museum was well worth visiting. It was quite informative, and I especially liked the building and the way it integrated some of the pre-existing trees into its design.

The most surprising event of the day however occurred when I arrived back in town. I was quite thirsty,  having drunk all my water, so stopped to buy a small Coke in a plastic bottle. I've always considered myself to have fairly strong hands but there was no way I could remove that damn top. I tried wrapping a towel around the cap to get a better grip, I tried jamming it in the door... nothing. In the end I had to cut the lid off with my Swiss Army knife, and of course splattered the wall of my room with the by now highly-agitated Coke in the process. I perhaps should have listened to the French tourist the other day who was strenuously advising me how bad Coke was.

Tomorrow - Polonnaruwa!

 the moat

 another section of the moat

 Sigiriya rock

walkways and  staircases


Part of the Mirror Wall 

Lion's Paws Terrace

The final ascent 

Sigiriya Museum

Room at the Flower Inn 

I decided to refrain from bathing in the moat...


Mr Felix (aka Pak Peelips aka Mr Pumpy) said...

Don't be fooled! Monkeys are complete and utter nasty shitheads. I've even had them attack me on the road, going up a hill in Indonesia once. Scary. When I'm president of the world there will be a handsome bounty on all monkey heads.
cheers! Felix

david w said...

Yeah Felix but you're thinking of the ones that live in the jungle. I reckon that once they arrived here and adjusted to the good old aussie way of life in the bush they'd be just fine & would liven things up. They'd keep those lazy old koalas on their toes! Dave

Mr Felix (aka Pak Peelips aka Mr Pumpy) said...

When I'm president of the world there will be a bounty on monkey heads and those who, in their ignorance, support them.