Saturday, April 23, 2016

Scorching My Feet in Polonnaruwa

I had to make a choice between Anuradhapura or Polonnaruwa. I chose Polonnaruwa because it was easier to get to via public transportation and I could be based in Dambulla.  

Polonnaruwa is an ancient kingdom and city in the northern central area of Sri Lanka. Take note of the spelling: single L, double N. I've seen ancient ruins before so I knew that exploring the complex would be awesome but repetitive too.

My hostel offered to arrange my tuktuk ride the day before. The owner knew the tuktuk ownder. I arranged my breakfast to be served at 8AM. While eating breakfast, I noticed that my hand was bare and I had to go back to my room and slip on my fake wedding ring.

Fake gold band as my fake wedding ring

We stopped at a "spice garden" first. It is a garden filled with spices. No need to buy anything, according to them. But I guess they sell agressively or ask for a tip at the end. I wasn't able to find out because when the guy learned that I was headed to Polonnaruwa that day, he just told my tuktuk driver to come back after my visit to Polonnaruwa. That's nice of him. But I didn't see him again because we didn't return to the garden. Well, I learned that black pepper and white pepper comes from the same tree, before he sent me on my way.

Polonnaruwa is almost 60km away from Dambulla. The tuktuk ride took almost 1.5 hours before we got to Polonnaruwa complex. I was charged LKR 6,000 for the tour. If you are willing to spend more, you can hire a car. Aircon pa! A tuktuk can only fit 2 passengers.

The tuktuk driver took me to the ticket office at first. The ticket costs LKR 3,550, $25. Quite pricey.

The complex is not completely fenced in. According to my tuktuk driver, some temples without fences can be entered illegally (without purchasing a ticket) with an unscrupulous tuktuk driver who charges less than the normal price.

Cows with ribs roaming freely in these gardens

Sun saluting by the lake

I knew that temples would look alike at some point, I was considering hiring a guide even if it was just for 2 hours. There were guides peddling for their services at the museum, where I bought the entrance ticket. I told my tuktuk driver I was considering one but he just said "No". I had to rephrase that "I wanted a guide" but he just said "No" again. I was really annoyed at him then. I was willing to spend for a guide even though I would probably forget most of what he will say, but he was against that. I just thought that maybe he thought their fees are unreasonable. Still, it was really annoying.

The Royal Palace and Citadel are probably the most iconic of the temples. Though these were just ruins, you can see the magnificence of the place from the enormity of the structure. It was easy to imagine that it must have been a massive and beautiful temple.

It was kinda tricky to find a spot where I can perch my camera. For Ankor Wat and Machu Picchu, I got guides. For Ayutthaya, I travelled with a friend. No companions means I need to harness my selfie shots.

Sun saluting in Citadel, under the heat

The Citadel of Polonnaruwa (so not Game of Thrones). 

View at the back

Careful of the monkeys roaming around the complex. There were lots of them, and there were lots in Citadel.

There were naaping dogs too

The Swimming Pool

Just beside Citadel is this Audience Hall.

Utilizing the tripod in these 

Pretty awesome. The sun was scorching hot so I had to use my umbrella. Of course I shove my umbrella out of the frame when it is pose-for-photo time. 

There were tourists (as if I were not) but they didn't crowd the places too much to the point you can't take a good photo. In Ankor Wat, it was impossible to get a clean no-photobummers shot. You had better chances of owning the frame by yourself here.

Sun saluting at the Audience Hall

A minor temple. It is probably important but I had no guide to tell me about it. So it is just a pretty ruined temple. 

Ongoing construction. Or reconstruction. 

My tuktuk driver brought me to the cluster of important temples, tell me what they are, then I get down and explore by myself. He tells me where he will wait - which is usually in the parking lot or somewhere near the exit. Rinse and repeat. 

In the Sacred Quadrangle has a lot of important temples. 

To a normal tourist like me, these ruins look like pretty ruins. However, to those doing a pilgrimage tour and to Buddhists, these are temples. You'll have to remove your shoes to enter these temples. Socks are allowed. But I wasn't wearing any socks. So I had to take off my shoes so I can enter the temple.

The floor was scorching hot. SCORCHING. I had to skip gracefully and discreetly (because I was in a temple!) because my feet was getting burned. I grinned when I saw some tourists doing the same thing. We grinned at each other. Misery loves company. 

Pro advice: wear socks.

Lots of monkeys roaming around the area too - same with Angkor Wat. Beware, guard your snacks. Though I think they are tamer than the Angkor Wat monkeys who attack tourists carrying plastic bags. 

Monkey kingdom

My tuktuk driver wanted to bring me to everywhere. So here is a temple which I know nothing about. 

Pabalu Vehera is a huge dagoba (a stupa). Pretty fantastic actually. I didn't go too close. 

This is another temple where I voluntarily removed my shoes and scorch my feet again because the others were doing it. I didn't want to be sissy about burned feet. Anyway, there were some grass that cushioned the heat when I got close to the temple. 

Lankatilaka shrine is pretty grand and has these elaborate Buddhist carvings. 

Di ko na kaya. Now with the umbrella! I didn't bother to go up and enter the temple because my feet were pretty burned at this point. 

Dried-up pool

I drape myself fantastically on a rock. 

More white stupa.

Polonnaruwa was pretty exhausting with all the heat. I took advantage of resting in shades. Also, there were limited food options inside, though there were a lot of snack vendors in the parking areas of the temples. 

It got to the point when I was really hungry and I already ate my snack stash. I had to drag myself to finish the rest of the temples before we could get out of the complex and find somewhere to have lunch. Lunch was around 4PM.

I guess appreciating the grand Buddha statues are for Buddhists. In the same way, I appreciate churches more than temples. 

This temple had a cool floor but all of those metal railings made me scared to go inside.

Iguana, I think

Final stop before heading out to eat.

I mentioned the night before that I wanted to visit an Elephant Orphanage on the way back from Polonnaruwa. The hostel owner advised against it because he said I will be paying lots of fees (for park ticket, jeep rental and guide) and I may not be able to see an elephant. So he just advised that we drive home from Polonnaruwa a bit late in the afternoon to see some elephants.

We sure did. Glad he suggested that. I saved money too. 

Hello elephant!
Sunset in the highway

I asked to stop in a bake shop to buy some bread. My tuktuk driver did not know what I bake shop is. I mentioned "bread, food", and he got it. They call them "bake house", not bake shop. He asked if he could also make a short stop. I kinda didn't have a choice to say no even though I just didn't feel so safe about that idea. We stopped in somewhere in town, lots of people, lots of stores. He handed me these "crystals". He said I like sweet stuff because I bought stuff from the bake house so he handed me these. 

For a moment, my imagination went into overdrive. What are these things???!?!?! Are these safe? What will happen to me when I eat these????

So he grabbed a couple from my hand and then ate them. That's my cue that these are harmless. I tasted them. They tasted like sugar. 

Sri Lanka made me so paranoid. 

Another humid and clamy day.
Not a lot to do at night. 
So I just strolled around the internet until I fell asleep.

1 comment:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...