We went to the airport to meet the rest of the tour group who were flying in the day the tour started. We found out very quickly there were 16 people on the tour – the two of us and 14 Brits. I wondered what we were in for! My first email to Kaz mentioned this and she came back with some advice in the reply “just don't mention the cricket!”. Fortunately for us outnumbered Aussies, we couldn't have picked a better group of people to spend the fortnight with.
Before I went on this trip, I asked my brother-in-law (who is a keen cyclist) how best to physically prepare for the tour. Paul's response was “Just ride. It is not your fitness that will be a problem – it is sitting in the saddle for hours on end.” He was right. And this, combined with the 6am/6.30am starts most days made it a real physical challenge!
We arrived in Sigiriya the first night in the dark. Here is the scene that greeted us the next morning for breakfast.
After breakfast we rode out and visited Dambulla's cave temples
In the afternoon, it was time to climb the rock fortress.
Some of the cave art
Almost to the top… You can see the wasp nests in the top left hand corner – the black ones are the live ones!
View from the top
The next day, after the morning ride to our next destination, we visited the ruined city of Polonnaruwa.
The following day we made our way to Matalie Region.
At the morning tea stop, James tried to trade in his bike!
Some shots from the market around the corner from the tea stop.
Kandy was the next destination.
Some of the countryside along the way.
My attempt at some group shots at the catchup point.
Arriving at the hotel in Kandy, we were a little worried about this sign in the room.
The lake in Kandy
The Temple of the Tooth is said to contain the left upper incisor of Buddha. Here are some photos from our time there (no photos of the tooth though, which James attempted to take and had his arm forced down by one of the temple minders to stop him taking the photo!)
That night, Caroline, one of the ladies on the tour, had her birthday. We celebrated at the hotel where there was a four piece band walking around. After they sang happy birthday, we requested another song for one of the guys on our tour (Neil) because he couldn't stand the band and the way they were butchering some of the songs!
It was looking like a dry night because the government had banned the sale of alcohol due to the fact it was full moon and that had religious significance. Fortunately, James found a dodgy Tuktuk driver and his bootlegging friend who were all too happy to help out. I went with James downstairs to do the exchange. The guy asked us to get into the Tuktuk and told us to move over as the bootlegger got in next to us, trapping us in the back. Four kilometres of “I'm not sure this was such a good idea” feelings later, we arrived and handed the money over to the bootlegger who promptly disappeared. I got out and kept a look out – what if this was a police sting? Back came the bootlegger with a box twenty minutes later. We checked the goods as they went into the back pack, got dropped back at the hotel and a good night was had by all (in our room).
(Thanks Doug for the photo)
The next day kicked off with a walk around Kandy.
It was off to the barber for a hair cut, shave and head massage (of course no hair cut for me!)
Next door to the barber, James spotted gorilla masks, which gave him the idea for the next challenge!
After walking around for the afternoon dressed up, what better way to turn up to happy hour to meet the rest of the guys on the tour (flowers added for extra effect)
(Thanks Doug for the photo)
That concluded our time in Kandy and the first half of the tour. Next blog will be on the second half where there was a reversal of roles in the traditional wedding photo and when James and I decided to try out some of the traditional pole fishing…