When I left Dambulla I hadn’t booked anything in Anuradhapura yet. So far I had hardly ever used any place I had booked because I found cheaper and/or better places (I do usually have the courtesy to call them though…) It was off-season so there are always guest-houses available and you can bargain a little for the price.
However, there was going to be a BIG festival/ceremony in Anuradhapura. The prime minister would be there, and there were festivals in other parts of the country as well.
The Englishman’s friend found me at the Anuradhapura bus-station, and we went looking for a guest-house. From the suggestions for guest-houses that I had (internet/lonely planet) he took me to the lake view hotel. But all the cheap rooms were full, and the expensive room was only available for 1 night. So I booked it and went sightseeing that same day. It was nice, and the tuk tuk driver did show me a lot of nice places and told me interesting background info about the places we went and sights I saw (like how a carving of an elephant prays to a rain god carved into a higher rock, what the meaning of the moonstones are, what animals are found in the dragon like ornaments that grace so many temple stairs, etc.) But Anuradhapura is so vast that it must be a lot nicer to spread it out over a day or 3. I’ll probably go back there someday and take my time for it.
Speaking about time, I would have to leave very early if I wanted to go to Trincomalee, or there would no longer be a bus. But I didn’t want to rush Trincomalee either and thought I might as well take it easy for a day or 2 in Negombo instead. So I decided to just get a good night’s rest and take a bus to Negombo instead. I have a massive bag, and some buses allow you to carry it with you, and others have you stow it away in the cargo bay. This particular bus had a cargo bay that didn’t lock or even close properly, and I didn’t like it. So I took a lock from my bag and just put it on the cargo lock myself. Little things like that can help you save a lot of trouble.
I stayed in the Beach Villa guest-house. Found it in the lonely planet. Off-season, but still overcharged for the room. It was dirty and damp, but there was a certain “backpackers vibe” about the place, including hardcore backpackers with entertaining stories, which made me think about staying anyway. Which I didn’t do because I found a better place for the same price a little further down the road. I got the price down, stayed there for a day, and then went to Colombo to meet up with some people I met through Couch surfing.