Sri Lanka through the eyes of a tuk tuk.

By | June 22, 2011

As I’m writing this I’m in a guest house in Dambulla. Yesterday I arrived in Kandy, I planned to go back to the “high view hotel”. The name is between brackets because there are at least 3 hotels/guest houses with “high” or “highest” and/or “view” in their name. The one I meant wasn’t in the lonely planet, and was the one we stayed at the first weekend. I had just arrived in Sri Lanka and the other volunteers I went with had already booked everything. Unfortunately I didn’t get the address or phone-number from them, so I decided to ask around and see if the people there could point me to it. I had no such luck in the beginning. A tuk tuk driver did know where the highest view hotel was (well, he asked a few people along the way, they kept mentioning Saranankara road), and he brought me there. Next to the highest view guest house was the Lakshmi guest-house, which was also in the lonely planet, cheaper and had internet. So I took one room there… I wouldn’t go there again though. The room itself was “cleaned” but for the bathroom… it was rather disgusting. There was no water in the toilet and there was a DEAD cockroach inside to welcome me. I’m rather glad it was dead because I didn’t want to grab it out of the toilet or have it crawl everywhere knowing where it had just been, but the simple fact that it was dead in there made me wonder just how long it must have been since anyone had stayed in that room.

Either way, I didn’t bother to unpack my bag, I washed myself very thorough, and I did at least have a good use for the internet (for which they charge 200 rupees an hour, which is ridiculously high). I finished an assignment for someone, send some emails to some friends, and after that I packed and started walking down to the main road. A tuk tuk driver tried to talk me into taking a tour with him. I wasn’t interested, because I was going to take a bus to Dambulla, find a guest-house there and see what kind of sights there are to visit. He said he could take me to Dambulla for 4000 rupees, so I laughed and said no. “Mata epa”. He kept pushing and I kept walking. I asked him for that money I’d be able to see a lot of sights and take a complete tour of the area. He said okay, he’ll give me a tour. I wanted to see the Sigiriya rock, and some smaller sights along the way, and he promised after some negotiating that he would take me to Dambulla, find a guest-house, go to Sigiriya, see the Sigiriya rock, and bring me back to the guest-house in Dambulla, for 4000 rupees. It is not cheap, but it’s not uncommon for tours, and this would be a long one. It would save me the trouble of having to find out where the guest-house was, finding and traveling to some sights and back. Again, the Sigiriya rock would require a ticket which is 3310 rupees if you are a foreigner. Everything owned by the government requires a ticket with this fee, so be warned.

Turned out the guy was pretty okay, had some certifications from the tourist board, and was trying to get a lot of references from satisfied tourists, so their friends and other people that come to Sri Lanka might look for him to show them around. He was proud of his certificate, and didn’t want to pull any tricks that might make him loose it. The government checks on them once a year. He showed me around, just as he promised, we also saw a herbal garden, no entrance fee but you could buy the products they talk about afterwards if you like to. We couldn’t find the guest-house, turned out it was at least 10 km down the road, and we didn’t have time to travel there and back again if I wanted to climb the Sigiriya rock, so we went back and found another nice one. It was a little more expensive, but I wouldn’t have to take a tuk tuk which would most likely charge me more than the difference would be.

The driver took me to the Sigiriya rock, and I climbed it. Simply put, climbing didn’t take as long as I thought it would and the view was bloody amazing. Talked to a lot of people along the way, which took up more time than the actual climbing. I made sure to take lots of photos (The good ones come after the “Continue reading” link):

Through the eyes of a tuk tuk.

Old woman in traditional garments.

Don’t know why… Guess i just like trucks and empty tropical environments.

Diversity in the scenery. Stores, palm trees, garages. Sri Lanka has it all.

Rice fields.

Sigiriya rock in the distance.

Ruins/former gardens around the rock.

Moving towards the rock.

“You take picture please?” Yeah, sure, why not.

Hari Hondai, let’s climb this!

Another view of just how steep this rock was. Impressive how they build a complete castle on top of it.

Oow, boobies… Joking aside, they are some pretty well made pieces of art and display quite some craftmanship. Fun fact: When the British were in Sigiriya, the paintings had to be covered up to make sure the men weren’t distracted from their duties.

Another excellent exotic painting I’d like to share with you all.

Rusty old staircase going up to the cave with the paintings, and back down to the regular “path”.

They guard their heritage pretty seriously. But they are actually quite chilled out people.

Ruins halfway up the Sigiriya rock.

And behind me are the steps to the other half of the rock that’s left to climb.

High places and monkeys.

More stairs, and I don’t think they had these when they built the place. There are some worn out, cut-out steps in the rock here and there…

At the top of the rock with some cool (and shy) Sri Lankan people.

With some more cool Sri Lankan people.

The view is SOO much more amazing in real-life.

Huge pool on top of a rock.

A better view of the actual ruins.

Going (yannewa) back down.

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