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Sigiriya - Polonnaruwa - Minneriya Nat Park - Mon, 29 Jan 18

rain 27 °C

Hotel - Vil Uyana, Sigiriya - Room No 115

Today we are visiting the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, which will complete our touring of the Cultural Triangle. On the way to Polonnaruwa, we called into the Nishantha Wood Carving shop and watched a man shave some wood from the Rainbow Tree and then as he added water to it, it changed colours several times. This was a good chance for a "shopping opportunity" as we haven't had any yet, and I looking for some sort of an icon for my collection. I found a very cute little wooden mask, which were in all shapes and colours and I bought one for $32 which was hand painted and had the face of a man with one tooth. Very cute. Phil still hasn't shut up about it costing $32!

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Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993. It comprises, besides the Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas, the monumental ruins of the fabulous garden city created by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century. His swimming pool is still there too, full of water. Residing on a man made lake, the remaining city walls, temples and dagobas give evidence of this garden city's once opulent past.

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Hats and shoes off again and we are reminded once more, never have your photo taken with your back to Buddah. Never heard that before but we are trying to remember these rules.

These temples have no roof on them and are in quite a state of ruin and Phil is sick of taking his shoes off, so he decided not to come into the temple. As I was walking up the steps, he and Bruce called out to me to stand to the side as soon as I entered so they could take a photo of Buddha without anyone in the photo. On the spur of the moment, and not thinking at all, I turned to face them with my arms and legs spread apart and they took my photo and then I realised that I had my back to Buddha! I felt awful but thank goodness, none of the guards noticed.

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Both temples were worth entering.

Before lunch we called into another place with three Buddhas carved into the rock wall. One huge reclining Buddha and this time Phil and I actually had our photo taken facing the Buddha. My karma has been restored!

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We drove to a very lovely hotel where we had a very tasty buffet lunch. I was looking for the salad bar and noticed Didier in a refrigerated room and when I entered I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It had a small selection of salads, plus lovely cheeses AND rows and rows of desserts and smarties! Everyone made a bee line for "the room" and we haven't stopped talking about it since. There were hardly any people at the hotel so we virtually had it all to ourselves.

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After lunch we were off to Minneriya National Park to participate in a jeep safari. We were hoping to see the elephants but they have leopards too, but we didn't hold out much hope of seeing a leopard. Didier phoned ahead and was told that the elephants weren't at Minneriya but at Kaudulla so our safari went there instead.

We all piled into jeeps, Sharon and John, Phil and me and Terry were in our jeep and off we went.

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As in Africa, the roads into these National Parks are disgusting with pot holes everywhere. Too bad if anyone had a bad back! Our poor driver - he would stop and peel the roof off and then it would start to rain, so he would stop and put the roof back on. Then it would stop raining, so he'd stop and peel it off again and then it would start raining, so he'd put it back on again. And so on and on it went until we finally saw the elephants out on the plains near the lake - probably about 60. It was very overcast but it didn't rain and we spent a long, long time just watching these huge, graceful animals graze. It was wonderful. And we were so close to them!

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There were lots and lots of jeeps there but the elephants just kept on eating - they didn't seem to mind.

We saw some lovely birds too and a huge hornet's nest which I had to photograph for Bruce!

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We didn't see a leopard but we really didn't expect to. Just watching the elephants graze was so special. We had a lovely afternoon.

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We had a lovely dinner by the pool and then off to bed to pack because we are leaving tomorrow morning for Kandy.

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Posted by gaddingabout 02:08 Archived in Sri Lanka

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