By GIL BRIONES
Another big breakfast to get us ready for the hike today, we are going to visit Sigiriya which is a massive boulder where ancient civilization built a community or some kind of temple, but modern archaeologist are not sure exactly what this structures are all about. But here's a brief explanation i gathered from the net, Sigiriya is a major archeological site in North Central Sri Lanka. At Sigiriya we find the ruins of an ancient palace complex built during the reign of King Kasyapa (477 - 495 AD). It has been ascribed by Unesco as one of the seven World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka. The most distinctive landmark within the ancient palace grounds is the amazing Sigiriya Rock, also called Lion Rock, a hardened magma plug from a long extinct and eroded volcano.
We got there and started the hike at the western entrance, there is a nice pond that surrounds the huge compound but swimming is prohibited, one fellow told us crocodiles are present there. Huge park complex that we have to walk through to get to the start of the steps that leads to the massive rock, it's amazing to see this boulder in front of you. We slowly made our way up and as we go along guides wanna be kept accosting us, a polite no thank you did not deter most and Sachil lost his cool with one dude.
Up the stairs and some metal stairs lead us to the cliff wall where they have ancient paintings on the wall, you have to get up there through a spiral staircase and boy my vertigo returned, I have to concentrate hard no to look down or forward, just looking at the steps. There is also a mirror wall they call that was now prohibited from being touched by tourists because some had wrote some grafittis to it, sad thing, but then soemone told us the grafittis are ancient, hmmm, anyway It's got a sheen on it, i don't exactly know the story of it. More dizzying stairs lead us to the foot of the stairs trail that lead up to the top. There were lion paws in between the entrance up, this is called the Lions staircase i think, this is worse than the way up here! Metal planks stairs go up to almost the very top, it is quite scary and it is bit windy too so you have to hold on tightly to the railings.
Finally we arrived at the top and wow, what a magnificent view, right away it blew my mind, it resembles the Macchu Picchu in Peru but in my opinion this one is cooler, it is right atop this massive boulder. You can see some pathways that are made of some white rock, I don't know what type it is but looks nice against the brick red clay that is predominant in this region. I walked around in awe, like Machu Picchu only remnants of structures are left, but this one actually no buildings, just the outline is left all made of bricks but the backdrop, this mountain ranges, some lotus ponds or lakes and the green fertile valleys makes for a wonderful photo. it is ridiculously windy at the top , wind gusting left to right we have to be careful not to be blown away. There is also a pond that people wash their face with, I don't know if it has any religious significance. Back down we met up with Mr. T again and left the complex, he took us to another place which he says not a lot of tourists come to see, it's a reclining Buddha temple in the rock cliff, as if we have not seen any yet, but anyway does not look so hard so we went to follow the trail barefoot as required cause it's a holy site, it was a trail that looks like it's not been used for awhile, leaves cover some of the stairs, we 3 are in agony trying to navigate the sharp rocks, heavily sweating we ended up at this cliff side with a reclined Buddha made of red bricks, it's half stripped, the white plaster over the years came of in some parts, we noticed how well they made it, shaping the bricks to form the Buddha shape.
After coming back down we were all exhausted, we moved on to the next town called Anuradhapura, we got pulled over by cops again, and asking for some certificate of vehicle road worthy something like that, took ages for us to get away from the crocodiles, I mean the cops, then we stopped to buy lunch then we pulled by the side of the road to eat. At the ancient sites of the city we picked and chose where we go as we were all tired by now and our feet were sore, the soles of each ones foot are raw from walking in the baking sun or sharp pebbles, we saw a few temples and then we called it a day, we found a place to stay, Mr T told us we will pretend to be Buddhist students, as this is a Buddhist temple lodging, it is dirt cheap for 1,000 rupees for the 4 of us but there were only 3 beds so we have to put them together and so we can all fit. I got to shower then chill with Sachil while Mr.T and Nish do some errands.I suddenly felt sick, it must be the constant barefoot walking up and down trails to visit temples, I took some paracetamol after dinner and hope i don't get worse.
We visited the big white temple in the eve, there is a number of people praying, it looks nice at night and cooler with a nice breeze,there is also a sacred tree we can visit but it was already shut by 9pm so we headed back to the Buddhist monk's hotel.
Tons of mozzies in the room even if the fan is on high speed they kept on biting so i slept in my sleeping bag.
Got up and left around 5:30am to visit the sacred tree, lots of people this early, apparently there is a festival going on in a few days time and pilgrims will come, the sacred tree has a branch from the original tree where Buddha contemplated way back eons ago, they grafted it to this tree and the holy branch grew along and got incorporated in the tree. Ok time for us to move on and head on north for some beach time.