Day Three – Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Today was the day me and Andrew were most looking forward to Sigiriya.
Looking at photos of this giant rock temple was what inspired us to book this trip.
The temple was actually part of a larger rock temple complex.
The short story of this rock says, a prince wanted to become King so he killed his father. Fearing that his subjects would rebel, he built his castle on top of this rock. That way he could see his enemies coming. In the en his brother taunted him out to an open field for a duel so that they would not destroy the complex. In battle the king was killed. There are a million little wonders of this complex I will try not to gush too much.
So we get dropped off at the entrance and get to walk through the gardens of the complex by ourselves. It was awesome to have alone time without our guide.  The gardens are huge. They all had originally been irrigated so that the flowers would have water and there where working fountains. This is crazy considering that it was built in 5th century. The gardens were surrounded by a moat that would have had crocodiles back in the day.
We met our guide on the other side of the gardens and started our climb. The country actually had a day off school to celebrate a festival. So many of the families had brought their children to Sigiriya for the day. This made the lines very long. Our guide had a way around this – although I am not sure how I feel that we deliberately broke the rules. We went up the exit staircase half way up the hill then joined the line of people going up to the top.
The lines on Sigiriya are long. Have no misconceptions going into this trip that you can have this rock to yourself. A lot of seeing Sigiriya is having people everywhere and shuffling through. Also be prepared, there are signs everywhere warning of the danger of hornets, and making noises to anger the hornets. Yes there are actually hornet nests. You can see them above you while you are on the stairs. When we were there the crowds were “noisier then I would have liked” given the risk of hornets, but we did not see one hornet flying around, so odds are you are safe.
Now to the cool stuff. First we saw original wall paintings. The King that created Sigiriya loved painting. So he covered the his castle in paintings. After he was killed the castle was used by the monks in the region. However since the monks could not look at photos of “naked”ladies, they destroyed a lot of the paintings, however there is a cave that was a hallway that had the floor give out. Therefore the paintings survived. The British in the 40’s found these and built a metal platform for that they could be viewed by the public.
Next we saw the famous “lion paws” that marked the entrance of the palace. It was crazy that there used to be a large lion here, similar to the sphinx in Egypt. The King would be carried up the rock to this point and then walk on the stone steps up to the castle. How cool is it that you can walk where the King walked? At the top, we saw the massive castle where the foundations of the rooms were still standing.
After we left our guide asked if we would be interested in going for a massage at a spa. Well who can say no to that? I kinda expected that we would get the traditional oil treatment in this massage. This was not the case. When we arrived at the Athreya Hotel & Spa we were given a pamphlet outlining the various procedures that you can get. We choose the basic package since we’re not that experienced with massages.
Now the spa was set up so that each room in the spa was a separate building. We were lead from the main office to the washrooms to the massage room. We opted to have a couples massage. We we’re given a masseuse each of our own gender.
They started with a head massage. Which was amazing. They gave a full body massage which was relaxing. I got an add on of a hot compress treatment for my arm. Before the trip I injured my arm and they recommend to help speed up healing. The hot compress contained rice and herbs bound together in cloth. The bundle was steamed to become warm. Then it was stamped along my injury for about 10 minuets. I’m not sure if it helped my injury or jot. But it was $10 so that was ok.
After the massage we were brought to a stem hut filled with leaves. We were told we could be in the steam hut as long as we liked. It was very dry inside the steam hut. But I saw in a doc that sometimes they would hit your back with the warm steamed leaves on branches so the steam hut was preferred.
After the hut we dressed and then headed to the meditation room where they served us warm spice tea and jack fruit sugar. In Sri Lanka you drink tea by taking a bit of the sugar cube then drinking a sip of tea. The sugar has a fun taste – I wish I found a package to take home with me.
On our way back to the hotel, we saw our first wild elephants. They were at at a watering hole in a National Park. Our driver stopped at the side of the road, so we could get out and look at the elephants from the road.
Once at our hotel we were able to relax and enjoy their amazing pool. Our guide warned us not to try to find a restaurant at a local village, and to eat  at our resort, the Giritale Hotel for the night. So we at at the hotel buffet ($30 a person) and watched the sun set.

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