So despite our mosquito net, I managed to get stung in the night! First time I’ve actually had a mosquito bite show up on me so new experiences at least! No more though please!
We came out to breakfast plates with our allocated food, we cooked our eggs to our liking and ate outside looking onto the garden.
Today we took our first venture into Dambulla to find the bus station. Turns out there are two, so of course we went to the one we didn’t want. It allowed for a further explore of the city though finding where we needed to be! We were very much tourists walking around though and stuck out like sore thumbs!
Arriving into Anuradhapura was 125 rupees each. Again we are clearly the only tourists here so despite sitting rows apart, they charge only one of us for 2 persons. Clearly must be together us foreign folk!
When we jumped off the bus we made a bee line to a big sign in the distance, ‘Pizza Hut’. So bad, we already crave food from home! Plus, the heavens had opened and in the couple minutes walk to it we were truly drenched.
Our first destination today was Mahamewna Gardens, we had to remove our shoes to walk around the grounds so it was a little odd walking on the stones, sand and concrete in the puddles with our bare feet! Here was the sacred fig tree, Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi which is the oldest tree, planted in 288BC, under which Buddha attained enlightenment and is one of the most sacred relics of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Buddhists in general have a strong belief that offerings made to the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi have produced significant and positive changes in their life. Therefore lots of Buddhists we’re praying around us and leaving offerings such as flowers, food and drink as we watched on. A monk included us in one of his blessings and wound white cotton around our wrists and added a white dot to our foreheads. He then tapped his tip bowl...Here we were one of very few tourists and we felt slightly out of place as everyone was taking it very seriously around us and despite not intending to intrude, we felt we did!
The Ruwanwelisaya (a 25 minute walk from Mahamewna Gardens) we enjoyed a lot more and felt much more welcome. Everyone we came across was friendlier and smiled when they saw us. (Not sure if they were laughing at us or just friendly but in comparison to the other it was nice!) We did spot some other tourists in this one, as well as an english tourist getting a tour from a monk. They spoke to us and gave us his card. Everyone was walking the circumference of the Stupa with flowers and giving them as offerings. It was interesting to watch and looked pretty!
We also experienced our first tuk tuk ride today, it actually wasn’t as terrifying as we expected. I think if they could build up more speed it would be horrific but you go so slow you feel like you’d just bounce off if you hit anything anyway! Made me so much more reassured while the driver sat there on his phone texting and calling people while going round a roundabout (Maybe not a frequent occurrence we use them!)
We left getting back quite late so got the last bus (with AC!), didn’t cost crazily more than the first, cost us 250 rupees each.