Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Love from Ceylon: Part 2 (Dambulla)

by Lily Cannon

Tumbling out of a tangle of sheets and mosquito nets the next morning I fumbled around for my trainers and sports shorts trying not to wake the two slumbering beasts, otherwise referred to as my brothers. Going for a run proved to be challenging due to the many stray dogs that couldn’t resist the chase. When I reached the rock we had scaled the night before I was not disappointed the view was just as breathtaking at dawn as at dusk. Ambling back along the awakening rural roads I came across a gaggle of young children watched by their giggling parents, they were jumping around a large branch that had been cut down and were proceeding to harvest small green fruits from it. Passing by I couldn’t help grinning at the kids excitement and seeing me they ran up waving smaller branches and presented me with one full of the fruits. They laughed and chattered in Sinhala at me promptly running back to the adults and the source of their delight. Arriving back at the homestay I asked the host what I had been presented with and he explained that they were edible and that you hd to peel away the thick husk to obtain the small amount of flesh that surrounded two large pips.
After my morning adventure we tucked into a delicious Sri Lankan breakfast before setting off again this time headed for a two night stay near the large natural harbour in Trincomalee. On the way Lachmal took us on a detour via Sigiriya, a large rock that pierces the land and towers over the foliage. He explained that there was the ruins of an old fortress situated on the top of the rock and you could see why, the sheer vertical rock face was a daunting site for us travellers, you can only imagine how it would appear to an attacking force.

Moving on to the Dambulla cave temples we wandered the dim cavernous rooms that hid the great statues of Buddhist figures. Outside a pond was bubbling with life as fish darted below lily pads and small frogs peered apprehensively at the many bustling tourists. Lotus flowers floated on the surface giving the water a sacred quality.
We broke the journey to the coast by stopping at a roadside stall. One of a line of tiny huts in the forrest the vendor watched us from her plastic chair as we browsed the many types of banana and picked out nuts and a large coconut each. On paying for the items she smiled at me and I asked Lachmal how to say thank you, to which he replied that she did not speak Sinhala but Tamil and that he did not know how to speak it. I was surprise that the two dialects in the country prevented communication between Tamils and Sinhalese but also sensed there was some hostility between the two. Knowing the recent politics it isn’t difficult to see how bad feeling could have sprung up between the two sides following the Civil War. One side feeling oppressed and jealous and the other angry and superior.
We arrived late afternoon at the hotel and set out for the beach at Uppuveli for evening drinks and a meal. Watching the sun set over the water as we dined on locally caught fish and King Coconut (as we were told they were called) with lime, it seemed that Sri Lanka couldn’t have impressed us more. 

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