Tuesday 23 September 2014

Day 148: Polonnaruwa - Grilled fish, grilled feet

Gimme gimme gimme... banananananananana!!!!
We've been on the subcontinent for three weeks so an elephant ride is surely overdue.  And so we lumbered along beside a lake on the back of our grey mount, whose toothbrush-bristle haircut and gargantuan size did not prevent him from being decidedly cute.  Four tons of cuteness, to be precise - definitely sufficient to buy him two hundred rupees of bananas which we handed down, one by one, at a wave of his trunk.  Alas, the small olympic mascot that I carry for my nephews and nieces almost got mistaken for a banana and devoured too, which would not have ended well either for the elephant or for Wenlock the Stuffed Traveller, but he was snatched back from the jaws of bananadom at the last moment.  Phew.  

Reclining buddha at the rock temple (Gal Vihara)
Afterwards, we visited Polonnaruwa, another former capital of Sri Lanka (beginning in 1055 AD).  As the ruins here are more recent than those at Anuradhapura, the crumbling temples and palaces and baths and yet more temples emerge from the trees with higher walls (and greater presence?) than those in the older city.  It was another day for taking photographs, wiping the sweat from the camera lens, and then taking some more; also, for saying 'wow' a lot.

If we had any complaint to make it was only that God is a bit of a fussy chap when it comes to shoe- and hat-removal before walking around his stupas.  Does he not realise that us whiteys will burn in seconds if we bare our heads under the tropical sun?  Has he not checked the hole in the ozone layer lately?  As for requiring Europeans to hobble barefoot over microwaved sand, perhaps he should stick with that rule as it gives such evident amusement to the locals.

Lotus pool
With grilled feet and red faces, we confessed ourselves beaten when we reached the lotus bath, at the end of the archeological site.  Alas, it contained no water, otherwise we would most likely have plunged in.  Instead, we retreated to the nearest rice-and-curry restaurant to devour yet another enormous plateful of food.  If we can't locate a bad Sri Lankan cook sometime soon then we'll be too fat to go trekking in Nepal.

Right, time for dinner.  Anyone for fish curry?!

Raja the elephant
The watadage at Polonnaruwa
Another dagobah (Rankot Vihara)... only this time the whitewash is "original" and not part of the restoration

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