We had to change buses at Kurunegala and it turns out that there are bus stations crazier than Colombo! I wish I could have filmed the mayhem as buses pulled out, reversed in and parked left, right and centre. We asked everywhere for the bus to Dambulla and once again we were continually pointed in the general direction until we found ourselves right in front of it. For the second time that day we found ourselves getting the last available seats, our bags up next to the driver, as people continued to get on after us and simply stand in the aisle as the bus pulled away. And they continued to stand there for the next two hours as the bus made its way to Dambulla! At longer stops people came on selling cold water, popcorn and even children’s colouring books. A TV showed music videos as their accompanying songs boomed out of the big speakers above our heads. And a man stood resting against my shoulder for the entire journey. The rules of the road became slightly clearer in the 3 hours spent on this bus (costing only 70 rupees, about 30p, each) as the bus overtook on bends or in front of oncoming traffic, giving a polite blast of the horn to let the passersby know it was on its way. Despite the chaos and I am certain a few near death experiences owing to the sharp braking, Megan slept for a good proportion of the journey. Near the end she had even taken to leaning against the poor Sri Lankan man next to her, much to my amusement. I decided I wouldn’t wake her unless she actually rested her head on his shoulder and although close, she managed to keep her head about two inches from his shoulder until he decided he had had enough and got off of the bus (it could have been his stop, but I prefer the other theory!) We made it to Dambulla and soon found ourselves in our hostel with an afternoon to play with.
We headed to The Golden Temple with another guy, Rafael, who was staying with his friends at the hostel. We took our shoes off, unsure of the etiquette, before buying tickets and starting the climb to the top. As we set off we noticed all the other tourists still had their shoes on, and I began to worry about the safety of my trainers at the entrance amongst only flip-flops. This little hike was to bless us with the first of many monkey sightings on our trip too. The climb up was topped off by a monkey charging towards Megan, who was carrying a white lotus flower as an offering to Buddha at the top. Needless to say she dropped it and screamed and the monkey snatched it and devoured it within a few seconds. Thankfully Rafael had been persuaded into buying a whole bunch of flowers so was able to give her a few more to offer up. The views from the top were lovely and the temple was home to many Buddha statues. Despite not truly understanding their religious significance it was impossible not to appreciate the importance of the place.
|The Golden Temple|
We made it back down, I was thankfully reunited with my trainers, and headed back to the hostel, where we spent the night eating takeaway curry (actually really good!), drinking some Lion beer and playing shithead with the Swiss guys staying at the hostel. All in all, a great start to our short stay in Dambulla!
|Views on our way down|