Sri Lanka – Ziua 5 – Sigiriya si Polonnaruwa

RO: Bonjuricaaaaa! Taraie Whatsapp-ul de trezire, rand pe rand, iar dupa-un somn bun printre furnicile invadatoare, ne strangem toti in lobby-ul hotelului, ne luam micul dejun in bocceluta, sarongurile-n traista si pornim la drum. Dar care-i graba? Stam bara la bara inca de cum am iesit in drumul principal, de rad de noi pana si maimutele perfide de pe marginea drumului, parca-parca ne-ar zice printre colti si sasaieli ca o sa facem mai bine de-o viata pana la Sigiriya. Si-acuma intelegem si noi ca problema Sri Lankai nu-s neaparat drumurile, pentru ca sincer, pe alocuri sunt mai bune si mai lipsite de gropi ca dulcea Romanica, dar traficul, traficul da cu tine de pamant! Un milion de tuk tuk-uri si scutere, autobuze ticsite de pasageri, masini, haos, de-am dat peste cap Google Maps-ul cu ETA-ul lui cu tot. Cica sunt doua ore si zece minute fara trafic pana-n Sigiriya. Pentru 70 km. Franaaaaaaaa! Cu capu-n telefon aproape c-am ratat la mustata o ciocnire c-un autobuz. A, apropo, cica e greva la autobuze azi. Dar nu e bai, se-ntampla des in Sri Lanka.

EN: Good morniiiiiiiing! Whatsapp keeps ringing to wake us up, and after a good night sleep between the invasive ants, we’re all gathering in the hotel’s lobby, we’re taking the breakfast in the snapsack, the sarongs as well and we’re good to go. But what’s the rush? We’re stuck in traffic since we got to the main road and the monkeys on the sideways are laughing at us as they would tell us between lisps that it will take us a lifetime to get to Sigiriya. And now we finally understand that Sri Lanka’s issue is not the road itself, because honestly, in some places the roads are better and less holed than the ones in sweet Romania, but the traffic, the traffic is killing you! One million tuk-tuks and scouters, buses cram-full with passengers, cars, chaos, we’ve almost deranged Google Maps with its ETA 😀 Supposedly there are two hours and 10 minutes without traffic till Sigiriya. For 70 km. Brakeeeeeeeeeee! With our noses in the telephones we’ve almost missed a bump into a bus. Oh, and by the way, there seems to be bus strike today. But no worries, it happens a lot in Sri Lanka. 
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RO: Ne ia o viata si jumatate sa iesim din dementa din Kandy, ne tinem respiratia de fiecare data cand aproape ca intra cineva in noi, si-ntr-un final reusim performanta de a merge cu mai bine de 50km pe ora. Trecem peste Mahaveli, cel mai lung rau al Sri Lankai, de 335 km (care apropo, cica izvoraste din varf de Adam’s Peak), oprim la Ceypetco sa punem motorina in draga de Rosa (Mitsubishi Rosa) care ne plimba zilele astea prin centrul tarii, apoi ajungem in Matale, fix in mijlocul unei comunitati musulmane. A, ca tot veni vorba, religia predominanta in Sri Lanka este budismul. Mai bine de 70% din locuitorii tarii sunt budisti, urmati de hindusi. Acum intre noi fie vorba, la cati tamili au fost ucisi in razboiul civil din Sri Lanka, nici nu e de mirare c-au ramas asa putini hindusi in statistici. Dar despre razboi dezbatem pe larg in alt articol 🙂 Revenind la religii, musulmanii ar ocupa un loc trei in top, urmati de crestini. Da, da, crestini, pai doar nu degeaba or fi fost portughezii, olandezii si britanicii atata amar de vreme prin zona. Eeeei, si uite c-am dat fix de un templu hindus pe marginea drumului, ca tot veni vorba 🙂 Si-nca unul pe dreapta, cel mai mare din toata Sri Lanka chiar. Si mai in fata unul budist, Rock Temple. Deci pare ca toate religiile coexista pasnic (acum) pe teritoriul srilankez. Nu ca ar fi fost religia principalul motiv al conflictelor si razboiului civil. Facem ce facem si iar ajungem la subiectul asta 🙂

EN: It takes us a lifetime and a half to get out of all this madness from Kandy, we hold our breath each time somewhere is almost bumping into us, and in the end we finally succeed to drive with a bit more than 50km/hour. We pass Mahaveli, the longest river from Sri Lanka (355 km, which by the way, springs from Adam’s Peak), we stop at Ceypetco gas station to get some fuel for our dear Rosa (Mitsubishi Rosa) that drives us these days through the center of the country and then we get to Matale, right in the middle of a Muslim community. Aaah, by the way, the predominant religion in Sri Lanka is buddhism. More than 70% of the country’s citizens are Buddhists, gollowed by the Hindu people. Between you and me, there is no wonder why there are so few Hindus in Sri Lanka, if we take into consideration how many Tamils have been killed in the civil war. But we’ll talk more about the war in another article 🙂 Coming back to religions, the Muslim people occupy a third place in the rank, followed by the Christians. Yup, yup, Christians, seems like the Portuguese, Dutch and British people left their heritage here after all that time spend in this area. Heeeeey, speaking of which, we bumped into a Hindu temple on the side of the road. And another one on the right hand side, the biggest one in the entire country. And in front of us there’s a Buddhist temple, Rock Temple. So it seems that all the religions coexist here in a peaceful way (at least nowadays :D).  Not that the religion was the main cause of the civil war. Ah, we’re doing what we’re doing and we keep coming back to this subject 🙂
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RO: Si gata, prima oprire la Spice Garden. Si pentru mic dejun din bocceluta, si pentru o tura printre gradinile cu mirodenii si plante. Ba un ulei de sandal, pentru piele catifelata si fara riduri, ba un ulei de cocos pentru par, un ceai plin de mirodenii pentru raceli, un aloe vera saaaau niste crema epilatoare 100% naturala, din ierburi si curcuma. Cica asta e secretul calugarilor budisti care-si pastreaza capul lucios si fara par 🙂 C-o fi pe bune, ca n-o fi… nu stim ce sa credem, dar parca nu prea-ti vine sa investesti 100 de dolari pe incercari 🙂

EN: And we’re ready for our first stop at the Spice Garden. And for some breakfast from our knapsack. And for a tour through the garden full of plants and spices. There you find a sandal oil, for a smooth and unwrinkled skin, or a coconut oil for the hair, a tea full of spices for colds, an aloe vera ooooor some 100% natural hair removal cream, from all kind of herbs and turmeric. Seems that this is the secret used by the Buddhist monks that keep their head glossy and hairless 🙂 If that’s true or not, we don’t know what to say, but we’re not quite in the mood for spending 100 dollars on probation 🙂
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RO: Si dupa Spice Garden ajungem in Dambulla, o nebunie de oras unde se afla si pesterile de la Dambulla. Unde surpriza, se afla cea mai mare statuie din lume reprezentandu-l pe Buddha dormind. Lasam pesterile pentru finalul zilei, trecem pe langa piata drive-in din Dambulla unde intri cu camioanele sa cumperi fructe si legume, si-apoi cu maxim de viteza spre roca de la Sigiriya.

EN: After the Spice Gardens we finally get to Dambulla, a mad city where you can also find the Dambulla Caves. Where surprisingly or not, you can find the biggest statue in the world representing Buddha sleeping.  We leave the caves for the end of the day, we pass through the drive-in market from Dambulla, where you can literally enter with your truck to buy fruits and vegetables, and then maximum speed towards Sigiriya.
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RO: Bun, si-am ajuns! Alt patrimoniu Unesco din Triunghiul Cultural si poate cea mai emblematica atractie turistica din toata Sri Lanka. Adevarul e ca te cam zapaceste stanca asta de 200m inaltime inconjurata din toate partile de campie. Zici ca cineva a pus-o dinadins acolo, special ca sa se poata construi o fortareata in varful ei. Cat despre ce-o fi fost pe vremuri stravechi pe roca asta ciudata, cica ar exista doua teorii. Una zice ca regele Kasyapa si-ar fi inchis tatal intr-un zid, ca sa poata sa ii ia tronul, apoi a construit un ditamai palatul pe stanca. Alta spune ca de fapt si de drept n-a fost niciun palat aici, doar o manastire budista, unde locuiau calugari budisti si niciun rege. Ce-o fi fost in realitate nu stiu nici sri lankezii foarte exact, cert e ca fara foc sigur nu iese fum, si ceva-ceva putred tot a fost la mijloc 🙂 Unesco declara, folosind surse atestate si nu legende, ca orasul si palatul de pe Sigiriya ar fi fost construite prin anii 500 de catre regele Kassapa, apoi dupa moartea lui, predat calugarilor budisti care usor, usor l-au abandonat.

EN: And there we are! Another Unesco World Heritage from the CUltural Triangle and probably the most iconic touristic attraction in Sri Lanka. The truth is that this 200 meters height rock, surrounded from all parts by plains, blows your mind! It’s like someone put it there on purpose, so that a fortress can be built on top of it. And there seems to be two theories related to what has been on this rock in ancient times. One says that king Kasyapa would have imprisoned his father in a wall, so that he can take his throne, then he has built a huge palace on the rock. Another theory says that there has never been a palace on the rock, just a Buddhist monastery, where Buddhist monks were living and no trace of a king. Not even the Sinhalese people know exactly what has been here in the past, but one thing is for sure, there’s no smoke without fire, so there something rotten in the middle 🙂 Using certified sources and not legends, Unesco says that the city and the palace on Sigiriya have been built by the Kassapa king and after his death, it has been handed over to the Buddhist monks which in the end, have abandoned it.
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RO: Dar hai ca iar ne-am lungit la vorba si uite ca ne-asteapta cele nu-stim-cate trepte de urcat pana sus, in varf de roca. Nu de alta, dar pentru cei 30 USD platiti pe bilet primesti si-un pic de fitness de inviorare dupa ce-ai intepenit trei ore in autocar 😀 Si uite-asa urci la de-a trepte pana la 200 de metri inaltime de-ti tremura genunchii si gleznele mai ceva ca dintii clantanind de frig 🙂

EN: But we keep talking on and on and here we are in front of know-knows-how-many steps to climb until we get to the top of the rock. Not to mention that for those 30 USD payed for the entrance ticket you get a bit of refreshing fitness after going stiff three hours in the car 😀 And there you are, climbing all those steps til you get to 200 meters height and your knees and ankles are trembling as if they were shivering with cold 🙂

RO: Si dupa ce treci de picturile cu cele cateva apsara de pe pereti (sau poate nici macar nu-s apsara, ci concubinele regelui Kassapa), ajungi la platforma leului si slava cerului, mai ai o singura scara de urcat si esti in varf. Apropo, Sigiriya cica ar insemna “Roca Leului”, asa se explica ce e cu picioarele de leu de pe platforma. Si pana la urma, tot leul (de aur!) e prezent si pe steagul Sri Lankai 🙂 Inconjurat de patru frunzulite aurii care simbolizeaza budismul, si de doua fasii, una verde pentru islam si una portocalie pentru hinduism. Si, si, si, inca n-am terminat! Desi Sri Lanka este extrem de renumita pentru elefantul asiatic, animalul oficial este… suspans… leul 🙂 Asa ca ce sa mai tura-vura, simbolul Sri Lankai si al locuitorilor ei este prezent oriunde vezi cu ochii. Nu a ramas mare lucru din fosta fortareata, dar inca se mai vad fundatiile fostelor case, umblate si locuite acum numai de maimute jucause si… viespii naravase 😀 Mda, e musai sa pastrezi linistea ca sa nu deranjezi albinele si viespile din zona si nu de putine ori se intampla sa aiba loc atacuri (asa se explica si toate indicatoarele de atentionare). Dar ce e cu adevarat impresionant la Sigiriya este privelistea dementiala, marea de verde de jur imprejurul fortaretei si cele cateva statui ale lui Buddha pierdute undeva in zare.

EN: And after those wall painting with the apsaras (or maybe they are not even apsaras, but king’s Kassapa concubines), you finally get to the Lyon Platfrom and luckily, you have one more stair to climb and you’re on top of the rock. By the way, Sigirya seems to translate as the “Lyon Rock”, that explains the lion feet on the platform. In the end, is the lion (the golden one!) present on Sri Lanka’s flag 🙂 Surrounded by four golden leaves that symbolize Buddhism, and two bands, a green one for Islam and an orange one for Hinduism. And, and, and, we’re still not over! Even though Sri Lanka is renowned for its Asian elephant, the official lion is… the lion 🙂 So no more talking, the symbol of Sri Lanka and its citizens is present anywhere you would look around. There’s not much left from the old fortress, but you can still see the basis of the old houses, wandered and inhabited now only by the monkeys and vicious wasps 😀 Yup, it is totally necessary to keep silent and do not disturb the bees and wasps around, as there are not few cases when these are attacking the tourists (that explains all the working signs). But what’s truly impressive at Sigiriya is the incredible view, all that green surrounding the fortress and those Buddha statues lost in the horizon.

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RO: Intre noi fie vorba, urcatul si coboratul scarilor nu pare asa fioros cand vezi pozele de pe internet iar estimarea de o ora dus-intors pentru a urca, cobori si vizita stanca e complet nerealista. Ori poate om fi noi mai putin atletici, cert e ca ar trebui rezervate cel putin doua ore pentru toata aventura asta 🙂 Si daca ar mai fi loc de inca un sfat, ar fi bine de vizitat cat mai devreme in dimineata, cand nu e atat de cald afara. Aaa, si sa nu uitam, batranul Unesco nu e de acord cu dronele la Sigiryia 🙂 Si da, e adevarat, pretul biletului de intrare (30 USD pentru turisti) este urias, ca de altfel la toate atractiile turistice din Sri Lanka, insa e un punct emblematic al tarii care merita vazut si vizitat.

EN: Between you and me, climbing and descending those stairs does not look so fierce when you see all those pictures on the Internet and the one hour estimation return for climbing, descending and visit the rock is completely unrealistic. Or maybe we’re not fit enough 😀 But you definitely at least two hours for all this adventure 🙂 And if we can give another advice, it would be better to visit it early in the morning, when is not so hot outside. Aaah, and let’s not forget, Holy Unesco has forbidden drone access at Sigiriya 🙂 And yes, it is true, the entrance ticket is huge (30 USD per person), as well as all the other touristic attractions in Sri Lanka, but this is indeed an iconic part of the country and is totally worth seeing.
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RO: Oook, am depasit ora de intalnire cu Sandamal la autocar, ca doar de, abia ne miscam sa coboram scarile din varf de stanca pana jos, asa c-o luam rapid spre Polonnaruwa, orasul antic din Triunghiul Cultural, a doua capitala a Sri Lankai dupa Anuradhapura, construita undeva prin secolul 11. Ce e diferit fata de Anuradhapura, prima capitala a tarii, e faptul ca toate constructiile de la Polonnaruwa nu au fost restaurate sau reconstruite. Si toate ruinele existente, Palatul Regal, gradinile de la Island Garden, dagobele, templele, toate parca aduc cu Angkor Wat-ul din Cambodgia. Marea problema a Polonnaruwei (pe langa pretul biletului de 25 USD pentru straini – dar deja ne-am obisnuit cu asta), e faptul ca este o zona uriasa, care se intinde pe cel putin 5km. Asa ca e practic imposibil sa il faci pe jos daca ai la dispozitie mai putin de o ora pentru vizitat. Din fericire se poate intra cu masina in site, asa ca-i vreme suficienta sa le vedem pe toate.

EN: Oooook, we’re late for our meeting with Sandamal at the bus, as we can barely move after all that climbing of stairs, so we’re now heading to Polonnaruwa, the ancient city from the Cultural Triangle, the second capital of Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura, built somewhere in the 11th century. .What is different from Anuradhapura, the first capital of the country, is the fact that the constructions from Pollonaruwa haven’t been restored or rebuilt. And all the existing ruins, the Royal Palace, the gardens from Island Garden, dagobas, the temples, all resemble a bit with the Angkor Wat from Cambodia. The biggest problem of Pollonaruwa (beside the price of 25 USD for the ticket for foreigners – we already got used to that), is the fact that this is a huge area, that expands over 5km. So it basically impossible to see it walking if you only have one hour to visit. Luckily, you can enter the site with the car, so there’s plenty of time to see them all. Polonarruwa_Sri Lanka_1
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RO: Dar cum-necum deja e aproape ora 5 si sinceeeer, murim cu totii de foame. Si dupa incercarea nereusita de aseara, la restaurantul din Kandy, unde jumatatea grupului a ramas nemancata din cauza picanteriilor prea… picante, parca am merge pe mana unei recomandari de localnic. Sandamal scoate telefonul, aranjeaza de o rezervare si ne duce rapid la un restaurant din zona, ademeniti de “preturi bune, mancare organica si farfurii din frunze de lotus”. Ajungem in mijloc de camp, in dreptul unei cocioabe mici, de lemn, cu scaune chic de lemn, lumanari si mese facute din scanduri. O masa uriasa pe mijloc, plina de niste mini tajini-uri de lut, un miros pregnant de amestec de usturoi, cocos si chilli si-un sfarait de mancare proaspat gatita. Intr-o parte se gateste curry, in cealalta se dospeste painea roti. Afara se razuieste nuca de cocos pentru sosul picant, iar doamnele trebaluiesc de zor in bucatarie. Banane prajite, papadam, curry-uri de legume, dhal picant, cartofi in sos, orezuri de tot soiul. O iei de la un capat la altul si le incerci pe toate! In caz ca mai ajunge cineva prin zona, restaurantul se numeste Gemi Gedara si este o afacere de familie, un hidden jem complet necunoscut turistilor.

EN: But somehow it’s already 5 o’clock in the evening and honeeeeeestly, we’re all starving. And after the unsuccessful dinner that we have last night at the restaurant from Kandy, where half of the group went hungry and could not eat anything from the plate because of the spicy food that was way too… spicy, we would now choose a recommendation from a local. Sandamal picks up the phone, arranges a reservation and he quickly takes us to a nearby restaurant.  He allures us with “good prices, organic food and lotus leaves plates”. We arrive in the middle of nowhere, in front of a small, wooden shack, with chic wooden chairs, candles and tables made of wood planks. O huge table in the middle, full of clay mini-tajines, a powerful smell of garlic, coconut and chilli and a sizzling of fresh cooked food. On one side of the kitchen curry is being cooked, on the other side the roti bread is raised. Outside someone is rasping the coconut for the spicy sauce, and the ladies are working hard in the kitchen. Fried bananas, papadam, vegetable curry, spicy dhal, potatoes in sauces, all types or rice. You start from one corner to the other and you try them all! Just in case you’ll be visiting this area, the restaurant is called Gemi Gedara and is a family run business, a hidden gem completely unknown to the tourists.
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RO: Alta viata, acum ca ne-am saturat cu curry-uri delicioase, pornim la drum spre pesterile de la Dambulla, in speranta ca mai avem vreo urma de sansa sa le prindem deschise. Insa n-avem. Templul s-a inchis de o ora, si nu mai putem intra. Cu inca un motiv in plus sa ne intoarcem in Sri Lanka intr-o buna zi, pornim inapoi spre Kandy. Si pfiu, ce zi! Ca bine zice vorba aia ca dupa fiecare vacanta ai nevoie de-alta vacanta sa-ti revii si sa te odihnesti 😀 Dar pana una alta, mai avem o ultima zi de explorat, si-abia asteptam sa vedem plantatiile de ceai de la Nuwara Elya!

EN: Aaah, that’s what we call a good life, we’ve filled our bellies with delicious curries and we’re heading to the Dambulla Caves, hoping that we’ll still have a chance to see them. But we don’t. The temple has already been closed for one hour, so we can’t get in anymore. Having one more reason to come back to Sri Lanka one day, we’re heading back to Kandy. Phewww, what a day! It is indeed true that after a vacation you need another one to rest and recover 😀 But hey, we have one more day to explore and we simply can’t wait to see the tea plantations at Nuwara Elya!
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2 thoughts on “Sri Lanka – Ziua 5 – Sigiriya si Polonnaruwa

  1. Mind blowing article! Kuddos for the elaborate explanations and the flow of the text! I enjoyed it! Shri Lanka is deffinately on my list so I’ll pin this article to my Pintrest board (maxytravelette)! 💖

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