lankan chronicles: frescoes of sigiriya

a big chunk of rock.  a paranoid king.  a gateway of a carved enormous feline.  a mirrored wall and colored frescoes.  words that i can describe sigiriya, the lion’s rock fortress.

i visited sigiriya on a rainy day and can be considered as a lucky tourist to have the rain stop for a few hours for me to reach the top of the rock and down.  one of the things that fascinated me are the frescoes it has on its high walls – of colorful frescoes of half-clad women.

touching the paintings and flash photography is prohibited.  they are guarded from vandals, plus most of them are slowly deteriorating and like the other ones, will be gone forever.

the true identity of the ladies on these frescoes are not known – with their globular breasts, narrow hips, adorned head dresses and jewelleries, they might have been the chosen ladies of the king – or else they can be magical fairies. 🙂

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lankan chronicles: cinnamon citadel

it was raining hard when i left sigiriya and had to take two separate buses going back to kandy.  i took another bus from dambulla which was jampacked and i was standing almost half of the time during the ride.  it wasn’t a new experience anyway, have done it numerous times when i was in college in manila.

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i booked for a night stay online at a riverside hotel resort in kandy, cinnamon citadel.

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it was a few minutes ride by tuktuk from the temple of the tooth to reach the citadel.

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i was welcomed with a smile from the resort staff and was offered a seat and a cold drink at the lobby to fill up some information.  the lady who was assisting me asked on how many days have i been staying in sri lanka – i told her a few days and somehow it has been an enjoyable visit and my overnight stay at their hotel is sort of a reward for myself.

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there is a pool bar and this area became very busy at night with guests.

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i wanted to bring this home, i think it’s a candle holder.

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looks like an artifact.

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stairs going up to their buffet-style restaurant, panorama.

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the door to my room.

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i have actually requested a single queen bed but was unavailable.  but still, i loved the interiors.

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plush beddings.

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modern furnishings.

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simple but sophisticated.

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wi-fi is available and free of charge.

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the toilet and bath.

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these lights made me feel like i was inside a studio.

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bathroom toiletries.

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another view of the room, the interiors a mix of red hues and mustard.

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i noticed that i haven’t had lunch ant it was past 2 in the afternoon.  called room service and ordered a tuna sandwich.

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the rain stopped and i was able to go outside, my room is the one in the middle which offers a river view.

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the mahaweli river.

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i walked to check on the surroundings of the property.

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manicured garden.

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well maintained facilities.

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took a short nap and by night time went out to have dinner at one of their restaurants, café c.

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restaurant offers the view of the outdoor pool.

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the place looked empty, i even thought it was closed, hehe.

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a waiter appeared and offered me the menu.

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i ordered the kandyan style – regional glee.

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the dish did not gave me a good first impression but it was delicious so . . i ate everything!

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the outdoor pool illuminated with lights.

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there were a lot of guests in the bar.

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the reception.

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a part of their lobby.  talk about space!  those are woven fabric on the wall.

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the main entrance.

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cinnamon citadel kandy was awarded a certificate of excellence by tripadvisor.

lankan chronicles: kandy crush

kandy is the second largest city of sri lanka.  i arrived mid-morning from colombo by train and went straight to the language center where my couchsurfing host was working – it was my first time to couchsurf.  i then found out that he had some important matters that suddenly came up and will be available by late afternoon.  he was apologetic and suggested to drop my bag in his office, walk around town for a while, and return then proceed to his house.

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i passed by st. anthony’s cathedral established in 1877.

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the mass just finished when i got there. there were markers on the floor and i guess these are priests who have served the cathedral and were buried beneath the church.

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the church seems to be recently renovated.

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i walked to the round lake beside the temple of the tooth.

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this buddhist temple in kandy  houses the relic of the buddha’s tooth.

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i was denied entry for wearing capri trousers.  the guard at the gate even lifted my shirt and tugged at my belt while motioning and speaking sinhalese to his buddy.  he gave me with a straight-faced “no”, and as an obedient alien (hehe!), i did not insist.

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lotus flower buds.

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the lotus is said to represent purity, faith and enlightenment.

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these flowers were being sold around the temple.  i found a gate open at the other side of the main entry and though there was a guard but he did not mind me going in – promise, he noticed me!

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devotees hearing sermon at the audience hall, built during the late 1700’s.

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the posts have intricate carvings on them but i did not took the chance to go nearer.

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footwear not allowed but . . .

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i was still wearing my shoes so i quickly went out!

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this 16-feet high buddha was a gift from india to sri lanka.  i read that it was specially carved out of a single piece of beige-colored chunar sandstone by master craftsmen.

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i noticed this signage and found it interesting so i continued walking.

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a steep climb to the cemetery road.

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the garrison cemetery was the final resting place for the brits who were in kandy during their colonization of sri lanka.

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one of the tombstones was marked 1859.

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saw a local selling candy floss.

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bought one and nibbled on this sweet thing as i went back to the office of my couchsurf host.

lankan chronicles: off to colombo

it has been a year since my last solo trip in india and i’ve been longing to satisfy the travel bug in me.  i had the curiosity to visit sri lanka as suggested by my indian co-workers who has told me about the place.  the likelihood to travel to this country was possible on my part for the visa will not be a problem for as a filipino citizen, it is easy to process an e-visa done online.

so for my scheduled days off from work, i asked our company travel agent to change my flight ticket from manila into colombo.  i purchased a separate ticket to go back home to manila and got a good deal from thai airways for my colombo – bangkok – manila flights (fyi, there is no direct flight for colombo – manila so a stop over is needed wherein i chose bangkok.  one can also have a stop over in kuala lumpur and hongkong but the prices will vary).

i took a flight from dammam to colombo through srilankan air.  service was excellent, food was fine and the staff were very courteous.  my seatmate, who was a tipsy indian national was insisting an odd mix of gin and whiskey for his drink but the pretty flight attendant handled the situation patiently as she explained that she cannot give him such.  i was already imagining the guy ruining my flight if he suddenly pukes out  his gastric contents in my lap, lol!

after about six hours from dammam, the plane arrived at bandaranaike international airport.  i passed by the immigration counter without a fuss and as i approached the arrival area i had to look for a money changer to exchange my dollar into rupees.  i chose thomas cook and they had a good exchange rate.  the driver of the cab that i have pre-booked was holding a placard with my name on it but i still missed to see him at first for i went straight to the main entrance.  he was actually just in the arrival area waiting for me.

it was a first time for me to book a room from airbnb.  airbnb is an online service that provides a platform for individuals referred to as “hosts”, generally private parties, to rent unoccupied living space and other short-term lodging to guests.  my hosts were an interracial couple who also loves travelling.  their apartment was located walking distance to the museum and i took this opportunity to visit.  after i dropped my bag and had a nap, i went out and walked to the museum.

the national museum of natural history in colombo is the largest in sri lanka established in 1877.  there is a small fee to enter and have to pay for your camera to be allowed to take pictures of the inside.

at the entrance of the museum is a limestone image of buddha from 800AD.  its composure denotes its perfect mental state.

an ancient chair made of ivory.

urinals of monks that comes elaborately designed to simply plain with a footstep and a carved hole.

i cannot help myself but to touch the carvings of the inscriptions.  there was this mortar and pestle and i just thought of what are the stuff being crushed and ground on this artifact that is hundreds of year old.  i tried to lift the pestle and it was heavy!

snake stone carving and buddha heads.

upstairs are some paintings. there are copies of frescoes that are found in the lion rock, in sigiriya.

stone cist burial and a large pot that was found with human ash and offerings.

oba ingreesi kathaa karanavadha

oba ingreesi kathaa karanavadha? is a sinhala phrase that means do you speak english?

everytime i travel to another country i try to learn or write into a piece of paper some important phrases that can be handy – say if i got lost on my way to my accommodation or which transport to take.  by experience, i have been lost in kuala lumpur and spent walking around for almost an hour trying to locate the hotel i was supposed to stay and have asked like six people who had directed me into the wrong way, haha!  or when i was in hanoi where i can no longer remember which street my hotel was for it became confusing and considering the dizzying motorbikes running around.

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my last solo travel was in india and though my lust for travelling never ceased, changes of my work schedule and some health issues prevented me from accomplishing my travel plans.  I wanted a trip to cambodia and had flight tickets to laos which i wasn’t able to use.  i told myself that year 2013 will not pass without me going somewhere.  this mid-october i will visit the wonder of asia – sri lanka.

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my itinerary includes visit to key cities of colombo, kandy and galle.  it is worth mentioning that one of my main goal is to see the sigiriya rock fortress.  i will be using airbnb on some of my accommodations and it will be a first for me to use their service.  airbnb is an online service that provides a platform for individuals referred to as “hosts”, generally private parties, to rent unoccupied living space and other short-term lodging to guests.

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i will be taking a flight from my workplace here in the mideast to colombo and train rides to kandy and galle.  so i think that sounds like – a plan.  hehe.  goodluck to me!

india chronicles: dirty pictures

i woke up early to catch my morning train ride back to new delhi.  i hailed an auto rickshaw infront of the hotel i was staying and asked the driver to drop me off at  agra cantt railway station.

passengers were waiting for the next train when i got there.

this is one of the trains.

a busy platform.

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these crows in the rail tracks were feeding on dead rats.  i was taking pictures of them when a man called out behind me. i looked at my back and saw that it was a middle-aged local man.  i backed out a little at arms length as a precaution.  he asked how was i doing and i said i’m good.  he then said – “are you taking dirty pictures?”  “what do you mean ‘dirty’ pictures?”  i asked him back.

he explained that tourists takes photos of dirty stuff and post it at the internet and tell the whole world how dirty india is.  he added that visitors should post nice things about india.  i was surprised of what he just told me and said from where i come from we also have dirty places – we also have dirty railway tracks.  i told him that it was the first time i saw crows feeding and it fascinated me so i took their pictures.  i smiled at him and said – “i went to india to see the taj mahal and it was beautiful”. 

i was left with good memories of my solo travel to india – and that will never be a dirty picture.