Early Sunday morning we left Pasikudah for the long drive over to Kandy, with a stop off en route to Dambulla Rock Cave Temple. After a while of driving, police cars were signalling for all traffic to pull over – then what seemed like a gazillion bicycles zoomed past. We were told that it was the SLT Speedup Sawariya, Sri Lanka’s longest cross-country cycle race!
Our guide asked us if we’d like to see an elephant up close, of course we said yes. We took a stop at a place that did elephant rides (I didn’t take note of the name – sorry). I’ve asked Katelyn to write up a separate post about the elephant ride itself, in the meantime here’s a couple of photos.
Going off on a tangent for a moment, a note about tipping… there’s usually an expectation for tipping in Sri Lanka, the trouble is there’s no rules about it, unless you’ve had a similar experience, you have to make a best guess. On the elephant ride we had 2 people with us, the elephant’s handler and another man – who was more confident speaking English, a bit smug, told us when to take photos, etc. At the end of the ride, the smug guy gave a hand gesture for a tip, so I gave him 300 rupees (about £1.50), which I thought he’d share with the handler, but no, he pointed at the handler and made the same hand gesture. Given that the handler is the one who did all the work with the elephant, he’s the one who really deserved the tip, I opened by wallet and I only had a 100 rupee note left, which seemed like a lousy tip. An awkward situation that ended an otherwise great holiday experience. Lesson to be learnt, give the tip to the most deserving, not the overly-confident smug guy.
Soon after we arrived at Dambulla Rock Cave Temple, presented with many steps, Katelyn’s face was a picture – she was tired just thinking about climbing them.
On the steps there were many monkeys, if you showed any sign of having food, they would literally come at you begging. We saw a Japanese lady with a cone of mango slices, a couple of monkeys stopped in front of her and begged, she tried to sidestep them, they jumped in front again, it was quite intimidating, she started to panic (in a way that only a Japanese lady would do). She gave the monkey a slice of mango, another monkey appeared, not knowing what else to do, the lady threw the cone to the side of her and ran away shrieking.
The cave temple was very impressive; we’ve never seen so many statues of Buddha!
An hour or so later we arrived in Kandy. Our hotel, Villa Rosa, was a bit difficult to find – it was the first time that our guide (or driver) had been to the place, so it took us some time to find the place. Once we got there, the view was amazing!