PolonnaruwaJanuary 18 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ☁️ 27 °C
Early start for the trip down to Polonnaruwa, which started with a tuktuk ride to the bus station. There was a bus already there and waiting so we grabbed some snacks and hopped on. Fairly ancient model of bus, but the inside wasn't too bad - at least the seats had padding! Plenty of space at first as the bus wasn't too crowded, but by about 90 minutes in it was mostly full and we were very squished together on a three-seater with another man. Definitely designed for Sri Lankan sized people, not westerners!
Eventually it emptied out a bit, and by around midday we got off the bus in Polonnaruwa. Walked a few blocks to our hotel, dropped off the bags, picked up some bikes and headed off. First stop was lunch, where I had a vegetable kottu - a sort of stir fry dish that used diced up roti bread instead of noodles or rice. Very tasty.
Our destination was just outside of town, the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa. This was the capital of Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura, roughly around the 10th-13th centuries. The site here was quite a bit more compact, and also better preserved than Anuradhapura. Less cycling, which was good since we were both still sore from the previous day! But it's also not an active Buddhist pilgrimage site, so most of the people we encountered were tourists (largely French and other Europeans).
Quite a few sites to see, including a royal palace, several large stupas, ruins of lotus ponds, and various temples as well. Interesting stuff, and a lot of it was in quite good condition too though one never really knows how enthusiastically things have been "restored".
Since we'd started late it was nearly sunset by the time we finished and had to ride back through the entire length of the park. Thankfully it was almost entirely downhill, which had escaped me on the way out but I was most thankful for!
Had a bit of confusion with the people running our hotel since they expected us to be having dinner there (they'd asked and we hadn't said anything committal), so when we went out for dinner they seemed slightly perturbed. It seems like the done thing that everyone eats in at the guest house, and the room is probably also a loss leader for them as the dinners can get quite expensive. In any event, we went to a restaurant nearby and had a vegetarian curry buffet which was quite nice.Read more