- After very good breakfast in our guesthouse we wanted to rent bikes to explore the ancient city.
- The owner of the guesthouse offered us "a great deal" - he will arrange tuk-tuk for us to take us around the ancient city for 7000 rupees, the entrance to the sites included (the entrance fee is 3500 rupees for each). So we would see everything and don't need to walk or cycle around. Also the tuk-tuk driver was supposed to be a guide with very good english.
Note: The entrance fees to the UNESCO sites in Sri Lanka are ridicously expensive for foreigners. You will pay from 20 to 30 US dollars for those sites each. You can find even nicer places in Sri Lanka which do not have any entrance fee because not many turists are visiting it.
- We took the deal and went with the tuk-tuk.
- We started in the southern part of the city - the ancient Isurumuniya Rock Temple and nearby Goldfish park. This was the best part of the day. We felt like Indiana Jones, especially the Goldfish park with its ponds carved in the rock.
Isurumuniya Rock Temple
Video: Goldfish/royal park
- Then we went to see ruins of Vessagiriya monastery which is now basically only rocks with groundings of the monastery from 3rd century BC.
Meditation in the Vessagiriya monastery
- We continued to Sri Maha Bodi - the most significant tree for buddhists. It is an offspring of the Bo tree where the Buddha found enlightenment. The tree itself does not look like the oldest tree in the world (it is the oldest living human-planted tree in the world with a known planting date) but there are many people praying and priests are performing ceremonies which gives to the place special atmosphere.
- After this spiritual experience we continued to Dagoba Ruvanvalisaya - 55 meters high structure which contains Buddhist relics, Thuparama - first dagoba built in Sri Lanka and Dagoba Abhayagiri - 70 meters high structure built in 2nd century.
- We finished our tour around 3 pm which left us with a little bit of bitterness from the whole deal with our guesthouse owner and the tuk-tuk driver. The driver did not guide us through the ruins. He drove us to the places, pointed out where to go and waited for us on the parking lot. We felt this was not such a good deal as we would enjoy it much more on our own with the bicycles. Even though we would have to pay more.
- In the evening we went to see local market which was very interesting as everyone was looking at us. The market was really nice and we bought cinamon from one of the local farmers.
- The dinner in the guesthouse was again amazing. We had chicken noodles and curd with honey as dessert (yogurt with honey).