The plan for Day 2 was to head to Anuradhapura. I was thinking of taking a train but for that one would have had to go to Colombo (Fort railway station). Instead the manager at Ceylonica suggested I take a bus from the highway. So a bus it was.
|Negombo Beach From Sri Lanka Holiday|
|Easter Parade: A young girl as the resurrected Christ? From Sri Lanka Holiday|
Before leaving Negombo, a morning walk along the beach was called for. The weather was hot again but this did not stop the Easter parades on Lewis Pl.
|Bus stop on the Colombo-Puttalam road From Sri Lanka Holiday|
Catching the bus is no new experience for an Indian. The only difference is the crowd is much less. And trying to figure out which bus goes to Anuradhapura was not an issue either. Once the backpack was sighted, there were enough people out there ready to guide a blundering tourist. One of them, a newspaper and pulp fiction hawker, held me by the hand and ushered me into a Mannaar bus. He spotted an empty seat and immediately blocked it for me. As I sat thanking him, he just smiled and moved away not expecting anything. Used to the Indian habit of bakshish soliciting, this was really surprising. I was however feeling a little bad and so at least had a look at what he had to sell. There were comic books and some raunchy Manohar Kahaniyan type pulp fiction but all in Sinhala.
|The Sri Lankan Highways From Sri Lanka Holiday|
Sri Lanka road network is oriented around three main cities Colombo, Kandy, Jaffna with most of the highways linking these places to the other cities. The highways, almost all of them 2 lanes wide, are listed as A1, A2, A3, etc. The road network roughly follows the geometric shape of the island – A3, for example, starts from Colombo to Puttalam then turns eastwards and becomes A12 to Anuradhapura then north to Vavuniya as A9 (which starts at Kandy actually) and then west to Mannaar as the A14.
|A sudden cloudburst on the way From Sri Lanka Holiday|
The trip from Negombo took 3 hours of driving time. In between however, there was a stop for lunch. There was a brief cloudburst which helped in reducing the temperature a bit.
|Steamed corn From Sri Lanka Holiday|
I got dropped at a “touristy” convenient stop in Anuradhapura by 1.30 pm and then I had to walk around looking for a place to stay.
It was sheer serendipity at work here. I did not carry any maps, I had read up some stuff earlier online but I just remembered a few names like Milano Guest House and French Garden Guest House. I had forgotten where they were located. I just remembered that it was near a lake. With these directions, the rickshaw driver tried his best to find out what I wanted. He took me to the shore of a lake. As I was looking at the signs of the different guest houses, an old man from one of those guest houses came out and asked me to check out his property. I went in and he took me to this massive three bed room right on the edge of the lake. Room Rate: 1500 LKR (about Rs 700) But there was nobody staying there and the old man told me that they were planning to renovate the place and hence were not fully promoting themselves. He however suggested another guesthouse of his cousin. This was funny – the guy is telling me not to stay in his property but go to some other property. By this time, my general distrust of people was slowing eroding with respect to Sri Lanka. I did not sense anything “funny” in what he was suggesting. I said let’s go there. The old man’s grand son came out and took me on a bike (me carrying my backpack and without a helmet which is mandatory in Sri Lanka) to Lake Wave Rest.
|The Anuradhapura hHome for the next 5 days From Sri Lanka Holiday|
The next 5 days were easily some of my best time I have ever had in any holiday / vacation / backpacking trip.
I will break this post here and write about the 5 days in Anuradhapura and specifically at Lake Wave Rest in separate posts.