Anuradhapura: a Sri Lankan bitter aftertaste

Bare Organics

Hello witties! Yes, I’m back again after a long radio silence.

I’m back and it is the time to write about Anuradhapura. As I anticipated in my post Sri Lanka: suggested itinerary for May-September, Anuradhapura left me with a bitter after taste but why? Let’s go step by step.

I arrived there very early in the morning, to be exact at 9.10am, after taking the first train from Colombo Fort at 5.45am. Anuradhapura was the starting point of my Sri Lanka trip and my expectations were high. I was expecting to find outstanding Dagodah as they are part of the UNESCO heritage sites, amazing food, nice weather, friendly people and meeting other travellers in my hostel. Well, it was actually the opposite.

UNESCO heritage

Anuradhapura is a large city so to get around you need to hire a bike or find a tuk-tuk driver. I opted to rent a bike to go around on my own pace and because I love cycling and I don’t have the opportunity to cycle often were I live. Renting a bike was actually the best decision I made and the worst. The best because as I said I love to cycle. The worst because it was not that easy to move around. Not because of the structure of the town nor the roads but because it is very easy to get lost. So yes it is, I wasn’t able to find my way at all and I have to say that I have a good sense of orientation and had internet connection on my mobile and was using the GPS. Yes, it was useless and after going back and forth for quite a few hours I gave up. I was trying to find the ticket shop because if you don’t buy the ticket (which is actually very expensive although I was initially willing to pay the money) there is almost nothing you can do there. You can’t have access to most of the roads if you don’t have the ticket and, because I got lost, I was not allowed to use the roads to get there. I was in a loop:

“No ticket, no access” “But I’m trying to find the tickets office” “No tickets, no access. You can’t pass through here”…

At some point, a dodgy man approached me whispering “I can sell you a ticket but be discreet. Let’s go to the corner and I’ll sell you one”. It was so suspicious that I gently refused the offer and turned back.

I managed to see a Dagodah but I was not impressed by it so I started to think that finding the tickets office was actually not worth the effort when I met another girl who seemed as lost and doubtful as I was. We spoke and shared out thoughts for a couple of minutes and finally gave up my tickets office search. The sky was starting to be covered by grey clouds and I started to feel very hungry. It was time to have lunch. Perhaps the nice lunch I’m going to have can fix this fiasco, I thought…

Food

Well, following my “good” luck I have to say that Anuradhapura is not well-know for its restaurants. I head back to my accommodation to return the bike and I made the most of it and asked for recommendations about where to have lunch specifying “good price but tasty and proper Sri Lankan please”. The answer was “Oh, there aren’t many places but you can head to the bus station and have lunch around there”. There is nothing worse than have lunch close to stations, it is one of my rules, but I thought that maybe it was not going to apply to Sri Lanka. Well, it wasn’t. The price was really good but the food was average, nothing special, nothing that could fix my day and mood. Let’s see if the afternoon plan can fix my day, I thought…

Weather mishaps, people and accommodation

Allow me to combine all of them in one.

When I arrived in my accommodation, the manager told me that they were organising an afternoon trip to Mihintale. I hesitated about it because I’m against organised tours but it started to feel as a good idea after the two previous fiascos. So when I finished my lunch I ran back to my accommodation to join the afternoon trip to Mihintale when it started raining. Well raining, pouring down! The trip was cancelled, obviously due to the weather conditions, and it looked like it was not going to stop. That’s why you always should bring a book with you when travelling. Guess what: I didn’t! It was the first trip that I was not bringing a book or my e-reader with me and don’t ask me about a laptop or tablet. I decided to travel as lighter as I could that I forgot to bring some entertainment with me (important when you are travelling solo: bring some sort of entertainment, make room for it!). At least I had my mobile phone, better than nothing. Problem: I was running out of battery because I had been using the GPS a lot during the morning and needed to charge it. Not a big deal, right? Plug it and that’s it. I was, again, not lucky at all. Why? Just say: Power cut! There was not electricity due to the heavy rain. So, I was there, in my hostel, with no room mates (I was the only one in the dorm) nor other travellers. Where were the people? Not sure but it is not a super touristic destination, I just crossed paths with the other cyclist girl in the morning and two couples that ask me (ask me!!) where to find the market. The market! What a great alternative plan. At some point the rain slowed down so I thought about having a look at the market, I asked where to find it, and headed there. How come I though that these people was going to stay there under the heavy rain? Of course, and not surprising, there was no one there.

I decided then to call it a day, go find something to take away and have dinner at my lodge and this is what I did. Tomorrow will be a better day, I thought as it couldn’t be worse than that (and luckily it wasn’t – at least not that day).

I don’t even have pictures, just 5 or 6, of my day in Anuradhapura and if I’m not wrong most of them (meaning 4!?) are actually pictures of the rain and floods and also one of a map that was actually useless for me. What a disaster and disappointment! However, it is a learning and these things happen when you are travelling, it is part of the experience and you learn from that.

Below you can find a gallery with images of the floods and a map 😉 (please note that the quality is not great but these are the only picture I have beside the white Dagodah that it is not even one of the most famous ones):

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I still have to write about the hostel I stayed in Anuradhapura but that’s another post. You can’t miss it! It’s a story about keys, weird noises and a strange visit in the middle of the night.

Stay tunned and see you around!

 

 

 

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4 comments

    • Oh nice! My favourite places where the hill country, I stayed in Haputale a nice small village, and Sigiriya. Arugam Bay has a nice and cool vibe but depending when you are going it will be monsoon season (best time to go is from May to Sept). It is very safe and besides some minor scams you won’t have any problems. Distances between places are not big but it takes ages, the roads are not great. Other option if you are travelling in a group of 2 or 3 is to rent a tuktuk to get around. Hope you like it!

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