We arrived safely in Habarana, although it was a little uncertain drive as our very sweet driver, Adam, risked taking an unknown shortcut, which actually resulted in us asking locals for directions on every little corner. Old school Sat Nav, ey.
The following morning we awoke to greet the day with climbing up Sigiriya Rock – a bold statement of a 274m rock standing proud in the Sri Lankan countryside, which has gained a respectful reputation of being the 8th wonder of the world. With that kind of status = an overcrowding sea of annoying tourists.
Why are you here.
Why did everyone come in the morning.
Why are you walking so slowly.
Why can’t Mum and I have a selfie with the rock without someone else’s selfie stick poking me in the back.
I’m a terrible person. Of course, Mum and I are also making everyone else feel that way too.
(Note: I haven’t yet progressed to the selfie stick dark-side and I only sink as low as the classic long arm and forced grin).
Apart from the irritating crowds, Sigiriya was a phenomenal experience. Our calves were burning from the never ending steps and our scalps were burning from the penetrating sun, but those views at the top: wow. It’s mind blowing to see the ruins of the palace up there. Imagine building that on the top of such a rock!? And what ‘King’ wants, ‘King’ gets. He even had his workers put two swimming pools up there. How the heck did they get the water all the way to the top!? What a lad.
It was a little touch and go being so far away from the bathroom up at the top…
Due to the nature of travelling, the way of life out here, and the exotic and occasionally risky food… Tum tum is in for a bumpy ride…
I feel over the history of this blog I’ve already revealed too much about my bowel movements, but take a look at any of my previous India or Thailand or Indonesia posts and you’ll get the idea…We’re actually (touch wood) not too bad at the moment, but equally in a constant state of never wanting to be too far away from a washroom…
We next made our way to a traditional rural village location. Now I’m gonna risk sounding like an awful human (again) here, but our local guide who we had leading the way did my nut in (thank goodness it wasn’t a full day tour). He was like an overgrown Boy Scout / Dora the Explorer type. The type who definitely always raised their hand in class even if they didn’t know the answer. The type that takes too many selfies. The type that says too much irrelevant information. The type that would probably make great First Dates material on Channel 4, offering high doses of cringe…
We took a catamaran across the lake to meet a Sri Lankan family who showed us how to make traditional roti and coconut pol sambol for lunch. All old traditional tools were used for making it – like an outdoor sturdy table and big rolling pin for crushing the chillies, salt and lime, and also a large old blade for slicing and grating the coconut. All very heavy equipment. They joked, “no need for the gym here!”
We ate with our suncreamy fingers off a large banana leaf as our plate. Warm roti (almost like a thicker chapatti made with rice flour / coconut) was so good it feels like your tummy is smiling when you eat it. And the fresh, fiery red chilli pol sambol was utterly mouthwatering. Cleanliness of the whole process: questionable.
We rode back to meet Adam via a bullock cart and were greeted with a much appreciated air conditioned vehicle. Soon to change though. After our bad luck over the last two days with no wild elephant sitings… we have both agreed to pay for safari number 3. Thanks to making a Sri Lankan friend with local knowledge, he found ‘our guy’ with a jeep and knowledge of the wilderness tracks. (As with anywhere in the world… it’s who you know!!)
Well aren’t we two lucky ladies. My dream to see one wild elephant – no fences, no cages, no vets bills, roaming free, living off the land… That dream was injected with steroids and multiplied as we were greeted with SO MANY WILD ELEPHANTS. I stopped counting at 26.
We first cast our eyes on 3 females and a baby – no older than 6months old. Tugging at the foliage. Wandering. Who knows where. Just free.
It was an unusual sensation I felt when seeing them. Joy. Excitement. Slight guilt. Intrigue.
The slight guilt comes from even though these guys are wild, the fact I was there, looking at them, holding my camera, still sparked some negative feelings.
Maybe they don’t want me looking at them.
Maybe they don’t want their photograph taken.
Have I gone ‘must get consent’ mad?
Am I too sensitive?
I tried to stamp on my niggling negativity and just embrace this moment and feel blessed for looking upon such beautiful creatures.
We saw more as we drove deeper into the wild park land. Sometimes we were extremely close, at one point, so close I could almost lean out of the roofless jeep and touch her.
Thank you, Habarana, for giving me my wild elephant dream! Next stop: Kandy…