Unfortunately the heavens opened the next day and the monsoon rains continued without a break for the next 48 hours. The lake wasn't quite so beautiful in the rain, but I got to put my wet weather clothes to good use and there was still plenty to do and see in the rain. We went to the temple of the tooth where Budda's tooth is supposed be kept. The guards are quite strict about keeping people moving so you only get to look at the casket with the tooth inside for about 15 seconds. The temple is beautiful though, with lots of shrines and hand painting on the walls. There is also a room where paintings tell the story of Budda and how the tooth was captured and passed hands over the years. Lots of locals were also visiting the temple to give flower offerings and to have their babies blessed, which was lovely to see.
In the afternoon we visited the botanical gardens. The highlight was seeing the hundreds and hundreds of fruit bats that hang from the trees and lazily swap trees and branches every few minutes. They also had a orchid house with many beautiful varieties of orchids.
The following day we moved further north to Sigiriya, which makes up part of the cultural triangle. The land is flatter here with miles and miles of forest and rice paddies, lots of monkeys and wild elephants that sneak into the villages to eat the rice! The next morning we climbed Sigiriya rock, the iconic 200m rock sticking up out of the otherwise flat landscape (add another 200 steps to the tally!). A 5th century king created a city on and surrounding the rock. At the top there are the foundations of the ancient buildings, although there is some dispute about whether it was a castle, a fort or a temple. From the top there were good views of the walled gardens surrounding the rock and views out over the forests.
About half way up the rock you climb a spiral staircase on the outside of the rock up to a cave with 7th century paintings and a mirror wall where thousands of poems and messages written by visitors between the 7-14th century have been preserved.
Whilst in Sigiriya we also visited a local temple with a 30m high Budda statue and about 100 other statues lining the temple. We met a local couple who had each made one of the statues. The are thousands of temples across Sri Lanka, and they are incredibly elaborate, even in tiny villages.
After Sigiriya we moved back to Midigama, our favourite beach on the west coast. The sea is crystal clear with good surfing and snorkelling and beautiful beaches. This is where we spent our last week in Sri Lanka. There are so many beautiful places there that I will put them in a separate post. Love to all at home. Amy and mike xxx