We departed Big Game safari at around 9:30 saying goodbye to our holiday tenting experience and driving a couple of hours to Sigirya Rock, an important place in the history of Sri Lanka.
We arrived at the foreigners entrance to the Sigirya complex (later found out that the foreigners pay more but walk less) and were greeted by an old man who was to be our guide. He wore worn out sandals and a brown vertical striped top and looked like he’d be more equipped to sitting under a tree drinking tea than taking us up the 1200 steps to the top of Sigirya Rock. He took us through the gardens which had exposed ruins as a a result of an archeological team clearing some of the area. Then it was time to make our way up the steps which happened to be on narrow limestone rock and then traversed up the side of the huge boulder (Ayers Rock style). Initially it looked like it would be fine for us ‘oldies’ with the number of people meaning that there was plenty of time to catch your breathe. That was until our guide, diverted from the selected path proudly proclaiming that ‘we aren’t sheep’ and bounded up a side way as if he was a spring chicken. Now we scampered along behind not really sure where he was going but understanding that there wasn’t really any slowing him down, despite the broken sandals and his age. Along the way he proudly proclaimed that some days he does the trip five times, making us marvel at this fitness and agility. Just shy of the top of the rock there was an entrance which had two lions feet made of rock, one on each side. We were told this was how the rock got its name as the ‘lion rock’. The creation of the lion was an attempt by the king who killed his father and then banished himself through guilt, to proclaim himself as some brave warrior despite this not being the case (in the end he lost a war and committed suicide). The view from the top was impressive albeit a little windy and we stayed up there exploring the many thrones and look outs of the King whilst our guide continued to show us the benefits of daily exercise. Whilst our guide was included in our tour price, he was an outstanding addition to what could have just been a climb up a rock. Having him there gave the place real perspective and also helped us to jump the queue with his shortcut. He was a person passionate about the Rock and really wanted to share that with us.
After departing from the rock, we were told that we would be going for lunch – hmm rice and curry or curry and rice? Keeth explained that he knew it was hot for us (think he was talking about the temperature) and so we would be going to a place that had air conditioning. Now the drive took some time with Claire willing for us to stop at any place that remotely looked OK and had a sign that stated that it served ‘western food’. Each time we drove past one she would let out a little wail and then try to seek the next possibilities. Finally we got to a building that didn’t really look like a restaurant and when we went in, there were copious rooms that you had to walk through that sold a myriad of things ranging from gem stones, to furniture to masks to typical souvenirs. Finally at the back of the store was the restaurant. Now Keeth explained that we could have the buffet or go a la carte. We decided to take a look at the set menu and chose something decidedly Sri Lankan – spaghetti bolognaise. Yep think this set the tone for what we like to eat. Keeth and the driver went the buffet option. Well it took some time to come out but eventually our Spag Bol arrived – hmm what happened to the mince? It was a whitish colour and the cheese was in strips melted on top. Yep chicken Spag Bol and Kraft cheese Hmm not what was expected but less bite than the contents of the buffet and a different option when we could be having curry tonight.
After finishing our lunch (and Keeth having his rings polished – think maybe that’s why we ended up here) we made our way to the hotel. Along the way we saw plenty of home stays and guest houses and Claire did her best to pick out which one she was hopeful that we pulled into, only to be disappointed when it didn’t occur. Finally we made our way down a small dirt road alongside paddocks and fields. It didn’t really seem like there would be much there and we weren’t sure if the quality we were going for would eventuate. At the end of the street there was an impressive brick wall to which Claire proudly exclaimed that she hoped this would be it as it looked ok. Well when we actually turned into the driveway it looked more than ok. The Amaara resort was amazing. Beautiful in its lay out – huge foyer, greeted with cold towels and juice – yep you know you’re on a winner when that happens. Next little van came to take our bags to our room so that we wouldn’t have to carry them. Then the lady walked us to our room, past the open restaurant, infinity pool and spa treatment centre. Ah yep…good choice here. Claire’s little feet were doing a ‘happy dance’ all the way. So the only choice was whether we did the pool, spa, food or food, pool, spa or any other combination of that. In the end, we decided to take a plunge in the pool, which made for a nice introduction to the hotel. Then we went and had dinner – steak, roast pork andy a burger all for around $50) and then finally Claire and I finished off the day with a head, face and body massage – one hour for two people for just over $70. Yep not a bad way to finish a very enjoyable day – a mix of western and Asian all rolled into a twenty four hour period.
Today showed the value of paying that little bit extra for things. Without the guide at the Rock we would not have enjoyed it as much, without our guide we wouldn’t have found a nice place to have lunch and without spending a little more there is no way we would have finished the day on such a high.