Dambulla - Sri Lanka

Jyoti and I started our journey out of Colombo as soon as we landed. Reason being we would like to get out of the city to start exploring, saving Colombo for the last part of our trip before we flew back to Malaysia.

We began by getting local currency, then got ourselves a local mobile Sim Card  - 'Dialog' from Colombo Airport for Rs 1300. You need to produce a passport for documentation purpose. Since I will be there for the next 1 month, doing Couchsurfing in between, it would be helpful for me to get in touch with my host while being on the road.

Upon exit the airport, there will be a bus stop by the opposite side of the road, where you can see air-conditioned minibuses heading for Colombo city. For Rs 50 per pax, we got ourselves to Colombo city bus terminal where we further paid Rs 270 per pax to ride on a different local bus which then took us to Dambulla, our designated location to start our adventure. Arriving Dambulla in less than 4 hours with an interesting culture shock along the way. Be sure to ask around for the right bus since most of the sign board for buses are in Sinhala, the local language.

Apparently it is a custom that in Sri Lanka, the standing passengers in the bus ought to pass you their carry-on to the seated passengers to help keep guard of it. Jyoti and I were both looking at each other thinking that someone dropped a pot of gold on her. We were stunned and didn't know what to do. I think we tried giving it back to the standing passenger who responded with nothing but a friendly smile. We then understood this by watching others having the same act of kindness. There were even times where baby, groceries etc were being passed around from front to the back of the bus. This is so that passengers can stand without having to handle extra baggage. We were amused with this interesting culture.

Blue Sky - where we stayed in Dambulla, Sri lanka

We have made an online booking (without having to pay in advance ) at Blue Sky Guesthouse prior to our arrival. A complimentary 5 minutes tuk tuk ride provided by the guesthouse brought us safely to our accommodation upon arrival at Dambulla bus terminal. Rs 1700 was what we paid for a room per night with en-suite toilet, one queen size bed and one single bed with mosquito nets. We utilized the room to our luxury completely. We had dinner prepared by the guesthouse for Rs 500 to feed us fried rice, chicken with gravy, and fruits.

Each to our own bed - awesome !

Two hungry travelers going straight to dinner right after shower.

Waking up the following day early in the morning heading to Sigiriya, we rode the tuk-tuk for Rs 75 each from guesthouse to Dambulla bus station. The bus ride cost us Rs 30 each over a journey of 1 hour or so. We then walked 15 minutes further to arrive the entrance of Sigiriya. Entrance ticket of Rs 3750 per pax allowed us to visit the Mirror Wall, Museum, Caves and to the peak of Sigiriya.

You can see the sign board written in English for destination to Sigiriya in this picture.

Entrance ticket to Sigiriya. We paid Rs 3750 (Sri Lankan Rupees ) instead of US $ 30.

We started hiking up to the peak before the place was flooded with tourist. With a narrow hiking path, one must be careful when overtaking the person in front as it is quite easy to be carried away by the view without looking ahead. Good news is that hiking path is all man made concrete structure. However, going up during rainy days could be dangerous.

On the way to the top of Sigiriya

You can see that traffic is heavy with narrow stairway.

This is where you start & end the climb.

Jyoti ( Left ) & I (right) after conquering Sigiriya, Dambulla - Sri Lanka

We ended our visit by doing a stop at the museum before taking the public bus back to Dambulla bus terminal for Rs 32 per pax. A lunch of fried rice with chicken cost me Rs 200. After having enough rest from the long morning, we headed off walking back to our guesthouse by stopping over at Rock Temple / Golden Temple on our way back. A temple that requires a person to be relatively fit in order to climb up the flight of stairs under the afternoon Sun. Many vendors available along the climb to sell you drinks and souvenirs. We bought a mineral water to re-hydrate ourselves for Rs 60. Toilets are available for Rs 10 if you ever need it (next to ticket counter where we bought entrance ticket). Walking distance from Dambulla bus station to Rock Temple / Golden Temple is roughly 15 - 20 minutes walk. Entrance fee to Rock Temple AND Golden Temple is Rs 1500 per pax.

As Buddhism is widely spread across Sri Lanka, you may find many Buddha statues within the temple vicinity. 

Golden Temple - Dambulla, Sri Lanka

Rock Temple next to the Golden Temple, Dambulla - Sri Lanka

One of the many sights inside Rock Temple

The Mighty Buddha at Golden Temple, Dambulla - Sri Lanka

Tips : 
1. We DO NOT believe in paying in advance for room reservation during our travels ( ever !!! ). We insisted on paying cash upon arrival. This works in saving the drama of being double booked if you happened to pay for it in advance before arrival. ( seen it happened and experienced it personally - lesson learned !) 

2. No footwear allowed within the temple compound. Keep a plastic bag handy and store your footwear in your day pack to save on paying storage fees before you enter. Make sure to be as invisible as you can since people might have a bad impression on you. 

3. Wear / bring a pair of socks to walk around the temple during day time. This will save your feet from the burning Sun during the day.

4. Pack some snacks / fruits to keep your hunger at bay when there is nothing around. We had apples at the peak of Sigiriya to keep our energy running.

5. At the point of travel ( January 2013 ) - Currency exchange is higher in Sri Lanka, so we got our currency exchanged from Ringgit Malaysia ( MYR )  to Sri Lankan Rupees ( LKR / Rs ) at Colombo Airport upon arrival.

Expenses per pax at Dambulla ( Sri Lankan Rupees - Rs ):

Rs 1300  - Dialog Sim Card from Colombo Airport. 

Rs 50 - Bus from Colombo Airport to Colombo City Bus Terminal
Rs 500 - Dinner at Blue Sky Guesthouse ( Fried Rice, Chicken Sambal & Fruits ) 
Rs 850 - Blue Sky Guesthouse per night
Rs 50 - Mineral water bottle at Blue Sky Guesthouse ( we were wrong to assumed that it's complimentary ) 
Rs 75 - Tuk tuk from Blue Sky Guesthouse to Dambulla bus terminal
Rs 30 - Bus fare from Dambulla bus terminal to Sigiriya
Rs 3750 - Sigiriya Entrance ( including Mirror Wall / Caves / Peak / Museum )
Rs 32 - Sigiriya to Dambulla bus terminal
Rs 200 - Lunch ( Fried rice + chicken ) 
Rs 1500 - Ticket entrance to Rock Temple / Golden Temple
Rs 10 - Toilet at the temple
Rs 30 - Mineral water 

Total  = Rs 8377 = MYR 212.18

More of my Sri Lanka trip here :

Arugam Bay : http://bit.ly/169pTUT

Check out pictures on Dambulla : http://on.fb.me/1zjQPJ2

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