it is the morning of December 22nd, we have just had our breakfast at the Victoria chalets and we are now on the road to sigiriya a 2.5 hour journey from our current destination.

 Sigiriya, one of eight UNESCO world heritage sites was the capital of Sri Lanka during the 5th century AD rule under King Kashyapa, it's main attraction is the Sigiriya rock, which is a 500m high magma plug from an extinct volcano, Sigiriya means' Lion's Throat, which is a fitting name when  history cites that the rock once contained a massive carving of Lion through which the palace  at the top would be entered via the Lion's throat, all that survives today unfortunately are the Lion's paws.

The rock aside, the rest of Sigirya itself is truly astounding, the ruins of the water gardens, the design and plans make you realise that the ancient Sri Lankan's were engineering marvels, especially when it came to irrigation technology, the ancient technology that pumped water from the ground 500m up still functions even today!

OK now back to the trip, where was I? Oh yes, we  arrived in Sigirya and it was raining, "oh crap" we all thought, but soon the rain started to cease, we inquired with one of the tour operators whether it was safe to climb in the rain and they said it was OK, so after collecting our stuff and several umbrellas we began our ascend.

Near the top of the rock, one marvels at the beautiful frescoes, rock paintings of beautiful damsels, who are supposed to be King Kashyapas concubines, some suggest they represent deities. Then there is the ruins of the Lion entrance, only the paws survive, but one look at it and you wonder in awe! One can only imagine the sheer size it must have been before falling victim to natural disaster.

Once you reach the top, you are greeted with views that are truly astonishing, look down and you see the layout of the ancient ruins, the water gardens, the intricate details is all there to see, one also learns the reason the king chose to have the palace atop this rock! It gives you a bird's eye view of the entire plains, no enemy could approach unnoticed.  It is like something out of a fantasy flick, one finds it hard to believe places like this exist.

After taking about a few hundred photos, we began our descend, soon we were back on the road heading back to the chalets. We were all pretty tired but I am certain Sigiriya had left a lasting impression especially for those who had seen it for the first time. for me it was my eighth time, would I go again? Absolutely.

The Sigiriya Lion Rock

Sigiriya Fresco

The remains of the Lion.

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My surprise visit to Sri Lanka on 17th December And on the road to Kandy

It's 1st December and I am looking on travel sites to find tickets to Sri Lanka for the 20th of December, I am going through the calendar when it suddenly dawns on me, "I'm only three hours away, why don't I take a flight straight after work?" I had limited annual  leave but Sri Lanka being only three hours away, meant I could leave on a Friday evening, so with that set I booked my tickets for Friday the 17th. Now you see I had told all my family that I would be coming there on the 20th, but this way I would get to surprise them, I knew my Mother, Father, Elder Sis, her husband and kids were there already, however there was one minor problem, I would be landing very late at night, and by the time I reached home, the gate to the house would be locked, so rather than banging on the gate, and waking up everyone I thought I need to inform at least somebody prior to my arrival, that person being my dad. So I emailed him, told him my plan and requested he not tell a soul. 

December 17th, the day was finally here.  Though at work I was not in the frame of mind to work.
Two months had gone by since moving to Singapore and now the day where I would see my family again had come.  Oh how happy I was at the thought of being united with my family, I was dying to see them all, especially my gorgeous, cute, roli poli, chubby cheeks nephew Dihain and niece Maya.  
6pm soon arrived and off I went to the aiport, in a matter of an hour I was airbound, "I am going to Sri Lanka" I kept saying to myself.

Three hours had passed now since being airborne and the familiar sound of the planes landing gear was now tingling in my ear,  I got off the plane, and took a deep breath, "At last" I said to myself, I am home.  

Checking out didn't take much long and very soon I was in an air con van off to my family home in Moratuwa, it was 11.50 and by 1am I had reached my home.

My dad opened the door hearing the sound of the gate opening, I got out and he gave me the biggest hug.  My sister was in tears,  so was my mother.  I was so happy to see them all, it had felt like I had been gone for years.  After greeting and hugging, I asked my Sister where the kids were, she said they were sleeping and pointed to the room they were in. I walked over and slowly opened the door. There they way, sound asleep looking as beautiful as ever!  I slowly walked back out and rejoined my family, they had so many questions to ask, but soon our conversation was disturbed by the sound of my nephew crying, I ran to the room and carried him, he was half asleep, and crying he didn't seem to recognise me. My brother-in-law came in and carried him, he was just about to fall asleep when he woke up eyes wide, looked at me and said "Maama" meaning uncle.  Despite the combined efforts of my sister, brother-in-law and myself we could not put him back to sleep, he was far too excited and insisted I play ball with him. Three hours later I was knackered and off to bed I went. 

Days soon went by, it was the 20th December and the rest of my family i.e my older brother and younger sister arrived along with them came my sister's friend Sabrina and her partner Mick.  This was the first time in two years that the entire family had been together in Sri Lanka at the same time. Furthermore It was the first time in 15 years that I was outside of England for the month of December. 

The next day we would being our excursion/road trip to Kandy, so I asked my brother, "Have you organised the transport for tomorrow morning?", "No, Vasi said she would" came the reply, so I asked Nanga, "Have you organised the transport?", "I emailed Amma, and told her" "Ammmaaaa, have you arranged transport for our trip, nanga said she emailed you" Of course, the answer was a no, you see we had no Internet, well we did but we hadn't re-established the connection.  Well this is great we all thought, how on earth are we going to find transportation last minute! We rummaged through the phone book and called about a dozen travel companies, they all had vehicles, but not to accomodate 18 people and the ones that did had no air conditioning. 

The following morning,  Nanga made more calls, only to be dissapointed. Then my brother said, "Hey why don't we try the Cinnamon Grand where our mates are staying,  I'm sure they will have tour operators" With that said she called the hotel, I heard a "uhuh, uhuh, mmm hmmm" and saw a smile, from that I knew we had struck paydirt!  Alright!!!!! Let's get going! 

Around 11.30am we reached the hotel, and informed everyone that in half and hour  we would have an 18 seat, air conditioned tour  bus taking us to Kandy,  12.00pm came and there was no sign of the bus, my brother the informed us that the idiot travel operator had told the bus driver to get to the hotel for 12:00pm at 12:00pm, the bus was in Negombo, about 2.5 hours away from Colombo,  "Bloody idiot" I thought to  myself, there was  no way we were leaving at 12:00pm now,  we couldn't get another bus, because there wasn't one available so we just had to sit tight for almost three hours till they finally arrived. We could not blame them though, as it was no their fault, I mean you can't expect them to come at a certain time, when they are informed at the time they were supposed to be at the destination.

16:00 hrs and we were on the road  heading to Kandy, but I wasn't longbefore we were caught in the infamous Colombo traffic! It was nearing the time where school was finishing and people were coming home after work. Kandy is 3 hours away providing you don't get caught in any traffic,  however if you get caught in traffic expect a journey time of around 6 hours or more! 

Just as expected, by midnight we reached our destination, Kandy. Digana, Victoria Golf Course, chalets where we would be spending three nights and seeing many other places.  We had planned to visit the famous Pinnewela Elephant orphanage but due to the catastrophe with the travel that entire day was wasted, but no matter we were here in Kandy and we could always go to Pinnewela on the journey back.

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