posted on Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sigiriya


Fact. Sinhalese dogs have a certain umpf in the morning. They waste most of the day laying flat on their side, desperately seeking shadows, panting furiously by the side of the road, ignoring the world.
Early mornings are different; well rested and fresh they can give it a shot and test the stamina of foreign looking cyclists. That made for a quick start of my day, sprinting to get away from four raving mad dogs chasing me. Mind you they were the usual smallish size but the rattle they made, barking behind my spinning legs, made them seem bigger, therefore the increased speed on my part. I don't think they were trying to get me rabies, I was just being tested...
As I saw the first mountains in the distance, the landscape turned lush green, with rice fields, tropical forests, lakes and finally a nice and quiet road, crooked and full of character! It was a glorious cycling day to say the least. On the way I also crossed three majestic working elephant and my first dreaded monitor lizard, thank god not crossing my road but rather still, in a shallow water ditch. I am sure they have all the good reason to be around but to me they just look evil, are far too large a lizard and should simply be banned. It took about five hours to Sigiriya with plenty of stops to chat with locals, drink, eat and of course dispensing 'hellos' to children receiving back lots of smiles and laughter.
After five hours cycling I took a shower before starting an hour climb up to Lion Rock, a UNESCO  world heritage sacred site reached after 1400 steps up the dramatic rock face and watched the last rays of sun bathe the forest planes. A duathlon let's say.
Today I watched a couple of tourists getting off their speeding cars, briefly stop at a road side stall with their guide telling what each fruit or drink for sale was, before returning to the air conditioning  of the car and blasting off to the next sightseeing or photo opportunity. Cycling I have less time for visiting attractions but I know I wouldn't want to miss the chance to spend hours each day breathing and sweating in the forest, hearing sounds I have never heard, smelling new scents or stop at a stall and find out how tasty and sweet a fruit whose name I don't even know,  can be. And the smiles of all those children...priceless!