World’s End …

Some of us managed to raise ourselves before 5:00 am this morning to get an early start on the 10km Horton Plains walk to World’s End and Baker Falls.  Unfortunately quite a few other tourists had the same idea, including several groups of Chinese who made so much noise taking photos of themselves and racing along the track that they ruined everyone’s chances of seeing wildlife.

Nevertheless we did manage to catch a beautiful view of Adam’s Peak

Early morning clouds surround Adam's Peak
Early morning clouds surround Adam’s Peak

And some Sambhur Deer, a chameleon, a family of Purple Faced Leaf Monkeys and a bumble bee the size of a small mouse.

The views from the top of the mountains were fabulous.  Adam’s Peak lookout has a 1,200 metre drop and no guard rails to protect us from our own stupidity!

Full moon in Kandy …

It’s difficult to describe the intensity of last night’s cultural experience …

We arrived on the second last day of Perahera, the biggest celebration on the Sri Lankan religious calendar, when thousands of pilgrims descend on Kandy to worship and to line the streets for the nightly parade.  We had been “lucky” enough to pre-book seats in front of the Queens Hotel, one of the better street viewing spots.  But what we didn’t realise was that we would be packed in like sardines barely able to move our legs or change position to alleviate the pressure on our backs or bottoms!

For five hours, choked by the fumes from coconut torches doused with kerosene, we were pinned to our seats as beautifully costumed dancers, fire jugglers, monks, drummers, whip crackers and elephants paraded slowly past.

It was exhilarating and at the same time excruciatingly uncomfortable, but something we will never forget.

Here’s a quick glimpse of the parade ….

Encore Sigiriya …

Sigiriya viewed from Kandalama
Sigiriya viewed from Kandalama

I wrote about climbing Sigiriya Rock two years ago in my post The Day of a Thousand Steps so I won’t go in to the historical detail again. The climb is challenging enough for anyone who suffers from a fear of heights as several of us do, but we hadn’t factored in school holidays and a crush of people shuffling along the narrow platforms and spiral staircases, nor the near gale force winds which buffeted us at the summit.  Exciting stuff !!

The spiral staircases jammed with people
The spiral staircases jammed with people

In most first world countries, Sigirya would be considered a safety nightmare and probably closed down. Nevertheless, five of our group made the return trip without incident, as thousands do every week.