Sunday, October 02, 2005

Polonnaruwa ruins/ Train to Colombo

Wake up late, with a hangover. Not the best thing, considering that I have a day's walking around an old ruined city ahead of me.

The guidebook suggests that you rent a bike from your guesthouse (approx 150 rupees) and use it to get around the 4km sq old city. Being lazy, hot, and hungover, I opt instead to hire a tuk-tuk to drive me around the various sites - for the not so expensive price of 500 rupes. This proves to be a great idea, especially after a few ants start biting my bare feet.

Anyhow - so. It's an old city. 1000 years old. Buddhas, everywhere. If I knew anything about archaelogy, I might have enjoyed it more.. but it just looked like an old city. A hot hot hot old city. Lillian, where are you when I need you? I make the most of it though, and try to at least learn a bit, spending approx 4-5 hours there in total.

As a number of the ruined buildings were shrines, you need to take off your hat and shoes before entering - which, when the building no longer has a roof, means that you are walking on hot-as -hell rocks to get up close to a Buddha statue. This was fine for a bit, until someone "helpfully" moved my sandals to a shady spot hidden behind where I had left them - and I end up spending about 10 minutes searching for them, hopping around from one foot to the other (much to the enjoyment of touring Sri Lankan schoolchildren) and generally trying not to say obscene things in a very holy place - all while my feet start to burn.

I head back to the main town after, and try to find a Doctor open (I can feel an ear infection coming on). At 6pm, on a Sunday, I find that the "hospital" in town (really, one room with a bored doctor sitting at a table) is open. The doctor examines me (using a knockoff maglite to look in my ears), and writes me an rx for some drugs. Total cost for the doctors visit = free (government hospital). Total cost for the antibiotic drugs = 50 rupees.

Remind me again why US healthcare costs are so high?

Eventually, I catch the 11:30PM train to Columbo - where I do indeed have a 1st class bed... with a private toilet in the cabin. This would normally sound lovely, except for the fact that a private toilet means that my bed is literally less than a meter from a urine soaked room. Ick.

Still. It was 1st class. I could sleep, had a fan. and arrived relatively refreshed in Columbo this morning.

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