Day 3 – a slice of luxury: Finally a more reasonable start to the day! After the first of many extremely generous breakfasts in Sri Lanka I left for my first bus ride of the trip. I thought nothing could be busier than the train, but I was wrong. Not only were there even more people, so many it was impossible to move, the food vendors still somehow made it up and down the tiny aisle when we stopped at a bus station. Luckily, I managed to get a seat when I got on and kept it the rest of the 2 hour trip to Habarana. My seat mate offered me some of his short eats from the vendor, which I declined, still full from the massive omelette breakfast. As we sped along (faster than the train I should point out) the breeze billowed through the windows and cleared out the stifling air.
The bus stopped near the hotel but I still needed a tuk tuk for the short drive. The frame was almost rotten through, but the guy was friendly and gave me his number so I could call him the next day to take me to Dambulla and Sigirya bright and early. I had chosen to stay at the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana, a five star hotel which is part of the Cinnamon Group. It was New Year’s Eve and I was alone on the other side of the world, so it was my little treat to myself. The pool areas was wonderful, fringed with palm trees, and as the grounds back onto forests and fields it is wonderfully peaceful and lush. Or at least it would have been if the New Year’s Celebrations hadn’t kept me awake with awful, thudding music until past 1am. It’s also very close to Minneriya National Park, but I didn’t visit as I was headed to Yala National Park later in the trip.
I spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool, dodging various rain showers and watching squirrels bouncing around the place. Later in the afternoon the monkeys ventured towards the bar but were quickly dispersed by the guy with the monkey shooing job, armed only with a catapult. It was too little too late, a packet of biscuits and some bar snacks had already fallen prey, but they soon moved on under the onslaught of projectiles.
I watched the sunset in the beautiful hotel grounds. Dinner was a mandatory buffet given it was New Year’s Eve. Some ghastly evening entertainment accompanied the dinner while I feverishly Goolgled for a driver to take me from Polonnoruwa back to Colombo in a few days’ time (after a quote of £80 from the hotel!) having finally decided that I’m not made for the night train. I decided to stay up and see the New Year in (my first ever away from home) despite the early start the next day. And with that, it was 2016.