A Days at the Beach
We arrived at Trincomalee by bus and checked into the Sea Lotus Park Hotel located in Uppuveli, a few kilometers north of Trincomalee. Everyone welcomed the opportunity to swim both in the pool and across the fence on the beautiful beach.
Of interest is that Trincomalee is located on the East Coast of Sri Lanka and was hit by the 2004 tsunami. During our stay, I was shown photographs of our hotel pool covered in debris from that fateful day.
The following morning, a few of us took the opportunity to snorkel on nearby Pigeon Island National Park. We took a 40 minutes boatride to the island and spent over three hours snorkelling on the abundant coral viewing the plentiful fishlife including reef sharks and on our final swim were lucky enough to swim with a turtle - very special. Probably a swim too far for me given my back resembled a lobster later that evening, but ces't la vie.
Later in the afternoon we boarded our bus and went to a newly opened maritime museum in Trincomalee. Ananda our guide had specially arranged for us to visit the museum which has been completely restored by the Sri Lankan Navy and funded to some degree by the Dutch Government. Permission to visit was required from the local Sri Lankan Navy Base Commanding Officer as the building has not yet been handed over to the archaeological people and is under Naval guard.
The 17th century building was the Dutch Navy Commissioner's House in Trincomalee and was renovated with the assistance of Dutch Government at a cost of 75 million rupees to establish the Naval and Maritime Museum. was the Naval Superintendent's house originally. The museum has yet to be completely stocked with exhibits, but to see what had been accomplished in bringing a building back from the dead was remarkable - a job very well done.
Once done, we visited Fort Fredrick, the local Army Garrison which had been built by the Portugese and later occupied by both the Dutch and British.
The other thing that was interesting was that we were in Sri Lanka for the May full moon. This is celebrated as the time in which Buddha died and attained nirvana or his enlightenment.
Dambulla Cave Temple
The following morning, we checked out and departed for Dambulla Cave Temple on our way to Kandy.
As we departed Trincomalee, some coconut toddy tappers were spotted in some nearby trees so we paused for a quick photograph. Toddy is an alcoholic drink that is harvested from the flowers of coconuts. It was interesting to see how effortlessly the trees were climbed.
The countryside was quite lovely with significant cultivation of rice in places.
Dambulla Caves is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The rock towers 160 metres over the surrounding plains. There are five caves in the complex which contain statues and paintings. These paintings and statues are related to Lord Buddha and his life. There total of 153 Buddha statues, three statues of Sri Lankan kings and four statues of gods and goddesses. The murals cover an area of 2,100 square metres. Depictions on the walls of the caves include Buddha's first sermon.
Our final visit for the day was to a furniture and woodwork manufacturing shop. There was a fascinating demonstration given about a local timber "rainbow wood" which when sawdust was added to hot water turned purple and then when citris was added to the same water turned yellow. Apparently some forty different colours can be made from the shavings of the rainbow wood tree and had been used extensively in the paintings we had just seen at Dambulla Cave Temple.