We had planned a full day today. We had rented bikes from the guest house to go round the ruins of Polonnaruwa and were then off to the national park after lunch. The bikes were there before breakfast - all of the 1950s sit and beg types with dodgy brakes. We set off up the road and reached the site quite quickly. The ruins are relatively recent (12th Century) and in reasonable condition having been restored by the British. It was a mix of palaces, temples and Stupas although the best preserved were the temples. Some of them had carvings of them - elephants, lions, dwarves etc. Judi said - 'there is one of Fran' - this particular dwarf had large boobs - a little unkind if not heightist!
We met a friendly guide who showed us around one set of statues. We got talking to him and described yesterdays bus ride. He commended us for meeting the local people. We then heard him say to the French couple he was taking round, 'the poor English!'. The other highlight was a section with lots of Buddhas standing, sitting, meditating and reclining. Ken got into an intense discussion with the locals as to whether the Buddha was sleeping or dead. The locals insisting he was dead.
We had hired a jeep and driver for the afternoon to go to the Kadulla national park. It was an hour away - half of it down very bumpy tracks. The park is best known for it's wild elephants as they migrate through it during the rainy season. Sure enough, 15 minutes into park, we came across a herd of 20 elephants complete with 3 little ones. Wonderful to be so near to them in the wild. The park is set by a large reservoir (built many years ago as part of the irrigation system). Also in the park there many types of bird - peacocks, painted storks, eagles, herons, spoonbills. After seeing more elephants but unfortunately none of the other inhabitants (crocodiles, leopards, sloth bears) we started to make our way out. The park floods every year in December and parts of it were very muddy. The driver had quite a job getting through splattering mud every where. Ken during this was standing up in the jeep looking for all the world like the captain on the bridge of the ship whilst the poor driver was working to keep it on course. After this he got christened Cap'n Ken!