Ok, where were we? Polonnaruwa? Not even through the main gate yet? Hmmm.
Through the main gate we went, crying and bleeding all the way. We pedaled north to what we thought was the far end of the site ( it is not), and after a quick snack and some cajoling and finally some carrying ( bleeding knee), we arrived at the most beautiful feature in Polonnaruwa:
The whole hillside was carved, with a seated, standing, and reclining Buddha figures:
While we were admiring the carvings, we discovered that there is another site farther north. Off we went.
There are rumors that some of the artwork inside depicts aliens, and that the nightwatchmen have even seen little green men going into the ruins and disappearing. We didn’t see any, but they’re probably smart enough to stay out of the heat.
Not far away is the local lotus-shaped swimming pool, very nice but closed for maintenance at the time.
Next up was the best preserved unrestored dagoba in all of Sri Lanka, which impressed zero of our children; the heat was already getting to them.
Pro tip: Bring socks, even if you’re wearing sandals for the day. It is important to note that I am not endorsing wearing socks with sandals. That is wrong. The socks are because at many of the sites to see in Polonnaruwa ( and pretty much everywhere in Sri Lanka) you are asked to remove your shoes, and in the middle of the day the sand and stones are the temperature of molten magma.
After that it was time for a break, so we rolled our crew across the road to the tour bus parking lot / souvenir mall / outdoor food court. There we had two incredibly thirst-quenching king coconuts straight out of the fridge. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed a beverage so much in my whole life.
We made a quick stop at the next site, the fourth largest dagoba in Sri Lanka. A quick stop only because we didn’t want to take our sandals off and walk barefoot on the lava. We took pictures from just behind the sign saying “Please remove your shoes”.
By our second-to-last stop at the Sacred Quadrangle, the kids wouldn’t walk anywhere and had to be carried up any flights of stairs. We knew we were running out of time. Near the end of our exploration of this site we got a brief reprieve by going into the only temple in Polonnaruwa with the roof still intact. Amazing what a little bit of shade can do; there was also a busload of middle-aged Korean ladies inside several of whom insisted on giving the kids candy. Amazing what a little sugar can do.
The last stop was the Royal Palace group, where nobody was willing to take even three steps away from the bicycles and the shade. There we took a couple of token photos and then beat it back to our hotel. Big day.