Having done a bit of research and a lot of asking around, we discovered that there is no direct bus route from Negombo to Dambulla. We first caught a tuk tuk to Negombo bus station in yet more drizzly rain. Once there we were bombarded with rows of bus platforms and touts calling out their bus routes and lines. We were able to locate a sign for Kurunegala which was our intermediate stop. We’d already been advised to opt for an intercity aircon bus that had less stops and more comfort. We had 10mins to grab a delicious naan-type bread topped with spices, onion and chicken before boarding. Despite bus drivers deeming it appropriate to overtake other buses, bikes, tuk tuks and tractors on blind bends and in the face of oncoming traffic, we arrived safely at kurunegala. The bus station here is bustling and full of gasoline fumes and dirt and we stuck out like a sore thumb with our pasty skin and unwieldy backpacks. After much back and forth with locals and mass confusion we finally found a bus heading for Dambulla and boarded. We had to pay for seats for our luggage too but this still amounted to less than 4quid all in. 2 hour’s later we arrived in Dambulla.

Our guest house, called Green Edge was a little oasis 5mins from town complete with treehouse.

We were greeted with amazingly tasty tea and coffee which we enjoyed on the porch to the sounds of exotic birds and a gentle warm breeze.

In the afternoon we got a tuk tuk to Dambulla caves and the Golden Buddha temple. Having caught a glimpse of our first monkey we walked up the steep 160m climb to reach the cave entrance. Shoes off to enter the Royal Rock Temple. The temple consists of 5 separate caves containing 150 carved statues of Buddhas including some incredibly large 15m reclining Buddha. The views from the top were also impressive.

As we made our descent we passed a much more modern and less charming Golden Temple and Buddha built in 2000, complete with neon sign.

That night we feasted on a delicious curry made by our B&B owner. We had a selection of dishes including dhal, spicy chicken and jackfruit curry. We later googled jackfruit to discover that it’s the largest tree-borne fruit, and somewhat of a miracle food, rich in protein, potassium and iron. Yum

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