Pull into Vil Uyana – for a drink – not to stay (of course). Its 4pm and the roads are hot and dusty. The polite person at the entrance is momentarily confused about whether to let us enter if we are getting a room. There’s a quick phone call and we are welcomed in. We sip the view of the place from the entrance while a golf cart like vehicle is dispatched to palanquin us to the restaurant/bar. We get an overview of the place as we ride and learn that only 3 “rooms” are occupied. A different casualty of the “the war”.
The place has a nice mix of the rustic while feeling exclusive. More importantly, it feels comfortable and peaceful. Peace these days as we all know is rather expensive. Takes dollars and more recently Euros to buy.
The main restaurant/dining area has a very interesting late Kandiyan style mural and a blissful view. The mural is unique in that the top row is dominated by a large image of Ganesh (where traditionally you’d expect a Buddha). The inscription is about some sort of festival the mural is supposed to depict (forgotten what it was exactly about). A Kandian mural within a short drive from Sigiriya is quite curious choice but the styles of Dambulla and other places doesn’t make it entirely out of place. This type of fussing shouldn’t detract from the fact that the artwork is quite beautiful. Sadly I can’t find a photo of it and I don’t have my psycho camera (which decides to pull my aperture settings down by 2 stops when I click the shutter) with me .
The dry zone in the dry season – everyone is looking for a drink. Including the one of the resident crocs whom we watch munch on something while we wait for our drinks. These take their time but are worth it. I’m not driving so I dare to ordering a coffee with some booze in it. The prices are obviously steep but for the hard currency tourist its a bargain.
The new croc is a local (we are told) who found his way into one of the resort’s large ponds. The “official” resident croc is in the other pond. So no croc fights. The water flow is assured. There are plenty of clueless birds at the water’s edge and fish in the pond. The monster doesn’t seem to care about how lucky it is. Perhaps it is the gravitas acquired from surviving the dinosaurs without resorting to evolution too much.
As a counterpoint to the croc, Sigirya floats unignorably serene in the near horizon. But Vil Uyana is relaxing enough that it would take quite a bit of effort to get one’s ass off a cushion and up the rock. Or wonder about on an elephant in the many activities the place offers. We are joined by is a sun burnt but happy New Zealander who seems to be hooked on lion larger. Helps him pontificate on and on and on and on. Having heard about the number of steps in Sigiriya, he has decided to admire it from the Vil Uyana bar.
On the way out (where the access road meets the highway to Habarana) there are clutches of colourful saris of those working in the resorts (Elephant Corridor, Sigiriya village etc) in the area. Tourism is apparently bringing in training and exposure to the world that few people in the area can dream of without a migration to Colombo.
Further down a wild elephant is blocking the road. Seems even the locals were excited (running over to look – some “armed” with brooms). The traffic is not happy. An impatient truck with asbestos sheets tries in wane to squeeze in but who can argue with a lone elephant? Abruptly the road unclogs. There’s an grumpy elephant in the tall grass by the road sulking off into the sunset. On the other side a bunch of locals are gathered around a push bicycle that seemed rather mangled. Elephant droppings all over the road. Perhaps the pachyderm doesn’t give a shit (sorry couldn’t resist that one). That little piece of highway theatre might also is a fragment of the pressures facing the island’s wild elephants.
The shadows are lengthening fast. We leave the local drama behind and chariot onward to dinner. Later while heading over to capture the sunset over the water I get pissed on by monkeys.