Today is Polonnaruwa day and the first few hours are spent teaching the children how to spell it. After that bracing bit of dawn home-schooling (hello Mr James! Mrs Hecht!) we set off early doors for a nice museum containing lots of bits of old pot and some cracking scaled-down reconstructions of Ancient Polonnaruwa. Some of the buildings were genuinely lovely but it makes us all a bit sad that they were violently burnt to the ground by a jealous king back in the 13th century. The really cool bit though is that the city was then abandoned and left to the jungle, only to be discovered 600 years later by an intrepid British explorer. Polonnaruwa was almost entirely consumed by leaves, vines, creepers, trees and presumably the monkeys were having an utterly brilliant time.
Our excellent guide then escorted us around the ruins. Despite the wealth of archaeological treasures surrounding them, Ed & John continued what has now been nearly a week-long love affair with Sri Lankan gravel. They aren’t discriminating: it can vary in colour and size, from sand to actual boulders. Just as long as it’s possible for them to move it and put it somewhere that it shouldn’t be, it’s right up their street. Here’s Ed in an antechamber of the throne room of Polonnaruwa’s golden boy King Parakramabahu I, sifting dirt.
After a weird buffet experience in a dilapidated ‘modern’ hotel surrounded by a moat containing the ugliest fish you ever saw, we met Wolfgang Dittus, a scientist who set up the Smithsonian Primate Research Centre just outside of town and has been here, researching primates, for 40 years. He’s the dude in beige in the photo above the title. He consulted on the recent documentary ‘Monkey Kingdom’ that we got to watch at the hotel the other night. Wolfgang’s a lovely chap but speaks very softly and he pretty much lost the boys to the gravel the minute he began. Now you’d think little boys and troupes of monkeys would be a no-brainer in terms of holiday entertainment but I swear to god, the hundreds of massively entertaining monkeys, the monkey expert, the very cool ruins – all of these lost out to a couple of freaking seed pods that Eddie found under a tree and proceeded to swing about and hit people with and draw gravel lines. Well at least that’s Christmas sorted. But this little chap stole all of our hearts. He’s a langur and he let me use his profile pic from monkey Grindr (Langr Grindr?)
I know Organ Grinders had monkeys but I didn’t expect monkeys to have Grindr-sized organs. It’s enough to make a buddhist blush.