Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Other things to do in Bentota

In preparation for our weekend trip to Bentota, I asked the hotel to arrange a short tour for our group and to recommend places of interest nearby that we could visit. Out of all the places on the list I received, only few were Google recognized. Among them was a famous Buddhist Temple in the area and two garden estates owned by brothers Bevis and Geoffrey (good thing he wasn't named Butthead) Bawa. These places immediately made it into the itinerary for our short tour, though I said we only wanted to visit the nearer garden, and we also requested to be brought to some local shops, where I purposely said we did not want to go to any tourist traps, but where we could do some souvenir shopping at reasonable prices.

It was quite a challenge at first because our hotel only had drivers who also acted as the guides. As we had our own transportation for safety purposes, the hotel had no guides to that they could send to accompany us. Though they immediately agreed when I asked if they could just ask one driver to go with us and charge us accordingly. 

Our guide took us first to the Kande Vihare Temple. The Kande Vihare Temple is Sri Lanka's tallest Buddha Statue measuring 160½ ft tall.

As it was Sri Lanka's National Day, the temples were really crowded. Cars were not allowed to go up to the temple entrance.

It was a short trek to the entrance
I was afraid at first that we also needed to walk up barefoot.
They probably did not want to lose their footwear so they must have left it in the car.
There was an elephant on the street that people kept offering fruits too.
The also would bow their heads and touch it to the elephant.

Our guide took us to an old temple at the back first.
Everyone had fruit or flower offerings.
The good thing about offering fruit is you take it back with you after you offer it and you can eat it.
Entrance to the temple
A lying Buddha and a girl offering flowers
The Bo Tree is said to be where Buddha received enlightenment
Kande Vihare in profile
shot in vivid with the Canon s95
Me by the Kande Vihare statue
You can see the entrance to the temple in the background

Our next stop was Lunuganga, the estate of the famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Geoffrey was  also a lawyer. It was only later in his life that he decided that he wanted to be an architect too. His work is famous in Sri Lanka. Amanwella, the other Aman resort in Sri Lanka, is one of his projects. His brother Bevis Bawa, who owns Brief Gardens, was a famous landscape artist.

The guide definitely came in handy to get to Lunuganga. The estate has no signs, we just stopped at the gate, rang the doorbell, and waited for someone to open it so we could make a short trek to the receiving area.
This is the only thing you see after the gate
Entrance to Lunuganga is 1250LKR (SG$13.66 or PhP467). This includes admission and a tour of the gardens. Lunuganga also has 6 guest rooms available.

Geoffrey's garden room
The guest rooms are all part of the original estate and can be found through the whole property.
The glass room above is one of them.
The butterfly pond
The property is beside the Bentota River
Statue of Indian God
Sri Lanka's National Flower
The Blue Water Lily
The guide told us that this Leopard Statue was given to Geoffrey by his Italian Lady Friend
This island is also owned by the Bawas

We're quite an impatient bunch so when we realized that we'd just see more of the same, we asked the guide to give us the fast forward version of the tour.

This is the main house
We could not visit it because there were guests in the two rooms
This is the view in front of the house shot in vivid
It is also the same statue that Lunuganga has on its website
Me beside the statue
There's another statue right in front of the house
We were so happy to see the waiter with our drinks because ordering refreshments takes forever.
You get to enjoy the place more whether you want to or not. Hahaha.

The last stop in our short tour was the handicraft and jewelry stores for souvenir shopping. The guide tried to pull a fast one on us by bringing us to a tourist trap where all the prices were in US dollars!
No one bought anything from the first place.
If only I could bring one home for Fi, I'd consider it.
My friend gave him a piece of his mind, so he immediately took us to local stores afterwards.
I wore my souvenirs from Sri Lanka to dinner :)
You can read all about that here.

I think our short tour was a good way to see the other places near Bentota. The driver guide at 2500LKR (SG$27 or PhP935) was a steal. He saved us from wasting time by getting lost. I trust google more that what the hotel recommends so I always try to do my research first.  Just Saying.

1 comment:

  1. That Bevis and Butthead observation cracked me up! Hahaha! Sinulit mo ang Bentota ah!