Abu Dhabi’s Corniche Public Beach

Dousing myself into cool azure beaches is one thing that I enjoy a lot. I’m sure everyone would agree that it is so relaxing and definitely it relieves one’s stress whether from work or in life. I was in Abu Dhabi for Eid break and since I heard about its open beaches at its corniche area (there are more in other locations), I headed there together with Syaoran and Vaj. It was worth the time and what we got into did not disappoint us. In fact, we really had fun that afternoon and our stay lasted for more than 3 hours. Originally, our plan was to stay only less than an hour so that we could spend the rest of the evening roaming around the city center. The open beach is located at the west part of the corniche just across ADCO (Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations) building. I think it is one of the safest public beaches I’ve been to in both UAE and KSA. There are security guards stationed around. Lifeguards are visible and checking the swimmers from time to time. Beachgoers, men and women alike, who are clad in beach attires (bikinis) act properly as they were enjoying the water. Respect to everyone is observed. It is far from what we experienced in Dubai’s public beach where other nationalities ogle like hungry vultures. (please read my post: http://clecstrotter.com/2013/08/10/night-swimming-at-jumeira-beach/)

The beach is well taken care of. The white sand that stretches hundreds of meters is regularly raked. The swimming area is cordoned with buoys as marking suggesting that swimmers are warned not to go beyond. It is clean. I had not seen any trash at all. There is an area that exclusive for families. Mosque is near while restaurants, snack kiosks and children’s playgrounds are just within reach. Changing rooms and showers are also available. They have the basic amenities beachgoers need. But I hope they would add more facilities like water sports to delight those visitors and local residents alike who love water adventure.

The beach front at the Open Beach in West Corniche where we dipped into its blue water.

The beach front at the Open Beach in West Corniche where we dipped into its clear water.

The beach rules are posted in prominent areas to inform beach goers of the do's and dont's.

The beach rules are posted in prominent areas to inform beach goers of the do’s and dont’s

Beach map

Beach map. Corniche beach, the ultimate experience.

One of the kiosks in the area that sells soft ice cream.

One of the kiosks in the area that sells cold drinks and soft ice cream.

Dipping into its clear water is something I truly enjoyed.

Dipping into its clear water is something I truly enjoyed a lot.

The towering buildings serve as backdrop of corniche beach.

Background of the corniche beach is a cluster of Abu Dhabi’s towering buildings.

Syaoran and Vaj reminiscing child hood days, playing a Pinoy game they both enjoyed.

Syaoran and Vaj reminiscing child hood days, playing “kingking baka”, a Pinoy game, they both enjoyed.

Across the beach is where Marina Mall and the highest flag in UEA are located. That was our destination after the swim.

Across the beach is where Marina Mall and one of the tallest flagpoles in UAE are located. That was our destination after the swim.

Abu Dhabi’s corniche beach serves its purpose i.e. a public beach that is accessible and free for everyone. It is one of the treasures that Abu Dhabi could offer to its guests and also to Emiratis who desire a healthy life, a better quality of life above all. As visitors, let us do our part to ensure that cleanliness and orderliness are maintained at corniche beach or at any beach for that matter. Let us not deprive others of the same fun we too experienced, because afterall in this world everyone, like us, deserves to enjoy the nature.

Cebu Restaurant Abu Dhabi – Have it the Filipino way

While walking on the streets of Khalidiya district in Abu Dhabi searching for a store to get a new shirt to replace the “soaked-in-sweat” shirt I wore after a long walk/jog at corniche, I bumped into one distinct restaurant just beside the mosque in Zayed The First Street at the back of Lebanese Flower Restaurant. It can be recognized as truly Pinoy as its name is similar to one of my favorite destinations in the Philippines, Cebu. Cebu Restaurant simply offers Pinoy style cooking at Abu Dhabi’s busy district.  The restaurant occupies a small two-storey building. On the first floor is the turo-turo section where you could order the ready cooked meals. More tables are found on the second floor with LCD TV mounted on the wall showing ABS-CBN TFC programs. With its size, it could accommodate perhaps around 30 people.

Cebu Restaurant is located in Khalidiya District, Abu Dhabi beside the mosque and at the back of Lebanese Flower Restaurant.

Cebu Restaurant is located in Khalidiya District, Abu Dhabi beside the mosque and at the back of Lebanese Flower Restaurant.

At the resto's 2nd floor. Attached on the wall is a LCD TV that plays TFC shows.

At the resto’s 2nd floor. Attached on the wall is a LCD TV that plays TFC shows.

The counter at the 1st floor. The restaurant has actually free wifi.

The counter at the 1st floor. The restaurant has actually free wifi.

Stairway to the second floor with photos hung on the wall.

Stairway to the second floor with photos hung on the wall.

Cebu Restaurant offers a wide array of Pinoy dishes from the usual breakfast meals like tapsilog, bangsilog, hotsilog etc., their sizzlings bulalo steak, tanigue, pusit, chicken fillet, and their seafood-based dishes like sinigang, sweet and sour fish fillet, ginataang tilapia, bangus (grilled/daing) among others. Chicken meals are likewise served such as inasal, tinola, kaldereta and adobo. But I also found out that they offer not so Pinoy like chicken cordon bleu, orange-ginger chicken and terriyaki. Beef meals include humba, steak, kare-kare, nilaga, sinigang, bulalo, kaldereta and even papaitan. Desserts like halo-halo, biko, maja blanca and biko are also available.

The restaurants menu list.

The restaurants menu list.

So what we got for our dinner? We ordered their recommended dishes, probably their best seller. We got sinigang na hipon, sizzling tanigue steak, chopsuey, beef steak and grilled bangus. Their food is typical Pinoy with perhaps infusion of their own cooking style. Admittedly, what we had savored were similar to other Pinoy dishes we had previously tried. But, we did enjoy our dining experience knowing that it is one of those that carries Filipino identity in Abu Dhabi.

The restaurant's sinigang na hipon. Not that I didn't like, but I prefer a bit sour.  Syaoran liked this.

The restaurant’s sinigang na hipon (AED 22). Not that I didn’t like, but I prefer a bit sour. This is okay with Syaoran, though he said his mother’s sinigang is still the best.

Sizzling tanigue steak. I think I was the only one who ate this.

Sizzling tanigue steak (AED 28). I think I was the only one who ate this.

Chopsuey - made up of chicken cooked with different kinds of vegetables.

Chopsuey (AED 15) – stir fried chicken meat cooked with different kinds of vegetables.

Beef steak - thinly sliced beef cooked in soy sauce and calamansi juice garnished with onion rings.

Beef steak (AED 20) – thinly sliced beef cooked in soy sauce and calamansi juice with sliced potatoes garnished with onion rings.

Inihaw na bangus - grilled milkfish stuffed with ingredients like onions, garlic, tomatoes etc.

Inihaw na bangus – grilled milkfish stuffed with ingredients like ginger, onions, garlic, tomatoes etc.

Inside of grilled bangus with its stuffing.

Grilled bangus with all its stuffing.

Syaoran and Vaj during our dinner at Cebu Restaurant.

Syaoran and Vaj during our dinner at Cebu Restaurant.

“Have it the Filipino way” is Cebu Restaurant’s slogan. It tries to bring Filipino culture closer to the Arabs while at the same time offers our kababayans Pinoy home-cooked food at affordable prices. It is but best for Pinoy expats living in Abu Dhabi or Pinoy tourists visiting the place to support our own. Ika nga, tangkilikin ang sariling atin.

Cebu Restaurant

Zayed The First Street, Khalidiya

Beside Lebanese Flower Restaurant

Telephone: 02 665-2886

Barrio Fiesta – home of authentic Filipino cuisine in Dubai

It was a lazy afternoon when we decided to go to Burjuman Center in Dubai. And the main reason was to take our late lunch at Barrio Fiesta which I happened to stumble while surfing the net looking for Filipino resto nearest our hotel in Bur Dubai. As it is one of those pioneer Pinoy restaurants in the Philippines and an institution in authentic Pinoy cooking, without any second thought I pulled my friend and we proceeded to the place. Barrio Fiesta is inside Burjuman Center located at Level 3 across Shrimp’s World. The ambiance is truly Filipino with its Pinoy interior design. The entrance posts are made from shells of mother of pearl. Hung on its walls are pictures of our different celebrations. The chairs are made from native materials perhaps abaca. A guitar is even placed at the entrance to which anyone could pick to strum their favorite songs. Pinoy hospitality is also apparent as the attendant guides you to your table while happily welcoming you and suggesting must-tries in the restaurant. I think those are perhaps the reasons why Barrio Fiesta sets apart from other restaurants in the area. While scanning the menu, I could not help but felt proud that at least there is a Pinoy restaurant that thrives and competes in Dubai’s foodie business usually dominated by Italian, Indian, Arabic, American and Mediterranean.

This is the entrance to the  Barrio Fiesta that could accommodate more than 100 guests.

This is the entrance to Barrio Fiesta. The restaurant could accommodate more than 100 guests.

Barrio Fiesta's Pinoy designed interior with its chairs made from native materials.

Barrio Fiesta’s Pinoy designed interior with its walls posted with photos of Pinoy celebrations and its chairs made from native materials.

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We ordered bangus sa bawang, sinigang na hipon, ginataang sitaw at kalabasa, and sumisirit na pusit. The food were delectable and Pinoy flavors are distinctive, indeed. Though it was so good and the food were cooked the lutong bahay (home-cooked) way, I think it was a little bit pricey. But the fact that it gives you a feel of true Pinoy dining experience inside a high-end mall, that underscores everything. Ambiance + good food = good experience.

Sinigang na hipon - a tamarind flavored soup served with shrimps and assorted vegetables (Price: AED 38-full/ AED 20-half)

Sinigang na hipon – a tamarind flavored soup served with shrimps and assorted vegetables (Price: AED 38-full/ AED 20-half). The sourness is just right for our taste.

Bangus sa bawang - boneless milk fish pan fried and sprinkled with fried garlic (Price: AED 42).

Bangus sa bawang – boneless milk fish pan fried and sprinkled with fried garlic (Price: AED 42). What I like about this is the crispiness and the tastes of fried garlic. But I would prefer sinamak (spiced vinegar) as sawsawan (condiment).

Ginataang sitaw at kalabasa (100% vegetarian) - squash and string beans cooked in coconut milk and served with tofu (Price: AED 18).

Ginataang sitaw at kalabasa (100% vegetarian) – squash and string beans cooked in coconut milk and served with tofu (Price: AED 18). This is likewise good, but maybe better if the coconut milk is creamier.

Sumisirit na pusit - grilled squid cooked with vegetables in a special sauce and served in sizzling plate (Price: AED 35).

Sumisirit na pusit – grilled squid cooked with vegetables in a special sauce and served in sizzling plate (Price: AED 35). A little bit sweet but the spiciness is just enough for another bowl of rice.

Steamed jasmine rice (Price: AED 7).

Steamed jasmine rice (Price: AED 7).

Travel buddy Syaoran who loves Barrio Fiesta's sinigang.

Travel buddy Syaoran who loves Barrio Fiesta’s sinigang.

Picking up the guitar just for posterity, because in truth I don't  know how to play it.

Picking up the guitar just for photo op because in truth I don’t know how to play it.

Unfortunately, we had not tried the kakanin (native delicacies) as we were full. In their list, they have puto bumbong (glutinous rice with cheese and coconut jam), maja blanca (coconut milk flan topped with ground peanuts), buko pandan (sweet gelatin strips of buko with pandan essence) among others. Halohalo (dessert made from crushed ice topped with preserved fruits like banana, ube, jackfruit etc. and with sago, gulaman with milk and ice cream). Gulaman at sago (native gelatin and tapioca in brown sugar syrup flavored with pandan leaves and topped with crushed ice) is also served. They have almost all Pinoy favorites in the restaurant. I’m sure when in town again I will definitely return. By that time, I would indulge in their weekend lunch buffet served from 11:30 AM – 3:30 PM for only AED 49.

Barrio Fiesta or any other Pinoy restaurant in Dubai deserves our loyalty. We need to support them and be proud that Pinoy cuisine is not left behind in Dubai’s food business. Let us showcase the Filipino heritage to the world.

BARRIO FIESTA

Level 3, Burjuman Center

PO Box 29437, Dubai, UAE

Tel: (04) 3476310

Website: http://www.etastar-retail.com

Night swimming at Jumeira Beach

It was unexpected that another beach-swimming experience awaits me after returning from Abu Dhabi. Now this time it was in Dubai.  “Beaching” was not in the plan, not at the time when what I needed was to lie down and take a nap after our tiring last day in Abu Dhabi. I think our visit to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque under a scorching heat of the sun (at around 40 degrees) knocked off my energy. I need to recharge. I should have to go on with my schedule the next day which entails hitting the sack to be prepared. But I was just thankful because such another beach experience was rejuvenating- the spirit perked up. And what is also good about it was meeting people whom I look forward to become friends eventually.

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We were actually invited by our friends’ relative to join them for a picnic in Jumeira beach. Hearing the word “beach”, I prodded my friend to go despite it was night time and even if how tired we were.  Jumeira beach is a famous white sand beach that stretches along Dubai’s southern coast until the area of Jebel Ali. It is where some of the posh hotels are located, such as the Jumeira Beach Hotel and Dubai’s famous landmark- Burj Al Arab and the Palm Jumeira, the home of Atlantis and Aquaventure. Some portions are public beaches that means open for everyone and free of charge. As it was end of Ramadan and the start of Eid holiday, it was expected that lots of beach-goers flocked the area. Indeed, when we arrived we saw cluster by cluster of people occupying the open spaces near the water sitting on their picnic mats. Others were already dipping on chest-deep water. The night weather was muggy and the beach was calm with small waves rolling slowly. The water was warm. For me it was perfect for night swimming. There was no pensive mood. All you could hear were the the bursts of deep loud hearty laughter from the people around. But a warning for all especially women, some nationalities who shared the beach were disrespectful. They were ogling and seemingly finding a chance to make advances to female beach-goers. There were some men walking along the beach front peeping. They pretend to be taking photos of each other using their mobile phones but actually directed to women. But, we have our own way to assert ourselves, as always Filipinos are inventive.

Jumeira beach map from googlemap.com

Jumeira beach map from googlemap.com.

The tallest building in the world serves as backdrop of the beach

The tallest building in the world serves as backdrop of the beach.

Beach buddies from L to R: Syaoran, Dan, Ann, Vaj who I’m sure equally enjoyed the beach experience.

Beach buddies from L to R: Syaoran, Dan, Ann, Vaj who I’m sure equally enjoyed the beach experience.

These lovely ladies just love the night swimming

These pretty ladies just love the night swimming.

Just pure fun

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Jumeira beach offers every visitor and the residents alike fun beach experience in Dubai. 

True to its word, Dubai is one of the most livable cities in the world. It provides services and public amenities that are accessible to all walks of life. And Jumeira open beach is one of them as it offers every visitor and the residents alike fun beach experience in Dubai. While Dubai is doing its best to serve everyone, we have to do our responsibility as well, i.e. to observe its laws.  After all, what we want is peaceful and healthy living in a country that others called their second home.

Balinese Babi Guling at Warung Andi Jaya

Yes, I am not yet over roasted pigs but this time it is about our pigging experience in Bali, Indonesia. On our way back from our Pura Ulun Danu visit, I asked our driver to drop us to one of those warungs (roadside restaurants/stores that sell food and grocery items and even souvenirs) along the road to binge on Balinese version of lechon, the equally sumptuous “babi guling”. I heard about this Balinese cuisine way back then and since a lot as well recommended that feasting on babi guling when in Bali should be part of your to-do-list, we exactly did the same. We actually found a lot of warungs along the way, but our driver has recommended us to try Warung Babi Guling Andi Jaya. If you’re going your way to Pura Ulun Danu in Bedugul, this restaurant is located at the right side of Jalan Raya Denpasar. Andi Jaya is like a typical “turo-turo” roadside restaurants in the Philippines.  And here in this restaurant, “babi guling” is definitely their star.

This warung is at the right side of Jalan Raya Denpasar on the way to Ulun Danu, Bedugul.

This warung is at the right side of Jalan Raya Denpasar on the way to Ulun Danu, Bedugul.

This is how babi guling meal in Warung Andi Jaya is prepared.

This is how babi guling meal in Warung Andi Jaya is prepared.

Babi means pig, while guling is grilled/roasted. Like the Philippines’ lechon which we had in Zubuchon (read my post here http://clecstrotter.com/2013/07/27/zubuchon-arguably-cebus-best-lechon/), babi guling is also spit-roasted the traditional way over open flame. Preparing the suckling pigs for roasting involves stuffing them with various ingredients which may not be limited to lemongrass, turmeric, pepper, garlic, shallots among others and/or their own special concoctions. These are apparent in Andi Jaya’s, as I could taste those in their babi guling served to us especially the lemon grass and pepper.  A plate of Andi Jaya’s babi guling comprises roasted pig of course, a piece of sausage, fried pig skin (chicharon), brown rice, vegetable as side dish topped with a very spicy coconut sauce. Comes with the meal is a bowl of soup that tastes piquantly delicious. The meat is flavorful and succulent while the chicharon is indeed crunchy. I like also the sausage, though fatty, it is savory. Lovers of spicy food would definitely love Andi Jaya’s babi guling as they will never get disappointed. The spicy flavor runs throughout but like me who could not tolerate super hot food, a bottle of cola is an equalizer.

Babi guling in Andi Jaya served in native plate.

Babi guling in Andi Jaya served in native plate.

Andi Jaya's babi guling is served with brown rice.

Andi Jaya’s babi guling is served with brown rice.

A bowl of soup that is piquantly delicious.

A bowl of soup that is piquantly delicious.

Our experience in Andi Jaya of their delicious babi guling added enjoyment to our short stay in Bali. It was another satisfying treat to food lovers like us who like to explore and taste local cuisines. I am just glad that I have tasted Bali’s babi guling that is listed second in Anthony Bourdain’s Hierarchy of Pork (http://blog.travelchannel.com/anthony-bourdain/read/hierarchy-of-pork/). Perhaps, the next stop will be the third in the list, Puerto Rico’s own styled lechon.

 

Zubuchon- arguably Cebu’s best lechon

The four of us who have been friends for more than a decade usually find time to spend a couple of days or more in an out-of-town trip around the country. In the list for this year was Samal Island and Davao city, but due to bad weather that caused flooding in some parts of the city, we all agreed to fly to Cebu instead. The first thing that comes in my mind when we landed Cebu city was lechon– suckling pigs slowly roasted over open fire (usually in charcoal). I was craving for this food since I arrived in Iloilo for my short break but got no chance to munch in any of those restaurants we had visited. And since I was in Cebu, I definitely grabbed that chance. It is said that Cebu has arguably the best lechon in the country and that this city is synonymous to lechon.

The four of us (L to R: Dulah, Syaoran, me, & June) during our trip to Cebu.

The four of us (L to R: Dulah, Syaoran, me, & June) during our trip to Cebu.

After we settled our things in hotel, I approached the reception and asked where to go to taste Cebu’s lechon for our lunch. She right away mentioned Zubuchon in Escario Street. Perhaps because it is near to where we were staying and a jeepney ride from Capitol site where our hotel was located. Zubuchon is a casual dining restaurant. As we entered the place, their waiters approached us eagerly and led us to our table. We scanned the menu and ordered for a start a large serving of lechon, lechon dinuguan, and ginataang langka with daing. We wanted to try more food listed on their menu but decided to reserve some for our next round of food raves.

Zubuchon's best selling lechon.

Zubuchon’s best selling lechon.

Ginataang langka with daing

Ginataang langka with daing

Instant favorite, lechon dinuguan.

Instant favorite, lechon dinuguan.

Zubuchon’s lechon is certainly their all time best seller. It was proclaimed by the famous TV chef, Anthony Bourdain, as “the best pig ever”. Bourdain said in the site, blog.travelchannel.com, “it can now be said that of all the whole roasted pigs I’ve had all over the world, the slow roasted lechon I had on Cebu was the best.” And that was in Zubuchon. This catapulted Philippines as the top in Bourdain’s Hierarchy of Pork. Proud of the distinction, Zubuchon wrote such title and Anthony Bourdain’s name on the glass in their restaurant.

Written on the glass wall inside is, "Best Pig.. Ever" - Anthony Bourdain.

Written on the glass wall inside is, “Best Pig.. Ever” – Anthony Bourdain.

But what really makes their lechon so special that a lot of people ques during meal time and those who previously dined keep on coming back? Personally what I like about it was the skin’s crispiness to which every bite sounds like bursting fire crackers. The meat is tender and juicy but it seems just the same average lechon meat I had tasted before, but the herbs that they use as stuffs are savored. I ultimately found out that their lechon is still cooked the old way. And what is good is that they don’t use glutamate nor brushes their pigs with artificially flavored sauce.

What I like about it was the skin’s crispiness to which every bite sounds like bursting fire crackers.

What I like about it was the skin’s crispiness to which every bite sounds like bursting fire crackers.

Never got enough of Zubuchon, thus we returned for our dinner during our last day but at this time in their Mango branch. Similarly, we ordered a plate of lechon and dinuguan which was our instant favorite from the first time we ate at Escario. We also got squid stuffed with Zubuchon lechon sisig and seaweed platter vinaigrette. For drinks we ordered, their kamias shake which they recommended to balance off lechon’s fattiness, though it really is a refreshing drink. The mixed flavors of sweetness and sourness were playing in the mouth.

Sizzling squid stuffed with sisig lechon is likewise delicious.

Sizzling squid stuffed with sisig lechon is likewise delicious.

Three types of seaweeds with vinaigrette in a platter.

Three types of seaweeds with vinaigrette in a platter.

Joining us are our buddy Atty. Tash and her friend, Matet.

Joining us are our buddy Atty. Tash and her friend, Matet.

There maybe other restaurants in Cebu specializing in lechon, but Zubuchon satisfied our craving. Our dining experience in both Escario and Mango branches was good that definitely deserves a come back. 

The Golden Temple of Dambulla

For me travelling is culturally enriching that is why rewarding. I would be immersed to different cultures, understanding the local’s behaviors and learning their way of life. When I went to Sri Lanka, I got the opportunity to feel the life in Kandy city when a Kandyan family invited me to their home for a cup of tea. I had the chance to personally witness the Buddhist worship in the temple of the Tooth Relic. Apart from those, I got to see the religious places such as the holy temple in Kandy and that equally famous Golden Temple in Dambulla. Those temples which are frequently visited for worships underpin the richness of the country’s tradition and manifest their spiritual devotion to Buddhism, the major religion in Sri Lanka. 

The Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy City, considered as one of the holiest places in Sri Lanka which houses the surviving relic of Buddha, his tooth.

The Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy City, considered as one of the holiest places in Sri Lanka which keeps the surviving relic of Buddha, his tooth.

The Golden Temple of Dambulla is located 80 kilometers north of Kandy City. It is acknowledged as one of the historic and religious sites in Sri Lanka serving as pilgrimage for centuries by both Buddhists and Hindus. The temple is along the main highway that connects Kandy and Colombo. From the road, you would see the golden statue of Buddha that sits on top of a temple cum Buddhist Museum. This temple is the main access going up to the cave monastery complex, another significant historical place that houses more than 150 Buddha statues including reclining Buddha and well preserved mural paintings. Due to the artistic, archaeological and spiritual importance of the complex, it is listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Buddha's golden statue sitting on top of museum seen from the main road.

Buddha’s golden statue sitting on top of museum seen from the main road.

A closer look of the golden Buddha.

A closer look of the golden Buddha.

A long line of statue  monks depicting their daily routine.

A long line of statue monks showing off their daily routine.

To reach the cave monastery, you need to climb steep stairs to which along the way some souvenirs and food (mainly fruits) are sold. After around 20 minutes, I reached the top and a number of monkeys greeted me at the temple’s entrance. I saw some of the visitors feeding those monkeys which perhaps keep them staying in the vicinity. Entrance fee to the cave costed me LKR 1300. It may be expensive but to witness an important and sacred pilgrimage site existing for 22 centuries I think it was worth it. Before getting in, you should wear appropriate clothing. Sleeveless and short trousers are not allowed. You should likewise need to remove your shoes/sleepers which could be kept for a fee at the entrance. Yes, as a show of respect, you must be barefooted.

Some of the fruits sold along the way up to the cave monastery.

Some of the fruits sold along the way up to the cave monastery.

The place becomes a dating place for young Lankan couples. I saw at least two pairs while on my way up.

The place becomes a dating place for young Lankan couples. I saw at least two pairs while on my way up.

Monkeys at the side of the entrance greeting visitors.

Monkeys at the side of the entrance greeting visitors.

This is where the entrance fee of LKR 1300 is paid.

This is where the entrance fee of LKR 1300 is paid.

The complex has excavated shrines that contain those hundreds of Buddha statues and whose inside walls and ceilings have murals depicting the life of Buddha and his journey to reach Nirvana. Buddhas are all over and seemingly looking and reaching out that you too could achieve enlightenment.

Excavated shrines that house Buddha statues.

Excavated shrines that house Buddha statues.

Reclining Buddha from the first sanctuary. This is I think the biggest among the reclining ones.

Reclining Buddha from the first sanctuary. This is I think the biggest among the reclining ones.

Basically, the sanctuaries are full of Buddha statues.

Basically, the sanctuaries are full of Buddha statues.

Buddhas of different sizes are everywhere.

Buddhas of different sizes are everywhere.

The largest sanctuary where most of the statues are found.

The largest sanctuary where most of the statues are found.

Century old-murals inside the temple are well preserved.

Century old-murals inside the temple are well preserved.

How these monks and the locals are taking care of this wonderful complex is commendable. I truly salute them for doing all  the efforts to ensure that this temple is not only preserved for every tourist to appreciate but most importantly to show to us that Buddha’s life is indeed worthy of emulation.