Getting here to Anuradhapura wasn’t hard, the ride only took five hours and it was easy to get a ticket on the Colombo side of the trip. I travelled first class air conditioned, but am now regretting that decision. Because I was in the air conditioned coach all of the windows were closed and I missed all those things I have come to enjoy: the smells, the sights and most of all I missed the people. Travelling on the train is always such and experience. The things people do and say are quite entertaining. I travelled in the front of the train and saw nothing and got to talk to no one. No vendors, no beggars, no people! I fell asleep and woke up in Anuradhapura.
I already knew where I wanted to stay before I got to town, the Shanti Guest House, which comes highly recommended. But trying to get to the hotel was hard. Everyone seemed to want to lead me astray: rickshaw drivers, touts and locals were giving me the wrong directions. But I persevered and I am glad I did because this is an excellent place to stay. There is a nice courtyard in the middle of the guesthouse, the rooms have mosquito nets and a fan over the beds and there is an area where you could sit, write, and meet other travellers (though I haven’t seen another traveller all day).
The atmosphere is mellow and relaxed. I get free water and meals if I ask for them. The lady who runs the house, Padma, is nice. In the entrance you see a huge statue of a smiling woman toiling in the fields with her sleeves rolled up. This is Padma and her husband has only a small role in running the place. Padma is a useful source for information and gives lots of helpful advice and maps. There are bicycles I can rent from the guest house which makes it easier to get around to all the sights in the area.