Dambulla Cave Toilets

As I mentioned in my last post, I was very surprised to find that, even as a tourist, I was not expected to pay an exorbitant amount (or indeed any amount) to enter the Dambulla Cave Temples. Despite my research indicating that the entrance fee should have been around 1,500rs (10€), it was completely free.

Not so to use the toilet at Dambulla Cave Temples…

Toilets in Sri Lanka

The toilets in Sri Lanka were the cleanest and most well-kept of all the toilets I’ve ever used in Asia (with the exception of Japan). They were nearly always western-style, were normally clean, didn’t smell and often had toilet paper. And make no mistake – I’m talking about the public toilets here.

It’s quite normal to expect to be charged a small fee for such public restroom luxury and often in Sri Lanka there was a charge of around 10rs at public toilets.

Often at public toilets in Sri Lanka there were toilets for men and toilets for women as you would expect. But sometimes there were toilets for men, toilets for women and then toilets for local women! Many times on the sign for the ladies’ toilet it would say “only foreigners”. This would be next to a 10rs sign. The door that the local women went through always seemed to be missing this 10rs sign.

Sometimes where the local women and foreign women were not segregated, the local women would use the men’s toilet. Yes, odd.

Toilets at Dambulla Cave Temples

The toilets at the Dambulla Cave Temples were such an example: the men and local women walked through one entrance and the foreign women queued up outside a portakabin where there were western-style toilets, toilet paper and even soap and mirrors.

But first they had to part with 100rs (about 0.70€)! That’s right ladies: 100rs to use the loo! I wouldn’t pay that in my own country.

toilets in dambulla

And you couldn’t just follow the local women to use the hole in the floor in the men’s room. What is it about the fleecing of foreign women at the Dambulla Cave Temples toilets?

Was this why it was free to visit the caves?

Well I was not impressed. No way was I handing over 100rs just to go for a wee. And I made my disgust quite clear too. It was the principle of the matter.

So I figured we’d visit the cave temples first and then find somewhere for a drink and use the toilet there.

After our visit to the caves we found just one bar located at the side of the temple complex with a dedicated fruit juice hut attached. The juices, all made from fresh fruit, looked incredibly refreshing and they were.

Halfway through the fruit juice I was really needing the toilet so I went inside the busy bar to look for it. I couldn’t find it.

“We don’t have a toilet,” was the answer when I asked the girl behind the counter.

I didn’t believe her and I told her so. She just looked like she didn’t understand me.

Her boss came out and told me the same thing.

“Look, I’m a paying customer,” I told her. “I’m sitting outside having a fruit juice.”

“You can’t use the toilet if we haven’t got a toilet,” she said.

“Well where do you go to the toilet?” I asked her.

Another blank stare.

This was ridiculous; I was convinced it was a ploy to get 100rs off every foreign woman that visited the cave temples. So why not just charge an entrance fee as everyone expects anyway? Either way, this conversation was getting me nowhere.

I finished my fruit juice, not really helping my predicament, and realised I had no choice. I’d have to go back to the temple and pay 100rs. My bladder was telling me that I would certainly get my money’s worth. I just hoped that the man wouldn’t recognise me from earlier.

I handed over a 1,00ors note thinking I’d get change for the bus. I was rewarded with 900rs change in coins. Yep, he remembered me. I smiled. At least I would have change for the next few bus rides.

I joined the dwindling queue and helped myself to toilet paper.

When it was my turn I was still last. And when I came out of the cubicle there was only me.

I took my time washing my hands and using the soap and the mirror. Then I turned to leave and that’s when I realised that the door was shut. And locked.

I couldn’t believe it, I’d been locked in!

Luckily the door didn’t close right and I could see that it was one of those clasp and latch locks that you close with a padlock. It looked pretty flimsy and with a couple of barges from my shoulder it burst open, screws and bits of the lock flying onto the floor.

“Ha, take that,” I said, though there was no one there. That’s what you get for locking me in, I thought. I looked all over for the man to have a good rant but I couldn’t find him. I found Toni instead and we went to get our backpacks and head for the bus to Kandy…

Filed Under: asiafeaturedSri LankaSri Lanka Cultural Triangle

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About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....

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