Rathnapura is the gem mining center of Sri Lanka. We arrived in Rathnapura with a room reservation for $40/night but felt we should look for something cheaper. Myra and I took off after a light breakfast near the bus stand and went hunting for rooms. Lots of people, tuk-tuks and stalls selling stuff, but no rooms to be found.
The demand for rooms outstrips the supply here and especially on weekends. It's a Sunday and we couldn't find rooms near the bus station.
We stumbled onto the Orchard Villa and decided to check out the price and availability as it was the only place we found to stay in our mile-square walk. Several young men showed us two rooms that we could have for 12 hours. They agreed to let us stay overnight as long as we were gone by 9:30 the next morning. They claimed the rooms were reserved for the next night, but we think they were a little shady. These nice, brand new rooms were huge, but pretty empty and they let us have them for 1500 rupees/night, about $12. We think they were renting the rooms before the place officially opened up, but we don't really know.
We enjoyed the mining area of Rathnapura and spent two nights here. With Mr. Master's help, we saw a lot in a single day's tour. We could never have seen all the stuff we did without a local's help. We never had to wait for a bus, except coming back from the waterfall. Since it was Saturday, there was only one bus and it was an hour wait. But a tea factory employee bus came by and we were welcomed aboard to get back to the main road to catch a bus back to town. Jason showed the drive the tea I'd bought to convince him we were worthy of the free ride. Next stop, Kandy.