Tea Plantations of Sri Lanka

After our night in Kandy we were back in the car and on the road again heading to Ella. The car ride was great, the scenery was amazing, the day was misty and the tea plantations all looked a vibrant green colour. As per normal being on the road was a little scary, buses passing buses on steep tight corners with nothing but sheer cliff face on one side of the road.

After almost two hours into the drive our driver stopped at what looked like a rickety old shack and said we were going for a cup of tea as it would still be another hour before we would be arriving at the Tea Factory for a little look around. Out of the car we got and sat down in the dive of a shack.

Served with a nice hot cup of sweet tea were these little Rotti served with the BEST hot sauce I have ever had! As I spooned a generous amount onto my Rotti, Chris our driver looked horrified and warned that it was very very hot and I would not be able to handle it… Ah why do people in foreign countries always think that the little white girl won’t be able to handle the spice! I couldn’t get enough of the stuff meanwhile Chris was in a world of discomfort having only put a small amount on his piece of Rotti. As for Dave, he too was able to handle the spice more than our driver. Such an unassuming place to stop but we were very happy to have stopped there as we were pleasantly surprised with the food and the very kind man who served such good Rotti!

Back on the road, we soon arrived at the Tea Factory for a tour around and a cup of tea!

After a cup of tea we were on our way again, next destination Nuwara Eliya situated at 1,868m above sea level.

Some interesting markets to walk through… Fish this high above sea level, and at least four hours from the coast, no ice to be seen anyone and I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as refrigerated transport in Sri Lanka! So needless to say we bought no fish however we got some hot peanuts and they were pretty good!

Back in the car again and not too far from Ella where we had two days and two nights to explore. Train track walks (posted that one ahead of myself) climbing little Adams peak and meeting some great people.

Sri Lankan Train Track Walk

On our fourth day in Sri Lanka we did something a bit different.

We arrived at a small town called Ella, located in the hill country in southern Sri Lanka. Our guide recommended a 5km walk down the train tracks from Ella to the next station down the line. This sounded fun and we soon found out it would be a good way to see the condition of the of the railways, originally built by the British in the mid 1800’s. Once walking to Demodara, we would take the train back. Sounds like fun, lets go !

After heading off down the track, it didn’t take long to notice that maybe these are the original rails laid by the British over 150 years ago !

Isn’t that nail meant to hold that track down?!

Wonder where the ‘clickity-clack’ noise comes from? Its from the gaps in the rail joins, and its little wonder Sri Lankan trains are not the quietest to ride in. More loose bolts, missing nails…..

Walking down the track we meet a rail ‘inspection & maintenance’ worker. Looks like he has been doing alot of walking….. not much else!

We came to the conclusion that Sri Lankan railways rely on the weight of the trains to hold everything down. So we got on and enjoyed the scenery.

Cheeky monkey !

After a lovely 5km walk and arriving to our destination of Demodara station, we had a bit of time to kill before jumping on a train back to Ella.

There is only one way to cool down after a long walk…….. mmmmm beeeer !

A day in Kandy, Sri Lanka

We were soon on our way to Kandy where we would spend our next night. On the way we stopped at one of the many Spice Gardens and had a very interesting tour learning of all the health benefits that the different herbs and spices have to offer.

In Sri Lanka I was again reluctant to get on a bus, the driving habits of the bus drivers in Sri Lanka seem to be fairly similar to that of their fellow bus driving friends in Vietnam…. CRAZY! As you can see, this bus thought it would be fine to pass on a corner… oh no wait there is a car coming maybe I wont!

We made a few stops along the way to have a look at some of the road side offerings.

Once we arrived in Kandy, our driver Chris took us to a place for lunch which served a great choice of curry and rice. What I love about the curry and rice in Sri Lanka is that you don’t just get one dish. Curry and rice on average consist of up to 8 to 10 different curries, sambal and assorted dishes. After we were completely stuffed full with these wonderful tasting dishes we took the time to explore Kandy a little further.

Of the countries we have been to I would have to say the Sri Lankans are the some of the warmest and kindest people we have met. And they just love to have their photo taken, which is great for someone like me who tends to be a little shy when it comes to asking people if I can take their photo. Most people would ask me if I could take their photos without me even needing to ask! Brilliant!

A shoe repair man on the side of the street… cheap rent.

Ice cream vendor and fresh fruit by the lake in kandy.

Electroplating Jewelry (Gold and Silver) an interesting process to watch.

After walking around the streets of Kandy we checked into our guesthouse and relaxed with an ice cold beer on the balcony overlooking the surrounding Mountains. Later on we went to a cultural show of local dances which was interesting enough then before heading back to the guesthouse, watched the sunset over the lake. Soon time for dinner, we decided to give the guesthouse a chance and have our dinner there. Food in general in Sri Lanka is never served in a hurry which you soon get used to and as long as when you plan to have your meal you are not already starving, the wait is not so bad. So three beers later and some time spent researching the next days events our dinner arrived from the unassuming restaurant, and I would have to say it was one of the best meals we had while in Sri Lanka. Dave had curried chicken which had a lovely rich and spicy gravy and I had deviled chicken which was a slightly drier dish but full of strong savory and spicy flavors and both of them were ‘Sri Lankan hot’ which was great! Finally we had been given a dish that made our mouths tingle and the beer seem that bit more refreshing.  The both of us have a great fondness for very spicy food, however while we have traveled through SE Asia we have found that even when we ask for ‘very spicy’ or ‘extra hot’ the person taking our order has a slight smile on their face and says OK. Then disappointment always would follow with the dish coming out ‘tourist hot’.

All in all it was a great day in Kandy followed by a great evening and authentic Sri Lankan meal. Next stop Ella.

Visiting some Elephants in their natural habitat… The Minneriya National Park

While in Sri Lanka we were lucky enough to be there for the ‘Gathering’ which is the name that they give to the Elephants that congregate on the edge of the Minneriya reservoir during the dry season in the Minneriya National Park. In the late afternoon the Elephants, which can be as many as 200 arrive around the waters edge for play time and bath time, but to mainly graze on the green grass that lies next to the reservoir.

After about a 15 minute drive on a dirt road through the Forrest of the park we came out onto the planes and before long we saw our first lot of elephants.

It was a great afternoon and it was so nice to see the elephants in their own environment, doing their own thing and not in captivity.

Hello Sri Lanka… Dambulla and the Mighty Sigiriya

We arrived into the Sri Lanka on an early morning flight, having spent most of the night in the Airport waiting for our flight we were pretty tired by the time our flight landed just before 7am. Visas issued, customs cleared and we were on our way into Sri Lanka. We had organized a driver/guide for the first part of our trip, which was a good plan as we didn’t have to worry about hectic public transport systems in our tired state. The car ride north to the cultural triangle included a Sri Lankan history lesson and stories from the times of war.

Arriving 3 hours later at our destination, our first stop was the ‘Golden Temple of Dambulla’ These caves sitting high on a rock out crop were originally carved during the Anuradhapura period (1st century BC to 993 AD) and added to over the centuries.

Welcoming us at the base of the rock, a large Golden Budda. Not yet accustomed to the Sri Lankan heat, the steep walk up the rock was a bit of shock to the system but well worth the effort.Legend claims the above tree was planted by Budda himself.

After an hour up the rock, we made our way back down avoiding thieving monkeys keen to get their hands on anything not firmly in your grasp.  Arriving back at the car park again, I soon found out that its best to use toilets in hotels only. Grim !

Next stop – Sigiriya.

‘Sigiriya’ or ‘Lions Rock’. On top sit the ruins of an ancient fortress and a Buddhist temple. The rock itself is the solidified crater plug of ancient volcano, the surroundings have eroded away with time leaving only the rock out crop.

Half way up the rock small frescoes hold ancient paintings, still in good condition.

The final climb begins at the ‘Lions Paws’. Before the stairways were put in place for tourists, access was by way of small hand holds on the rock face.

As we soon found out, the view from the top was again worth the haul.

Luckily for us the heat radiated off the large rock mass was balanced out by a strong breeze.

Back down the rock and we headed to our bed for the night, and to sample some Sri Lankan curry : )