Heading up the hills away from Yala park we drove through some stunning scenery . Waterfalls and tea plantations scatter the mountainsides and monkeys swing from the trees coming out to take whatever fruit you offer . We stayed in Ella last night in the Hotel Country Comfort and had the most vigorous but excellent Ayurdevic massages in the village . This place has been in business for 15 years and is a place that comes highly recommended by the locals . Not for the faint hearted , my massage should have been called a greyhoud massage , in racing terms this was 2 inches from the hair. Head , face , breast , arse , hand , feet and evey external part was rubbed and pumelled for an hour at least and all for €13.00 . Fifteen minutes after I left the masseuse I was yawing and ready for bed so something worked .
The next morning we headed off to Nuwara Eliya which is often refferd to as
“ Little England “,cold wet and miserable, I jest, it is wet, it has been raining since we came here but it is not miserable. The drive up to Nuwara Eliya has been through some of the most amazingly beautiful conutryside. Winding roads through steep sided valleys each one more amazing than the next, every square inch of arable land on the hill sides given over to tea production. Rice growing on the valley floor’s and every other patch no matter how small given over to the production of vegetables in tightly packed rows. Cabbages and carrots and leek,s all very un Sri Lankan grown in a very Sri Lankan way. We end up staying in the King Fern guest house . This is a very funky cheap hotel that seems to be part of the jungle, it is also a stopover for surfers on their way to the east coast.
Next morning we are on our way to Kandy. On the way we take in a tea plantation. We all get a very instructive tour of the production process, Axel was warned to listen carefully too as he has been informed that he will have to write about this to his classmates, none too happy he trailed along. All day the only thing he has wanted to do is to climb one of the hillsides where the tea pickers work in near vertical conditions to pick some leaves himself. I try to put him off with horror stories about the leaches waiting in the tea bushes for a tasty body to come by, to no avail he will have his tea leaves. I have to help him steal a few at the plantation. He is adamant that he will make his mommy a lovely cup of tea at the end of the day with the very leaves he has picked, yummy.
There is something wrong with the Van and we need to find a garage. An annoying rasping sound has developed when the steering wheel is turned to the right and it just doesn’t sound like something to ignore on the snake like roads we have to traverse. We eventually pull up outside this roadside, I suppose you could call it a garage, not much of a one though and three or four guys start the process of finding out what the problem is. The boss guy is very taken with Elka, Elka is not very taken with him. It sounds like in her gravelly voice, goawaaarghffuughwaaay, while pointing wildly at him. He loves it and gets from across the road in what must be his house a slightly mouldy cuddly toy which helps to warm her up no end. After removing the wheel and brake housing and a few other bits the source of the problem is found, an important part of the internal workings of the wheel have nearly sheered through and if we continued we could end up losing a wheel, which on these roads you most certainly don’t want to do. Amazingly the roadside mechanics have an old matching part which they quickly install and after just an hour by the roadside and 15 euro lighter we are on our merry way. Such service.
We arrive in to Kandy early in the evening and after a few attempts we end up in a suitable hotel, it is still raining. Next morning we have only a short time to explore Kandy before we travel back south so we opt to at least visit the temple of the tooth. This is one of the most reverred relics of Buddha and is kept in a beutiful temple beside the lake in Kandy. We meet this old gentleman who insists on showing us around even after we protest that we can only stay for a short time he insists by saying he will only give us a short tour. Nice old geezer, Jesuit educated by irish priest’s, poor buggar. Spent time in TCD.
After our short tour we have to get going, we have a nine hour drive ahead of us which on these roads is an absolute killer. We will have to go back to this part of Sri Lanka and see it at it’s best when the weather is better and we will definitely need to re-visti Kandy. We didn’t do it justice with our whistle-stop tour but it has given us another reason to go back to Sri Lanka.