After yesterday’s brief catchup we feel we should be a little more descriptive today and again showcase the beautiful country that this is. Our time in Kandy was brief, in fact our stays in most places have been brief in our quest to see as much as we can. Maybe that was our mistake, we should have reduced the itinerary so we could stay a little longer in the spots we did visit. The Botanical Gardens in Kandy are sensational, we had an hour and a half here but could easily have spent more time here. The gardens showcase not just the local flora but have an impressive collection from around the world. The orchid house is stunning, I never knew orchids has such a range of scents especially chocolate!
At the far end of the gardens is a suspension bridge over the river. It’s quite narrow and has a limit of 6 persons at a time, well according to the sign anyways. There were 15 in the group ahead of us and 10 or so in our group. The guard looking after the setup allows you out to the gate at half way then blows his whistle and signals you to return. Just enough time to get a few photos.
Following a break at our hotel, the Topaz, we headed off to another temple and then a cultural show. The temples here have signs reminding you of the modesty conditions, no bare shoulders or knees, as well as the need to remove your shoes. With the ground being so hot at some sites we’ve left our socks on, as many others do, needless to say we’re coming home with less socks than we took away. I’ve gotten away with shorts just on my knee up to now but at this temple the police were not happy with them. I felt a sari coming on, but no, he just tugged them down until he was happy with the length, I do now know how the young people feel when their shorts or jeans are halfway down their backsides.
The next morning it was an early start for Nuwara Eliya on the train so we headed back for dinner at the hotel, it’s too far to walk anywhere and again the rain had set in so sliding around in a tuk tuk didn’t seem like fun. When we got back to the hotel our washing which had been sent out the day before still wasn’t back, service said back by 4pm, it’s now 5pm. Not panicking we rang and they said they’d send it up, we chilled with a drink for 40 min or so then decided to venture up to roof bar to gat a few photos. We went straight to dinner from there and got back to room at about 8pm, still no washing. Deciding not to ring I went to reception to enquire what was happening only to be told that they had tried to return our washing three times, but we hadn’t been in the room. Apparently here, so they tell us, the laundry staff can’t access rooms, plus you have to check and sign for laundry when it’s returned. Having stayed in hotels in many countries this is the first time we’ve come across this setup, not sure if they expect you to ring to get delivery or you just have to stay in your room and wait for them.
The next morning we were up and about to get sorted for the train, maybe should have set alarm a little earlier as we felt rushed. Before we headed for breakfast there was a hammering on our door, then before we could open it someone tried to barge in. The safety lock was on so he couldn’t get in, almost broke it though. When I opened the door it was a porter looking for our bags. When I said we weren’t quite ready he said ‘why you ring then’, when I told him we hadn’t called them he just threw his hands in the air muttering and stormed off. Think he had the wrong room as we take our own bags down, have never rung anywhere to have them collected.
The train ride was great, amazing views and some good local food. Downside as we said yesterday was the news out of Colombo about the bombings. Enough said about that, here are a few more photos from the train.
Arriving at Nanu Oya on the train Susantha met us and we drive to Nuwara Eliya and our next stop at the Grand Hotel. For those who watch the 9 tv show Travel Guides this was featured in their Sri Lanka episode. It’s definitely a grand old building with an air of elegance to it, stepping in we feel decidedly under dressed! Our room is impressive, but we note no air conditioner or even a fan, instead it has a heater. A heater, in Sri Lanka, what is going on here! We head out exploring, and to book the High Tea which is supposed to be very good. A quick walk around the area to stretch the legs then back to the hotel for Tea.
Sadly we’re only here for one night, and with the curfew we don’t get to see the town by night. Next morning it’s on the road again for the drive to Tissamaharama, which will take about 6 hours. First though a stop at a nearby tea plantation and factory to see the process in action. Well in action if they had tea to process, with yesterday being a Sunday no tea was picked so processing won’t start until later. We do have a look around though and of course a cup of tea. Leaving via the gift shop we pick up tea to bring home, the bags are getting heavy now!
Then it’s on the road and away we go. The country side changes as we leave the hills and descend back to the plains, we stop a few times for photos or to have a nature break. We pass through several town where the traffic chaos is becoming more familiar to us, it’s still amazing that their seems to be no road rage.
Finally we arrive at Kithala Resort, our home for the next two nights. It’s a walking distance in to the village but again the rain is bucketing down. Oh and we have a 5am start tomorrow for our game drive through Ayala National Park, where hopefully elephants, sloths bears and leopards will show themselves to us. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s adventures!