Nuwara Eliya | Sri Lanka

18 May 2015 – 21 May 2015

18 May 2015 – Day three in Sri Lanka – I feel like it’s only today that our Sri Lanka trip REALLY began.

Vic and I – GIRL POWER – take a tuk tuk first things in the morning to the Kandy railway station and reserve tickets for all of us to our next stop, Nuwara Eliya.

We head back with a few hours to spare and collect the boys. It was probably around here for me that the food situation in Sri Lanka got a little dire. The boys were fine, I mean they’ll eat anything. But between Vic and her wheat free tummy and me and my, how do you say, pickiness/desire for certain foods, there weren’t many familiar things you could just pick up and eat on the run. There were no familiar brands either so it wasn’t if I could just grab a packet of chips – unless they were Sri Lankan spicy star chip of course. We got two bags or star chips and then found a bakery at the train station that sold super processed sausage (maybe it was a wiener?!) poked in a bread roll and jam doughnut type things. Call me picky but the bread wieners looked gross, and I don’t like doughnuts – or fake jam, or cinnamon. I guess what I’m trying to say is that all the food we’d eaten thus far had been so brown and yellow – where ‘da green at yal?

Turns out the green was all in the trees between Kandy and Nuwara Eliya. What. A. Train. Ride.

It was 100 odd kilometres of absolute train riding pleasure. We rode through mountains, pine forests, eucalyptus forest, tea plantations, bustling little villages and high up on ridges looking down onto waterfalls. A train riding dream. And as we climbed higher the temperature dropped and suddenly I’m getting back in the zone. My cool, below 15 degrees, Southland blood zone.

We arrive, take a taxi van into town and get dropped at The Pub, of course. After some food, a few beers, a change of clothes (yes, we got to put jeans and jackets on!) Girl Power again heads out to find us all a bed for the next few nights. We end up settling on the place next door to The Pub after some extensive walking around town. It seems cosy enough.

The next morning, with food still being a major issue (we’d had a REALLY shitty meal the previous night) we hit up a busy local eatery, ordered a masala dosa each. It’s all sorts of tasty and filled with potato. Each table has silver buckets filled with different curry sauces too so we have a go on them too. Then we got reeeeeeal Sri Lankan on it and had some ‘short eats’. Here’s Vic demonstrating this short eat bizzo.

Basically what happens is the waiter will put a big tray of pastry type, bread looking things that might be filled with spices or curry or something, it’s a bit of luck as to what you get. So you eat as many as you like and you only pay for what you eat, and whatever is left goes on to the next tables tray – that’s why it’s good to not touch them all or sneeze on them, because someone else gets them after you!

Nuwara Eliya is known as ‘Little England’ of Sri Lanka, and it’s not hard to see why with the cool temperature and colonial buildings. Nuwara Eliya’s climate meant it became the prime sanctuary of British civil servants and tea planters in Ceylon. It was also a hill country retreat where the British colonialists would come to hunt foxes, deer and elephant as well as play polo, golf and cricket.

Here’s a little of what we got up to while in the area.

Mackwoods Tea Estate

A 13km tuk tuk ride out of town got us to Mackwoods Tea Estate.

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We learnt about the tea making process and walked through the processing factory.

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Following this, we have a fancy AF cup of tea and a slice of cake each. NOM NOM NOM. Hollie wants to eat all the cakes.

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Photo from Vic, thanks!

For me, the tea plantation are a little like looking at terraced rice paddies. I think I might love it. So mesmerising. Green that goes on for days.

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On our tuk tuk ride home we were full of beans and rounding a corner we had round of our favourite game ‘Log or Dog?’

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Did you guess dog? WRONG. Log. *sad face* Definitely a log with a bloody pokey, hanging out eye. Oh dear. I mean there are so many dogs on the roads I’m surprised there aren’t more logs around. Still, it’s not easy to see.

That reminds me, when we were organising our tuk tuk out to Mackwoods I spied a dog (potential log) lieing on the road in the middle of the busiest roundabout in town. I could barely look. Surely it had been hit and now everyone was just driving around it? Or was it asleep? Log or Dog? Michael, knowing that I probably wasn’t going to let it go, walks over to investigate only to be intercepted by a local man who asks what he’s doing. The man then offers to walk with him to check on the state of the dog. I think this shows how nice, interested and willing local Sri Lankans were to help us as tourists. They check, the dog is fine, he’s just having a rest (and maybe some suicidal thoughts) in the middle of the busiest roundabout it town. Phew. Dog. Not log.

The Hill Club

That evening we spent some time putting on our fanciest clothes for our reservation at The Hill Club.

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Look at it and all it’s glory. Little England get at me.

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A quick round of Log or Dog? outside the Hill Club earlier that day when we made our reservation.

Pretty much all you need to know is that The Hill Club is the goods. It’s where it’s at. Founded in 1876, everything is pretty much in it’s original state. Leopard heads on the wall you say? Tick. Billiards room? Tick. Clay tennis courts? Tick.

We paid $25 USD each for a five course meal, served by the loveliest waiter in all of Sri Lanka who was wearing white gloves! Bless.

To dine, females must be in tidy dress and males must be in suits and ties which can be borrowed from The Hill Club.

Imagine Vic and I’s excitement when these two dashing looking fellows appear all suited up and hair done. Dang!

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We got the full royal treatment with drinks in the formal bar complete with a barman wheeling in a delightful wooden wine trolly and giving us a run down of his finest reds. Stop it. Okay do it again. He let me have a wee wheel of his trolly.

Then we up’ed the fanciness a notch, chose a bottle or red and I tried my first gin and tonic. Feeling brave.

Dinner was a feast. Mushroom voluvant with salad, tomato and baked bean soup, pork with roast vegetables, apple strudel then coffee to finish.

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What an over the top treat. So good.

The following day we spent just pottering, doing washing, reading AND Vic and Mike decided they were having so much fun and loved hanging with Michael and I so much that they changed their flights and extended their stay in Sri Lanka by a week or so. GO TEAM SRI LANKA!

That evening we had the most delish meal at an Indian restaurant called The Grand Indian. It was so good. Like heaven, in your mouth.

One last thing on Nuwara Eliya. The dogs outside The Pub. So much love.

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Photo by Vic.

Horton Plains National Park

At 5am we’re picked up by a van and driven to Horton Plains National Park to visit Worlds End – a really high cliff drop with spectacular views. We have to leave early as we’re told by 10 or 11am the view is usually obstructed by fog.

It’s about a 10km round walk which starts off freezing cold but gets really hot by the end as the sun gets higher in the sky.

We reach Little World’s End and it’s quite terrifying – but the view was good.

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Photo from Vic.

We reach World’s End by 8am and the fog has beaten us.

We did however get a spectacular view of this guys babe’n short shorts. Hold me back!

We wait for an hour or so then call it quits and finish the walk.

Horton Plains. My favourite? No. Worth it? Yes.

Costs

Rate 1 NZD = 100 LKR | All prices in NZD unless stated

  • Train ticket, 2nd class, Kandy – Nuwara Eliya – $6.00 p/p
  • Taxi van Nuwara Eliya train station – Nuwara Eliya town – $4.00
  • New Nuwara Eliya Inn – $17.50 p/n
  • Tour of Mackwoods Tea Estate | Nuwara Eliya – Free! Tip $5.00
  • Hill Club – 5 course meal – $25 USD p/p + beverages
  • Horton Plains entry fee – $32 USD p/p
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