The Kandy Hills, Tea Plantations, Elephants And One Clapped Out Van-Sri Lanka.

After fully resting up and exploring the hills of Kandy, we awaited our driver for the 5 hour journey through Sri Lanka to where the coconuts lie….Palm fringed golden beaches and the blue, blue Indian Ocean awaited us…..It just did not take us 5 hours…..Try 9 & 1/2!

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Originally we wanted to take a train through Kandy to Ella and then pick up a driver to complete the journey to the laid back beaches of Tangalla. But for those who read my last post that was not going to happen. Like in most aspects of my life, I had hunted through websites, blog posts, The Lonely Planet, picking the best beaches, hotels and even cafes to lunch in but did not seek the practical things…..The mode of transport.   Now looking back the journey was funny, it was an adventure, we experienced a range of emotions, and lot of the country, it was just through an old beat up van’s window ….  I know my own fault!

However after a scrumptious breakfast of Sri Lankan Hoppers, and goodbyes to Polly and Ben, we happily set off on our journey.  Just to say our driver was completely lovely, just possibly not working for a lovely company.  We drove through endless, hills and stopped to take in the very dramatic but equally beautiful 125 ft Hunnus Waterfull.  Driving out of Kandy and further into the hills, we were completely surrounded by endless green and lush and quite beautiful Tea Plantations, it was amazing to try and spot  the Tea Planters hidden amongst the gardens.  We eventually stopped off at the Blue Field Tea Gardens, and had a tour around the plantation and the factory itself, hugely interesting and worthwhile, to see the process from land to tea-cup, even for a mainly coffee drinker!   Loaded with tea leaves for all at home, we continued to what I thought was lunch in Ella and then a stroll through Nuwara Eliya,  but that did not quite happen….

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It was from this point things started to go a little wrong, I had found a little place I wanted to stop off for lunch but this was to no avail as the company had already arranged other plans, it was from here that the journey became rather monotonous, tiresome and never ending.  I stress the best way to do this would be by train, you are then in charge of your own destiny this way and can at least choose where to rest up and grab a bite.  If the train is not feasible, try to hire a driver with a car, rather than a beat up old van (it is funny now) but the roads are not in good condition, although the views are astonishing we were thrown around the van which really took the fun out of the whole journey.

However, there were so many amazing moments through the day that I will highlight on,  we were able to take in the most amazing back drop of Ella, and we did get a short stroll in Nuwara Eliya.  Nuwara Eliya is sometimes referred to as Little England, it is almost like a little toy town.  Yes you can see the British edge, perfectly grown hedges, rose gardens and even the odd red telephone box, but at the time we visited there was a huge celebration and crowds and crowds of families and children, celebrating the Sri Lankan New Year. The colour, bustle and energy was definitely Sri Lankan.

As we reached further to the South the landscape dramatically changed, the influence of the British and the Dutch filtered out, elephants  were roaming in the streets, families and friends swimming in the lakes and waters and then the heavens opened. It was rather incredible to see, and if we hadn’t got lost, a lot, ran out of petrol twice and had a back window of the van fall out and then spend the next hour driving around looking for the appropriate materials to fix it, I may have at the time appreciated the whole road trip a little more….. I know what a grumpy, spoilt traveller but now, oh now I know how completely lucky I was to even be there at all…  It also pains me to worry that our driver was not working for a reputable company, we paid him, tipped him and brought him some of his favourite beer when we stopped off to pick up some drinks (the Last House is BYOB) but he still had a very messed up van and had to then drive all the way back to Kandy that evening, even though a night’s rest was offered.   I just did not quite do enough research on everything.   Just be  way more organised than me and when I return things will be different.

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However nearly 10 hours later, having travelled 300 kms, very hungry, emotional and achy we arrived at the most incredible hotel of our stay  The Last House.  It literally was so hidden away I began to think it did not exist but yes, it was there and as we walked in all was forgotten, well nearly! Maybe another Serendipitous moment in our trip….

More from the Last House and Sri Lanka soon.

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