Part 2/3. Riding a motorbike, quickly, through Sri Lanka. Tea plantations, and into the mountains.

….and back to Sri Lanka, part 2 of 3.

Big thanks for reading, lots of great feedback and views on my last post, over 200 in one day ?! Not sure how that happened 🙂

******

Kandy to Nuwere Eliya 

Up early to head further south towards Nuwere Eliya (which I still can’t say), it was raining, the roads damp and greasy, and the slightly panicked face the hotel owner pulled as he realised I had a bike and it was wet didn’t do much put me at ease.

It was only 80km I had to do, but in true Sri Lankan style took way longer than expected. This is Asia after all.

Stopping for some food at a small wooden restaurant perched over the side of a mountain proved a good choice, and I became a curious sight for the locals eating there, 3 different people coming over to speak to me, all as friendly and interested as each other.

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This is where the hill country starts and the part of Sri Lanka I was looking forward to seeing. Must be an English thing but I was impressed to see miles upon miles of tea leaves growing, each plantation owned by a different company.  An everyday thing for Sri Lankans, but curious to me.

I also learn that coffee used to be the choice for plantations here, but, only growing during certain parts of the year and providing seasonal only income for the owners and workers, so, once it failed, it was quickly replaced by tea, which seems to grow year round, and is now exported across the world.

I also notice this seems to be more Tamil (Hindu), than Sri Lankan (Buddhist), something to do with the supply of workers from years ago I think?

The roads got better the higher into the mountains I got, perfect switch back bends and wide spaces, quiet for most of the time and for once, it was a pleasure to ride a bike here, only stopping to visit one of the tea Estates on route. I choose Mackwoods, part of the Labookalle tea estate, and like most, sampled the free tea, ate cake, and did a mini tour of the tea processing factory.

 

Random fact, green and black tea is fermented, whilst the white tip (most expensive) is not, and tea is processed from 3 leaves, the centre tip being for the white, the outers being the black and green….learning something new every day.

I slept in Nuwere Eliya that night after arriving late in the afternoon (I now know dubbed Little England), with, bizarrely, a golf course and racecourse.

******

Nuwere Eliya, through Horton Plains, and onwards to Ella

Once again on the bike, this time to Horton Plains / Worlds End – a famous circular walk that looks out over some of the hill country.

Typical for Sri Lanka I now realise is the steep tourist entrance fee to the national parks, about $50, and unless I wanted to retrace my steps and detour around the park to get to where I wanted to get to, I had no choice but to pay it, otherwise adding another 4 hours to my journey.

It was wet and completely clouded over when I arrived, so walking to the famous vantage point with lots of other tourists and Monks dressed in orange robes was slightly disappointing, however, what was incredible was the actual ride to get here!

180 degree bends on the roads, navigated by me on a bike – easy, but by single decker buses full of people and decent sized trucks loaded with people on the back – not so easy.

It was incredible and at times exciting to see them climb, rounding each bend, a rear wheel lifting and spinning as the road proved just a little to tight for the turning circle!

Hanging around the vantage point for an hour I was about to give in and then a sudden break in the clouds gave me hope to stay, and as the weather changed, the clouds lifted, and I was treated to mountain views and a vantage point way down into the valleys below.

Not sure abut Worlds End, but worth it.

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The rest of the walk consisted of waterfalls and open plains of land and it wasn’t long before I was riding again, deciding to follow what I thought was a short cut (according to my google maps), which took me through a secluded forest, lots of little villages, across train lines, and into the middle of nowhere.

I nearly binned my bike twice on the wet leaves through the forest, quickly realising the seriousness of a crash here with sheer drops on one side of the road and no-one else around……

….finally arriving at Ella some 4 hours later, it realise it was definitely not a short cut.

I had a recommendation of a place to stay from someone I had met previously (thanks Niels), and after negotiating what I thought was a great rate (the owner, or so I thought at the time, undercut himself for some reason, the conversation going something like “I’ll offer you 3000 a night, and him saying no, 2500″…..so I bit his hand off, only to find out he had meant 3500, anyway, it was still reasonable).

Well worth checking out Hotel Laura if ever needing a place to stay in Ella.

Stunning views from the rooms and top deck, and you can park your bike in the hotel lobby….always cool.

Ella was a nice place to spend a few days, quite a busy travellers hub, with decent walks out and well geared up for passing trade of people. I followed the train lines up to Ella rock, determined not to use a guide and got lost on the way up!

I also manage to visit the nine arch bridge walk.

Definitely ‘a stand by me’ kind of day…..

*****

Next post – elephants, rivers, and into Colombo.

 

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