May 27, 2013

Cottages, Mud Slides and Cinnamon Tea

Within just a week of being in Sri Lanka and after only four days of work, I already had a trip planned. 

The cousins and I set off early Friday morning by bus to Nuwara Eliya, a quaint little town up in hills. After having to wait two hours for the bus and after six long hours on the bus, we were about 1800m above MSL and 10 degrees cooler.

We got off the bus as close as we could to our accommodation, but still ended up walking about 2km uphill to the Green Forest Hotel. We really couldn't have asked for a better location. We were right at the top of the road, on the edge where the tea plantations met the Piduruthalagala forest reserve. 

Our hotel design, like most of Nuwara Eliya, is representative of British colonial architecture. I especially loved the wooden floorboards and staircases. On the landing just outside our room was a little 18th century chippendale table and chairs by the large French windows overlooking the tea plantations. Perfect breakfast setting.

We walked into town soon after, mostly driven by pangs of hunger and had quite a grand lunch of iddiyapams and jack-fruit curry at Sri Ambals. The curry, sambhar and chutneys came in steel pails. Definitely enough to satisfy. 

The afternoon and evening came with a lot more walking. Gregory lake is a beautifully serene lake nestled in the middle of the hills, forests and tea estates. The well kept gardens and walkways, the picnic benches by the food stalls and the bridges and docks (and a gate) provided plenty of crazy photo settings. 

We had read about this place that makes all things strawberry- Adma Agro. We walked over two kilometers around the lake while the sun was setting and the clouds around us brought the visibility to a minimum to get there. But the strawberry pancakes we had with chocolate sauce and fresh whipped cream was totally worth it. 

We probably walked about 10 or more kilometers on day 1 and pretty much dragged our aching feet back up the steep incline to our hotel and the icy shower aftereffects were quickly recovered by the triple layer of blankets.

After breakfast and coffee by our french windows, we decided to explore the forests near our hotel. We put on our dirty jeans and socks and we ready to brave the muddy trails. The walk through the pine forest was great until the path became steeper and narrower and soon we were on all fours and using the branches to pull ourselves through. We had only been walking for just less than 2 hours when the paths disappeared. The descent was just as expected. The slippery slopes were not easy to climb down and soon we were sliding down. My shoes with zero grip allowed me to pick up quite a exciting speed and I had to rely on the bushes to slow myself down. 

In the afternoon, we visited the Holy Trinity church built in 1834. The cemetery, the trees and the walkway leading to the church was strangely tranquil unlike the coldness that usually comes from cemeteries. The church built with gothic features had an impressive ribbed vaulted roof. The wooden pews and doors added to the warmth of the interiors. 

We couldn't leave Nuwara Eliya before having some tea. We went to the famous Tudor style Grand Hotel and enjoyed some interesting tea from the Dilmah Tea company- Ceylon Cinnamon Spice, Mediterranean Mandarin, and Italian Almond. Despite not being a carrot cake fan, the walnut, carrot cake with orange butter cream was quite a tasty accompaniment to the tea.

We ended our trip with a really really long and tiring bus ride home due to all the Vesak festivities back to the sticky-ness of Colombo.


Shivonne Sampson said...

I love your photos.

swapna said...

Looks like you're keeping your self busy on sri Lanka ... have fun and keep penning down your experiences

Tanisha Christo said...

Thanks Shivonne.

And yes Swapna, keeping myself busy with plenty of fun things. :)