Sri Lanka just keeps getting better. After three days in Kandy we went a little south, up into the highlands. Oddly, the trip from Colombo to Kandy was two-and-a-half hours by train or four hours by car; we traveled by train. This time from the route from Kandy to Newara Eliya was two-and-a-half hours by car or four hours by train. We went by car. Which meant we got to stop at a huge waterfalls. Our driver suggested we stop and I was certainly ready to get out of the car, though he didn’t tell us that it was maybe a 20-minute walk up … and up and up and up. Worth it, but it was definitely a hike.
Then it was on to Nuwara Eliya in the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea industry. Built by the British in the 19th century as their respite from Sri Lanka’s heat to this day the region is known as “Little England,” though I thought that was perhaps a little overstated. But at 6,100 feet above sea level the climate is temperate, the hills are beautiful, the tea is ubiquitous, and the gardens are lush. This was a good stop.
We stayed measurably further out of town than is normal for us, and that could have been a problem as we weren’t too keen on the food at our hotel. It was a 15-minute ride in a tuktuk into town which is easy enough if not exactly ideal (we prefer to be able to walk to meals). What made it work – and work really well – is that the walk into town was fabulous. Every day around mid-morning we’d take off through a couple little villages and then out through the tea fields before dropping down into town; about an hour and just beautiful.
Then we’d explore town a bit: Lake Gregory, Victoria Park, just poking around. Lunch at either a Thai or Indian restaurant in the other nice hotel in town, and the long walk back. Mark would walk back to the hotel while I’d break off to climb up to a Buddhist temple where I’d sit in splendid silence and read.
And that was it. Not a lot to do except enjoy the beauty. We kept thinking that we’d take a couple hours to do one of the tea factory tours available but somehow that never got around to happening; instead we spent our time walking on our own through the tea fields.
From here we continue south down to the beach. You know you’re doing well when you’re loving an island country and haven’t even gotten to the beach yet.