The Taster Journey – Tea Plantations, Day 4

Firstly, I must apologise for the inconsistency in our posting, we have been like headless chickens over the past week trying to get everything sorted ready for our departure tomorrow!! We plan to post at least once a day, the next few days may be a little sparse as we are travelling and settling in, but then we have no excuse!!

So, moving on, day 4, by far the most beautiful day we experienced on our little journey. We travelled from Balangoda to Delahousie – the starting point for climbing Adams Peak. We set off from Randilu Resort early in the morning and Balangoda was already a buzzing hive of activity, we wanted to prepare ourselves more thoroughly for the climb up Adams Peak as we read it can be very cold and rainy – we hadn’t brought warm clothes or waterproofs and most definitely didn’t want to be caught out half way up a mountain! We stopped off at a clothes shop in the centre of the town and had a quick gander, they had 2 big, long raincoats that were perfect if a little expensive, Sherard tried one on, I did not (slight mistake but more on that later). I then saw a pair of baggy, black leggings/trouser type things and decided to get them as it was very cold that morning and I was feeling more than a little uncomfortable in my shorts – the dodgy looks from passers by didn’t help. We also bought socks, hats and gloves, so, we were now well and truly ready for our mountainous journey.

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We then left Balangoda and headed off towards Pinnawella, where the ascent into the tea plantations began. We stopped off at a bakery in the tiny village – what we would call a hamlet, we enjoyed a sweetbread each and the most delicious, buttery paratha – a type of pancake/flat bread. We received a HUGE amount of attention here as it is pretty off the beaten track and I can’t imagine they get many tourists passing through, especially by tuk tuk. They wanted to know where we were from, and though their English was broken we could pick up the jist of it. Sherard went to the loo and left me alone in a room of about 20 Sri Lankan men, I could have been intimidated but instead decided to try out some of my Singhalese, it was a roaring success, I think. The men were smiling and laughing, with me I’m sure rather than at me, the thing about Sri Lankan people is they don’t ever expect you to know any words in Singhalese and often, we found, break out into laughter in pure disbelief – it’s a great feeling and makes you seem like more of a local. Sherard returned and we said our goodbyes, off onto the road again, which at this point was all up hill.

As we passed through the tiny villages we were constantly being waved at, smiled and shouted, small children chased us shouting “bye, bye,bye”! It was so lovely and you couldn’t help but smile and laugh with them. The views were like nothing I have ever seen before, as we climbed higher they were more and more spectacular. The tuk tuk was only going about 10 miles per hour at this point as well which meant we could enjoy them to the full extent. I think Sherard was a little jealous being the driver as he had to keep his eyes on the road whilst I jumped from one side of the tuk to the other, craning my neck, trying to take in the magic I was seeing before my eyes.

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LEECH!!!!
LEECH!!!!

As we travelled in the remote lands of the tea plantations we suddenly hit the reserve on the tuk, we panicked as we didn’t know how far we had to go before a petrol station was in sight and up in the hills it seemed very unlikely indeed! As we entered the next village, there was a group of men just chilling on the side of the road, watching the world go by. We asked them how far the next petrol station was, one of the men just jumped straight in the back of the tuk and pointed forwards. We followed his finger and kept driving, we came to a hardware store and he told us to wait outside. The next thing we know the owner of the hardware store comes out with 5 litre bottles of petrol/oil mix – exactly what we needed!! What luck!! The petrol actually turned out to be cheaper than if we had got it from a station and so we were royally thrilled with this bit of fate. As Sherard dealt with the manly business of sorting out fuel, I had a little look around, a large group of children were walking down the hill with, what I assume, was their teacher at the lead. Some were very shy but most had huge grins plastered on their face and all came to say hello, the teacher asked where we were from and where we were going, so I replied “Delahousie” he then explained the roads which we should take. The people are so willing to help and give as much advice as they can, this is ever truer the further inland you go, the only thing that stops them is the language barrier, but they will always try and help, this is what I love so much about the Sri Lankan people.

When we had filled Lucy to the brim we set off once more, soon the tea plantations gave way to forests of pine trees that towered above your head like natural skyscrapers, so straight they stand to attention. There is an eery silence only interrupted by the rustle above, we realised this rustling was from a group of monkeys that you could occasionally glimpse if your eyes were quick enough! We continued our journey, up and up, it seemed to be never-ending, suddenly, we realised we were actually in the clouds – this was very cold and so I decided to pull out my new waterproof I hadn’t tried on earlier, to Sherards’ amusement I had picked one up that was clearly meant for a T-rex, nice and long with enough room to move but with exceptionally short arms, what a pleb, always try things on!! Nevertheless, it was a minor issue and luckily my forearms could take the brunt of the weather without me being to aware of their corn-beef appearance.

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We finally started our descent after about 4 hours of climbing, again, the sights were so glorious, as the sun burst through the mist, I suddenly got the feeling that maybe there is a god, this is what he has given us, such beauty in the world if only we open our eyes to it all. We came to a busy town called Bogawantawa, we stopped here for a little rest and something to eat, we asked a local at a fruit and veg shop where the best place to eat was and he pointed to a shop across the road, to be fair to him it was rammed full of locals, which can only be a good sign. We bought Dahl, rice, chicken curry, pappadams and some roti, they gave us some sauce that was super spicy, i thought it to be yum, Sherry found it a little hot. It definitely filled a hole, with our tummies warmed and busting with local cuisine we set off once again.

As we drove along we noticed an abundance of different temples, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Catholic, all in such a small area and all in such pristine condition, it lead us to believe that the Sri Lankan people are very accepting of all religions and allow people to believe what they wish to believe in, quite a contrast from England. This was a heavy driving day, we didn’t stop to actually see any statues, or temples but the views we encountered more than made up for it. Now, my friend Louis had told me about these special types of trees that grow only in Sri Lanka and another country – I can’t remember which – the rainbow eucalyptus. I am so glad he did as, whilst we were driving from Norwood to Delahousie, I was casually looking out onto the landscape and saw this flash of colour. I screamed at Sherry to stop the tuk, which he did, a good half a mile later. I ran back, and sure enough, there it stood in all of its proud, colourful splendour – a rainbow eucalyptus. I took a picture to show Louis and we carried on our way, I soon realised that the road we were on was full of them! Every other tree shone with unnatural colouring, we felt so privileged to know of this natural quirk as we imagine many people have passed these amazing trees and will have never taken a second glance.

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As we neared Delahousie it began to rain slightly and the temperature dropped, we headed onwards, we wanted to check we were going the right way and so pulled over to ask a woman, she saw us and jumped straight in the back of the tuk with me saying “yes please, yes please”. We were a little shocked, but found it funny and were more than happy to give her a lift up the road. As we got closer to Delahousie we gave another elderly gentleman a lift as we had planty of room – plus it’s good karma! We crossed the dam, there were vendors selling warmer clothes on the side of the road. We stopped and got 2 fleeces, which, served us very well and were a very reasonable price. We didn’t know at the time but, if you head into the town of Delahousie, pretty much every other shop is selling warm clothes so don’t panic if you forget something! After about a 10 minute drive we reach the outskirts of the town, this is where the B&B we stayed in was situated – it is the first on the left.

This B&B had been recommended by 2 different people whilst on today’s travels, firstly, a Dutch couple travelling from Delahouise to Udawalewe by car had pulled over to ask us a few friendly questions. They had climbed Adams Peak that morning and told us they had stayed at the B&B and how good it was – as well as being only a 5-10 minute walk from the starting point of Adams Peak. Then as we drove past a huge lake – where we spotted the rainbow eucalyptus a tuk tuk driver had pulled over to ask where we were headed. We told him Adams Peak, he then gave us the same business card as the Dutch couple and told us to ring ahead to ensure a room, we borrowed his phone and did just that, the rooms were different prices, depending on the view. We decided cheap was fine and so booked a room for LKR1500 = GBP£7.

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As you enter the guesthouse you are greeted to wonderful views of Adams Peak and are given a complimentary cup of English Tea! It was sooooo good, I felt like all my birthdays’ and Christmases had come at once :). The staff were exceptionally lovely and told us some history of the area and Adams Peak, one man who worked there had climbed over 170 times, he told us of a Japenese monk who had climbed the mountain more than 1000 times! He had now moved to the mountain and lived there looking after the temple at the top. We ate our dinner, I had a fried egg and cheese toastie, it was yummy and full of the carbs I was craving, I think Sherard had soup or curry, we then had fruit salad for pud and a cup of coffee to wash it all down.

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Bed time! Even though it was only 7pm by this time we had to be up and out by 1.30 a.m to give enough time to climb Adams Peak and to watch the sunrise at about 6 a.m. Join us for the next day of our little taster journey, Day 5, Adams Peak. 🙂 A video compilation of the photos we took and the videos of the beautiful sights we beheld on this day will be added in the next few days, or you can visit our YouTube channel, just type in Tales of a Tuk Tuk 🙂 thank you and please let us know what you think!

Below you will find a table of expenses for the both of us for this day.

Fuel

LKR880

Warm Clothes

LKR4270

Cigarettes

LKR320

Bananas & Melon

LKR115

Paratha & Sweetbread

LKR130

Roti, Rice & Curry

LKR75

Water

LKR600

Jumpers

LKR1200

Goodies

LKR100

B&B & Dinner

LKR3342

Total

(£53.76) LKR10,572

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