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Trip Start Nov 16, 2007
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Trip End Dec 15, 2007


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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

From Ella we moved onto the southern hill country's principle settlement, the somewhat faded resort of Nuwara Eliya (New-rail-eeya), the most British of all Sri Lankan towns, and sitting at the heart of the tea industry.  The island's highest town is set amidst a bowl of green mountains beneath the protective gaze of Sri Lanka's tallest peak, Pidurutalagala (2555m), and was established by the British in the nineteenth century.  The town and surrounding area is touted as "Little England" - a remnant of the old country stuck in the heart of the tropics. 
However, the reality is that Nuwara Eliya is less of a period piece than the locals would have you believe, with an unappealing expanse of concrete shopping arcades and traffic intersections - indeed the stress of altitude causes vehicles to belch great noxious clouds of fumes making the walk around town a largely unpleasant experience.
In other ways, this assessment may appear a little harsh.  The town boasts a triumvirate of fine old colonial hotels; notably the Hill Club where in order to dine you're required to pay the temporary club membership fee, and wear a jacket and tie!  I was also treated to a grand tour of the appropriately named Grand Hotel by the accommodating general manager Raju, another long-standing friend (and fellow Lion) of Emmanuel Joseph.  The creaky wooden floors, gracious old furniture, smoking room and musty billiards room are all painfully redolent of ol' Blighty.
The memory of England lives on, too, with the rather dilapidated racecourse (Sri Lanka's only horse-racing meetings are held here), the workaday Victoria Park and a golf course.  Another touch of Britishness is the small-scale market gardening industry, one of the mainstays of the modern town's economy, meaning familiar vegetables such as leeks, turnips, swedes, marrows, cabbages and potatoes are a relatively common sight.
In late afternoon we continued onto the extremely modest village of Dalhousie (Dal-house) which serves as a base for the night time ascent of Adam's Peak.  With a big climb ahead, I decided to sample the island's staple food of rice and curry (rice is considered the principle ingredient).  I thought they had taken my order incorrectly when they brought out a mound of rice accompanied by seven side dishes - typically, nearly an hour later I was full to bursting and had barely eaten half the dishes.  These generally include a serving of meat or fish curry plus accompaniments such as curried pineapple, potato, aubergine (brinjal) and dhal.
After sharing a small bottle of arrack with Karu - it would be our last opportunity, as he would shortly be leaving me in Kandy - I retired early in readiness for a 2.30am start.
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