Tea

Trip Start Feb 25, 2010
1
12
17
Trip End Mar 13, 2010


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Where I stayed
North Cove Cabana

Flag of Sri Lanka  , Sabaragamuwa,
Monday, March 8, 2010

Mountain of toast for breakfast then off through the cool morning mist. After 5km we reach Hatton, a town with particularly mad traffic: lots of buses dicing for space on the streets. Small Sri Lankan towns smell of a combination of diesel fumes and woodsmoke. The buildings are grey concrete, often with extra floors in the process of being built on top, grubby with broken paving slabs. In the countryside, many of the verges are swept daily and the dead leaves burnt in small roadside fires. We carry on and stop at an Anglican church perched in a beautiful spot above a lake. The gravestones show that at the end of the 1800s and the early 1900s, it was very unusual to live much into your 50s. We cycle on through tea country. A lot of the estates have Scottish names: Craighead, Keppoch etc. We stop in a small town and Sampath buys supplies for lunch and dinner. He takes Janice shopping with him. Tom and I are sent to the off licence to get the beers in. Janice goes to the world's most mosquito-infested toilet (apparently) and spends her time there clapping furiously.

We stop off at the Loinorn tea factory in the Bagwantalalla tea region and are shown round by the manager. The process is clearly very labour intensive: workers climbing three flights of stairs with four sacks of leaves balanced on their heads. We then labour on up rough tracks past rows of immaculately groomed tea plants climbing 400m in 4.5 km to 1800m (5700ft) to the North Cove Cabana  where we will stay tonight. We have only cycled 42km but a lot of it has been hard off road climbing. Apparently the place was originally built beside natural river pools by tea planters who came up and used it as a sort of resort. We bring our own cook up from the village who prepares our curry lunch while we relax by the cool rushing water. A stunningly beautiful setting miles from anywhere.  Our only complaint: not many comfortable chairs and our backsides are beginning to feel… delicate. The power for the place comes from its own hydro electric scheme. Janice is given a cookery lesson and we enjoy a wonderful (if rather spicy) meal. We are in (hard) bed by 8.30pm
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