Tea Estates of the hill country

Trip Start Sep 19, 2010
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Trip End Sep 19, 2011


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Where I stayed
Glenfall Guesthouse

Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Saturday, February 5, 2011

 

17Th Jan.

 

   We had asked around and found out there was a direct bus to our next destination, Nuwara Eliya (pronounced Nureliya ). This bus left at 10 AM and was to get to Nureliya about five and a half hours later. So we duly caught the bus and again paid something like 1.20. The trains and buses here are so really cheap, which is good because we plan to do a lot of traveling in the days ahead. The bus was a banger as is typical and these drivers really put their foot down. It was also jam packed but Cathy and I had seats. The first hour we headed east along the coast then we turned north and soon started our long climb up into the mountains. All went well until we reached the last town before Nureliya. It was at this point that the bus's engine finally blew up. I was not surprised, in my opinion it should have probably blown up in 1975!!! We all piled off the bus and soon caught another. This one however was already crowded so we had to stand for the last hour and to make matters worse the road condition for this last hour was appalling.

  We arrived at the bus station and were immediately approached by a SHARK. He said he could take us to a nice hotel and arrange trips. I told him the first thing we were doing was going across the road to eat and if he was still there when we were done then we would go with him. Guess what? he was still there. So he took us to a place called Glen Falls. Glen Falls is an old tea planters house in town and it wouldn't have looked out of place in an English village. We agreed on Rs 2500 a night with hot water and we were going to need it.

  Nureliya grew coffee until the mid 1800s until a disease completely wiped out the coffee bushes. Then someone had the bright idea of growing tea here and the rest is history. The tea bush is a very hard plant to keep happy. It needs three vital ingredients to grow. The first is altitude. The higher the plant the better grade of tea. Second is Climate. It needs a nice warm climate to grow with no frost and at high altitude that's a big ask!! Third it needs sloping hill sides. Tea is not happy growing on flat ground. When you have all three of these in the same place you have a license to print money, and that's exactly what the Empire did. The highlands of Ceylon were perfect for growing tea. Nureliya soon grew in size and the whole area was planted with tea. The tea estate owners built their grand English houses here and still today this town is called  "little England". I have read this is the best preserved hill station left on the Sub Continent and I would have to agree. I have been to Ooty and Poona in India and these two hill stations have been spoiled beyond all recognition.

  As it got dark the temperature dropped and it was the first time this winter I had actually felt cold. We snuggled up that night under a blanket and let me tell you, It felt like home. I forgot to mention Nureliya is 2000 Mtr above sea level. The next morning Cathy was not feeling so well so she stayed in bed and I walked into town alone. It was a lovely sunny day and my walk took me past the 18 hole golf course and all those grand Victorian mansions. This place was beautiful and I can see what the draw was for those early tea planters. If you look up anywhere in town you can see the slopes of tea bushes. Perfect. Later that evening a waiter lit a fire in the old fireplace and Cathy and I sat around it until bedtime.

   We had arranged to go on a tour of a tea plantation the next day and a couple of Swedish girls from our hotel asked if they could come along and share the cost. We happily agreed. So we set out on our trip. Our drive was fantastic taking us through stunning scenery and past miles and miles of tea estates. It was here I coined the phrase " tea tea everywhere and not a drop to drink" this had Cathy and I chuckling for a while. Our tour was around a tea estate called Macwoods that was established in 1841. They showed us how the tea was picked and how they processed it in the tea factory. From picking to the finished article only takes 24 hours. After our tour we sat and had tea and chocolate cake out on the terrace overlooking the estate, Very English. We then bought some tea from their gift shop and when we are back in the UK we will "take tea" and look back on our time in tea country. We then drove to a place overlooking a lovely waterfall and had some lunch. From here it was to the train station. Our time in Nureliya had come to an end and we were moving on to a place called Ella. We could have caught the bus to Ella and it would have been quicker than the train but the line between Nureliya and Ella is supposed to be one of the most beautiful rail journeys you can take. It was too, Absolutely breathtaking.

 We arrived in Ella at about 7 in the evening and headed to a place called the Comfort Hotel. We were still traveling with the Swedish girls as their plans were the same as ours and we were sharing Taxi costs. Cathy and one of the Swedes went into the hotel to check the rooms out and find out the price. Great rooms but with a price tag to match they found out. Rs 5500!!! The Swedish girl with Cathy asked to see the manager and the negotiations started. Ten minutes later Cathy and I were entering our honeymoon suit that we bagged for Rs 2500!!! Cathy was really impressed with the way the Swedish girl had handled the manager and said she would take a leaf out of her book in future. We settled into our flash room for the night.

  The next morning we checked out and moved into a home stay just around the back of the hotel. This cost Rs 1000 and was OK. We headed out and walked around the village. The reason people come to Ella is to see the Ella gap. The Ella gap is a huge gorge that cuts into the mountains from the plains below right up to Ella. It is up this gap that the road from the plains comes up. Another reason for coming here is a place called Mini Adams Peak. From Mini Adams peak there is a beautiful panoramic view over the surrounding mountains at one side and down to the plains below on the other. To get to Mini Adams Peak you have a one and a half mile walk through woods and a tea plantation and finally a bit of a climb to reach the peak. The effort was more than worth the climb and Cathy and I spent an hour or so just sitting on top taking in the spectacular Views. Adams peak it's self is at the western side of the mountains and takes hours of hard climbing to reach the top, hence we climbed Mini Adams peak. That night we ate a home cooked meal at our home stay and it was excellent. More rice and curry. With all this rice and curry Cathy and I are both losing weight big time, which is nice.

  The next morning we got on the first of three buses it was going to take to get us to Arugam Bay our next destination.

 

 

 
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Comments

John Shotter on

Message from Warren he says he will not be able to post any blogs for three weeks as he is in Burma and they dont like anyone talking about there country
Your blogs are so interesting mate.

John Shotter on

He sends his apologies

trish and john on

and was the tea good to drink. you both look soo good,great photo.

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