Ella and Haputale
27.02.2017 30 °C
As we climb the mountain by bus (a rather less manic experience than getting to the hill stations in India) we immediately relax and look forward to the mountain life which awaits us. Immediately our impressions of Sri Lanka change as the location is beautiful. The stunning mountains stretch as far as the eye can see but its more than that - the people are more friendly and their happy demeanors make us feel more laid back. We feel more satisfied in one day here than we have in a whole week by the beaches. We've quickly come to realise that Sri Lanka isn't a backpacker destination and in order to enjoy a certain level of comfort and visit the tourist attractions you're certainly in your pocket looking for cash much more often. Our shoestring budget of India has vanished and the ability to get what you want when you want at any time of day or night (a man always knows a man who knows a man who can) certainly doesn't exist. We've had to adapt our mindsets but now we're in the mountains that's easier to do.
The first few days have been very special and ones we won't forget quickly. Finding accommodation with a view which isn't booked up is a tall order but we eventually find somewhere and it's certainly worth the miles of walking with our backpacks. We end up in a friendly guesthouse with a view which would rival the best in the world and two of the friendliest couples we've met on our travels. We end up having dinner with Laura and Rob, a couple from Southampton, and it turns out we have lots in common. Having also travelled in India we can relate to the many funny stories they tell and listening to Rob's (two Robs is confusing) tale of his over zealous approach to safety, especially when sleeping with his moneybag on the overnight train, has us in stitches. We do hope they come and visit in NZ! We also had the pleasure of meeting Anissa and Yassine, a French couple who are doing a whistle stop tour of the Country. We really enjoyed our hike up little Adams Peak as dawn broke and loved our non stop easy rolling conversation along the way. It is to them we owe the stunning views of our accommodation for Rob's birthday and as they left, less than 24 hours after they arrived, we found out that they had brought us our room for the night as a present. Such a huge act of kindness even had me lost for words (I know) and left us feeling we were on cloud 9 as we were so amazed at their generosity even after we had just met. We will be sure to pass on this act of kindness along the way.
Our hike up Ella's rock was impressive, although our efforts at the top weren't rewarded with the picture perfect view I had in mind for Rob's birthday. As soon as we arrived swarms of locals were peering over the edge whilst the army and police assessed the area. It had turned out that a couple of the villagers had fallen to their death from the top the day before and the single flip flop left on the edge of the cliff was a stark reminder that whilst the natural world offers so much beauty it offers so much danger too.
As we enjoyed the hill country so much we decided to head to the Tamil town of Haputale and enjoyed a 9 mile walk from Lipton's tea plantations to our guesthouse on the side of the hills. We were rewarded with a clear 360 degree view from the top, an unusual sight as the clouds often roll in, and it was stunning. Walking back down and saying hello to the ladies hard at work picking the tea was amazing. What a different life they lead! Although they get paid so badly I was relieved to seen that a hospital was on sight and a school for the children and we even caught a role play of a group of students performing to their teacher who was sat in her woolly hat outside in the sun although we had no idea what it was about. Here we were back to the Indian ways of eating huge amounts of very tasty food for the fraction of the price elsewhere in Sri Lanka and it was nice to be back to our Indian ways for a bit.
Now we head on a long journey through to Adam's Peak, the 5000 step pilgrimage which I hear is extremely strenuous. I don't know what I've let myself in for as we have to start walking at 2:30am for sunrise but Rob is pretty adamant about it. Let's see what all the fuss is about!
Love Susie xx