|Our train chuggy around the mountainside|
The train ride to Ella from Hatton was even more scenic than our ride from Kandy to Hatton, and to top it off we had seats! The five hour ride gave us plenty of time to reflect on the living nightmare we had experienced that morning and also the opportunity for Megs to prove once again that she really can sleep anywhere. As we entered the tea country, green hills rolled off into the distance made up of tea plantations which were organised into uniform rows. Food sellers busied themselves up and down the carriages selling all kinds of delights from hot peanuts to samosas. We tried some for ourselves, and although delightful I really could not tell you what it was we ate! By the time we arrived in Ella the train was almost empty- at least in third class it was, and we jumped off (another huge step down again!) and exited alongside what seemed like only Westerners. A woman came up to us outside the station and convinced us that her place was where we should be staying- we were in search for a bit of luxury after our horrific ordeal and decided to trust her slightly more expensive offer. So Worth It! We were met with a double bed EACH and hot water! The Dream! (I’m going to skip over the bit about the room having two walls made of glass which made it feel slightly like we were living in a greenhouse- it was good enough for us!)
|Beautiful views of tea plantations from the train|
|In neat, orderly rows|
A 5 minute walk brought us into the centre, where we had a dinner and officially experienced Koththu (or kottu) for the first time. I say officially because it turned out that Megs had actually had it before without realising it because she simply pointed to someone’s meal in Kandy and said “I’ll have one of them too”. I also very quickly developed a love for fruit lassies- a milkshake made with buffalo milk, and so seized the opportunity to have a mango one.
|Tea leaves drying!|
We slept like logs and woke up basically unable to walk. The climb from the day before had really taken its toll and our legs were killing. It looked like there was no other choice but to have a massage. First though we were determined to tour a tea factory since we were in the heart of the tea country. Uva Halpewatte is he main black tea factory in the area so we headed up, bartering our Tuktuk driver for a fair price. He whizzed us up, and it is fair to say our legs would have not handled the climb. However, as we headed in we found it shut, apparently there was no electricity (despite music blaring from a party on the bottom floor) and the factory was not operating until Tuesday- we would be long gone by then. He told us of another one, only 3km away, closing in about ten minutes. Well we thought our driver was long gone, but he was waiting outside as if he knew all this was happening. So we managed to get a tour of the other tea factory, with two girls who told us they had climbed Adam’s peak the day before us and had the most spectacular views… Not what we wanted to hear. The tour guide spoke very very little English, but it was great just to get an idea for how the tea is made. And the tasting session at the end was interesting, and definitely not as pleasant as any tea drinking experience should be. However it gave us an idea of the BOPFs, BOP1s, DUST1s, FPOEs etc. who knew tea could be so technical ‘ey!
|Tea ready to be shipped|
Our return home had us stop for a sweet banana and chocolate rotti and of course a massage. Despite asking for a full body massage our masseuses decided they would also give us the head massage and facial. Thoroughly enjoyable although upon leaving it looked like I hadn’t washed my hair in a month with the amount of oil in it! The head massage was rather interesting for Megan who has permanent hair extensions that are clearly not a thing in Sri Lanka. Her masseuse found them highly amusing and was telling and showing my masseuse them throughout the head massage so they could both chuckle together.
We headed home nice and relaxed and chilled out for the rest of the evening with tea on the balcony whilst we watched the beautiful sunset. There was so much see we could have done but our tired little legs just couldn’t handle it. It was time to hit the beach.