In the morning we packed up and left our bags with the front desk guy then headed out for breakfast and to see the only two things we wanted to see in Kandy. Breakfast was jam buns (which we hoped were filled with jam, but weren’t) and a sugar donut kinda thing. I was glad it wasn’t more toast! I don’t think I can eat anymore toast. We walked toward our first destination and ate our breakfast on the way.
We were headed for a giant Buddha on a hill that overlooks the city. I was less concerned about the Buddha and more excited about seeing the city and the surrounding mountains from up high. We got a ride to the top and while the Buddha itself was impressive, the views were even better. We took a few pictures and enjoyed the cool breeze for a while then walked back down into town to head over to our next destination.
The other cool thing to do in Kandy is visit the Temple of Buddha’s Tooth. Apparently, they have one of Buddha’s teeth enshrined there and you can pay to see it. However, you don’t always get to see it and it cost more money than we thought it was worth. We could get into the temple complex for free though, so we walked around to some of the smaller temples and took a few pictures of the outside of the main temple. That was pretty much all we wanted to do in Kandy so we grabbed some lunch then headed back to the mission to grab our bags and catch a bus to Nuwara Elija, which is even higher up into the mountains.
At the bus station, some guy tried to tell us that there was no public bus to Nuwara Elija and that the only way to get there was the slightly more expensive small, air conditioned bus. We knew with 100% certainty that he was lying, but we thought this bus might be faster so we paid the extra .60 cents.
This was the only guy who outright lied to us in Sri Lanka. Pretty much everyone we talked to or asked for help was really helpful and when the tried to sell us something and we said no, they left us alone. It was quite the contrast from our experience in India.
The bus ride was somewhat comfortable, but the a/c was blasting and we were all freezing. The views were pretty awesome though and we saw several huge waterfalls coming down the mountains. Eventually, someone opened their window and we felt a rush of really cool air. When we got off the bus though, we had no idea just how cold it really was. We immediately had to put our sweatshirts on and I wished I’d had longer pants on. It was so cold!
This time we didn’t quite make it through the gauntlet and started talking to a guy who was offering us a ride to a quest house nearby. He said if we didn’t like it we could leave, but we forgot that he would get a commission for bringing us their which means our rate would be higher. When we got there, the place was clean, but putting an extra bed in the room was going to be a struggle. Ethan snuck out and went down the street to see if there were any rooms available for a better price. He found one and the front desk guy told him that it was better that he came alone instead of with a driver.
When he came back to the first place he told us the situation, so we told the driver that we were going to walk and find another place. When we went to leave he started to come with us, so we told him we would were walking back to town hoping he would leave. He finally did, but we were actually going just next door and we didn’t want him to see us as he drove by so we made a quick loop then ran for other guesthouse and ducked inside before he drove by. We were all laughing hysterically and the front desk person probably thought we were insane.
The place, called the Tour Inn, was decent, but smelled horribly musty and we could tell that nothing ever gets dried out in the moist mountain air. There was still quite a bit of daylight left so we hopped on a bus to go check out a Hindu temple that we hoped was cool. It was a bit less than impressive and we were glad we only paid a few cents to get there. We didn’t stay long then hopped on a bus headed back to town.
Sri Lanka’s bus system is extensive and fairly easy to use. If you don’t mind the crowdedness and that they can be a bit slow, they’re a really good way to get around for those on a budget.
It was dark when we got back, so we got dinner, then some lackluster chocolate muffins and headed back. We sat outside and used the wifi, which works fabulously I might add. The wifi in the Maldives was good too, but the wifi in India was atrocious and never worked and it’s really nice to have good wifi when we want to blog and ya know, pay bills and do other adult things that we have to keep doing even while traveling.
Anyway, Nuwara Elija was beautiful and surrounded by stunning views and the sweet smell of pine trees that always reminds me of home. We were excited to see a little more of it and visit a tea plantation the next day!
We woke up to dark skies and rain. Ugh. Em and I were not excited to be our traipsing around outside in the rain. We waited a bit and after much grumbling we headed out when it let up a bit. We put on all our warm clothes and took the bus about 3 miles out of town. Our first stop was the Pedro tea plantation. Sri Lanka is famous for its tea production and huge tea plantations cover the mountainsides everywhere. This particular tea plantation uses some of its tea for popular drinks in Japan that we had never heard of.
We wandered around until we found someone who pointed us to the little tea cafe/info center. There we sat and waited til someone came to give us a tour. We had to wear green smocks and our guide didn’t say a word until we got to the place where they unload the freshly picked tea. She showed us how they prep the tea by drying it, then rolling it, cutting it and baking it and sifting it. It’s quite the process and all the machinery looked like it was from the 1950’s or something. We didn’t get to see any production since they only process the tea when it’s below 60 degrees outside. It was pretty neat to see all the machines and the whole process though and we got to taste some of it after ward. We sat out on a porch overlooking the plantation with our tea and the sky had cleared up so it turned out to be a really nice trip! Yay!
We hadn’t eaten breakfast, so before we headed to our next spot we grabbed some crackers from a roadside stand. We were headed for a waterfall that was yo the hill from the plantation called Lover’s Leap. The walk up felt long even though it really wasn’t. On the way, the friendly plantation workers all said ‘hi’ and had huge smiles. The waterfall was pretty but not as cool as we were expecting. We stayed up there long enough for Ethan to climb over all the rocks and get himself stuck then headed back down so we could catch a bus then attempt to catch the 12:45 train to Ella. The train station was about 10km outside of town too so we had to book it and pack super fast when we got back then practically run to the bus station. We hopped on the bus and the guy told us he wasn’t leaving until 12, but that we would definitely make it for the train. We just hoped he was right!
We did end up making it to the train and I’ll tell you about that experience in the next post!