Updated on December 21, 2017
Day 8 of Sri Lanka Trip, Nuwara Eliya on July 18, 2017
Eighth day of our Sri Lanka trip as we left the beautiful city of Kandy.
The plan of the day was to drive to Nuwara Eliya, a city on plain nicknamed “Little England” for its climate, which made perfect sanctuary for British settlers. On the way there, we would be passing the major tea production region of Sri Lanka.
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Since one of my friends was sick yesterday, we only toured Kandy’s downtown temples. So this morning, our driver first took us to a viewing platform on the hill south of Bogambara Lake, not far from our apartment. An angle of the city of Kandy that we never looked at before.
Unfortunately, we don’t have much time left for the city of Kandy, so at around 10am, we set off for Nuwara Eliya.
On our way to Nuwara Eliya, we passed a Jewelry Store called Hemachandras (Kandy) Limited. Since my sick friend was waiting for a driver to take her to the airport so that she could home and get some good rest, we figured out a jewelry store seemed like a good place to kill some time. We knew the country of Sri Lanka was famous for two things, tea and jewelry, and of course no teens would be interested in the latter. And, the majority of visitors to the store were Chinese tour groups
consisting of nannies that’s only brought here so that their tour guides would earn commissions.
But, anyway, just looking at shiny things won’t hurt.
Not long after that, we were at Peradeniya where we met the driver that would took our sick friend to the airport. We waved goodbye to her, and went on our journey.
Well, actually the Royal Botanic Garden in Peradeniya was on Lonely Planet’s to-visit list of Kandy. However, that garden charged quite a premium for foreign visitors, and we all preferred shiny things to botany.
After that, we drove past University of Peradaniya, which is considered to be the oldest university in Sri Lanka, and one of the best.
After that, we made a brief detour into the town of Gampola, where our driver found a gas station to fill up the tank.
After that, our driver took us to a restaurant near Store Field Tea Factory, on our way to Nuwara Eliya.
As for the food, we were quite excited to see that this restaurant served true Sri Lanka cuisine, while in the previous days all we ate was Sri Lankan’s perception of “foreign food”. But for a country that’s pretty much impoverished and under-developed, filling the stomach was all this unexciting dish could do.
And the price was very Sri Lankan too, much cheaper than what we had in the previous days. It’s only that we were given the English menu (lower), which apart from the scarcity of choices, resembled too much to the local menu (upper) hung over the kitchen. This curiosity was unfortunately met when we opened Google Translate and for the first time tried to recognize Sinhalese characters for the first time, which wasn’t a very good experience.
Store Field Tea Factory
After that, we visited the nearby Store Field Tea Factory, where a lady showed us the tea production facilities followed by tea tasting / pitching.
To briefly summarized the tea production process, half-century old (Irish, if I remembered correctly) machines dry/cut/heat/separate tea leaves into different products. The machines at Store Field Tea Factory were all closed, a sign that this tea factory wasn’t doing that well.
Well, this tea sampling, at least judging by the tray and the way cups were placed, were much better compared to Blue Field that we visited later in the day. But the problem was that, Store Field Tea Factory wasn’t that famous (their factory was dormant), and the price label on their tea packages were unacceptably high (although the lady would give everybody 30% discount, after which it was still above market price), so we just left empty-handed.
By the way, the big three famous tea fields should be (in the order from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya) Glenloch, Blue Field and Mackwoods.
Before we reach Blue Field, we stopped at this overlook in Ramboda first, where we took a bathroom/photo break, as we enjoyed this sight of majest mountains in front of us.
Not long after that, we were at Blue Field Tea Factory.
Blue Field Tea Factory
After finishing the tour of Sri Lanka, I’m pretty confident that all tea factories in Sri Lanka were covered in blue roofs, which was as sure a local convention as that all school uniforms in Sri Lanka were white. So I guess probably the owner of this tea factory was short on ideas on naming his or her tea field.
As usual, we were given a brief tour of the factory first. Only this time, the factory was active, as we walked past workers among the industrial sound of machines. The process of tea making was similar, just larger in scale compared with the previous factory.
And the tea on sale here was much cheaper. So after some shopping frenzy the four of us brought home like 20K LKR worth of tea
, which was regretfully little that I think of now.
After an hour or so at Blue Field, we were on the move again.
Not long after that, we were at Mackwoods, the famous tea field that got a sign of “Mackwoods” mimicking the famous “Hollywood”.
Unfortunately to our grave disappointment, during our visit, the sign “Mackwoods” were removed, for maintenance I guess.
So I have to make do with Photoshop.
I had a look of price tags on tea on sale here before we left, and it turned out that to be more expensive than Blue Field, which given the absence of “Mackwoods” Sign wasn’t justified.
So at around 5pm in the afternoon, we arrived in the city of Nuwara Eliya. We didn’t book a hotel here in advance, so it took us a while to find a decent hotel to stay and negotiate down the prices. After that, our driver took us to the Lake Gregory, sort of the only major attraction we planned to visit in the city.
It was near sunset time and the winds were blowing strong over the lake. Adding to that the elevation of Nuwara Eliya which is more than 1800 meters and that I was still in my typical summer shirts and shorts meant I wasn’t having a good time touring Lake Gregory. Well, I should have followed my friends and got changed in the hotel, during which time I guess I was over-confident. So while my friend’s were having fun playing stone-skipping with some local people, I was shivering to death by the lake hoping occasional sunlight among passing clouds would brought me warmth and alleviate my suffering.
As for Lake Gregory itself, yeah, the clouds did make it British (and very Photoshoppy), and for once elegant villas from the British replaced make-shift cottages that were so often the sight of rural Sri Lanka. Oh, did I mention that our hotel was next to a horse racetrack? How British is that?
After walking like 30 minutes along Lake Gregory and before I was frozen to death, we reached a parking lot where our driver was waiting for us. He took us on a tour around the Lake on our way back downtown, so there’s more of this lake to see.
Nuwara Eliya Post Office
This is one of the oldest post offices in Sri Lanka, built by the British in 1894.
This is where our driver dropped us off, and we sent out postcards to our friend that unfortunately needed to cut her trip short.
And there’s this tiny museum in the post office, which was quite an interesting way of displaying stuff.
After that, we found a restaurant nearby in downtown Nuwara Eliya, bought some food at a