Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Tea Terraces at Nuwara Eliya

I like tea. I still drink coffee but I've learned how to love tea these past few years.
Tita much? Hehe. 

Sri Lanka is known as a tea country. I wanted to take a peek at the mountains where tea is grown.

From Kandy, you can reach Nuwara Eliya via train or a private car. Figuring out how to buy the train tickets sent me in circles. Given the hellish bus ride I endured from Colombo to Dambulla, I decided to spend some money for my peace of mind and hired a private car to drive me and take me around Nuwara Eliya.  I found my driver-guide, Kamal, in Withlocals. I sent him a message, and we agreed on the date, time and price. 

With Kamal, my driver-guide to Nuwara Eliya

Kamal toured me around a university with this really awesome old tree with crazy branches.

An ampitheater

Right-hand driving

He had Filipino music in his playlist. As in OPM! I was highly amused. 

He drove us through winding mountain roads. If you get carsick, take meds beforehand. I got a bit disoriented during the drive up to the mountains. I had to lie down and take a nap. I got my energy back when we reached our first stop for photo ops (I cannot remember the name of this spot). 

We stopped in this tea plantation wherein a nice lady gave me a tour around the tea-making facility. I learned that the white, green and black tea all came from one plant, just from different parts of the plant. You cannot take photos of the tea-making equipment. 

Tour spoiler alert: The plantation made tea for various tea brands. They make the tea here then ship them off to their clients then they pack and brand the tea as theirs. Sounds like the gig of the electronics industry back in the 90s. 

We got complimentary tea from the plantation while chilling in their cafe. I don't know if it is really complimentary or they just knew my guide. 

The tour lasted around 30 minutes or so. I gave her a tip at the end of the tour. 

Lots of tea souvenirs available but they are on the pricey side. A nice gift for your boss, if he is a tea-lover.

Photo with the tea plantation

On to the tea fields!

It didn't look too much like I was having fun, but I was! 

I had fun with the "tea crops" here. We didn't ask for permission to stop here so I reckon it is free.

Sun saluting at the tea plantation
Photo from across the highway. Bravo for the effort.

The weather was cooperating at this point. Cool but not cold. There's enough sun to give me a nice sky (for photos of course). No jacket needed. 
Mackwoods. Take that Hollywood.

The Nuwara Eliya Post Office is one of the oldest post office buildings in Sri Lanka (What a very specific category!). British architecture. Reminds me of Ho Chi Minh's post office too. 

Just beside the post office is the Victoria Park. The park is huge. We had to walk quite a bit to get to the entrance. I paid LKR 300 to get in. 

I welcomed the solitude. Nature with cold weather is the perfect climate for a soul-searching moment. Or maybe that's the influence of popculture. Ya know, something like the movie That Thing Called Tadhana. This is like soul searching in Baguio/ Sagada but not.

My soul searching moment ended abruptly when the rain poured down. I was stranded at a park shed for 30 minutes and did the basic chatting conversation with the locals there. 

Even with the gloomy weather, we headed to Lake Gregory. I paid LKR 200 for the entrance fee and LKR 100 for the parking. The lake was huge. I had lunch there while writing my review for Withlocals. 

Meanwhile, Kamal was doing a video of my trip. Hahaha! Same-day-edit lang ang peg. It was nice and sweet (don't expect it to be the same caliber of a wedding SDE ha)

I also got a same-day-edit video. 

We were at the guesthouse shortly past 3pm. I stayed at a place near Lake Gregory. 

The distance of Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is around 80km. The actual cost of the trip is USD 60 but a conversion rate of 158 instead of 144 was used. I got severely annoyed at the end of the trip but I didn't want to ruin the day and our camaraderie. I was too accommodating. Tip: Bring LKR change and agree on the forex rate used beforehand. I had relent and pay LKR 10,000 because Kamal had no change with him. Nevertheless, this is a minor thing that didn't affect the quality of his service - but could have been avoided. 

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