Friday, 12 April 2013

Sri Lanka: Week 1

Arriving in Sri Lanka at 4am meant that our only concern was to get to a bed ASAP. Unfortunately, we were given a taxi driver who spoke about 4 words of English and who didn't have the faintest idea of how to get us to the hostel that Lauren was already checked into.
After a while of aimlessly driving around, Imy's screeches of "stop" were finally rewarded and we were able to ask for directions. This is when we experienced our first bout of Sri Lanken hospitality, as the guy hopped on his motorbike and led our driver to the guesthouse - what a star!
After a quick kip, we were back on the road and heading to Kandy. We set off on our 5 hour bus journey...only to Arrive in Kandy 6 and a half hours later. That just seems to be the Sri Lanken way. With only 10 minutes to spare, we headed straight out to a local Kandy dance show. We were a little dubious when we arrived at a run-down school hall but the plate spinning and backflips, in addition to their vajazzled outfits, impressed immensely.


Plate perfection


The golden oldie
With such a short amount of time and so much to see, we hired a rickshaw to take us around. We stopped off at a tea factory and had a guided tour of the tea process that takes it from leaf to cup..the free cup of tea at the end was a result! 


Tea glorious tea



Ooohh fancy

Then we headed to a spice garden and swotted up on our natural remedies. We weren't expecting the back massage, head massage and cup of tea (a special dazzarea treatment for Kat) to be thrown in for free. Thank God Lauren splashed out on some ointments otherwise we'd have felt well guilty! 



Tut


Impromptu head massage

Finally, we got to the elephant orphanage just in time for the baby ellies to be bottle fed. They absolutely guzzled it down. We also saw bathing time and were in the perfect spot to see the herd of elephants making their way down to the river. We grabbed a bite to eat beside the river, with our eyes transfixed on the elephants frolicking in the water. What made the day even better was the fact that Kat and Imy had their first serving of beef in 6 weeks! It was a meaty heaven in a burger bun.




Stroking ellie


Baby bath


View from the restaurant


BEEF

To finish off one of our favourite days, we checked out the giant Buddha, which we climbed for a fantastic view over kandy.


Big Buddha
The next day we headed to Ella and experienced one of the most beautiful train journeys we have ever been on. There were rolling hills of tea plantations, huge waterfalls and adorable kids playing and waving as we passed. Ella in no way disappointed. It's a quaint little town surrouded by mountains, with a really relaxed atmosphere. We went to see the Ella Rawena falls - a big waterfall surrounded by monkies. We didn't do the hike up Little Adam's Peak because we knew that soon enough we would be doing the whopper itself.


Tea plantations


Ella Rawena
Adam's Peak was our next destination. It is an infamous "mountain" and home to the rock on which Buddha/Adam/Shiva (depending on your faith) first stepped down from heave. Hundreds of Sri Lankens make the pilgrimage around this time of year, with the aim of getting to the top in time to see the sun rise. With this in mind, we set off from Ella in the evening with the moronic idea of doing the hike that night. By the time we got to Hatton though, we realised this was a stupid idea and after a bit of a kafuffle locating a room, we checked into the biggest dive imaginable. We're talking a cockroach infested, pube-ridden hell hole!
We checked out pronto the next morning and caught the bus to delhouse - a tourist pitstop at the base of Adam's peak. Again, the bus ride was absolutely stunning, as we made our way around a beautiful turquoise lake. 


Not too shabby


An early night was in order, so we could start the hike at 1am. So after about 2 hours of sleep we found ourselves hiking up a mountain. A 7km hike might not sound too bad but when it is going up about 6000 steep steps, you can really feel the burn. We didn't have to look too far for motivation though, as hiking alongside us were 80 year old women and dads carrying their children. Most inspirational of all was the old lady we saw hobbling up on just one leg and a crutch!! It didn't make the climb any easier though, and it was a massive relief when we made it to the top, where we huddled in an attempt to keep warm. 



Bit nippy at the top
Ding dong


The sunrise was an absolute beaut and made it all worthwhile. However, what goes up must come down! So with absolute jelly legs we started the descent. It took a while for us to get back down because our legs were on the verge of seizing up and we seemed to have lost a lot of our coordination. 


Peekaboo


Finally the sun makes an appearance


Struggling


The peak that almost defeated us

After the hike, we had some brekki and grabbed our stuff so we could head south to the beaches, feeling like we well and truly deserved a bit of a beach break after our physical exertion. It's a tough life!

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