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Tea, Tamil and Tourists

Though we were happy about the good start we got in SL, hunger started over riding the joy we had. I think, Kapu was not sure about a good place where we could have break fast. He took us around the Kandy town in search of a hotel. When we started seeing the same place many times, most of us got annoyed :). We asked him to go towards our next destination, and we will have some food on the way. Our next destination was “Nuwara Eliya”.

Facts: Nuwara Eliya literally means, city of lights. This city was found by Sir Samuel Baker, a british man. This is located in the central highlands of SriLanka creating scenic views all around it. Situated 1000+ meters above sea level, has world class tea plantations. Tamil people were brought here to work in the tea estates before independence. Notable point is, Tamils in the plantation area never took part in the liberation struggle. Hence, they are generally called as “Plantation Tamils”. Nuwara Eliya is called Little England due to its climate, cleanliness and courtesy.

The road to Nuwara Eliya was too good that it was like a satin spread! Rarely in some places, the road was narrow, otherwise it was better in any metric compared to Indian hill roads. We would have drove around 10-12Kms. We saw a shopping mall on the left of the road, before reaching a place called Peradaniya. We could see the board from long distance- “Royal Mall”. All of us were expecting a nice break fast. It was sad to learn that the restaurant there will start only by lunch time. We searched around and found a bakery store. Instead of Idly, Dosa, Idiyappam… we had to satisfy with Bread, Rolls, Buns etc. I had a couple of Chinese Veg. Rolls and a pinapple juice. The Pinapple was tasting like Oranges. I thought that, may be, Lankan pineapples will be tasting like Oranges. We paid the bill and continued our travel. We discussed about what we ate there. Another guy told, he also found a different taste for the juice he ordered. He told, he tasted Orange juice like Pineapple! OK. Now I understand why SriLankan Pineapple was tasting like Oranges!!

I don’t have anything to tell about the travel to Nuwara Eliya, just because, I did not see anything. I was sleeping all the time. Guys woke me up when we reached Mackwoods Tea Center at Labookelle.

On the southern side of the compound, there was a wooden planked platform. We all walked towards that place. There was a group of school students already coming out back from there. Guys were speaking sinhala as well as lankan tamil. I told myself, Lanka is the only place you can listen to good tamil.

As we approached the platform, a gorge unvieled before us. There is a deep trough between the place we stood and the opposite hill. All around us, there was green color- Tea plantations. The factory where we were was call Mackwood’s Tea Center. This was started by a Scottish navigator- William Mackwood.

One fine young lady came to us and introduced herself as a staff of Mackwoods. She was our guide there. More than 1200 hectares of land is managed by Mackwoods. Each of the tea plant has an average life span of 50 to 60 years. These plants are regularly cut into shape. For making tea, only the tender leaves are taken. She explained us about various types of teas they prepare. In that Silver leaf tea costs LKR 14000 for 50gms. They showed us how the leaves are de-moisturized, grinded into powder, further grading system. All these took almost 30mins. Then we all were invited for a cup of tea. We were given with a big pot full of tea and a mug full of milk. We mixed it ourselves and had it. I was good. We had an option to buy tea powder from there. Some of us bought kilograms of tea. I bought only 200gms because, I did not wanted to carry more weight every where I go. I bought Finning tea which was very strong, cost LKR 260. They had many flavored tea powder – Cranberry, chocolate, Elaichi etc… But they are good only for black tea. Later we came to know that, the tea that we drank there was free! Two cents less!

It was time to drive back and it was lunch time. It looked like stomach is functioning very effectively when in a foreign country. I was feeling very hungry. In a short distance of 5kms, we reached a place called “Ramboda Falls” we could see a beautiful water fall far away from the place where we were standing. Kapu told us to follow him to a hotel. We walked behind him. We had to trek down to reach the hotel! Though the hotel was in middle of the forest, prices were not like that. One vegetable fried rice costs LKR 600 + Taxes! But after having that rice, we just roamed around and found out that there was another waterfall just beside us. We have seen such waterfalls in Windows Wall papers or Mani Ratnam movies. It was so scenic that we all were clicking it from all around it! We started climbing up to our car. I learned a theory of life there. “You can walk down a hill when you are hungry. But you cannot climb up when your belly is full”.

 

Kapu continued his duty, to drive back. I told my friends that I will get down at Kandy or a nearby place and they can proceed to Negombo. They had a beach resort booked there. The last thing I can remember was, we passed through a rock drilled tunnel. I fell asleep. And the saddest thing happened. My friends forgot that I need to get down. Kapu went much ahead of Kandy. When I asked them how much more distance to Kandy, Kapu told, we are 30Kms after Kandy!!

I needed to reach back at Kandy, find a room to stay. And time was already 5pm.

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