After the wonderful train ride to Ella, how could things get any better? The scenery around here is just stunning. After a delicious breakfast on the balcony, with the sounds of birds, the odd sighting of jungle squirrel doing whatever it does and magnificent views to keep me company, I decided to hike up the smaller of the two suggested walks in the area. Besides Ella rock apparently needs a guide and to be honest, its the bit of scenery you want to look at.
So I set off down the hill and through town, turned left as directed and followed the road, past lots more guesthouses, cafes and restaurants. There is no shortage of accomodation in Ella, thats for sure. Eventually I reached a “congestion” of Tuk-tuks. I’m not sure if there is a collective noun for tuk-tuks but congestion seems to be a good one to use! Here the trail started and the gravel road wound its way through a tea plantation, with several old ladies out to make a quick buck for taking their photo.
The walk had been fairly easy and about 4kms from my guesthouse. However the last 100m of climbing was probably done in a few hundred metres walking, via a set of step zig zagging steps up the side of the hill. It was definitely a lung buster of a climb, but one i managed easily, even overtaking a few younger fitter looking people. The view though was one to be savoured. Once the guys with their expensive dSLR cameras finished photographing their girlfriends in 100 different poses with the amazing scenery as the backdrop. Reminds me of a poor women getting drenched in a waterfall, annoying everyone else because she was there, meanwhile her male companion was apparently taking the best photos of his life……. Given how far away from her he was, I suspect the waterfall in Iceland was what he was really photographing.
I’m not 100% sure why this is called Little Adams peak, but suspect as there is a Buddhist shrine at the top just like Adams Peak, that may be why. Across the valley was Ella’s Rock which dominated the scenery, and along the side of the valley was the road south to the ocean and Yala National Park, where i’ll be heading tomorrow.
I wandered back down the stairs and the road and stopped at a place I noticed on the way up called the Ceylon Tea Factory. I had a rather expensive Mango Margarita Iced Tea, which was just what I wanted after the walk. I wandered back into town for lunch and wanted to see why Cafe Chill looked so popular the night before. They basically have a lot of western food on their menu. I had a chicken baguette which was a nice change from curry, rice and roti. I’ve been a bit of fan though of the kotu roti, which is stir fried roti with vegetables, egg and chicken (optional I believe). It does have a lot of spice in it, but not necessarily that hot as I don’t think it has chilli in it.
I could here the cricket was still on so went and watched it for a while. It seemed to be some kind of short format 7 a side comp. It appeared there were many different teams, some looking professional with matching team shirts and others just playing in whatever they were wearing today. It seemed to be mostly about slogging the ball for 6 although say one bowler get a hat trick when three batsmen couldn’t quite clear the boundary. This is no mean feat by the fielders either as there was a significant 2m cliff straight down the field, where the road went down into town. Every time a 6 or 4 was hit the party music played over the loud speaker. The presentation occurred in pitch black at 6pm!
Today was a more subdued day mostly because I needed to take care of things like Laundry and money. Also sorted out a car to drive me to Thissamaharama or Tissa as the locals call it! I then went out to the Uva Halpewatte tea factory for a tour. Today being Monday meant a lot of the machinery was not processing tea, because the tea pickers don’t work on Sundays. Still I got a good appreciation of the tea process. They only pick the first three leaves and the smaller leaves are higher quality and used for export.
The process is a four step process of drying to leaves, rolling the leaves, a more intense final drying and then seperation into the different grades of tea. The smaller leaves having the higher caffeine content and used in morning teas like english breakfast. Of course to test this we had a tea sampling at the end with four different teas, all coming from the same leaves. The guide was great, but i think as the only native english speaker in the group, I was the only one who understood a word he said. I’ve had years of practice with Sri Lankan doctors also.
As I write this entry, the rain has started to bucket down rather heavily. Even the jungle squirrels are sitting on the backside of large branches to shelter from the rain. Speaking of squirrels, here are some photos of the two species of squirrel I’ve seen here. The smaller is the jungle squirrel and the larger is the giant grizzled squirrel.