This is the first day that we are able to have breakfast in the hotel and it is a very strange affair. We are the only guests in the restaurant and are shown to a table set with fruit salad, a plate full of something that looks like raw black pudding, a plate of Edam type cheese, some dry pastries, and cereal. I look enviously at the next table that is laid with a plate of ham and some yoghurt and honey. I don’t know how the staff have decided who gets what, but I would definitely have preferred the food on the other table. We are brought eggs cooked to our choice and a plate of pancakes. So very much food. It is embarrassing to be given so much in a land of such poverty. I can’t imagine what they think of us. We eat our fruit and eggs and guiltily leave the table.
We meet Anton in reception and set off on a two hour drive to Nuwara Eliya, a town in the hill country with a temperate climate and colonial architecture, known as Little England. It was founded in 1846 by English settlers at the time when tea growing was first introduced to Sri Lanka. The area is popular with Sri Lankans and foreign tourists, specially during the month of April, the season of flowers, pony races, go cart races and auto rally.
The roads we have driven over the last few days have climbed steeply and are very bendy, they make the road from the coast up to Competa seem quite straight. But no matter how sharp the bends it is always the number one priority for all traffic to overtake the vehicle in front, no matter whether there is oncoming traffic or a totally a blind bend. The number of times we have inhaled sharply with fear are beyond count, but we still have not seen any accidents on the roads.
We travel on past huge far reaching tea plantations and lush countryside until we stop for a visit at a tea factory which is not as interesting as the place we visited with our tuktuk driver.
We continue to the large town of Kandy, where we stop for late lunch and have the best meal of our stay in Sri Lanka.
After lunch we visit another jewellery showroom because Ella has decided she wants to buy another ring and once in amongst all the shiny sparkly stuff I also realise that it is necessary to commission a ring to be made. We meet with the craftsman who will make the rings and he explains what is realistic to accomplish and we finally agree on designs and continue to our hotel, where we will stay for two nights – we can actually unpack tonight – luxury.
The Hotel Thilanka is quite normal, the room is lovely, stylish and spacious. We have a garden outside the French windows but are told not to leave the doors open because monkeys will come into the room and steal our stuff.
There is a nice rooftop pool and bar so we go up for a cocktail for me and a beer for Ella before showering and changing to meet Anton at 20:00 as he is going to take us to a restaurant in the town.
Kandy is a large and very pretty town with a big lake at its centre and surrounded by mountains with property dotted amongst the palms and at the top of a mountain is a huge Buddha statue overlooking the town.
We have a very nice meal in a rooftop restaurant and Anton joins us. He is a lovely guy who tells us lots of stories about his country. His key phrase is “are you happy? If you’re happy, then I am happy!” and he genuinely does seem to want to make our visit as interesting as can be.
We return to the hotel and go to the pool bar for a nightcap. I leave Ella and Anton to it as they seem settled in for a few more, but I am mindful of another long day ahead and most definitely do not want to be nursing a hangover.