Friday, December 6, 2013

Hatton to Kandy

Yesterday morning, Marc snuck out of our prison hotel in Hatton to take a walk in the tea field just beyond the hotel, before breakfast. It was so glorious we decided to sneak out again after breakfast. We made the hotel staff extremely nervous, trying to do things by ourselves. If they had their way, they would just drive us here and there and never leave our sides. I guess we made each other nervous, because we just wanted to be left alone to explore.

people bathe here

bamboo, morning glories, and other kinds of trees we don't know

this one grows in the tea fields --  really cool looking

walking to town

unreal, it's so dazzingly beautiful

this is a tea plant -- such a thick old trunk! Right around here is where the leech attached itself to my foot.
BOY did it creep me out. BOY did it hurt, too. And BOY did it bleed a lot after Marc pulled it off me.
Luckily I felt it the moment it attached to my foot, before it buried its head. GROSS.

terraced tea

Marc pretending to pluck tea, being silly and making me laugh so hard

this is our favorite kind of tree in Sri Lanka

tea fields

tea workers' village in the hills

a panorama shot combining three photos
Our breakfast was once again delicious -- we got a new traditional Sri Lankan food, milk rice. It's cooked in fresh coconut milk and it's wonderful:

breakfast on the terrace

local organic bananas (love the tiny ones, sweet as honey), homemade bread, and homemade yogurt
that was the best yogurt I have ever had anywhere

milk rice topped with onion sambol
We were extremely glad to check out of the prison hotel, but sorry to leave Hatton, which is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Despite our telling the driver and the hotel staff over and over that we would let them know when we wanted to leave for Kandy, the staff decided that the car would take us at 10. That was just typical of our stay there -- we were to do what they wanted us to do when they wanted us to do it. So goodbye and good riddance to the hotel, but a sad farewell to the tea hills. I waved goodbye to the southern coast with a sad farewell, and I did the same to the tea hills.

The drive to Kandy took a couple of hours, and while it was winding and stop-start as the other trips, it didn't make me so sick -- maybe because it was just a couple of hours, instead of 4+. When we pulled into Kandy I was so surprised by it; it's surrounded by hills and mountains and lush with the tallest trees of all kinds, and a big lake in the middle. It's utterly cosmopolitan in a way the other places weren't, and it feels bigger and more dynamic than Colombo, which was also a big city. But Kandy feels like it has it all: the pleasures of a big city, but also the incredible physical beauty of the best of Sri Lanka. It's also quite busy with monkeys, which we haven't seen elsewhere beyond an occasional one here or there. Here, they're running along the ground, climbing the trees, and climbing all over our hotel.

The hotel is way up above Kandy, and it's just gorgeous. It's so nice to be back among traditional Sri Lankan hospitality -- unlike what we experienced in Hatton. The people smile at us with great warmth and talk, but also help us graciously to do whatever it is we want to do.

the foggy view from our hotel room -- that's Kandy down below

also our view; we SO love the trees here

a bit of movement caught my eye, just one of the naughty monkeys

a corner of the lake in the middle of town

it's been this kind of weather since we got to Kandy: cloudy, rainy, foggy, overcast. little to no visible sun

we stopped at this little shop to buy ginger biscuits. you can buy all sorts of things here,
they're just kind of tossed in as one-offs
we saw this, a blister pack of M&M-type candy. strange, right?
We took a tuk-tuk down into town for a light lunch of kotthu roti, but they didn't start serving it until 4pm so we instead got three little roti bundles -- veg (which was dal curry), chicken, and fish. They were kind of little very small burritos using a roti instead of a flour tortilla. Really good. Later in the evening we took another tuk-tuk ride down the mountain for dinner, at a place called Devon Restaurant, which was a kind of nondescript restaurant, OK food, not more. According to our research on TripAdvisor, Kandy is strangely without decent restaurants, so we weren't expecting much and are happy just to get OK food here.

Breakfast at the hotel was yet another wonderful Sri Lankan feast -- the components are familiar by now:

salt and pepper, flowers, and a bell grace our breakfast table

clockwise from L: string hoppers topped with dal curry and onion & tomato sambol, milk rice wound around
honey and sultanas, a mound of plain milk rice, an egg hopper topped with dal curry
and onion and tomato sambol, and a small coconut roti. We also got beef curry which was great.
We have a full day here in Kandy, but it's been raining and so overcast so far, and it's only going to get worse as the day progresses. We may just stay in and read and relax, watch movies, organize our pictures, etc. If we have to have a day like this on vacation, we're SO glad to be at this hotel instead of the one in Hatton. This room has big windows and a view, even if the view is of clouds and rain. We hope tomorrow is sunnier or at least not rainy, because we'd like to go see the gorgeous botanical gardens, the huge market, and the Temple of the Tooth. Tomorrow we leave for Negombo, our last stop in Sri Lanka, and then to home.

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