From Kandy we headed further into the central Highlands to Nuwara Eliya, the main town in the tea growing region and historically the place the English escaped to during the hottest months attracted by the cooler climate, golf course, Hill Club (think Indian Summers) and an endless social whirl.
We left Ellerton and drove to the nearby town of Gampola where we were due to catch a train to Nanu Oya, the station nearest to Nuwara Eliya, recognised as one of the classic railway journeys. The station was very clearly modelled on Victorian stations in England but it has seen better days; this can be explained, and excused by its history of flooding. Flood markers on the platform showed water levels rising to ten or twelve feet in the first half of the C20th, and in 1947 the station was completely submerged. The last flood was in 1974, after that a dam was built on the river to create a reservoir and control the water levels. Continue reading Nuwara Eliya→
We have had a few days without internet access so we are getting a bit behind with the blog, sorry about that. We will try and catch up now so stand by for several new posts!
After our adventures in Habarana it was time to move on to Kandy, cultural and spiritual centre of Sri Lanka. We broke the journey at Dambulla where we visited the Buddhist cave temple (what do you know, it was at the top of a steep staircase…). A series of caves in the rock feature statues of Buddha and remarkable frescoes telling the story of his arrival in Sri Lanka, the earliest of these cave temples dates from the 1st century BC and the caves have been sacred to Buddhists continually since then. Each of the caves was established at a different time and this is reflected in the materials and styles used to create the statues and the style of the paintings. Continue reading Kandy→
The next morning we left Colombo and drove to Habarana, a town with lots of hotels serving tourists visiting the Cultural Triangle defined by the ancient cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy. The journey took about six hours and we stopped on the way at a simple roadside restaurant where we had the Sri Lankan staple of curry and rice which consists of a meat or fish curry served with plain rice and five vegetable accompaniments, it was a feast and we particularly enjoyed the eggplant curry and the lentil daal. Eventually we arrived at our hotel the Aliya Resort and Spa, we climbed the steps to the open reception and were greeted with the most amazing view across a huge infinity pool and over the landscape to Sigiriya Rock. Aliya has only been open a couple of years and it is a very modern but very lovely hotel with rooms set in blocks of four around a garden filled with trees, and paths which are lined at night by hundreds of lanterns. Continue reading Habarana, Sri Lanka→
A flight from Penang to KL and another from KL to Colombo brought us to Sri Lanka, known as the pearl in the Indian Ocean. We were greeted at the airport with garlands of Orchids and introduced to our new driver/guide Odi, who will be with us for the whole of our three weeks in Sri Lanka, Odi transported us to our hotel, the Kingsbury down on the waterfront in the centre of the city and arranged to meet us in reception at 10.00 the next morning. After a day travelling, and a two-and-a-half-hour time difference we decided to have dinner in our room, watch a film and get a good night sleep. Continue reading Colombo→
Our final stop in Malaysia was George Town on the island of Penang, the journey from Tanah Rata to George Town took us down the mountains and joined the main road running up the west coast, we crossed to the island over a bridge stretching over 13km and drove into the city. George Town is a prosperous modern city with a flourishing tourist trade and a lot of high end apartments for foreigners who spend six months a year there. At the heart of the city is a UNESCO World heritage site covering the old town created by periods of, Portuguese, Dutch and English rule and extensive trading links with India and China; the old city blends buildings, cultures, religions and cuisines from all of these to create a wonderful vibrant town. We were staying at Muntri Mews, an old mews stable block which had housed the horses and carriages of the wealthy families living in townhouses in Muntri Street. The hotel had about 12 rooms arranged on two levels along one side of a courtyard, our room was upstairs, it was quite big with a sitting room area at one end, a bathroom in the middle and a bedroom area at the other end which was dominated by the biggest bed we had ever seen, it stretched from wall to wall and must have been 10 foot across. Sadly, the top sheet was only about 8 foot wide! Continue reading Georgetown→