After all the outdoor excitement of the National Parks our next destination was the historic town of Galle on the south west coast. Originally founded by Portuguese and then taken over by the Dutch and eventually the English the old town is sited inside Galle Fort an imposing stone fort situated on a peninsula of land with ocean on three sides. Our hotel, the Fort Printers was right in the middle of the Fort. Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site, we are beginning to think we may have seen them all on this trip! Continue reading Galle, Sri Lanka
From Nuwara Eliya we were heading through the central highlands and down on to the coastal plains of southern Sri Lanka, safari country. We broke the journey to the coast for one night at Uda Walawe National Park, famous for its elephants. Because of the delay getting the car repaired our afternoon safari in Uda Walawe was rescheduled for the following morning with a 5.45 start to catch the animals at sunrise; so we headed straight to the hotel for an early night. The Grand Uda Walawe Safari Resort was the first hotel on our trip that we weren’t happy with, not a bad hit rate! Although it is a relatively new hotel all the public areas were very dark making it difficult to use the stairs or read any of the signage, even in daylight! We were shown to our room which on arrival reeked of petrol (who knows why!), we were advised to turn up the air conditioning and it would clear in 10 minutes, over an hour later, after a walk around the hotel to explore it still smelled the same so we asked to be moved, the next room was much better but there was still a whiff of eau de gasoline. Dinner in the restaurant was distinctly average and it was hard to see what you were eating. We were really glad we were only there for one night. Continue reading Safari Country, Sri Lanka
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
Our next stop in Malaysia was the Cameron Highlands, tea plantation country in the mountains 3 hours north of KL, the journey was slow due to the traffic, we were traveling on Friday and Saturday was the Chinese New Year which is a big deal in Malaysia. Everybody was either on the road going to visit family, or heading for the countryside. No matter, we eventually arrived in Tanah Rata and checked into the Cameron Highlands Resort Hotel which quickly became one of our favourite hotels of the whole trip. It was a heritage hotel having been built during the height of the English colonial period to serve the tea planters and their families. It was beautifully decorated in tea planter chic and was terrible elegant – just our sort of place!? Our room, one of just 56 was lovely, and looked out over the Cameron Highlands Golf Course. Continue reading Cameron Highlands
The rain in Malacca stopped about half an hour before we were due to leave! We were picked up by our driver for the 2 ½ hour journey north to the city of Kuala Lumpur, unfortunately it was the weekend of the Chinese New Year so everybody was on the move, we were warned to expect heavy traffic for the next few days. In the end the journey took about 3 ½ hours but it was quite comfortable and it was interesting to watch the changing landscape. Continue reading Kuala Lumpur