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Published: January 24th 2012
After a week it was time to pack up and leave Uppuveli and “my husband” (the cook 😊). After checking with the boys, we left for the Trinco Railway station, only to find out that there are 2 trains daily heading to our destination (Hatton) – we already missed the first one and the next one was only in the evening. So, the best solution for us was to take a bus to Kandy (oh, no, no, no) and then switch buses to get to Hatton (and from there continue to our destination: Dalhousie, a village under Adam's Peak).
We calculated we should arrive to Delhousie in the evening, boy, were we wrong. The bus from Trinco to Kandy took ages, even though it's only about 200km between the two. I think it took us about 5 hours to get to Kandy, yes, I said 5 hours to do a 200km distance. When we arrived to Kandy there was a direct bus to Hatton, but we realised that with the speed we were travelling with, we would not arrive to Delhousie until the next day. So we were looking around the bust station and someone asked us,
if we are heading to Nuwara Eliya. We looked at each other, we looked at the bus (it was one of those small, AC buses, which are usually twice as fast as the normal ones) and as we couldn't take another endless bus ride, we said yes – not knowing a thing about Nuwara Eliya, only it is in the hilly side of Sri Lanka and it has something to do with tea.
The drive only took 2,5 hours, with the bus panting heavily up hill for the last hour. And there we were, arriving to Nuwara Eliya in pitch dark and to an absolutely freezing climate (Nuwara Eliya is 1889m above sea level). Arriving late and in the dark, we didn't have much time to look for a great accommodation, so we settled down after bargaining down the price of the room, which was freezing cold. Shivering pretty much through the whole night, it got warm again the next day, as soon as the sun came out.
We got into our warm, hiking clothes, which I haven't worn since Vietnam, and we set off to town to get some food and see what there is to do
around the area, Very soon we learned that apart from visiting a tea plantation, the local park and going on an expensive tour to the nearby national park, there is absolutely nothing to do in Nuwara Eliya. So we walked around and we came across a huge cricket field – it is suppose to be a horse racing track but you could never guessed it. Sri Lankan's are crazy about cricket and Jan was offered to join the guys and play for a bit – the batting part he did well, but I think he would still need some practice in throwing 😊. (by Jan: 3 overs, 8 runs, 1 tumble and I a caught ball after a semi-good pitch.).
After that we decided to go to the botanical garden – park, which was actually quite nice, and then it was 5pm already and the day was turning into night again. So, we got some food and returned to our room. And that was it for Nuwara Eliya. I imagine I don't have to stress that we almost ran to the bus out of town the next morning [😊
One of the highlights of Nuwara Eliya was perhaps
The IGNORANT Russians
They didn't take any notice of the security guard asking them to move
the market, where you could buy all the sports, winter clothes, mainly Colombia brand, which you can get here for next to nothing, but you pay a small fortune when it is exported to western markets (the label will still say Made in Sri Lanka,
but the price will be European).
Jan really wanted a wind stopper, but could not be bothered to bargain for the price, so I went in there on my own a little later, and got him a Colombia wind stopper for 1800rp (about $17). He was so happy 😊. Apart from later when he discovered that although it was a man's jacket, the label said “women wear” 😊. I had to try it on to prove it is not a small women's jacket – it was way to big for me, so he sort of believed it.
Not to be unfair though, the bus ride up to Nuwara Eliya and the bus ride towards Hatton offered amazing views, so I guess it wasn't a complete waste of time.
Arriving to Hatton, we changed buses again and after yet another hour of stunning views of the surrounding nature we arrived to Delhousie,
where we would start our ascend to Adam's peak. The peak itself is known by 3 different names: Adam's Peak; people believe this is where Adam first stepped on Earth after being evicted from heaven; they also call the peak Sri Pada (footprint left by Buddha when on his way to heaven); and Samanalakande (Butterlfy mountain – where butterflies come to die). Anyhow, you can imagine the peak has become a famous spot for pilgrims and crazy travellers like us. The peak sits 2243m above sea level and there are more than 5200 steps to reach the top. It's about 7km from Delhousie to the top, which they call the “short path” 😊.
So, we rested a bit on the day of our arrival and headed to bed quite early, only to find ourselves freezing to our bones again and unable to sleep because of the crazy dogs (they were barking all night long). But never mind, we were up at 2.20 am and at 2.30 am we were already on our way to the top. January and February are the peak season for the local pilgrims to climb Adam's Peak. Between the 2 months, you are advised to
The way for your kid to have long hair
avoid climbing the peak during poya
(full moon), as due to the huge number of pilgrims you will find yourself walking not 3 or 4 hours, but up to 9 hours to reach the top. It is also a nice experience climbing to the top between these two months, as the path is lit all the way to the finish (outside of pilgrimage season, you are advised to bring a torch with you).
The reason behind our early start was that it is recommended to reach Adam's peak before sunrise. And so there we were, ascending Adam's peak at an ungodly hour of the day. The path starts getting steeper and steeper from the very beginning, but don't worry, no stairs in sight yet. Oh, wait, half an hour in, there were the first stairs. Nope, the first ones are OK, and are disconnected with normal path going up the hill. But THEN it begins. Stairs, a gazillion of really steep, endless stairs. Our idea was to take it slow, not to rush into it, otherwise we would be dead before reaching half the way (Jan had to keep reminding me to preserve my strength – and no, not
because I was talking as usual 😊). We were making a good headway, when we realised we need to take a brake, unless we wanted to freeze our asses off at the top, waiting for hours for the sun to rise. So we had our first tea break (there are numerous places along the way offering hot tea, food...). Then we climbed further and ran into a couple of tourists heading down already, and we were like, wow, when did those two start – but they said they gave up and couldn't hike any further. Hmmm, OK, no problem, nothing like that would happen to us, I was way to stubborn to reach the top. One last tea stop at 5.00 and the last 160 steps and we were there. I was soooooo excited, I could dance when reaching the temple at the top, although seeing the amount of people sitting on stairs, grounds surrounding the temple, I decided not to 😊. And then...we waited, for the sun to rise.
While waiting and while people were setting up their cameras to get the very best shots of the sunrise, there was a bit of a scandal. Leading from the
viewing point at the temple was a short terrace, that was fenced – meaning, no one was allowed to go there. Unless you are Russian, it seems. There was this guy, who climbed over the fence, and set his camera on the edge of the roof waiting to make the best shots of his lifetime and leaving everyone standing behind the fence only being able to take photos of his butt. The people were having none of it: “Hey man, move, I didn't come all the way up here to look at your ass,” was just one of the comments. The Russian was not too happy, but after a while he moved. Huh, OK.
But then...there were 2 other Russians, a guy and a girl, who climbed up the roof just as the sun came out, they sat in their lotus position and the guy started burning his first insent stick. The locals were fed up, so there was this guy, we called him “the security guy”, who approached them and tapped the Russian guy on his shoulder and gesticulated for them to leave the roof. And what happened? Nothing, the guy blatantly ignored him, and I mean IGNORED
him. The security guy was so shocked he didn't know what to do with them. By then Jan and I went round the temple and realised that the view at the back of the peak was so much more impressive than the sun rise, so we stayed there for a while. When we returned, not only where the 2 Russians still there, they started “omming”. I mean, what the heck, yeah?
We decided we won't wait for the sun any more and we started our descent only to realise that the views on our way down were incredible. It's funny, but you don't see didly squat on your way up in pitch dark, so it was such a surprise to see the nature surrounding the top. We descended slowly, only to have local boys running past us, down the stairs, wearing their flip flops. I had a bit of a “senior citizen” moment right then and there 😊. But after a while, slow was the only way, your knees start to suffer, your muscles start to shake and well, descending Adam's peak was a torture (everyone else we spoke to confirmed they were walking funny for days after doing
Adam's peak).But we made it and at 8.30 we were back in the village, starving for breakfast. A shower later, we were warming our bones in the morning sun and half an hour later, we were back in bed, sleeping tightly 😊.
Oh, one more funny thing. In the afternoon Jan was sitting at the hostel, outside in the garden, having a telephone conversation, when guess who sat down next to him? The two crazy Russians, who ignored the fact that Jan was trying to have a conversation and started playing the flute. 😊
That was it for us, we climbed Adam's peak and the next morning, tired of the hills and the cold, we were on our way again. First stop: Colombo (we had to get our camera serviced) and then...the south...
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