A Travellerspoint blog

August 2011

Journey to the land of Ceylon Tea

sri lanka tea plantation hills waterfall

rain 18 °C

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When I touched down in this land, it looked like Malaysia 30 years back. The architecture and infrastructure is not very organized. This former place known as Ceylon (famous for it’s world-renowned Ceylon tea production) stands around the lower middle class of India. Things are not as cheap as I imagined it to be in Sri Lanka. Most of the things sold, especially food are more expensive than in Malaysia! My group were picked up in a van from Colombo and went on our way to our intended destination Nuwara Eliya which is the hilly tea plantation of the country. Colombo is rather hot and humid in February, not to mention get ready for a bumpy ride as many roads in Sri Lanka are filled with pot holes or just simply dangerously narrow. We first stopped by Kitulgala Rest House which is scenically located on the banks of the Kelaniya, the second largest river in Sri Lanka. This rest house was a location for David Lean's award-winning movie, Bridge on the River Kwai. You can take a good rest here and dine at The Bridge Restaurant!

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From there on we went on a bumpy uphill ride of about 4 hours or so to Kotagala, Greenhills retreat centre to rest for the night before going another 2 hours uphill to Nuwara Eliya. The weather turned coller as we ascend. We went around Hattan town to shop as it was closer to Kotagala. We also went to see Devon Falls and Tea Castle which is about 1 hour away from Kotagala. The Tea Castle in St. Claire’s is newly built in the recent years to cater for tourist and locals who would like to have a nice time enjoying the cool weather and beautiful flowers while having their meal or tea. They also sell nicely packages tea in the centre and castle. Best grade tea is BOPF which is the finest cut grade which is made into English Breakfast Tea. Other normal grades include BOP in normal tea bags that we have. When you tour the Tea Castle, you’ll be able to read some history of tea auction since the British occupation in the land. Many brands of tea are for sale there. Make sure you get your share of it. It ranges from normal black tea to flavoured teas such as strawberry tea, passion fruit tea, maple tea and etc. I simply love my strawberry flavoured tea!

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We went up to Nuwara Eliya after that and the weather became even cooler and wet during this season. Make sure you bring along more warm clothes when you plan to go there. Do visit the local market when you have a chance. You’ll be able to see various colour of curry powders or even rice for sale. The locals don’t generally consume a lot of meat as it is very expensive to afford. Bananas are plenty and cheap if you want to get your share of a tropical fruit. There are many famous tea factories that you can visit in Nuwara Eliya, along the way you will pass by plantations which you can personally see tea pluckers going into the plantation barefooted and plucking the ripe leaves for tea. The usually carry the huge baskets on their back and would work throughout the day. Manual labour is still cheap in Sri Lanka, therefore, all the plantations uses manual workers. We chose to go to visit a tea factory at Lover’s Leap. Here a short history of the factory which I read on the signboard: Lover’s Leap Division was the only estate which was owned by Mr. James Taylor, the pioneer tea planter who started the tea planting enterprise in Sri Lanka, when he planted 17 acres of tea in 1886 in Loolecondera Estate Hewahata. You’ll be given instructions to follow your factory tour guide around the factory as they explain each step of process to you. From plucking the leaves to the drying process to cutting the tea into different grades and packing it for auction. At the end of the tour, you’ll need to tip your guide and buy a cup of tea as well. It was a really educational experience indeed.

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Out along the streets towards the town of Nuwara Eliya has many shops and stalls which you can get a good bargain for things. Make sure you do a good bargaining with them. I was told that Sri Lanka doesn’t really have many clothing factories anymore so the price of clothing might not be as cheap as before. Overall, it was a good experience having all the various curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as tea for every occasion especially to any places you visit.

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Posted by jokermiss 21:20 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged hills tea falls plantation Comments (0)

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