On Tuesday we left at 06.00. This seemed like overkill but Lionel told us that the traffic through Kandy would be awful and we had to get to the other side to catch our train into the tea country. He wasn’t wrong! About 4km outside of the city, we ground to a halt and just crawled and crawled. It took over an hour from this point to get to the city centre and longer to get to the station of Perendiya where we were to catch the 08.40 train.
The journey took over 2 hours! The train before hours pulled into the station. And broke! After a while, Plan B was executed and we crossed to another platform where, eventually, our train arrived. The platform wa full of mainly backpackers eager to get on the train and get a seat. Obviously we had booked seats in the FAC coach (first class air conditioned) but because of the scrum to get on we ended up standing in a SNAC coach (work it out!). The good news that first the train was going back to Kandy where it would stop and we could move. Which we did!
Now ensconced in our correct and comfortable seat, we settled down for the long journey - some 4 hours. Once out the the city, we climbed. And climbed. And climbed. In fact, we climbed for much of the next 4 hours as we began to see the tea plantations for which the region is famous. During the journey various sellers came through the train selling snacks, chai, and even samosas. The latter chap just gave them away if you said no thank you and they were very tasty!
Lionel met us at Nanu Oya station although we did manage to miss him! Our first visit was to a tea factory, set up by a chap called Thomas Lipton! They only process tea at night here so the machines weren’t working! Said machines however are still original (no one has come up with a better idea in the last 130 years?) and date back to the 1880s.
We then had a three hour drive on mainly hilly and twisty roads until the last 25km or so which was along a valley on a steadily deteriorating road. And then it started to rain - for 15 minutes or so there was a deluge which made the drive interesting! Lionel has a habit of asking ‘Did you or the travel company choose this hotel’! However, we arrived in daylight (just). The hotel is off the bad road at the end of a muddy track! We were welcomed and shown to our ‘room’. The front doors take you into an open courtyard with plenty of seating and old furniture. (The Hotel is apparently owned by an English lady who was the wife of a Sri Lankan film director who died a few years ago). The bedroom is huge as is the bathroom and our back garden contains and outdoor shower and jacuzzi! Pretty good this! It all sits on 80 acres of, mainly, jungle but they also grow black peppercorns.
Cocktails at 7.30pm involves meeting the other guests and chatting before dinner.
Tomorrow is at leisure!