Driving down from Nuwara Eliya to Bentota on the coast, we visited a tea factory to see the process at work and stopped at some roadside overlooks to see the spectacular views.
As we got to the lower elevations the rivers transform from the waterfalls of hill country to be broader, and slower, but still wild enough for white water rafting, check photo page for the unusual truck used to bring the raft back uphill.
After a few hours of the twists, turns, scenic views and a monkey dance (described yesterday), we took a rest stop at the Kitulgala Rest House. The Rest Houses were a network of government run hotels for use by traveling officials and travelers around the country before commercial hotels were common. They are all in wonderful locations, like right opposite Sigiriya, and although now run by a private company they still have the character of a private club: polished wood and brass, crisp white uniforms and the smell of floor polish. Kitulgala Rest House is on the side of the Kelani River, the lunch room is open to the breeze and the sound of the river. The claim to fame of this rest house is the movie Bridge on the River Kwai was filmed on the river outside. The location got a shout out (if they called them that in 1957) during the acceptance speech for one of the 7 Oscars. The book and movie tell a story in Burma, of British and allied troops forced by Japanese captors, to build a rail bridge over a river. Sri Lanka (Ceylon at the time) was an easier location for filming. The Mt Lavinia Hotel made an appearance as a war hostipal (a role the hotel did play in WW II).
Lunch was brilliant, the photo is the chicken curry, parippu (lentils) and other goodies served as the Sri Lankan lunch.
Hitting 100 Km/h on the brand new motorway that now runs from Colombo to Galle in the south was quite a contrast to 20 Km/h average in the hill country. One day, big contrast, must be Sri Lanka.
To answer the question about the bridge, the movie was filmed at Kitulgala, but there was not a bridge there then or now.
Onward, downward, to the beach.....
A story running in the newspapers a few days later; there is a plan to recreate the bridge of the movie, the idea is to drive more tourist business, which is interesting, the movie is 50 years old and i doubt it's widely known any more. The bridge plan is to placate the white water tour operators, there is a plan to build a hydro electric dam that would prevent rafting on the river. I am not sure you can trade a high energy rafting experience with a recreation of a 50 year old movie prop. I will stop for lunch next time and find out.