Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Tealands of Hatton: The Sri Lankan Diaries

From Dambulla, we drove an exhausting 4 hours to the central highlands of Sri Lanka that is known for one thing: TEA. We passed through the cultural city of Kandy, which was another tourist destination. But because we were pressed for time, we continued on to Hatton where our next adventure was.



As soon as we made it to the mountains, I just couldn't stop taking pictures. The patches of tea plantations that run across each mountainside were verdant and breathtaking. It was a huge landscaped garden that stretches for kilometers. 


We were supposed to stay at the Ceylon Tea Trails, the premier accommodations in the area. But I just found the place so expensive, so we struggled to find a more affordable one, but with the same relaxing ambience. That's how we ended up in the Mandira Strathdon Bungalow.


Our quaint lodge reminded me of other lodges in Europe and in South Africa. This didn't feel Asian or Indian at all. In fact, I haven't really seen any Sri Lankan accommodation except for Vil Uyana. Most of the nice hotels in Colombo were also colonial in design. This wasn't different from the rest.


There are 4 bedrooms in the lodge. We got two spacious rooms, but since we were the only guests, it felt that we owned the entire lodge. 


The ambience had a very British colonial feel, so even though the entire lodge was very homey, it looked a bit tired and even haunted in some way.


It was a good thing that we were the only guests in the lodge. Hence, it really felt that it was like our country home. I loved the living area, though the emptiness of the space was also a bit scary.


The Tealands of Hatton were everything I expected it to be. Tea plantations were everywhere, painting a beautiful scenery across the hillsides. It was indeed a very relaxing sight to see and I felt that I wasn't in Sri Lanka anymore, but somewhere in Europe.


That European feel was heightened more when we stumbled upon this little chapel overlooking the lake and valley. There was an eerie cemetery just in front of it. We were told by the caretaker of the chapel that the people buried here are locals who died in a plague in the late 1800s. There were children, some even less than a year old, buried here. I took the time to read all the tombstones.


The inside of the chapel was also interesting. There was a chilly atmosphere, but I felt warm. There was an old Bible dating back the 1700s that was on display at the podium. the chapel also had a pipe organ which was still working.


We tried to push further down the valley, but we were quite weary of losing time. We were to move to Galle in the South of Sri Lanka at the end of the day, so we decided to head back up to the highlands and back to the road to Colombo.


Though short, our trip to the tea lands were satisfying. It was a great experience in Sri Lanka, and I highly recommend it to anyone. I suggest you stay in one of the bungalows in tea plantations so that you can even harvest tea leaves. For now, I leave this region with a rejuvenated spirit and energy, and excited for the last part of our adventure!



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