Haputale, 9 August
The internet said it couldn’t be done, but we manage to get from the rainforest of Deniyaya to the cloud forests and tea plantations of Haputale by local bus. It takes us just about 8 hours, but we have seats for most of it and the views over the valleys are spectacular.
Haputale is situated at 1431m above sea level and on clear nights from the hotel you can see the lights on the southern beaches a hundred kilometers away.
In the early morning we requisition a tuktuk to take us up to Lipton’s Seat, a panoramic viewpoint where Glasgow born Sir Thomas Lipton used to survey his tea empire. Lauren gets to drive us up and proves to be a natural at it, we’re still alive at any rate.
After a final climb up on foot, we get an idea of just how massive this weegie’s tea plantation is.
The size of the plantation only becomes more apparent when to save ourselves a gruelling 4 hour walk back to town, we take a straight line down through the tea plantation. This photo is taken just minutes before we manage to get ourselves completely lost.
At a Tamil farm village we’re directed to the main road, and once there seize the opportunity to hitch a ride on a 16 seater autobus just passing by. There’s just enough room to squeeze in and we’re feeling pretty chuffed, when the bus picks up more and more people on the way and the headcount gets to 34 including the driver, who is about the only one of us not pressed into someone’s armpit, while being jabbed in the side by someone’s elbow.
The concept of personal space is definitely different in this part of the world, but people are very considerate. Hard not to be when you’re standing this close to eachother. One guy even offers me to sit down. There’s no space to sit anywhere except for on his lap, which he points at invitingly, and I politely decline, which does not deter him from trying to touch my hand for the rest of the journey. Can’t say they’re not a friendly bunch the Sri Lankans.
Now along the entire road down there’s a hundred meter drop to the side and hardly enough space to pass oncoming traffic, plus we are definitely at maximum capacity, so it’s welcome to see the bus make a stop for the conductor to light a roadside shrine to promote a safe journey. Almost turned religious, we make sure to also thank the driver when we’re back safe in Haputale.
It’s been an intense couple of days so we both look forward to slow down the pace at our next stop: Ella.