Great Expectations

Text read by Mary Peters

Carolina, from Wissembourg, continues travelling around Sri Lanka.

After visiting the ancient city, I took the bus to Kandy (a four-hour drive). After checking in I had a delicious curry buffet for dinner.

Kandy is a big city and one of the most important cultural and religious centres of the country.

I joined another tourist, and we made a tuk-tuk day tour to explore the main sights of the city. The driver was very friendly and professional and took us to the Spice Garden, a tea factory, the Royal Botanical Garden Peradeniya, a gemstone shop and museum, the “Great White Buddha” (Bahiravokanda Vihara), the lake and the Temple of the Holy Tooth Relic. Kandy is a beautiful and culturally rich city, but a little too crowded and noisy.

In Kandy I learned to haggle even better over prices. I already knew that haggling is part of the culture. If you speak friendly you can get a very good price for the products and at the same time have a nice conversation with the seller. The majority of people are friendly and helpful, you just have to give them a chance and not react defensively or aggressively.

Next stop: Nuwara Eliya, also known as “Little England”! It became my favourite place of all the places I visited on the island.

For this train journey, considered by many as the most beautiful train journey in the world, I reserved a 3rd class train ticket.

Because this train journey is so well known and popular, I wanted to reserve a 2nd class ticket. Unfortunately, the seats were already sold out. I could only choose between 1st or 3rd class. The 1st class car has air conditioning, large, closed windows and a bar with drinks and snacks.

In 3rd class, I knew that the windows could be opened, and that was important to me. I bought the ticket and thought I would share the wagon with goats, it should then become part of the adventure. But when I boarded the wagon, I was pleasantly surprised. It was as normal as a train in Europe. Everything was clean, there was a lot of space, a toilet and nice locals. The view was incredibly beautiful. The passengers sang and played the drums. It was an amazingly joyful experience. I noticed that we approach a lot with prejudices, without knowing and trying. We draw hasty conclusions and miss so many things. 

At the destination: The host and his family picked me up at the station. I felt so relaxed and very welcome with them. It is a British colonial house from the 19th century, very well preserved. I felt like in paradise, in the middle of the Tea-Land, surrounded by tea plantations and fresh air (at 2000 meters above sea level). I took a walk around Lake Gregory and had a delicious dinner. The next day I took a walk to Single Tree Hill and then to Hatton Hill and saw some waterfalls on the way. If you are a tea lover, you must not miss the High Tea at the Grand Hotel, every day from 3 pm. It is worth every rupee.

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