Sri Lanka—tea, tuktuks, and monsoon rain

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Waking up to the beach

I started the first day in Sri Lanka waking up before my alarm, big surprise. I am very determined not to have a repeat of South Korea where it took almost the entire vacation to not want to sleep at 6pm and wake up at 2am.

I may have been a little aggressive with the AC once power was restored halfway through the night, so it was chilly in the room, a stark contrast to the high 80s F that assaulted me when I opened our sliding door to the beach. The fact we were on the beach made the temperature more bearable. We nommed a breakfast on the beach and then were picked up by Suminda, who will guide our chariot down the wrong side of the road ( Sri Lanka is a former British colony) over the next 8 days ($360). Our Uber in Hong Kong yesterday was the first time that Katy had ever been in a car that drives on the left side of the road, and Katy remembered that she will have to drive on the left hand side while in New Zealand. It was a distressing thought, but a happy one, since that day, Katy had finally received her official job offer after 4 months of waiting.

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A portion of breakfast on the beach

We then set off on our 3-4 hour drive to Kandy, a town in the hill country of Sri Lanka. Something I noticed shortly after the drive began was that everyone on a motorbike had a helmet on, which Suminda informed us was the law and that unlike in India passengers need to wear helmets too. Another item of note was that almost all the roads are one lane in each direction without a paved shoulder, but the centerline is a mere suggestion, as there are often 3-4 vehicles (a combination of tuktuks, motorbikes, bicycles, cars, buses, trucks, and the occasional ox), abreast on the road. Most of the time the direction of travel was not mixed. A third thing was that the sides of the street are pretty free of trash. I would put the level of litter as comparable to the US.

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During our drive we rarely went faster than 40mph while darting amongst the buses and tuktuks. Katy’s stomach held up surprisingly well but was starting to feel a little unsettled by the time we stopped at a tea factory. Of course it was a tourist trap, with overpriced tea, but I found the tour incredibly interesting.

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Tea being dried via a giant fan. Some of the leaves are pretty huge in this batch making me think it is not the highest quality

We then headed to the botanical gardens outside of Kandy. Katy rallied and put on a game face, even though she was starting to feel pretty miserable. After our amble around the park, we stopped in the obligatory coffee shop in the gift shop, and I had my double macchiato while Katy had an iced latte.

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We then formulated our plan for the rest of the day which included lunch, a Buddha on a hill overlooking Kandy, and the Temple of the Tooth, which houses one of Buddha’s teeth (don’t worry it is not on display, but you can view the area where it is stored). Unfortunately our plans were waylaid by rain, or monsoon, depending on your perspective. We decided to head straight to the hotel which was less than 5 weeks old and only had 80% of its rooms in service thus far. It had a great view of the lake and was only a five minute walk from town. The issue lay in the fact that it was raining too hard to see the other side of the lake 300 yards away… Katy by this point starting having chills and body aches and was not feeling well at all, while I had not eaten in the past 10 hours so I was ravenous. We came to a compromise that we would pay for a tuktuk to deliver us to a food establishment, which cost $2 (we overpaid, but if I tried to bargain more Katy would have not been happy).

I was served a giant platter of food, and Katy got some fried rice which she ate a few bites of, while I destroyed my entire plate without a second thought. We then took a tuktuk back, which was Katy’s second tuktuk ride ever (with her first being the ride to dinner). She enjoyed the first one, since it had its side cover buttoned up tight to prevent any rain from coming in, but the second one did not, and she was able to see that her feet were 8 inches from the ground, which unsurprisingly did not fill her with joy.

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A morning view of Kandy lake and the Temple of the Tooth with some residual clouds. A lot of the lakes in Sri Lanka are man made

We then prepared for bed with Katy distraught that she couldn’t use the rooftop pool because of the rain. I did an amazing thing and did not go to bed before 830pm.

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One Response to Sri Lanka—tea, tuktuks, and monsoon rain

  1. This post is great. Sri Lanka looks amazing, I so want to travel there.

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