Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tea Trail and The Tooth

We were up even earlier this morning to walk one of Norwood’s trails.  They have several treks of varying lengths marked out through the plantation.  We picked the 8km one which Mark & Chris had run the previous morning.

As we set off from the bungalow, the sun was just about to crest the mountains opposite, so we got some lovely early morning light on the tea bushes and trees as we walked.  The trail was a gentle 6km climb to a point where you could just see Adam’s Peak in the  distance and then a 2km descent back to the bungalow.  About half of it was on the road through the plantation and half was on tracks through the bushes themselves.  It was all very scenic and the first exercise we’d done since we came away!

Back at the bungalow we showered and had breakfast with the boys; Chris noting that four of the five people at the table were wearing  Abercrombie & Fitch.  After the sociabilities we all retired to pack and relax before our appointed departure hour.  Mark and Chris left around 10:30 (Mark wanting to try to break his land-speed record for the trip back to Colombo by doing it in less than the 3½ hours!)  We left as planned around 11am.

The drive north to Kandy only took a couple of hours but was somewhat marred by Maliq pulling in to a Gem showroom and expecting us to go in and do the tour.  He hadn’t mentioned it before we stopped and we had no wish to be sold at, so we said we weren’t interested and could we go straight on to the hotel please.  He didn’t take it very well and pretty much lectured us about how it was a ‘recommended’ stop and how we would have learned things if we had gone in!  He subsequently seemed to realise that he had gone a bit far and switched back to information-giving tour guide mode.

We found the hotel without too much difficulty.  It’s a small, very new boutique hotel set in a residential area.  It has lovely views over Kandy from the hillside opposite but, while it is certainly stylish, some of the design seemed poorly thought through and on the whole the place was a little cramped compared to other hotels we’ve stayed in here.

As we’d got there in good time though, we headed straight out to go see Kandy’s premier attraction; the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, one of the most revered artefacts of Buddhism.  After being searched twice by security on our way in and dispensing with our shoes and hats, we finally entered the temple.

Maliq guided us efficiently round the site (although I did have cause to wonder how it could have been King Edward IV who had come out to sign the Kandyan Convention in 1815.)  Because the actual relic is sequestered within nested shrines though, there wasn’t a lot to see except the ornament of the outer one and all of the flower offerings left in front. Lots of impressive carving in the wood though.

Afterwards we went next door to the Cultural Centre and watched a display of Kandyan dancing and some firewalking; Tourist trap.

Back to the hotel for dinner which we took on the terrace overlooking the lights of the night-time city.  We were the only guests in residence, so we had the whole staff to ourselves; the service was a little wobbly in places, but at least they were friendly and (excessively!) eager to please.  I did have to correct them, though when the advertised soufflé turned out to be a mousse!  (I did think a soufflé was possibly a little ambitious for the place, but the mousse was very good instead.)

I was still suffering from a minor headache so we retired straight after dinner and fell asleep by the light of the little fish-filled trough which made up our window ledge.

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