Friday, March 27, 2009

A Weekend in the Country

We left Galle early as the drive up to Tea Trails was expected to take us about six hours.  Rather than retracing our previous route through the centre of the island, Maliq took us up the coast road northwest back towards Colombo and later turned inland again.

We stopped at a turtle hatchery on the way; set up some years ago to help conserve the several species of turtle existing in Sri Lanka which were being threatened by over predation of both their meat and their eggs.  The hatchery collect the eggs as they are laid, allow them to incubate and hatch in enclosures protected from animals, keep the young for a few days and then release them to the sea.  We were allowed to handle the one- and two-day old turtles and they were very cute.  They also keep a few older turtles that couldn’t survive in the wild (one blind, one with no front flippers, one albino).  It was an interesting diversion and I felt that my 200 rupees were going to a good cause.

We carried on inland, through the colourful panoply of towns and villages, had a brief stop for lunch and a brief stop for me to photograph a large monitor lizard that was ambling along the roadside.  As we reached the hill country, the roads became far twistier and we encountered occasional rain showers.  The final approach to our bungalow is a single-track road, which was once made up but is now more pot-hole than tarmac.  That said, the destination certainly made the trip worthwhile.

I don’t know if I can describe Norwood Bungalow without sounding excessively smug.  The ambiance is that of being invited for a weekend at the villa of a wealthy plantation owner.  It is very much a house, not a hotel; there is a corner of the lounge with bottles of alcohol laid out, a couple of sofas and comfy chairs gather around the open fireplace, there is a small staff on hand to discreetly serve you endless meals, do your laundry, organise any excursions you might want and to generally keep the house in order.  There’s an outdoor pool, a croquet lawn and a couple of wandering paths around the grounds and longer walks around the plantation if you are up for it.

We arrived in time for High Tea and indulged ourselves on cake and scones until Mark and Chris arrived (they are spending the weekend here with us as a break from Colombo.)  We had more tea and regaled them with our experiences so far.  The chef appeared to confirm the dinner menu and time and then we went back to our rooms to freshen up before dinner.

I took a siesta as I’d been feeling under the weather through most of the day and was unusually weary.  It perked me up for dinner though.  We started with drinks in the lounge, where we met the other couple staying here; Anna and Kevin from Oxford, with whom we chatted for a while.  They are leaving tomorrow and seem to be doing almost the reverse of our itinerary, having come from the Kanadalama Hotel and going on to the Lighthouse at Galle when they finish at Tea Trails.  The staff had set them up with dinner in the second lounge, so the five of us had the big dining room to ourselves and had a lovely dinner.

I sloped off early to bed afterwards though to try and sleep off my malaise.

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