A Travellerspoint blog

Cochi, Cochin, Kochi or Kochin

The best tea we have ever had

sunny 28 °C

Kochi (and it's many different spellings) is in Kerala, in the south of India. It was an important shipping and spice trade centre for centuries, and as a result it has been ruled by different countries over the last few hundred years, until independence in 1947. First the Portuguese ruled, when they built the fort, the Dutch then took over and destroyed the fort and eventually the British ruled in 1814. The different countries influences could be seen in the buildings as we walked around. When we decided to come to India, both our family and friends said we had to go to Kerala and Kochi, they were not wrong in their recommendation, Kochi is extremely laid back, very pretty and the people are very generous with their time and they have a great sense of humour.

Yesterday morning as we walked out of our hotel we were accosted by a tuk tuk driver who said he would take us around all morning for the equivalent of forty pence. The best place we went to and the first place was the Dhobi Khana laundry. All the clothes are cleaned in big stone baths, which are arranged like cubicles in a long line and the clothes are beaten and scrubbed by people (generally older people) who are standing in the water. The washing is then hung out on tree branches and twisted washing lines to dry before making its way back into the main building to be ironed. They are ironed with old fashioned heavy irons filled with burning coconut husks to provide the heat. The laundry cleans for the Navy, the local hospitals and the police. We were told in the monsoon season they rush in and out all day putting the washing on the lines when it is not raining and taking it in again when it is raining.

The driver took us through Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Jewish (he called it juice) areas; avoiding the stray goats, there are more goats on the streets in Kochi than dogs. Everybody seemed happy to coexist and we stopped and looked in many temples, churches and mosques. The Hindu temples only allowed Hindus into them as it is said an American couple went into a temple 'tipsy' once, so now all non Hindus are banned. We went on the coast to see the Chinese fishermen (introduced by the Chinese in the fourteenth century); with the big nets they lowered into the water with the help of a strange contraption. We always make a point of telling tuk tuk drivers that we will not be taken to any shops, but we did agree to one as we wanted to look for a small Ganesh, the driver was very happy with this as he said he would get a coupon for petrol. Later on he stopped at another shop and we refused to go in and he sulked for a while as he said his family needed the coupon for the petrol. He was also not too happy when we paid him two pound for his morning with us, he seemed to have forgotten his forty pence.

We did tell him that we wanted to go to a tailors as I want a dress for Ant and Vicki's wedding in August. He first took us to a material shop, where we got the material (where I spent a phenomenon amount on material as I got the conversion rate wrong!). We then went to the tailors shop near our hotel. The size of the shop was smaller than a prison cell and there was a measuring table and two sewing machines in there and it was very hot and the electricity had gone off so there were no fans. I was measured first (I may have got the material for more than one outfit) and then Bill was measured for a shirt, with the material he had picked. Fingers crossed it will all be ready tomorrow afternoon.

When we got back to the hotel, the owner had chased Bill's bag down to the local airport and she said we needed to pick it up. I had no intention of a trip there and back from the airport, so Bill left on his own in a taxi. It took nearly two hours to get there, even with the driver weaving through the traffic and when they got to the airport, they refused to allow Bill to enter without a member of Sri Lankan Airways. It took over an hour for the airline to arrange for the bag to be handed over, because of all their red tape. After another couple of hours back in the taxi to the hotel, Bill was not in the best of moods on his return, especially as the airline said he would need to go to their service desk at Heathrow on our return to be reimbursed.

Last night we went out for a meal and we asked if they had any beer, the owner said they were not allowed to sell beer (just the large hotels), but he had a 'special' tea, which was beer, but he could only serve it to us in a teapot with mugs and we would have to have it inside so nobody saw us. He set off on his bike to collect the beer and when he came back he opened it, poured it into the teapot and served it to us. I said to Bill, we must be pretty desperate to go to these lengths for a mug of beer, but it was fun and I am sure we will go back.

We had arranged to have breakfast early today and we overslept (two minutes), I forced Bill out of bed and into the breakfast room in five minutes, only to find that the chef wasn't there yet (he claimed he was at the market buying salad for our breakfast), we have arranged a later breakfast tomorrow! We needed to buy SIM cards, so we set off to the shops for them this morning, we have been buying SIM cards in every country we had visited, but have never had to go through the rigmarole we had to go through today. We needed copies of our passports and visas, a photograph each and we had to fill in a form and sign everything, all to stop crime with unregistered SIM cards.

After enjoying the dancing in Sri Lanka we decided to go and watch the Kathakali theatre dancing tonight. We went a little early so we could watch the dancers applying their makeup, which we really enjoyed. Given that the audience had none of the language skills to appreciate what is going on, the theatre provided a handout which gives you the basic outlines of the story you are about to see unfold before your eyes. In addition to this the performers spend the first half hour explaining how the story is told through the use of facial expressions and a series of sign language gestures, sung narration and drumbeats. Even with this help, it all rather went above our heads and neither of us ever worked out which dancer was Lord Shiva and which one was the archer in the story. I suspect our new love of dance is no more.

Posted by mulliganward 09:47 Archived in India Comments (2)

Planes, trains and automobiles

What a day!

semi-overcast 28 °C

Yesterday we left for the airport at four thirty am; the hotel driver took my "please drive slowly" so seriously, that I felt I had to ask him to drive a bit faster, but as Bill said, it just isn't in my vocabulary. Getting to the airport, a 'porter' grabbed our bags off us and then escorted us through the airport to the airline extremely quickly, he did give a look of disgust with the tip we gave him. Colombo airport is surprisingly large although more like a bus depot than an airport, and they are less into customer service, than customer containment.

We stood at the desk for quite a while, whilst they tried to find us on the flight, they kept asking for paperwork we didn't have, which certainly wasn't helping me prepare for the flight. Eventually after about thirty minutes they did find us, I told them how important it was for me to be next to a window, which they commiserated with and then they waved us on our way. Just before getting on the flight, Bill realised I didn't have a window seat. When we got on the plane there was a man sat on the outside seat and he happily said I could have the window seat, which I was so grateful for. Until the man who actually had the window seat got on the plane and tried to claim it, the Air Steward came over and told him there were plenty of seats on the plane and he should just sit down! (I couldn't believe my luck). Not only did I have a window seat but I was next to the emergency door on the wing, I have been refused this seat before as they need a coherent individual to spring into action when the need arises. Well.... The steward came over and was chatting away to me and I was nodding away, but what I couldn't tell her was that I had ear plugs in and couldn't hear a word she was saying. You are not allowed to put earplugs in until you are in the sky (so you can hear all announcements) but it seems she was telling me the emergency procedure. The flight to India took about thirty five minutes, which is less time than travelling to Bracknell (the next town to us at home). It is monsoon season and the clouds were pretty spectacular and we had the worse turbulence and the pilot told us they would not be serving any drinks for safety reasons, but in the thirty five minutes we managed to eat a breakfast.

So we landed in India, we ambled through to immigration, Bill went straight through and I was stopped. Not only had I taken a Valium, but I was also deaf from swimming the other day, so I had to keep 'slurring' for her to talk louder, which wasn't helping. She went through and through my passport, asking me questions about everything, we were there for about thirty minutes, she then called a colleague over who went through the same procedure (all the while they were giving me strange looks) and then they called the supervisor over, who just waved me through! I was seriously beginning to think I was not going to see India, Bill said he thought it was more to do with my 'relaxed' demeanour due to the Valium more than anything else.

So we get to baggage reclaim, my bag comes out virtually straight away and we wait and wait for Bill's bag. Eventually we ask a member of staff if that is all the bags, he confirms it is, he commiserates with Bill about his lost bag and points us to the exit. We ask to speak to someone to report it and eventually get somewhere, the airport is by now virtually empty, the young lady is adding things to the computer and has to keep starting again as the electricity keeps going off, I skip from being extremely relaxed about the whole affair to annoyed about their lack of care and poor Bill is lamenting his lost clothes. They were unsure where the bag is, they said they would try and get it to the nearest airport to our hotel and started to escort us out. We had to go through customs as they needed to add something to the lost property letter Bill had been given. They were extremely happy that Bill's second name was Gerard, as they said it was like Steven Gerard the footballer and they started to pretend to play football for us, I told them we were not in the mood! We needed some Indian rupees, so still being guarded by the staff I head to money exchange, but they will not exchange Sri Lankan rupees, so I head for an ATM, which refuses the card. Walking back to Bill and a staff member I could hardly see them as they were fumigating the airport and it was full of white smoke. Bill said that if we waited two hours they would give us some money for emergencies, but we didn't have two hours as we had a train to catch. I said I would go to the ATM outside to get some cash, but it seems once I leave the airport I wasn't allowed back in. The staff came up with the plan, that they would walk me out, I was searched by the guard at the door with his gun, I get some cash from outside and I am then searched again by the guard, whilst still flanked by the staff.

We eventually head for a taxi to take us to the train station, a couple of miles away. We got to the station unscathed, apart from the fact that the driver had no change (my reply "oh what a surprise, of course you haven't any change") but we needed to sit down and rest, we went into this vegetarian cafe and the only drink they had was Chai, neither of us like tea, but we give it a go and although it will never be our favourite drink, we both said we would have it again. It was nice it this little 'cafe', the man serving us was absolutely filthy, but he looked after us, he went through all the British prime ministers since Churchill to ask our views on them! We get on the train and are extremely pleased to find that Ramesh had booked us sleepers for the five hour journey. I was extremely tired from the Valium, but Bill spent the whole journey looking out of the window pointing things out to me. We kept forgetting we were in India, but every now and again we would see something that would remind us, such as several goats on a bench. All the ladies here are wearing saris, so my shorts were not going down too well.

When we got to the station nearest to our hotel, we had arranged for a taxi to pick us up, which we found pretty quickly, but he said he was waiting for Liam and kept refusing us, so in the end Bill said he was Liam and we set off. The roads were very congested in the town, but I felt we were in India, as all the advertisements were for Bollywood films and there were cows in the road. It took an hour to get to the hotel, but I had nailed it with the going slow as I told him if he went slow I would give him more money!

The hotel owner is very cute (Bill said he didn't notice), he rang the airport about the bag (ring tomorrow) and he arranged for the restaurant down the road to bring a meal up to our balcony (no alcohol). We were able to ring our insurance company to claim for the bag, as we get money every twelve hours it is missing. Bill absolutely loves his clothes and looks after them, of our two bags, it is the worst one to go missing, we also have most of our electrical cables in there, along with some presents. Fingers crossed it will wend its way to us.

I kept saying last night "what a day" but we would then counter it with, how lucky are we to have such a day, we are in India.

Posted by mulliganward 20:08 Archived in India Comments (2)

Return of Colombo

Goodbye Sri Lanka

rain 28 °C

We were not particularly sad to be leaving Kandy as it had not been one of our favourite places, but we were sad to leave the hotel there. The hotel was extremely good and nothing was too much bother for the staff and the food had been excellent. Bill had a bit of a breakdown in reception early one morning when the running machine wasn't working, but the manager assured him they would get an engineer in to fix it immediately and he came away happy. The night before we left we had a long chat with a honeymoon couple from Liverpool, who lived in Coventry and we sat up until the early hours chatting. We have noticed that hotels are extremely Trip Advisor savy these days and they gave us a card with all their details on when we left so we would add a review.

The car we got to Kandy railway station got stuck in the traffic and it was a good job the train was late. Bill was sat at the station reading his Kindle and there was a group of around ten teenagers standing behind him, trying to work out what he was doing.. The train to Colombo took about three hours and as we were getting into Colombo, there was a real downpour. The rain was lovely and warm, but we were walking through puddles up to our ankles getting out of the station. A tuktuk driver grabbed us as we got out of the station and we negotiated a price. Once we were in the tuktuk he started to say he needed more money and I was refusing and telling him to stop the tuk tuk as we were getting out. Poor Bill, every time I said we were getting out he would start to get out and then the driver would agree the price again, we would start again and then he would ask for more money. This went on as we went up the road; me demanding he stops the tuktuk, the driver agreeing and then disagreeing and Bill trying to get out of the tuktuk.

We had stayed at the hotel in Colombo when we arrived in Sri Lanka, so knew we liked it. As we got to the drive of the hotel, the tuktuk was stopped and we were told it couldn't go to the entrance (only cars), the driver was pointing at our bags and we were all falling out with the man who was telling us to get out. Luckily the tuktuk driver ignored him and went close to the entrance (I did give him the price he wanted, for his insubordination). We got out and nobody came to help with the bags, so Bill had to carry them in himself. We got to reception and we were telling the lady who was trying to check us in, that we had been made to get out away from the entrance and carry our bags. She called someone over to take our bags and Bill refused to give them over, telling them they were not interested in them before so he wasn't giving them over now. I eventually asked Bill to sit down as we were not getting very far checking in and he went and sat in the centre of reception on the fountain, there was a big cloud above his head (as in Eeyore) as he muttered about the service we had received. I saw several people go up to him to take the bags and he would tell them the story and they would slink away, bag-less. I was offered a welcome drink and I then saw him go over to Bill and I held my breathe in anticipation, but after telling his story he did take a drink. The receptionist finished checking us in and walked across to Bill and called someone over to take the bags, Bill was still refusing and the man was wrestling the bags off him. I only got Bill to agree to hand the bags over by telling him we would give them a bad review. The man with the bags endeared himself to Bill by giving us an outside taxi number, which will take us to the airport for half the price of the hotel. As our travels have progressed I have become more and more confused with money denominations and exchange rates and I have to keep asking Bill to explain the money to me in basics, it doesn't help that everybody thinks they are helping and tells us the amount in American dollars. So I have no idea, how much the taxi costs!

The hotel is very good, and we had decided to come back as we wanted a few days sat next to the pool before leaving Sri Lanka. Yesterday we sat next to the pool for a few hours before the rain stopped play (there is more monsoon rain here compared to the centre of Sri Lanka). We also decided to walk to the beach, which is just over the road. There were road works all along the road (the men had hard hats on, but were working in bare feet) and we were offered help from a chef in our hotel! and a man who wanted to take us to a gem factory, but we eventually headed back to the hotel. Hopefully today we will get there, by help of a tuktuk. The hotel has a very strict dress code and Bill has been asked to change his clothes, I have been wearing a dress that is elasticated around the top, which has no straps (against dress code) but I haven't been asked to amend my dress yet! Obviously easier to ask a man.

Beth and David popped into our house in Crowthorne yesterday and told us how good the house and the garden are looking; this is thanks to our wonderful neighbours who are looking after them for us.

Tomorrow we head for India, it is only an hours flight (only she says!) to Kerala, but we then have to get a taxi to the railway station (after landing), then a five hour train journey and then we have arranged for the hotel to pick us up for the last little bit to get to Cochi. We always hoped Sri Lanka would live up to our expectations and it has, and surpassed them. The people, the places and yes the food have been wonderful, we have also stayed in the best of hotels and the worst of hotels. The scenery has been so wonderful, we got quite blasé when we got to places like Kandy. We saw wild elephants, went in a jeep, saw the community celebrating the full moon, saw the best of beaches, Bill went fishing! Bill climbed a mountain and suffered for days afterwards, we had some fun tuktuk journeys, we came to realise that Bill's Dad has somehow got origins in Ceylon (as everybody over a certain age reminded us of him) and we met the chef from our hotel in many places and guises.

Posted by mulliganward 22:10 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (2)

Kandy

sunny 28 °C

We left for Kandy on Monday morning and had to return over all the mountains we had previously arrived on. We would go up and up a mountain every turn was a hairpin bend, and then we would then go down and down the mountain and when we got to the bottom and we felt were able to breathe again, we would start on the next mountain. I am sure if I had known the experiences we would face with the mountains, I would have suggested going elsewhere.

Kandy is the second largest city in Sri Lanka after Columbo, and it started to get busy as we travelled towards our hotel. After our experience in Ella, we had changed our hotel in Kandy (which was originally in the hills) to one in the city centre and close to the railway station. Well, we passed the city centre and the railway station and travelled for a further fifteen minutes before getting to the hotel. Our driver was leaving us at the hotel (although he tried very hard to get us to keep him for longer) and we said our goodbyes and off he went, only for Bill to realise thirty minutes later that he had left a carrier bag with his wet clothes in it (from climbing Adam's Peak), in the car. Luckily we had the driver's number and called him and asked him to bring them back (Bill loves his clothes), I have never seen Bill spring into action so quickly to coordinate their return. The driver returned thirty minutes later clutching the carrier bag full of Bill's dirty clothes in our five star hotel.

This hotel is very nice and not too expensive, our main problem is that the food is too good. There is a buffet for breakfast and there is every breakfast food imaginable, the waiters and the chefs are very attentive. Unfortunately the evening meal is also a buffet and just as good if not better. We have only had an evening buffet once, as we ate far too much and felt ill afterwards. Last night we had room service, just to stay away from the buffet. I told one of the chefs we were vegetarian and the manager this morning asked if we needed any extra food as vegetarians as they were happy to cook it, I felt like putting my hands over my ears and rocking.

As I said the hotel is very nice, but the same cannot be said for the some of the guests in our corridor. Yesterday, we were Skyping with Beth and there was lots of noise outside and Bill went outside to asked them to be quiet. The noise continued and I went outside to see what was going on, there was a large group of tourists who were outside their rooms or had their room doors open shouting at each other up and down the corridor, I asked them to be quiet and they continued to shout above me. Now I know it is not big or clever but I then proceeded to have a tantrum, telling them to be quiet and to go back into their rooms, which they ignored. Bill gave me such a look of disgust when I walked the walk of shame back into our room and he told me the way to deal with it was to call reception, which he did. Bright and early this morning, the noise started again. Bill went outside and asked them to be quiet, which they totally ignored and he then proceeded to shout down the corridor (at the top if his voice) that we had been woken up and they had to be quiet and then slammed our door on his return, (putting my tantrum into insignificance). If there was anybody else in our corridor trying to sleep this morning, I think Bill topped it all. I got him to ring down stairs to complain but the noise did not abate (they were having a lovely time chatting to each other), Bill rang down stairs and said 'what are you going to do about this noise, they are still at it'. Someone did come upstairs and we could hear her telling them that Bill had said that they were making a noise and they had to stop. Bill was cross that he had been named and shamed, but as I said it was easy to guess who had made the complaint. Luckily they have all left.

We have both been quite tired the last couple of days, I spent most of yesterday with a headache (when not shouting in the corridor), so we had a late start looking around Kandy. Yesterday, we had to go to the train station to get tickets for Columbo on Saturday. Afterwards we had a look around the city centre, where we were stopped several times by men who asked if we remember them as they are the chef in the kitchens in our hotel. After a whole, when we were stopped by men saying 'don't you remember me', we would reply 'yes, you work in the kitchens in our hotel', much to their bemusement. Everywhere we have been in Sri Lanka we have had friendly people come up and speak to us in the street, we were largely ignored (except for the chefs) or stared at yesterday and we think this may have clouded our views, as Kandy is not in our top ten favourite places we have visited.

This morning we went to the a Temple of the Tooth, which is on the banks of Kandy Lake. The lake is the main body of water in Kandy and was manmade in 1807 by the last Sinhalese King of Kandy, using forced labor. The king used land which was a paddy field to create the lake, at the time the kingdom was under threat and the King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was criticised for wasting away national resources to build an ornamental lake. A hundred of his advisors were said to advised the King against building the lake, he had them impaled and buried in the lake. It was not long before the British captured him, with help from his own noblemen disgruntled by his irrational behaviour. We walked around the lake, avoiding the large amount of turkey's also taking a stroll.

The Temple of The Tooth is considered to be one of the most important Buddhist temples and is home to the tooth/relic of the Buddha. The tooth is kept in a room which is only opened three times daily for puja, which is a ceremony where the relic is paraded around the temple accompanied by traditional drumming. There were lots of people in the temple dressed in white and they seemed excited and in awe of the temple. Throughout history it has been said whoever is in possession of the relic was believed to have the right to rule the island. There was also a film crew in the temple filming and they seemed very keen to film us. There were some beautiful wooden carvings in the temple surviving from the thirteenth century. The temple was blown up in 1998 by Tamil Tigers, which caused a lot of damage, the buildings have since been restored, but there is still evidence of the blast. There is tight security to get in, all bags are searched and everyone must pass through metal detectors. Again they're pretty strict in terms of covering up, I was stopped on my way in, where two guards had a discussion about my clothes but they let me through, only to be stopped and told to cover up by a guard about five minutes later. I had a pair of leggings on and a long top, but was made to cover up although there were many Sri Lankan woman with much less clothes on than myself.

We arranged with the tuk tuk driver who brought us back to the hotel after the temple, to pick us up later so we could see some traditional dancing next to the lake. The driver described it as next to the lake and so does Lonely Planet, but what they actually meant was in the Red Cross hut near the lake. The hut was full of Japanese tourists on coach trips. The dancing was actually nice to watch, especially the Mask Dance, which is said to be used in psychiatric treatment even today. Bill scoffed at this, but after the dance he said he did see some merit in it, akin to art therapy. There was a man spinning something like a plate, which was terribly boring, but Bill and all the men in the room loved it, along with the fire walking.

We have been teased by lots of Sri Lankan people in the last few days about them beating us at the cricket, as soon as we say we are from England, we know what the next thing is they will say to us. Bill, has also watched the football the last couple of nights in the bar along with the staff who all seem very busy in the area right next to the large screen. He says it's like having a little bit if home, which puzzles me as he doesn't like football and never watches it at home.

Tomorrow is laundry, gym and swimming day as it is our last day here, before we spend our last few days in Sri Lanka in Columbo.

Posted by mulliganward 06:13 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (2)

Broken Roads

We left Ella by train to head for Nuwara Eliya. The station was absolutely gorgeous, very old fashioned and quaint. We had been booked tickets in first class, which was air conditioned, but we would have both, much preferred to sit in the seats which have the open windows. The train journey took about three hours and once Bill and a passenger had hauled me up onto the train (there was like a ladder at the side) we were transfixed by the views. We saw several waterfalls surrounded by miles and miles of tea growing and ladies plucking the tea from the plants. We would also see, dotted around, tea factories with towns around them, many of the factories had their names on the roof tops; I saw one which said Brooke Bond. Near the end of our journey we were starting to get into the clouds.

When we got to Nanu Oya, we got off the train (well, Bill and a man helped me off the train) and our driver was waiting for us with the car. He said it had taken him about an hour to travel the same distance we had taken three hours to travel. I had read terrible things about the journey to the hotel, somebody had said the roads were treacherous (only I am allowed to be that melodramatic). The driver said that the roads were 'broken' as there were so many pot holes , well there wasn't really pot holes as there was no top surface on the roads for the first few miles. It had started to rain up in the clouds and the traffic was crawling along. There was lots and lots of road works and they were stopping and starting the traffic, so a lot of the time we were just on one side of the road. This was all good news (apart from the massive jolts we were getting) for me as we were on the edge of a cliff but nobody was going anywhere in a hurry.

We started to see directions to Heritance Tea Factory about ten kilometres away from it, we were traveling through tea plantations that all had very English names, like Cooper's plantation and Flint's plantation and we saw lots of pluckers walking along the roadside. We eventually turned onto a private single track road to the hotel, which we were very pleased about as we were no longer on a cliff edge. The hotel is not very pretty to look at as the facade and the exterior is exactly as the British left it.

The hotel was originally the Heathersett tea factory, which fell into disuse in the 1970s when the British left tea growing in 1971. The first owner of the factory and the plantation was William Flowerdew, who came from Norfolk and he named it after his local village in England. It was the highest tea factory in Sri Lanka and is 6850 ft above sea. As I said before we are up in the clouds here so it is quite chilly and is windy, which with the sun is said to make good tea. The area is called Little England because of it's history and weather. In the evening a member of staff brought us some hot water bottles, which we were not really sure we needed, but it became really cold. When I woke about five am it was nine degrees and Bill had put the heater on in the room.

In the morning, after breakfast we went on a tea tour, it is quite interesting to see the process of tea making, and I will remember when I see any tea in future the work that goes into creating tea. At the end of the tour, we tasted all the different teas, I knew that I didn't like tea before, but I now dislike it even more after tasting all the different teas, they were awful., Bill kept laughing at my face after tasting the teas. We had a bit of a todo in the hotel, when we were given the bill to sign after our dinner, the waiter went to hand it to Bill, but he was doing something (most probably taking a picture), so the waiter went to put it in the table, I put my hand out for him to give it to me and he put it on the table, I went to pick it up and he stopped me and indicated that Bill needed to sign it, I again put my hand out and we had a bit of a tussle with the bill which I won and I smugly signed it. We have seen this several times, where Bill is addressed instead of me.

We were picked up by our driver (who also stayed at the hotel) and we set off for Adam's Peak. We went back down the roads from the day before; as Bill said there are no words to explain how bad the roads are, the journey should have taken less than two hours but took four, due to the broken roads. When the broken roads had finished we were then driving along cliff edges (in a couple of places the road had fallen away), we do not think we went on one stretch of straight road all day, we just went around and around, Sri Lanka needs more bridges!

We have come to Adam's Peak for BIll to climb the mountain. Adam's Peak (Sri Pada) is said to have a footprint at the summit, which is believed by Buddhists to be that of the Buddha. Christian and Islamic traditions believe it is the footprint of Adam, Hindu's refer to the footprint of the Hindu deity Shiva. Sinhalese people also name the mountain Samanalakanda, which refers either to the deity Saman, who is said to live upon the mountain, or to the butterflies that frequent the mountain during their annual migrations to the region. Bill believes it is the butterfly mountain. To climb up Adam's Peak you have to climb 5831 steps. It is out of season at the moment, which means that the steps are not lit up, which is important as you climb up at night so you can see the sunrise. Bill has arranged for a guide to meet him at two am so they can climb to see sunrise in the morning (well, they are pretty sure they will not see sunrise at this time of year).

Bill left at two, after the guide was knocking on our door. He didn't have any warm or rain gear so the hotel fitted him up with some clothes. This 'hotel' is the only place in Adam's Peak that sells alcohol so it was pretty noisey up until eleven and then the dogs started to bark, I think Bill may have got a couple of hours sleep before leaving.

Stop Press * Bill has just returned very tired, but satisfied to have completed the climb. He climbed with the guide in the dark and said he began to struggle a little near the top, especially as some of the steps had running water on them. Bill said as they climbed they heard noises like wind chimes, which the guide told him were frogs. When they got to the top, they were both extremely wet and they waited three quarters of an hour for sunrise, they could see the mist had turned translucent and that was the only way they know the sun had risen. The walk down in the light was much more enjoyable, especially as they saw lots and lots of waterfalls.

Moving onto Kandy today, where we part with the driver.

Posted by mulliganward 19:36 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (2)

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