Day 9, Thursday 12 March
After reflections overnight, I realised there would be repercussions after my obvious knee jerk reaction yesterday. This could involve the police and even immigration. However, I had made my point that I was dissatisfied with the service the agency provided. After I called the driver it was obvious things needed to be sorted out. He was soon at our hotel. Lengthy discussions followed with phone calls to the office. Finally, as was bound to happen, we agreed a settlement for early termination of the tour. I was never going to benefit financially from the change but the dispute was over. I could finally now take over the planning of the second week of the tour. At 9.30am we take our standard breakfast but we could take our time now.
At around 11am we check out of Lake Kandyan and head to the bus station by tuk tuk. This will be our first use of public buses that are so old they seem to have a greater working lifespan than humans. When the first bus arrives for Nuwara Eliya, we climb aboard. This has the advantage of securing seats but none of these public buses seem to have air-conditioning. When the conductor comes to collects our fare, it’s almost embarrassing, the amount just 136 rupees per person. The bus soon departs, not quite full, heading through the city of Kandy. Inside the bus it’s hot and I fall asleep for the first half of the journey but by then we’re well into the mountains using switch-back roads increasing elevation at each turn. Stunning mountains views dominate and on the lesser slopes is the cultivation of tea which made a number of Englishmen super rich in the Colonial Era. The plantations seem endless as the bus passes taking half an hour at least. Every slope, even at 60 degrees of slope is covered with tea trees. Finally, Nuwara Eliya is in view in the valley below, my destination for today not far away.
Nuwara Eliya is a mountain resort with a history deeply rooted in the tea trade. Today it has an attraction and charm that endears it to travelers. There is no shortage of hotels and guesthouses in the town. It’s to one of these I called ahead in the morning to book a room. The host is happy to send a tuk tuk to collect us from the bus station in Nuwara Eliya. We’re soon met and whisked off to the Royal Mount Guesthouse.
Royal Mount Guesthouse……..
I selected Royal Mount Guesthouse from many options. The main attraction was the price which is under budget but after previous disappointments would I get better value here than the agency provided. The accommodation seems to be a bit far from the town and is a few hundred yards up a slope so is not quite so convenient but what will the room be like? I already know there is no air conditioning or fridge but neither are they needed up here in the Central Highlands with cooler temperatures. Well, the room is fine with good views over the valley. General requests are dealt with by our host efficiently and quickly. He even offers to go down to a restaurant to bring food back for us. This proves more than enough for us. Suitably impressed, I book for 2 nights. With a few extras provided, especially a kettle, we can manage quite well now. After that late lunch there is no need for dinner but we do walk down to the main road to buy more provisions. However, we take a tuk tuk back, even though it’s walkable with cooler air up to the guesthouse. It’s a quiet evening and a chance to reflect on how things could have been in the first week. Hopefully, the rest of our stay here in Sri Lanka will be less tiresome.