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Sunday, March 13, 2011

2 Days Lankan Tour: Travelogue: Day1-part2

This post is part 2 of our Srilankan Travelogue. Please read Part 1 here first to get full context.

After finishing whatever we could see in Kandy, we had to decide on our next destination. Our original idea was to spend time in Kandy till 3PM and catch ICE (Intercity Express) back to Colombo. Kandy had tooth temple, a botanical garden, a budha statue and few other temples which we could have visited. But we also had another destination in mind- Nuwara Eliya. This place is another 80kms from Kandy and is kind of a hill station. When I stated our idea of driving to Nuwara Eliya and then driving back to Negombo, our driver Kapu almost revolted. “That will be too much of driving sir,I’m driving since 11pm yesterday- I can’t drive that much-Let us stay at Nuwara Eliya and get a room for me also” was his proposal.
our-driver-kapu-and-sandeeptea-plantation-worker
Kapu said he was accustomed to leisure tourists who go to hotel first, refresh, then cover only few places per day and as a driver he gets enough rest. We weren’t that type and were determined to exploit our 48 hours to the max. Resting was last thing on our list of preferences. We were taken aback by driver’s dictating terms. Nuwara Eliya was about 80kms from Kandy and returning back to Negombo was another 170kms. It was just about 10.30AM and we had whole day at our command. We felt our plan is quite practical and staying at Nuwara Eliya or Kandy would mean we’ll have very little time left for Day 2 at Negombo & Colombo. But then, we weren’t familiar with the terrain and if the driver feels it is not practical and is not willing to drive, forcing him could have had unsafe consequences. (Some of us could have shared the wheels, but he wasn’t authorized to let us drive)

We debated internally if we should proceed to Nuwara or return to Colombo- 2 people preferred Nuwara, 3 preferred returning, 1 person neutral, another deep asleep. As we almost decided on returning, our driver suddenly changed his mind and agreed to go to Nuwara Eliya. About 30 minutes were lost in this discussion and we started moving. We missed few places like Kandy botanical gardens, elephant camp and few temples, but Nuwara Eliya was good replacement.
a-waterfall-at-a-distance  tea-gardens  
Hilly journey started. Similar to some of the hilly terrains in India- say Wayanad or Ooty. We stopped at a waterfall, a tea garden and eventually at a tea factory. We were shown how tea leaves are made into tea and then were served tasty tea. More about tea factory will be covered in a separate post

We didn’t enter Nuwara Eliya town and started our return journey. A stop at Ramboda waterfalls for lunch was nice option. Review of Ramboda waterfalls hotel, along with photo of the waterfalls available in this separate post.
small-falls-nuwara-eliya-A1-highwaysrilankan-highway-a1
Rest of the day was just spend in van ride, from Nuwara Eliya to Negombo, via highways A5 and A1, passing through Keggala, Ambepussa, Nittambua and other towns). The van was being driven at a modest 60 kmph, prolonging our less than 200 kms/3hours journey to eternity. Santhosh got down near Kandy as he had his own 7 day plans and we proceeded towards Negombo. Highways in SL were similar to those in India, so nothing special about them. Our driver Kapu told us that there’s a speed restriction of 76kmph and only VIPs with police escort can cruise at 120kmph. I was wondering what’s the use of having luxury cars if one can’t touch 100 kmph…

In the meanwhile, my Matrix issued Dialog SIM Card kept looting me of my money all through the dialog-mobile-robberyjourney, through their unsolicited schemes, forcing me to literally switch off the phone. Need to see the matrix bill to get final damage. There was No option to SAY NO to these schemes and I would get an alert stating the amount charged. No proof (like SMS) was available, hence I clicked screenshot using camera. Will review matrix international sim card service in a separate post.

What could have taken about 3-4 hours under normal driving, took about 6 hours. A break for tea in some little known town (I think Nabuluwa) and by 9PM (that’s about 5.5 hours since we started from Ramboda waterfalls) we made it to our hotel in Negombo. We drove a total of 400kms that day and including garage to garage movement, total was 480kms. Total bill came to some 27400LKR (@ LKR 45 per km+ extra hours beyond first 8 hours at LKR 80/hour + out of Colombo charges LKR 300, Airport parking charges LKR 300, Airport visitor area entry fee LKR 280 (I think), + cost of placard in which my name was written- LKR 300 + 15% tax on everything)

We paid and released him. We included a small tip but Kapu wasn’t visibly pleased. Our host, Mr Fancis of Hotel Silversands was almost about to give the rooms for someone else as we didn’t turn up in time. We checked in, refreshed, had food, did our day 1 calculations and slept.

Standby for Day 2 writeup

13 comments :

Anu said...

the question of hectic drive / relaxed one is something which always comes up when we travel... like you, shankar likes to make the most of time we have, covering as much as we can, while i would love to stay for a longer time everywhere.... but thanks to him, i usually get to see more places in lesser time :) and the place looks beautiful!

Anu said...

the question of hectic drive / relaxed one is something which always comes up when we travel... like you, shankar likes to make the most of time we have, covering as much as we can, while i would love to stay for a longer time everywhere.... but thanks to him, i usually get to see more places in lesser time :) and the place looks beautiful!

Anu said...

the question of hectic drive / relaxed one is something which always comes up when we travel... like you, shankar likes to make the most of time we have, covering as much as we can, while i would love to stay for a longer time everywhere.... but thanks to him, i usually get to see more places in lesser time :) and the place looks beautiful!

Mridula said...

Shrinidhi, are those fares still in force?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Mridula:
Yes, its even cheaper..try a date in september 2011 and return fare is under 3k

Anu: thanks for sharing

debarpita mohapatra said...

Very nice Shri... Got see places from the beautiful island only after LTTE battle. hope to visit the place someday but it's sad that that the auto driver was charing you 5 times as you were non native...

sewa mobil said...

Very nice, thanks for the information.

sewa mobil said...

Very nice, thanks for the information.

magiceye said...

the cabbie experience is disturbing.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Deb,

He only made an attempt to charge 5 times, we paid a reasonable fare after talking to him in tamil

Sewa Mobil: thanks

Deepak:
It was fine. He had his viewpoint, but we were not leisure tourists and were determined to make the most of every minute...

Deguide said...

Nice info on S lanka.....maybe next time around we could use it....closer to chennai i suppose

shande said...

can't forget that argument sessions... we wasted lot of energy .. may be Kapu was expecting some extra tips.

anyways, Nuwara-Eliya was a nice place .. and I throughly enjoyed complementary tea at Mackwoods Labookellie Tea Centre

Manfaat Buah said...

Nice article, thanks for the information. It's very complete information. I will bookmark for next reference