Travelling by train to Sri Lanka's tea country
Sri Lanka is dominated by its romantic landscapes, undulating mountains, lush forests and cascading waterfalls; a country that exceeds expectation both in terms of beauty and surprise. This is what excited me the most about my recent trip, and spending time in the Tea Country is something I will always recommend.
My journey began from Kandy where I boarded the express train to Hatton; a three hour journey that meandered its way through the rising mountains. The train was colonial in style and slightly rickety to say the least, but I spent the entire journey in the viewing carriage watching this incredible landscape unfold. Turning each corner brought a new surprise from wonderful local villages to the stunning wildlife and, of course, the unforgettable scenery.
I was greeted by my guide at the small station in Hatton before driving to Norwood Bungalow; a wonderfully luxurious colonial-style tea planter’s bungalow with pristine views of the Bogawantalawa Valley. I felt as though I had strolled back in time into old Ceylon, from the traditional furnishings to the colonial architecture. I even tried my first traditional Sri Lankan breakfast; a full-blown hearty Sri Lankan curry. Honestly, I would not recommend this if you intend to take a morning drive around the various tea estates– in hindsight, the roads were far too bendy and bumpy to stomach such a feast…
Discovering the traditions of Old Ceylon and the history of the tea plantations continued as my guide took me to the Rothschild Tea Factory, one of the oldest in Sri Lanka. I had the opportunity to meet with a tea worker, a fascinating woman who had followed in a family tradition in the tea industry. It is really quite something to learn about the complex process from the tea bush to the tea leaf and I was able to see this at every stage, fast-forwarding through every element throughout the factory.
The culture in this part of the country is charming and timeless, but it was the perfectly manicured scenery that left me lost for words, and nothing could have possibly prepared me for it. I believe a trip to Sri Lanka is simply incomplete without a visit to the splendid Tea Country.
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