Sunday, June 3, 2007

Nuwara Eliya, Hortons Plains and World's End

This was one of the most interesting trips we took in Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya is high up in the mountains (at about 7000 feet) and very cool. This is where all of the tea in the region is grown, and we had the opportunity to visit a tea factory and see how the process works. The vegetation in the area is very different from the rest of the country; pine trees and evergreens abound. Horton's Plains national park and the 4000 foot cliff known as World's End were absolutely incredible. It is almost eerily silent there for starters, and the area is home to some very interesting animals - including leopards, several species of deer (we managed to see two), the ever-present monkeys, and trout (introduced by the British for sport fishing).
Blue Fields Tea Factory on the road to Nuwara Eliya.

The withering bins at the tea factory - the start of the tea production process.

Workers at the crushing machines.

The drying machine.

On the trail at Horton's Plains.

The waterfalls at Horton's Plains. At world's end. Some school children we met on the way. I think they thought Jess was a movie star.
The view from World's End. On a clear day, you can reportedly see straight out to the Indian Ocean. This was not a clear day. At the waterfalls at Horton's Plains. On the road to Nuwara Eliya. Pine trees on the road...

Poisonous snake on the trail.

Sambur Deer. Barking deer AKA the Muntjac. It did not bark - it did scratch itself though. Streams and lakes in Horton's Plains.

Jess on the trail.

View from the trail.

Looking over the edge.
Matt on the trail.

Coolest Bathroom Ever.

Warning signs on the trail. I think this said something like "don't go this way."
Jess, Waruna, and schoolgirls on the edge of World's End.

The view from World's End take two.

More World's End.

View from the trail. Again.

More Jess on the trail.
And... finished.

Pinnawela elephant orphanage

Ok, so the elephant orphanage, was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. And Jess nearly got trampled! Kidding. I'll get the video out soon.

Jess and me with a baby elephant. Cuter than crack.

Helping to bathe the elephants.

Enjoying some lion lagers while waiting for the Elephants to go swimming.
On the road to the orphanage we encountered some pet porcupines for an (admittedly touristy) photo op. Jess approaches with caution.

Success!

I don't make balancing a porcupine on my lap look cool.



A mine-injured elephant (missing front right foot) at the orphanage. Without the orphanage, he most certainly would have died in the wild.

Jess and Waruna at the orphanage

Jess feeding our elephant a banana

Giving the elephants a bath (like they need help or something).



Elephants playing hopscotch.




Pollonaruwa

The ancient city of Pollonaruwa was a truly amazing experience. First off, the city is absolutely huge. It would take days to see the whole thing.


Gigantic Buddhist Stupa.


Either a parasitic plant or one that climbs another to get to the sun.


Buddha statues carved out of solid granite rock - amazing.



One of the worlds heaviest "books" I'm sure. The writing is on top.



Inside a lotus-pool.





Jess with the saddest puppy in the world.


Jess with a random temple cat.


Jess and our trust driver Waruna outside a huge Stupa.


On the way up we spent the night at the Pollonaruwa rest stop - one of several government-run rest stops. This one actually hosted Queen Elizabeth II in the 1950s - we stayed in the same room!


The lake at Pollonaruwa. This was actually built by an ancient king (technically it's 3 smaller man-made lakes that have joined together). It's so large that it's referred to as a "sea."


More relaxing at the Pollonaruwa rest stop.


View from the Queens room in the morning.