Upset tums … and train rides πŸš‚

Tuesday 16th October 2018

Unfortunately Steve had been up most of the night with an upset tum (you know what I mean) and was feeling pretty washed out. So we skipped breakfast and took up post by the pool … with easy access to rest room facilities!! It was really hot this morning but the pool is a perfect temperature for cooling down and there’s shade under the trees. It’s lovely to watch the palm squirrels scurrying around and lots of different bird life. Not so much the cheeky monkeys who swing down from the palms and try to pinch anything going!… the pool staff are generally at hand to usher them away.

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The Queens Hotel swimming pool

Steve decided to retire back to the room and I went to find some sustenance. Chanced upon Karen, George, Ciderman and Harry in the hotel bar (a lovely party of friends we had met in our Dambulla hotel) so stopped off and had some lunch in their company. They’d popped in for coffee and to view the hotel, which is a famous Kandy landmark, and had then planned to sightsee further. I left them to it and went back upstairs to nurse my poorly husband. Early evening I popped back down to find Steve some suitable food and, lo and behold, Karen, George, Ciderman and Harry were still in the bar, enjoying a sesh!! I was so chuffed when they invited me to join them so, after sorting Steve out, we all walked down the road to ‘The Pub’ where I modestly tucked into three large glasses of red wine and enjoyed a chat and many laughs. George, having finished his fish finger supper and with his rucksack securely attached to his back, gallantly escorted me back through the chaotic streets of Kandy (although I had to point him in the right direction!) to the safety of my hotel and back to the bedside of my still ailing husband. I’m sorry for Karen’s loss of a cultural afternoon, not having been able to extract ‘the lads’ from their beer and TV cricket, but her loss was my gain as I really enjoyed the company – thanks guys. 😊

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The Queens Hotel in Kandy. Formerly the Governor’s house.

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The foyer of the Queens Hotel. Spot the monk who’s been staying for a few days!

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The landing of the Queens Hotel with its dark highly polished floorboards and incredible antique furniture.

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The Queens Hotel dining room – very grand (food doesn’t quite match up)!!

Wednesday 17th October 2018

Steve felt a little improved but still delicate – we attempted some breakfast in the hotel’s fine dining room. A very grand setting – not such an inspiring breakfast buffet! Afterwards we took a walk around Kandy Lake which is just at the front of our hotel – an easygoing 3km walk. We saw lots of interesting ‘going to work’ life, vendors of course, a variety of birdlife and terrapins and … what we originally thought was a crocodile but in fact was a water monitor lizard! Huge! Apparently they are 2km on average- such a long tail. We passed the famous Tooth Temple which we intend to visit this week and spotted a group of Buddhist monks with their co-ordinated orange brollies!

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Kandy Lake

 

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One of a few water monitor lizards spotted at the edge of Kandy Lake. It really was as long as Steve!

Returned to the room so Steve could rest up before the afternoon’s cricket – there was no way he was going to miss that – no matter the state of his tummy!! Our driver, Sheik, turned up promptly and drove us the longish journey to Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, dodging as you do between the various types of transport, pedestrians, cows and dogs!! A great stadium … and they sold beer! It had been a sunny morning but as we entered it started to rain and it was announced that the start was delayed! This was at 2.30pm and at 6.30pm we were still sat (patiently/impatiently – delete as appropriate!) waiting for play to commence. Met up with Richard and Judy during this time and also with Karen, George, Ciderman and Harry – so time passed between chats and watching the covers go on and off. Nevertheless, it looked unlikely that there would be play so at 6.30pm we called for Sheik to pick us up (he had requested an hour’s notice). And you could write the script – within half an hour of us leaving, play started! All was not lost though … we got back to the hotel to watch it on a big screen in the bar … Steve was near to much needed hygienic toilets and I could enjoy a glass or two of wine!

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Waiting oh so patiently for the rain to stop! Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.

A stressful night followed. About 11.00pm a loud mechanical noise started above us, probably coming from the roof. Steve called down to report it. An hour later we called down again and were told we didn’t need to worry about it! “I’m not worried about it, I can’t sleep” was Steve’s agitated but trying to be polite reply! This resulted in us temporarily changing to a different room about 1.00am + a night of frequent bathroom visits for both of us!!

Thursday 18th October 2018

We’d booked an early trip so were up at 6.30am, both feeling washed out now! Skipped breakfast – not taking any chances. Sheik had picked up Richard and Judy and got to us for 7.30am. Drove us to Kandy Railway Station in his boss’ luxury minibus – escorted us in, gave us our tickets and waited till we had safely secured our reserved seats. I managed to buy some dry (non-sweet) bread rolls to keep our tummies from rumbling. Also took full advantage of the “Foreigners Only” toilets on the platform.

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Kandy Railway Station

Judy soon sorted out some ladies who were trying to bag our seats and we settled in for the 4 hour train journey to Nuwera Eliya. A magnificent journey, once out of the city the views were breathtaking as we wound our way up through jade-green tea plantations with mountain backdrops. We had only managed to get tickets for 3rd class travel – 1st and 2nd class tickets generally get bought up by large tour companies and sold off at an inflated rate which seems scandalous. But 3rd class was great for us with its open windows and doors. There were vendors a-plenty … not quite 1st class buffet but you could get everything – every variety of local fruits, pastries, nuts, soft drinks, sandwiches … even Pringles!

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Settling in after a fight for our seats!!

 

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School children waiting for their train

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Selling oranges – I know – they’re green!!!

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Ticket inspector

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Jovial guard

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Our train as it rounded the corner

Sheik met us on the platform in Nuwera Eliya and gathered us all safely back to the luxury of his mini bus – he was very proud of that! He then took us on a tour of this beautiful town set up high in the hills. It is often referred to as “Little England” and definitely has that feel to it – colonial-era bungalows and Tudor style hotels – famous particularly for its tea estates. I had visited here 35 years ago and stayed in the Hill Club hotel – I remember it being so beautiful and steeped in history so we stopped by for a peek. From there we headed to Damro Tea Plantation where we admired the estate and did a tour of the factory. Seems to me that it’s the ladies that do all the work around here – both picking the tea and working in the factory! The tour was polished off with a delicious cup of tea and a huge wedge of chocolate cake (I was better by this time but not poor Steve – just water for him)! We stopped off at a few more viewing points (not too heavy on the retail opportunities!) – saw some stunning waterfalls and then started out on the long journey back to Kandy.Β  As with the train journey, there were some incredibly steep drops to the side – breathtaking though, literally!Β  Β Sheik did us proud – it was a great day. Really enjoyed Richard and Judy’s company too – fitted in such a lot of conversation – feel like old friends already!

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The Hill Club Hotel where I came to stay as a young 25 year old – back in the day!!

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Tea plantation

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Tea pickers

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Tea factory – leaves first washed and dried

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Viewing the stunning sites of Nuwera Eliya with Richard and Judy

Back at the hotel we discovered that they’d been unable to repair the noise problem in our room so this necessitated packing up all our gear and shifting to a new room. Grumble grumble … Steve was pretty washed out after a busy day and not having eaten much for 3 days – so it was quite a chore.

Then it was dinner – what could be risked? Steve definitely not up to a spicy option so we settled for the hotel’s International Buffet. Pumpkin soup to start – fine. Only non-spicy main option was pork chop and boiled vegetables – OK but nothing to rave about. The most entertaining part of the evening was working to avoid the three wandering minstrels who were doing their rounds of the tables … as they neared us each time we got up to explore the buffet – we were just not in the right frame of mind to be serenaded, and certainly didn’t want to buy their CD!

So a new train adventure today, a new non-spicy diet, a new room and … hopefully tomorrow a newly restored hubbie, now that I’ve persuaded him to take medication. Let’s see what tomorrow brings!? πŸ€”

 

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