Ella, Sri Lanka
I woke to what sounded like a heavy downpour of rain… Wait… it’s just the sound of water cascading down a rock laden stream… The stream right outside my room… You know, the room that overlooks a rainforest paradise… a sight spoilt only by the locals that bathe and brush their teeth in it every morning and afternoon. I’ll tell you what, every natural source of water I’ve seen in Sri Lanka so far, is like a peep show. We take a morning walk down a terracotta dirt road, through Belihuloya village and rice paddies. I’m in the middle of masses of lush green, rice paddy pockets, spreading all the way to the tree line in the distance. On my right, I look up to the mountain ranges of “Worlds End”.. Where I was yesterday morning. My, my, how the tables (the view and altitude) have turned. The visibility is still poor with a haze lacing the sky. Cut to, I’m on a train, clinging to a metal rail, hanging out the side of the passenger carriage door. The train shakes, rattles and rolls me through the Sri Lankan countryside, into the town of Ella. Beside the smell of the locals and the odd waft or urine from the toilet when the train came to a full stop…I really enjoyed the train and the freedom of not having to stand behind a line at a platform or behind an automatic, locking door on the train… The risk and responsibility is yours, and yours alone… I like that. Freedom. Queue George Michael. For lunch, we stop at a little place that serves our curry and rice in a steamed wrapped up banana leaf. It’s cheap, tasty and aesthetically authentic. 10 out of 10. In Ella, the place our tour booked for the night, was unfortunately, overbooked… leaving the tour company no choice, but to put the group in alternative accommodation. Where would we end up? Ella is the home of the 2 Adam’s Peaks and a popular destination for travellers wanting climb them. The best seat in the house, to see the peaks from a far, belongs to the occupants of Heavens Edge Hotel. The hotel Is located just out of town, up a narrow, zig zagging road and driveway, nestled on a hill, in amongst a tea plantation. By sheer chance, tonight, I was one of those lucky occupants. Prime time peak views. Winning. From the outside, the hotel is a large, white, square mansion with lush red rose gardens and manicured grass. Inside, sterile, gleaming, white floor tiles meet glass panel windows, framing a picture perfect pool, pouring out over the town of Heavens Edge, into the mountain ranges belonging to Little Adams Peak and Adams Peak. What a view. I cannot wait to wake up to this! About an hour before sunset, the group embarks on an easy afternoon hike, 1141 meters to the top of Little Adams Peak. A rocky ridge and the greenest of long grass, rolling down its steep sides, filling between boulders and rock faces. Little Adams Peak is reminiscent of a New Zealand landscape. Directly adjacent from Little Adam’s Peak… is the real, 2243 meter high, “Adams Peak”. All that lie between the two peaks are time and space… And a wide, deep valley and roads. The bigger peak will have to be conquered on another trip. Suresh (our tour guide) promised the best mojitos in Sri Lanka tonight, so we’re at The Chill Cafe to find out for ourselves. Mojito Monday…. And I have jungle fever. The venue is brimming with euro back packers, hippies, has good music (Bearable music), fast service and as the name suggests, a chilled out vibe. Patrons can even smoke inside.. (Despite the no smoking signs). Ignoring the ‘no drinking while on antibiotics’ rule, 3 mojitos down, and I’m feeling a little hammered… These are some strong drinks. They don’t beat ‘The Greenout Cafe’ mojitos, but they are cheaper, stronger and minty, lime-alicious delicious.