On our way to Kandy we had a quick visit to a spice garden which was just a hard sell for spices but we did get to see a vanilla creeper which had the most intense aroma of vanilla when you got near it.

It was a lengthy trip to Kandy with heavy traffic in some of the towns. After a much needed coffee for me we walked across the road to The “Relic of the Tooth (Buddha’s tooth) Temple” damaged extensively in the civil war. There were school children galore so we didn’t spend too long in the crowds. The more interesting trip for us was to the Peradeniya Royal Botanical gardens where we opted for a golf cart to cover most of the gardens. They had an collection of trees – palms of every kind and many unusual trees donated by heads of state. The most amazing tree was the cannonball tree with it’s incredible flowers and fruit and the double coconut tree with fruit which weight between 15-30kilos. Inedible unfortunately. We were dropped at the orchid house to admire the beautiful varieties of orchids with their backdrop of Spanish moss.

The Oak Wood B and B on the river was a pleasant and quiet guesthouse to spend the night. Our first stop in the morning was to the new Oak Ray coffee shop. The new coffee shops serving real espresso are really only targeted at foreign tourists or wealthy Sri Lankans because a cup of coffee costs the equivalent of a full local meal or more.

We visited one of the many gemstone shops in Kandy and found a lovely Hassonite garnet stone which we had set in a ring. On collection it looked as though it had a flaw so without any trouble we selected another stone and it was to be set and sent to Colombo for us to collect. Ravi our driver took us to his home in Kandy to meet his lovely family.

We left Kandy and visited Ramboda Falls and the Bluefields Tea Factory on the way to Nuwara Eliya. We were able to see the actual manufacturing process and then taste the tea without any hard sell although we did buy some tea.

We knew that Sri Lanka was the home of tea but we didn’t realize just how many tea plantations there were and what a large area of the country they covered. I loved the look of the hills with their very manicured tea bushes and we felt at home with the many gum trees dotted throughout the landscape.

Nuwara Eliya had a very British feel to it with old colonial buildings like the Grand hotel and the Hill Club. Our room (7th heaven!) at the hotel “Seven Heaven” overlooked the racetrack and town. Ravi took us down to “Gregory Lake” where we had a pleasant walk along the lake. The town was 1800 metres above sea level and the mornings and evenings were very cool in great contrast to where we had been where it was hot and very humid.

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