After breakfast the next morning, our cases were packed on to the bus and we were off on our way to Nuwara Eliya. Before we left Kandy we stopped at a Batik workshop, where we were told how they create batik and were able to watch the workers making some of the art. The conditions were cramped to say the least but it was fascinating to watch the batik process.
Our next stop was a silk maker, where again we were told all about how they made silk and given the chance to look around the shop; Graham bought me a lovely grey silk scarf. Then we went to a traditional arts & crafts shop where we had a chance to get some souvenirs since we hadn't had any time beforehand to shop. Here I got a small Sri Lankan mask that I hung on our tree this year and an elephant magnet to add to my magnet collection. We got back on the bus and started our drive through the hill country, towards our next destination, Nuwara Eliya, which is located 6,000 feet above sea level. On the way we drove past loads of tea plantations and loads of small roadside shops. We had a quick stop at a viewpoint over some of the plantations where many of the women picking the tea wanted to come up to give us some of their tea for money. Many of tea plantations have British names, and we passed the Inverness plantation on our route.
Our next stop was at a working tea plantation and factory, called the Bluefield Tea Gardens in the town of Ramboda. (Thats the bus that took us everywhere in the left photo below.)
We were given a guided tour of the factory and explained the process of making tea starting with picking the leaves from the tea plants. Of course we had a chance to try a cup with a piece of yummy cake before being given the opportunity to buy some of the loose leaf Ceylon Tea. We purchased some of their BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe) tea, which is one of the main broken grades found in Sri Lanka.
Back on the bus for the last bit of our journey, we soon arrived in Nuwara Eliya. We had to drop off two of our group at a hotel in the middle of the town, as our hotel was full when we booked, so we had a chance to have a quick wander round, which translated into a quick walk then finding a shop so we could buy some snacks! Nuwara Eliya was know as 'Little England' and it still has many English style homes and bungalows.
The hotel we were going to was higher up in the mountains and inaccessible by our large bus so we had to stop halfway up to be transferred to 3 rather old & battered mini buses. After a bumpy journey up narrow winding roads, we arrived at our hotel, The Tea Factory.
We were all given tea on arrival and a yellow dot of paint on our foreheads, before being shown to our rooms. We were very lucky again and were given one of the few rooms with a balcony, complete with congratulations sign on the door and on the bed. The hotel used to be an actual tea factory, the Hethersett Tea Factory and is surrounded by tea fields. Each room had information about the hotel and which part of the factory your room was in; ours used to be where the withering took place, which is the first stage of the tea manufacturing process. Some of the original machinery had been restored inside the hotel.
Nuwara Eliya is much cooler than the rest of Sri Lanka due to its high altitude but up at the hotel it was even cooler. I even had to put on a long sleeve top in the afternoon while we sat and had our late lunch outside. It got really misty in the afternoon as well as you can see from the two photos below, taken from our balcony of the same two benches, the first when we arrived at the hotel and the other just 2 hours later.
The hotel still had its own organic mini tea factory in the grounds which we were shown around by one of the workers; before we left the hotel we bought some of their organic green tea.
As this was our only night at this hotel, we got ready and met everyone down in the restaurant for dinner, followed by quite a few drinks in the bar!
The next day we were travelled back down to Mount Lavinia...