Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Elyia


You're in the wrong country for massages with Happy Endings

Having slept much much better than the night before, we are up and off at 8am, beginning the journey from Udawalawe to Nuwara Eliya.  At breakfast we have our first morning meal with protein...omelets.  I think it's fair to say we are both open minded eaters, preferring the taste and safety of local food over best attempts at western food, but breakfast is the exception.  Spicy curries and dense rice squares are too much first thing in the morning.  We quickly finish breakfast and check out of the hotel.  Shortly after we head out with our driver, we make a roadside stop for bananas, which has become a daily ritual. 

Close to the halfway point is Rawana Ella Falls, an impressive waterfall (and not to downplay Hawaii for the second time, but the 19m falls are significantly more dramatic than any falls on the Road to Hana drive...for more on Hawaii see the blog Archives!).  MG comments as we approach on foot..."Now that is a proper waterfall".  It feels good to get out of the car and stretch our legs after a couple hours of driving.  


Rawana Ella Falls

Back in the car, we travel the 6 km to Ella and stop for tea at a hotel with a great view of Sri Lanka (we have climbed to an elevation of about 1100m).  Here we see about a dozen other tourists, probably the largest group we have seen to this point on the trip.  As we leave Ella, we pass the Dream Cafe...the place we had originally reserved to stay on the trip.  It looked bright and well maintained.  Originally, our plan was to head from the safari to Ella and stay overnight, but our driver indicated the drive from Udawalawe to Ella at night was not a good idea, which is why we changed plans and stayed near the park the night before. 


On top of Ella


It is just after lunchtime as we arrive in Nuwara Eliya (1889M in elevation).  In the Sri Lankan tourist industry, this town is often referred to as "Little England", but we're not entirely sure why this is the case...apparently it dates back to when English and Scottish pioneers of Sri Lanka's tea industry used the city as a cool-climate escape.  There is a light mist in the air as we hop out of the car and stretch our legs.  It quickly dissipates as the sun emerges only to have clouds roll in and raindrops begin to fall.  The weather continues to change while we have lunch at the Grand Indian restaurant.  The restaurant decor is tasteful and snappy, with a variety of cushions artfully placed in each booth and bench (although I admit that I do love plum, raspberry and lime as a colour theme).  We're very much looking forward to lunch both because we're hungry and because it is a “top choice” restaurant recommendation in Lonely Planet.  While we wait for our lunch, we discuss the significant influence this Lonely Planet endorsement creates and our good timing.  Soon, there are groups of people waiting for tables and suddenly a "we are closed" sign appears on the door.  Perhaps due to high expectations and perhaps due to timing, the food is decent, but a little disappointing.  We think it would be greatly improved if the food were served hot instead of warm, but as the guidebook suggests, it does have a "energetic buzz" and we enjoy a nice lunch together.

Next we head into town and spend a half hour wandering around the city, which is bustling with locals, but we spot a few other tourists as we zig-zag through the busy sidewalks and past tiny packed stores.  Our final stop before heading to the hotel is to a pre-booked treatment at a Ayurveda treatment centre.  Ayurveda is actively practised in Sri Lanka (and India) and is an system of using herbs, oils and other natural ingredients to treat ailments, heal and rejuvenate (side note...huh, I guess that is where name Aveda originated...a popular line of haircare/beauty products, that promotes its products natural ingredients).  We have signed up for a body massage and steam bath (which is basically a large wooden tanning bed that leaves only the head exposed.  Steam fills the "bath" and infuses the body with many different herbs and spices.  I am totally skeptical.  Extremely skeptical.  I have read the standards at these facilities can be highly varied and the place has been selected by our guide, so I am also without the comfort of knowing the Lonely Planet approves (case and point on my earlier comment about the power of Lonely Planet).  I have no websites to investigate, no internet reviews, no resources to research and make an informed decision! My inner Veronica Mars is uncomfortable.  Ultimately, my fears of being stuck in a dirty facility or poisoned by sketchy massage oil or forced naked into a packed sauna are only slightly less intense that my desire to try something new, something unique to this region of the world  that I may never have the chance to try again.  So we are "in" for giving it a try.  The night before as we pre-discuss whether we will go to the treatment or not, I also confess that in addition to the aforementioned concerns, I am also worried that his (or my!!) "full body" massage will be a little too "FULL" body for my liking.  He laughs at me (even though I think it is a perfectly legitimate concern) and says that thought never occurred to him for a second and we were in the wrong country to be worried about that sort of ending.  Fine - concern (mostly) averted.  I am slightly less wary as we arrive at the facility and are taken into the treatment room.  I am on one side and MG is on the other, separated by a curtain.  I am relieved when I know MG will be in the same room.  As we undress and get under the clean (but tiny) provided covers, I think we're both happy to be together (both joking that we wish we'd worn better, more covering underwear :)).  The oil massage is nice and relaxing.  I notice MG has the more skilled practitioner and is getting a better quality massage, but mine is also pleasant and the soft spoken therapist asks several times if I am comfortable (perhaps noticing my slightly terrified, I may sprint out of here at any time, look at the beginning of the treatment).  Both are professional throughout the entire treatment.  Time passes quickly and suddenly my 40 minutes are up and I am helped into the steam bath.  As I climb into the wooden contraption, I secretly wish MG was first, but he seems comfortable and relaxed as he receives his head massage.  The bath is actually enjoyable, it brings all the benefits of a sauna, with a delightful fancy spa smell and my head is outside the box (preventing me from near death overheating).  I get out of the steam bath as MG gets in and my treatment is completed with a aloe face treatment.  After MG finishes in the bath, we both slip back into our clothes, our skin still shiny from the herbal oil.  I think we both feel quite good about the was a pretty good deal for the equivalent of $53USD (aaannnddd I'm happy I faced my fears...thanks DH for life lesson).


Misty tea plantations on almost 2000m above sea level

Finally, we head to the hotel - the Teabush Hotel is located high in the hills about 2 km from the main city.  It is quite and the views from our room and the dining room are wonderful.  Too late to head out for a hike and no interest in birdwatching, we settle in for a quiet evening.  It is late afternoon and we enjoy a pot of tea in the dining room, taking in the view, chatting about our adventures to date, reading (me) and iPhone playing (MG).  Later we also have dinner at the hotel, the food is hot and tasty (our only complaint is that rice and curry is becoming a little repetitive).  As it is much cooler at this elevation, we warm up with hot showers and head to bed.