Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Nuwara Eliya Experience

Lest I forget the second part of my journey with my son took us to Nuwara Eliya, also known as Little England. It was a very long drive through the tea plantations. We learned that there are low range, mid range and high range grades. I thought certainly with all of the driving we were in high range tea territory, but it was only mid range, it was probably two more hours before we reached high range tea plantations.

Whats with the Little England title? Apparently back in the colonial days Nuwara Eliya was the place that the British elite went to get away from the Sri Lankan heat, you see Nuwara Eliya is cold! I heard that it was cold, didn't realize how much so until we got there. The weather reminded the Brits of back home. Along with the weather there are golf courses (Probably the only on Sri Lanka) and European themed architecture throughout the city.

There isn't much to do in the city. There is a open market that sells Columbia, North Face and other name brand jackets for as little as $10. I bought a nice fleece jacket for about $3 and another jacket for my son for around $27.

The city was once known for it's horse racing track but it was shut down by the government.
Now when we entered the city we saw people riding horses which most likely meant that you can ride them as well so I called our driver and asked him to take us to the horse track.

As we pulled up to the horse track we were followed on both sides by men on horses or by foot, think of a paparazzi scene, I'm not kidding, I knew were in for fun when we parked. As soon as we got out it started "SIR SIR RIDE MY HORSE" "MASTER MASTER RIDE MY HORSE"this went on and on and on. They wanted 1000 Rupees to ride the saddest looking horses and ponies you have ever seen for a half hour. I told them no way, I would give them 1000 Rupees for two of the best horses (sic) for a half hour. The best I was offered was to ride a pony for 750 Rupees for a half hour, I wasn't going for that. Then things started getting edgy, somebody grabbed my arms by behind and was trying to pull me towards a horse, somebody else had one of my sons feet and was trying to put it in a stir up. I put my arm in the air and signaled for our driver and told my son we were leaving. We got in the car and the mob scene continued. We pulled out and drove back to the hotel only to see that there was a group on horseback chasing us down the road! Picture that, like something out of a bad movie. Eventually they stopped and turned around. I was really surprised that they would rather not get any business than bargain down, but it didn't matter. The horses were in such poor condition we didn't want really want to ride them.

One good thing about our stay was our hotel which although a little aged did offer some nice amenities, turn down service with chocolates, breakfast with egg and crepes chef, stocked bathroom with a hair dryer (That's rare here), free WiFi, satellite TV, mini-fridge, all for less than $70.

Photo: St. Andrew JetWing Hotel http://www.jetwinghotels.com/jetwingstandrews/


e4c5 said...

Pony rides of Nuwara Eliya is nothing but cruelty to animals. Sorry to hear that you got mobbed by the jockeys.

As for not being much to do at Nuwara Eliya; didn't your guide take you to the Golf course? Nuwara Eliya has one of the best golf courses in South Asia (some say even the world).

Then there is the trek to worlds end and a visit to the botanical gardens. True, it's not everyone's cup of tea.

docreport said...

If it was up to our driver we would have stayed at the hotel all day, in fact when I called him to take us to the pony rides he wasn't very happy. I did see the golf courses and I can tell that they are probably very good courses but I don't play. I didn't find out about 'worlds end' until I got home.
I wouldn't mind visiting again, if not to see 'worlds end' and get out of the Colombo heat : D