Sri Lanka 2013 : Nuwara Eliya

Unlike Ella, Nuwara Eliya isn’t a small village but a town that serves as a tourist hub for a lot of people who come to Sri Lanka. Prices are exorbitant in comparison, you get hassled by plenty of beggars (a first in Sri Lanka for us) and visiting the town at night feels awkward thanks to all those men clambering over at the local alcohol stores. So with such an influx of tourists, you’d expect the town to be up to scratch to meet those needs. Quite the opposite with the food being disappointing, the hotels were so-so and local rickshaws were a rip-off.

We had booked our two night stay at a small hotel near Gregory Lake called Villa Acacia after favorable reviews on Trip Advisor and decent guest/hotel pictures. On reaching the hotel, we were utterly disappointed with the lack of cleanliness and the fact that the room wasn’t as depicted in pictures. Since we didn’t want to spoil our itinerary for the next day, we decided to reduce our stay at the hotel to a day and shift to an another hotel for the second night. A shout out to the owner and the manager who were polite and accommodating to our needs with prompt cancellation and zero additional fees.

The huge upside to Villa Acacia was the view. If only they’d designed the place more in tune to delivering this view from each of the rooms while keeping their cleanliness levels high, then this would have been a perfect place to stay. At least we got a gorgeous shot of Gregory Lake.

After cancelling our day 2 booking, we headed out to the main market area for some lunch at De Silva Food Centre that was a shocker. Messy restaurant, rude staff and bland food. We ended up topping up our Rs at the next door jeweler/money exchange and headed to a cafe nearby to wash down the food with some coffee, cake and fries. And that’s where we spotted these boys chilling in the drizzle that had started.

The cafe was right at the entrance of Victoria park and with a constant drizzle; the temptation to take a walk away from the noisy main road was something we couldn’t resist. After paying tourist prices, we wandered around like how a couple do in a park… you know with cameras and in different directions. (^_^)

Obviously not everyone followed the same routine though fortunately for us we didn’t get scarred with any such imagery. Might be something to do with the fact that it was almost closing time.

Not the prettiest of parks we’ve been to and clearly not the prettiest scenery in Sri Lanka but it was a nice escape since the park was almost empty and the tall tress managed to shut out the noise from the outside. Pretty flowers are pretty.

Clearly it was quite a problem for the park but I was just glad these signs were there because I do have an obsession with taking pictures of them.

The park maintenance was just scraping through though it was pleasing to the eyes thanks to the weather in Nuwara Eliya ¬†that even in the summer is brilliant. As we wandered around the rose beds, we saw a storm roll in from the north. Fortunately for us, we had an umbrella that both of us could squeeze our cameras under. We just stood there under a colourful umbrella that conveniently sprung a small leak enjoying the gallons of water the storm was pouring around us. That would have been a cool couple shot with just a pop of a speedlite to illuminate us that we always conveniently carried… if only we had someone to take the picture.

Wading through ponds of water, we wandered to the highly recommended (Trip Advisor) Grand Indian restaurant for some desi (non-veg) craving. The Grand hotel next door seemed like the hub for all Arab tourists and therefore the restaurant was quite popular among them. This translated into the fact that the waiters at the restaurant spoke Arabic…. mind blown!!! Obviously we completely blended in and enjoyed what could have been the blandest desi food we’ve even had. Not only did our order take time to come in, it wasn’t hot and the lack of taste was heart breaking. The storm continued outside presenting us with a thundering background score.

Rickshaw prices take a hike when it’s raining. Since walking wasn’t an option, we caved in and took the ride. The storm thundered along for most of the night and was conveniently followed by a fog that slowly crawled over the hills. Our panoramic view from the hotel room kept us awake for most of it and we kept trying to figure out a way to capture it all w/o ruining the cameras. Nuwara Eliya was not turning out to be what it seemed like online, but the weather was clearly making up for it with a gorgeous display. Masha’Allah.


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