Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sri Lanka Attractions 2/2

Still in Kandy - went to see a cultural dance performance (which I usually don't like cos it's touristy) but its redeeming factor was the fire dance (see below).
 Peacock dance

The dancer in the middle is also the fireeater/walker

The next day we went to a tea plantation and factory. 
Looks quite cooling right
The British were the ones who started all these tea plantations in Sri Lanka, which was also known as Ceylon. Hence the name Ceylon tea (think Lipton!). Actually, the British first started coffee plantations, which failed terribly because of some bug so they decided to plant tea instead, and the tea industry in Sri Lanka flourished. 
Really how it looked like under the mid-day sun. Glaring +++
Traditionally, it's the Tamil ladies who would work in the tea plantations, as tea needs to be picked manually, and women have softer finger pulps than men. The men do most of the manual labour like weeding, replanting and irrigation of the tea plantations. 

It's really tough work because it's under the scorching sun and they use their bare hands. An experienced tea plucker can pick 30kg of tea leaves in a day. 

I don't know why they don't wear those wide brimmed straw hats like in Vietnam/Thailand? It's really very very hot and the sun is so glaring and there's hardly any shade. I used to think that only rice required such labour intensive farming methods but I guess it's mostly mechanized now, but the tea plantations still use  manual labour. 

 This is the insides of a tea factory. Specifically, we went to the Blue Field tea plantation and factory, but as usually being extremely unlucky, it was a holiday so the factory was closed!

These are some of the tea leaves which are put over air vents and left to dehydrate and wither.
Just FIY, the most expensive tea that's produced in Sri Lanka is the Silver or Golden tips under the Green Tea category.
Orange pekoe is also one of the 'better' grades (not that I'm a tea connoisseur, Gong cha is more than satisfactory for me :D) and BOP (broken orange pekoe) is commonly used because it produces a very strong flavour. Lower down the line is the fannings and dust.

 The lush green terraced tea plantations - it's really nice other than it being super hot.
Ramboda falls - waterfall en route to Nurwara Eliya. Had lunch at this hotel called Ramboda Falls hotel.
 This was my favourite place in Sri Lanka - Nurwara Eliya, which is the Sri Lankan equivalent of Malaysia's Cameron highlands. It's 6200ft above sea level so its much cooler than elsewhere (though you can note how dry it is cos there's not a cloud in the sky). The richer locals have a holiday home in Nurwara Eliya so they can escape the heat in Colombo.
 They even have strawberries grown locally. And they produce strawberry jam (which I bought 2 jars of, haven't tried them yet...)
They were having a festival at Nurwara Eliya so there was this pasar-malam like stalls 

This is our hotel corridor - we stayed in the Grand Hotel, which is really quaint and old and similar to Raffles Hotel. 

Visited Hakgala gardens - the flowers were all blooming so it was a riot of colour and there were lots of bees. Thankfully no mosquitoes. 

 I used to think that Batik was a south east Asian thing but it's also done in Sri Lanka. This reminds me of my horrible days in art class when I was in secondary school where we had to make batik prints and tie dye...

On the last day, we went on a city tour around Colombo. It's really morden and clean, though it's really really hot (again). 
 Market in Colombo
 Arts performance centre built by the Chinese Government as a gift to Sri Lanka
Parliament House
Super old Dutch Church. 

 Breadtalk! There's 3 branches in Colombo, mostly in the town centre. They have mostly the same breads but don't have the normal non spicy chicken floss. It costs 180 rupees for the chicken floss (roughly $1.80) but in Colombo where you can get a meal for 100 rupees this is pretty expensive!
Claypot chicken bun! Do we have this in Singpaore??
Curry leaf
We also visited a spice garden (can't remember where this was maybe in Matale?) which was pretty interesting and got a short lecture on their traditional Ayurvedic treatments.  
Nutmeg - used to make camphor (like tiger balm)
Nutmeg tree
Saffron - used for hair removal

Equivalent to our chili padi
Coco beans
Cross section of a coco bean