Day 14 - Ella to Haputale (by train) incl a local bus to Dambatenne Tea Factory & a return hike to Lipton's Seat (14Km)

I decided to leave Ella, but before I did I had breakfast at the Rawana Holiday Resort (6am) & took a few more photographs of Ella Gap with clear blue skies. I then collected my backpack from the hotel & headed for the train station for the 6:45am train to Colombo, as I decided Haputale would be my next destination (50 LKR).

Ella Gap (6am)

Before the train became crowded!

Whilst on the train (which became more crowded with each stop), I recognised the local man I’d met on the train to Ella (who had given up his window seat for me, & the one I thought was a bit iffy!) I discovered he was a train security guard! I arrived in Haputale at about 7:45am, & I wasn't greeted by any tuk tuk drivers or hotel touts, I assumed it was because it was too early!

After arriving in Haputale I decided to walk to the 'Sri Lak View Holiday Hotel' (mentioned in my guide book as having great views). I was shown a room which they were asking for 1000 LKR which looked somewhat disgusting and smelt really bad, mainly of damp. They then showed me another room which was average, but they were asking for more than 1000 LKR, I probably could have bargained but decided not to bother. I carried on walking west through the town & visited 'Cuesta Guest House', & was shown a room which wasn't anything special again, (although it did have a balcony overlooking the train track), but they were only asking 750 LKR, we finally settled on 700 LKR!

The hotel owners cooked me a wonderful breakfast of fried eggs, 6 slices of toast with jam, 3 bananas & a pot of tea. (It will be added to the bill at the end of my stay, so hoping I wont be in for a shock!) It was just what I needed before a days hike. There was also a local man living downstairs (under the hotel) who was the joint owner I think & spoke very good English. He told me his wife was currently living in England (Croydon), and that his children were also there, & the eldest was currently studying law. We had a good chat over breakfast & I told him about my plans for the day ahead.

I left the guest house, & rather than walk all the way around the town to get to the bus station, I took the shortcut by walking down a nearby dirt track & then walking along the rail track (as most of the locals seem to do) as far as the train station & beyond to the bus station!

There was a bus already waiting to go to the Dambatenne Tea Factory (east of Haputale) which I jumped on (20 LKR) which only took about half an hour before I arrived. I was greeted by Mr S. Sivaraman (I know this as he later gave me his details so I could post a few photos back to him!) It was a very informative tour, & the fee was 200 LKR. The staff around the factory were really friendly, although at times it was a little hard to understand what was being said because of the noise being made by all the machinery. Afterwards I popped over the road for a cup of tea and grabbed a couple of packets of biscuits to set me on my way for the 7km hike to Lipton’s Seat.

 My bus to take me to Dambatenne

Dambatenne Tea Factory

Dambatenne Tea Factory (11km from Haputale), was built by Sir Thomas Lipton in 1890, one of the most famous figures in tea history. A tour through the works is an education on the processes involved in the fermentation, rolling, drying, cutting, sieving & grading of tea.

 Tea tasting area - Dambatenne Tea Factory

Tea brought into the factory - Dambatenne Tea Factory

Tea brought into the factory - Dambatenne Tea Factory

 Nice friendly staff! - Dambatenne Tea Factory

 Drying ('Withering') of the tea leaves - Dambatenne Tea Factory

 Leaves go down the shoot to be rolled - Dambatenne Tea Factory

 Fermentation - Dambatenne Tea Factory

Fermentation - Dambatenne Tea Factory

What counts best in Ceylon tea is that no artificial preservatives are added at any stage of the manufacturing process. At the final stage the teas are separated according to the colour & the particle sizes under the supervision of experienced quality controllers. Anything that is not up to the standards would be rejected regardless of the quantity & its value.

 Grading - Fermentation - Dambatenne Tea Factory

On my way to Lipton's Seat an English guy passed me in a car & asked if I wanted a lift, I declined as I wanted to walk all the way to the top on my own. It was a great walk and I met a few locals along the way, a few asked if I would take their photograph! I also came across quite a few tea pluckers, some having their sacks of freshly plucked leaves weighed. At the top I had to pay 50 LKR to a lady in a hut (who also offered tea, but I think this would have been extra!) There was a group of local students drinking & playing drums on the wooden platform (look-out post), I later learned they were on a 'works outing'! They offered me a lift back down (their car was parked near the top), but I said I was happy to walk all the way down. I also met the English guy again at the top, he had been driven all the way to the top by his guide! We had a chat, & talked about where we had been in Sri Lanka, his budget was obviously a lot bigger than mine! He did drop in conversation that his view from his living room window back home was of Regents Park in London!

 Hindu Temple (near the tea factory) & start of hike

 On my way to Lipton's Seat

 Tea Pluckers - On my way to Lipton's Seat

 Tea Pluckers weighing the tea leaves - On my way to Lipton's Seat

This place was a favourite lookout post for Sir Thomas Lipton

On my way to Lipton's Seat

On my way to Lipton's Seat

 Near to top of Lipton's Seat

 View from the summit of Lipton's Seat

The views were pretty good, but it was a little cloudy. On the way down I decided to take some of the shortcuts (avoiding the long bends), so I could take a view close-up photographs of the tea pluckers. Most were happy to have their photograph taken, some not so keen, (I can’t blame them really).

 On my way back down from Lipton's Seat

 Tea Pluckers - On my way back down from Lipton's Seat

Tea Pluckers - On my way back down from Lipton's Seat

Tea Plucker - On my way back down from Lipton's Seat

Tea Plucker - On my way back down from Lipton's Seat

At the bottom, I met Mr S. Sivaraman again (who had shown me around the tea factory), he reminded me to post some of my photographs to him when I was back in England! Luckily there was a bus waiting outside the factory to take me back to Haputale.

I was a little tired when I arrived back at my guest house & so I had a pot of tea whilst I read and decided where to go next. The guest house owner (the one who spoke good English) was on his mobile phone to his wife back in England & after a while he passed it to me so I could have a chat with his wife! She seemed very nice & gave me a few tips on places to visit next in Sri Lanka, all very bizarre really!

  Cuesta Guest House 

I had a lovely meal at my guest house of curry & rice. I learned the cook was a top pastry chef in his day, & later I was given one of his cakes to try which was delicious! I ordered breakfast for the morning & also asked for my entire bill as I was keen to settle up. The breakfast with all the toast & fried eggs & bananas with a pot of tea was 275 LKR x2. The evening meal was 380 LKR & a 10% service charge.

Evening meal at Cuesta Guest House (I highly recommend the place!)

Tomorrow I plan to catch the train to Hatton & then catch a bus to Nallatanneya so I can tackle Adam's Peak!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful pics Mark! Thanks for sharing.