Train Tracks and Tea Fields: Nuwara Eliya and Haputale

Train coming into Haputale

We arrived in Nuwara Eliya around 2pm.  By that point, we had already climbed the 5000 steps of Adam’s Peak, both up and down, had breakfast, showered and taken 2 buses.  Arriving after such an eventful day meant we had absolutely zero patience for the tout awaiting us at the bus station.  He offered to show us his brother’s guest house, shoving the business card in our faces, assuring us that if we did not like it he had a sister with a guesthouse as well.  He kept up with us as we tried to walk away, asking the typical icebreaker question “Where are you from” as we entered a restaurant in order to relieve ourselves of our heavy packs while we decided what to do.  

We felt obligated to order something so Steph went up to the counter.  We had learned that what was displayed on the menu was not always available, so she pointed to the large vinyl sign displaying the choices of juices and asked if they had the juices listed.  

Counter Attendant: Yes.

Steph: Great, we will have 3 passion fruit juices.

Counter Attendant: No we don’t have passion fruit.

Steph: Ok we will have 3 orange juices.

Counter Attendant:: We don’t have orange juice.

Steph: What juice on the list do you have?

Counter Attendant: Apple.

Steph: Ok, forget the juice, we will have 3 ginger beer.

Counter Attendant: Sure, we have ginger beer, but we have not put any in the fridge.

Steph: Ok what about Coke?

Counter Attendant: We only have Pepsi.

Steph: Ok, we will take 2 bottles of Pepsi and one warm ginger beer.

Counter Attendant: Ok, but those Pepsi were just put in the fridge, but we do have two small glass bottles that are cold.  

Steph: Sold.

After that painful conversation and receiving our order, we began to pour over our guides and online booking sites to find a reasonable guesthouse.

The tout was still hanging around the restaurant, coming up to our table twice insisting we come with him. We had picked up a fellow traveller, Koon from Belgium, who had also made the trek up Adam’s Peak that morning.  We decided the best plan was for Cheryl and I to stay with the bags and Steph and Koon could scout out a place.  The tout followed them everywhere and when they came back, having found a place, he continued to harass us, begging us to let him take us to the guesthouse.  We decided that I should take a tuk-tuk with everyone’s bags and the others could walk. The tout had overheard us aksing the driver to take me to our chosen guesthouse. When I arrived ahead of the group, the guest house owner said he had already received a call from the tout insisting that HE was sending 3 Canadians and a Belgian to stay at the guest house and he was owed a sizable commission.  This was the moment we realized it was sometimes better to lie about one’s nationality when touts are making small talk. We assured the guesthouse owner not to give the tout a dime.

The one photo we took of Nuwara Eliya

The guesthouse was nice, but after the adventures of the day, we felt like we could take no more of Nuwara Eliya.  Perhaps it had some redeeming features, but we had lost our desire to discover them.  As we helped ourselves to Koon’s bottle of whiskey on the veranda, he suggested that we may want to check out Haputale, a nice town located in the tea plantations not too far from Ella, our next stop.  We found a nice looking guesthouse online and the next day bid Koon farewell.

Koon was right, this was exactly the place we wanted to be.  Our guesthouse, Awinco, overlooked tea fields with the train track running directly in front of the balcony.  We were actually encouraged to go for a walk along the train track, which appeared to be the town’s top attraction.  

Loving the pace of life in Haputale

We organized through the guest house to get picked up at 4:30am the next morning to witness yet another sunrise, this time at Lipton’s Seat.  This area was where Sir Lipton sourced much of his tea leaves and he had his favorite spot overlooking the tea fields that many people visited. We set out with our tuk-tuk driver with a few scattered stars still shining above us.  The drive took about 45 minutes and our driver stopped just before Lipton’s Seat at a lookout that he insisted offered a better view of sunrise.  After the sun was up we went to the official spot for some warm roti and, of course, a cup of tea. Haputale was the perfect antidote to the chaos of Nuwara Eliya.

Kids walking to school through the tea plantations



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