As we were in Kandy we took this opportunity to visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage about an hours drive away. There have been mixed reviews about the place in terms of animal welfare, we found the elephants well treated and looked after. However it is true that the alpha male was in chains, the excuse given was that when in heat that is the only way to guarantee that it does not trample anyone. There is a whole tourist economy centered around the orphanage, from keepsakes to “poo paper” (hand made paper from elephant dung).
THe next morning we were on our way to a popular hill station “Ella”. Had wonderful food at a roadside restaurant, and made a pit stop at “Mackwoods Tea Center” for some excellent tea and snacks. After getting a little lost in the mountains we made it to Ella in the afternoon. We stayed at the “Whitehouse” Guesthouse, run by a lovely couple. A had bought a saree in andy and wanted it stitched, the host was extremely helpful and we ended up at a tailors shop who promised to stitch it overnight.
We had planned to hike to Ella Rock and got a guide to lead us the next morning. It is advised to start the hike early morning around 5am, our hosts actually had a small breakfast ready at 4:30 for us, so we started the hike all fueled up. The guide was quite knowledgeable and pointed out to the local flora on the way. The hike itself is moderately strenuous and took about two hours one way. On the way back we passed by a small village and the lady invited us in for some chit chat. We also stopped at a small shack for some King Coconut to hydrate and were back at the guesthouse by late morning. After a short nap (we were sleep deprived having had to wake up early). The tailor came through and the saree was delivered early afternoon, but it needed some refitting so we went over tailors who was kind enough to it then and there. We also got our clothes laundered via a one day service, Ella is really set up for tourist services!. In the afternoon we went to the seven arches bridge, which is a short hike from the road, o the way back we stopped fomr some tea at the fancy 98 Acres Resort. Had a very nice dinner at the Ella Village Restaurant and hung out at the Cafe Chill afterwords, this seems to be regular hangout spot for many backpackers.
The next morning after a huge breakfast at the hotel, we thanked our hosts and were on our way south to the beaches. Our destination was Unawatuna near the city of Galle.
We stayed at the Thaproban Beach House the place lived up to its name and we could walk out to the beach from our room. That afternoon we went to visit the town of Galle, visited the old Dutch fort there, on the way back I stopped by a liquor store, these are usually very sleazy looking places right out of a Bollywood movie. Grabbed a quick dinner and called it a day. The next morning we had a nice leisurely breakfast and then headed back to explore Galle, shopped a little and ended up having lunch at this really nice restaurant The Fort Printers, headed back to our hotel and rested for a bit before exploring Unawatuna. Had a lovely dinner that night at the Thaproban Beach Restaurant, which has a very well behaved resident dog “Johnny” who would move from table to table keeping guests entertained. This was our final day of the trip and the next morning we drove to the airport in Colombo, about a two hour drive, thanks to the motorway and headed back to Lahore. From gracious, friendly people to wonderful food from ancient spiritual sites to breathtaking greenery, Sri Lanka has much to offer. We are sure that we will be back visiting soon…..