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Nuwara Eliya

 

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In Nuwara Eliya the British Raj lives on, in the form of the Grand Hotel.

Being 'foreigners' we were able to use the bathrooms and look around. Locals are not, unless guests. Indeed, throughout the country there are 'first-class' and 'foreigner only' toilets.

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The local park is, of course, 'Victoria Park' and there is a small Market there (mini-Melbourne) with lots of produce, including several unfamiliar vegetables and curry ingredients. It was the first time I've consciously been aware of a goat carcass in a butcher's shop.

Below is the Post Office - preserved - just as it was.

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Although Ceylon soon became famous for tea, the first mega-crop grown here by British planters, was coffee but when that contracted a blight they switched to tea, importing Tamil pickers from India.

As the radio commercial went in my youth: "The teas that please are Ceylonese"

Apparently the Singhalese were a bit 'uppity' about picking (as I would be). Wendy had a go and managed a small handful. To make a poor living today they still need to pick at least 20 kgs a day.

Now vast areas of the highlands are covered in small tea bushes and many of the fields are so steep that mechanical picking, as we have seen in Japan, seems an impossibility.

Yet, surely that doesn't preclude some sort of hand-held shear and vacuum device to save their backs and improve productivity?

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From the fields, the bags of leaves are picked up and taken to a factory where they are dried.

Green tea is further cut and dried but black tea is then allowed to 'ferment' before being fully died, destemmed and sifted for size. Other flavours, like bergamot, to make Earl Grey tea, may then be added.

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Tea remains a principal mercantile export (around 10% by value), after clothing and textile manufacture (47%).

 

That night we did not have the pleasure of staying at the Grand but we were very content with the Ramboda Falls Hotel.

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We had a small suite and the falls were directly out the bedroom window. The only downside - discovered by one of our travelling companions - was the monkeys - she just had to leave a window open. Her room was trashed. But we were all warned.

 

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