The more perspicacious of my readers may have detected a soupçon of disenchantment with the Sri Pada experience so right at the start here I’d like to put on record that I enjoyed World’s End.
But I’m putting the cart before the horse…
Mes deux nouveaux meilleurs amis et moi decided to “eat in” last night, which turned out to be a tactical error. Two of us chose pepper steak and it was truly unforgettable: it was served with a tolerable imitation of onion soup and was probably beef but that’s where any resemblance to our expectations ended. It came in a shapeless chunk and I think it may have been boiled, like the vegetables, probably in the same water. The female systems analyst chose garlic bread and some chicken thing. You know how good French bread is… this garlic bread consisted of two slices of the poor SL imitation of the substandard “white sliced” that is slowly disappearing from Scottish supermarkets, smeared with some sort of garlic paste, probably from a tube, and then slammed butterless into a toastie-maker thus effectively boiling it. It was so dire she insisted we try it and I think her chicken thing seemed almost palatable in comparison.
The combination of the meal and an early night meant I slept poorly. I won’t go into details because it might distress me to rake over the coals and you may be of a delicate disposition. Let me limit myself to saying I discovered my room had no loo roll. Luckily it had one of those little hose-cum-sprayers so beloved of the Sri Lankans.
5:30am could hardly come soon enough and we set off – the two Parisians, two jungen Schweitzer-Deutsche and elderly me – in a jeep to Horton Plains. The driver showed the typical SL tendency to wish to pass everything in front and block everything behind, the bald tyres screamed on corkscrew bends, we were thrown together in ways that I may have found briefly enjoyable but probably spoiled the Parisienne’s day. However, we arrived alive and with our dignity more or less intact. There was a huge queue for tickets and, as the eldest and only native English speaker (the driver wasn’t getting involved) I was deputed to go and do the needful. Five of us got into the National Park for a total of sixty five quid, which seemed reasonable value.
There were a lot of visitors, most of whom were Chinese. It became clear my four new friends didn’t like the Chinese and I must admit I tend to agree: loud, ill-disciplined, selfie-obsessed, pushing, shoving and there in their thousands. But it’s the future, chum, so get used to it.
The landscape was lovely, again reminiscent of Scotland if you didn’t look too closely. The bright green lizards and occasional elk were a bit of a give-away. World’s End proper and Litle World’s End are both dramatic: you stand at the top of an over 800metre drop down to tea plantations and small hamlets below, with sweeping panoramas and the sea (more or less) visible on the horizon. Even the yellow peril couldn’t entirely spoil it.
The paths are great for walking as the plain is mostly flat with a nice balance of shade and sun. Visibility was superb, thanks to our early start. After the world ended twice, we wandered – admittedly not as lonely as a cloud – along paths that led to a very attractive waterfall and eventually back to our waiting jeep and driver.
By the time we were leaving the Park, the mist had started rolling in and we felt extra glad of our early start and smugly superior to the late-comers who were just piling up and would see little.
I don’t know if Horton Plains will come to be a highpoint, but it certainly was a very enjoyable experience and one I’d happily have again.
On the way back we dropped the two Parisians off at a remote railway station and the Swiss and I returned to our hotel. The current plan is that they and I will share a tuk-tuk tomorrow to the station and head to Ella, where I have a place booked.
Here are a couple shots of a very flamboyant plant I saw in Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya.