Bandarawela

The Sunday market
Bandarawela, Sri Lanka

 


The waterfall and sunlight in through the curtain-less windows woke me early again. Breakfast again was amazing.

More curd with palm syrup, this time with a fruit salad (pineapple, mango and banana) and a poached egg on toast with cheese and rocket.

After eating far too much we headed off into town. In the morning light, the view down Ella gap was lovely.

Again , it took us nearly 25 minutes to walk the 2km into town. We took a new turning and headed up towards Little Adam’s Peak.

This walk, in contrast to yesterday’s, is well signposted. At least to begin with.

After just over 1 km along the road (past more guesthouse’s and mini shops), we turned off the road and headed up a mud road through tea plantations.

Being Sunday, no one was working in the fields. We were walking parallel to Ella rock – gazing up to where we had been yesterday. After probably around another km, we reached a gate where some cars and tuk tuks were parked – obviously some people had been driven this far (including 4 from our guesthouse!), this cutting out around 4km of the walk. Kind of feels like cheating?

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Again continuing past some tea plantations, we were now faced with a choice – some steps, or the continuation of the path. We chose the path, not really knowing where we were going. We ended up wading through thick grass – surely this isn’t right?! But we made it! It was actually fairly easy. Maybe I’m getting fitter!

However, I’m not sure on the timing people gave us. We were told it was 45minutes to get up. Well from our guesthouse it took us an hour and a half.

Perhaps they mean 45 minutes from where you leave the road. Who knows.

The top was nice. Lovely views down the valleys each side. The peak is actually made up of around 4 large bumps (rather like the back of a dragon), so we wandered around a couple of them.

Then back down – this time we used the steps, but the view wasn’t as nice this way. There was a group of children sticking up posters onto the tea plants. From what we could gather (it was in mostly Sinhalese script), it was the funeral notice of an old lady – 82. How sad.

Back into town around 11.30am and we hopped onto a bus headed for Bandarawela (cost 16p and barely a 5 minute wait).

The bus was full of bags of beans and purple coloured parsnip. It’s Sunday market day!

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It took half an hour to drive the 12km to Bandarawela – a much bigger town than Ella, but still small, tucked along the side of the hills.

We spotted the market and hopped off the bus – a couple of streets filled with tuk tuks, people and tarpaulin roofs. Fruits and vegetables spilled from every stall across the floor everywhere.

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We wandered around and it lost, it was huge. Mangos, jackfruit, coconuts, apples, green leaves, tomatoes, green beans, beetroot, chillies, okra…they had everything! Very colourful. But what was most amazing, was how friendly everyone was. No one hassled.

Everyone smiled and wanted to say hello. We bought some jackfruit – 20Rp (10p), some mangos 30Rp each (15p each) and avocado 20Rp (10p each). Local prices.

No one even tried to rip us off – despite not being able to speak any English.

Of course, I was the only white person there. But no one stared. It was lovely. And quite refreshing not to feel hassled and intimidated.

There were also some non-fruit stalls, so we tried some crunchy crisp type things and bought a bag for 20Rp and again got tasters at the jaggery stall (a type of fudge-like brown sugar) which is delicious and bought a slab of it for 50Rp (25p). There were also lentil stalls and chilli powder stalls. After an hour of market, lunch time. We had some fried rice and devilled chicken from a nearby restaurant. Tasty. £1.50 each.

And I finally found a working ATM! We located the bus headed back to Ella – and ended up back on the same bus – same driver and conductor!

This time we didn’t head all the way back to Ella, but got off half way at Dowa temple. From the outside, it looks rather bland. But down some stairs, away from the road and a temple tree (covered in flags) and a very old temple – built in 1880 are sitting next to a small stream. In the rock next to the temple is a huge Buddha carved into the rock face.

Really cool.

The temple was closed.

But just after I arrived, a man came running up with the key and opened it for me.

Inside was amazing – every wall painted bright colours, pictures of Buddhas everywhere. Some Buddha statues and a couple of reclining Buddhas. As it’s built into the rock, there was painted rock overhangs inside. Wow. I enjoyed the temple.

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On the way out the man showed me the key – a huge bronze, heavy ornate key. It was free, but you are hassled to give a donation.

Back on the bus again – this time it was horrible. It was so crowded it was ridiculous. I couldn’t move. And couldn’t see out. Didn’t enjoy it. We went 5km past Ella to the Rawana waterfalls.

These waterfalls are 19m high and are really pretty. Just at the side of the road. We could see them from our walk up Little Adam’s Peak this morning. Not a lot to do here other than take a photo. No way I was climbing up slippy rocks!

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So again, on a bus back to Ella! This time, the driver was a bit mad. Speeding around corners on the edge of the mountain. Rather scary.

But at least we only had a 10 minute drive!! From town, we walked back to the guesthouse. With an icecream. And arrived at 4pm, exhausted. We had dinner at the guesthouse – amazing vegetables: beetroot, pumpkin, green beans, mushrooms and a salad. And some coconut cake for pudding! Lovely!! And an early bed time. All this walking is exhausting!!
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