Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Nuwera-Eliya

Continued from here

It seems that every hot country in Asia which has had a history with British people at some point when they were on a travelling and colonising spree, would be left with hills where people live, grow tea and ultimately end up being a tourist destination. That is perhaps why we found ourselves in Nuwera-Eliya, a settlement on top of a hill with sprawling tea plantations and known to the locals as Little England.

We, on the other hand called it a refrigerator. It was cold. Now, I know my previous posts on travels have been lengthy, but I intend to cover this place in one post, and even if it means typing it out in point form, then point form it is:

1. 7 waterfalls en route. You never know you can get OD'd on waterfalls until you actually do.

At this point I just grabbed a photo from inside the van

2. Yes, it rained - on and off.
3. We had the quickest tour of a tea factory with the unfriendliest guide ever.
4. We bought a lot of tea. This was in January 2011, and some of the tea is still sitting in the house, some still in my office drawer, etc. There's only so much tea you can drink.
5. We couldn't visit the town properly because of the rain. Despite being on top of a hill, several places were flooded.
6. We ended up in some deserted garden. The sister and I braved the rain sans umbrellas and took some pictures.

The deserted garden. No idea what the red line is, though.

A building near the garden

One of the pathways at the garden

7. The parents went to a local spa. I didn't want any treatment and neither did my sister, so we sat on plastic chairs with our feet hovering slightly above the floor due to the flood while the parents were pampered.
8. Cold, cold, cold. We had to heat the room with the vapour from the hot shower in the bathroom, and sleep with jeans, jackets and dirty socks (note to self: bring more socks next time and don't burn what you have with you)
9. For the first time ever in this country, the food sucked. It wasn't Sri Lankan food, per se - it was Chinese Sri Lankan food (we weren't given a choice here, it was either this or starve) I usually love Chinese food in Malaysia, and this wasn't even close. Sorry.
10. Watched a bit of local TV with really bad reception. Tried to read, but I couldn't due to all the shivering. How can anyone like the cold? The only person who enjoyed the cold was my mom.
11. We have to give credit to the place, though. It was a beautiful building and had really old decorations and beautiful flowers.

Real flowers. Don't ask me why the red seems pretty artificial.



12. The people of Sri Lanka love their trees.


13. More waterfalls on the way out.
14. Some poor kid was selling paintings to tourists so he buy shoes for school
15. Some local people come after you for money. It's one thing if they try to sell you stuff you don't need, but them asking for it outright made me very sad.

A Smoky Story

Some time ago, there was this episode on "How I Met Your Mother" in which all the characters were trying to quit smoking. Watching that episode (and comparing it with some much older movies/literature) it finally hit me how people's opinion on smoking and smokers have changed. What used to be normal way back is now viewed with some disdain. 

How else do you explain smokers being given a smoking bay where so many of them sit in cramped up spaces to get their fix AND inhale secondary smoke from their fellow smokers, or even while I was in Japan, where it seemed as though everyone smoked, they were forced to smoke in small groups at little ashtrays by the kerb - hardly a sociable activity, or in some areas, they stood in alleyways behind tall buildings in their nice clothes, smoking mournfully in the cold. 

The other day, the papers had a piece on new rules for cigarette manufacturers in terms of packaging size and pricing (among the methods employed to reduce young people from starting to smoke since they could never afford such an expensive hobby to start with) I've attached a screen-shot of the news below.
Click to enlarge


The thing is, while what the government is trying to do to protect the people from the dangers of smoking, little do they know that there are ways employed to manoeuvre around this minimum 20 sticks rule. Well, maybe they do, but they have probably decided to overlook it until someone brings it up. 

I've actually even witnessed this (ahem!) clever act by 2 separate entities. One was a few years ago at the canteen in my workplace where the canteen operator *sold individual sticks all the time to the guys at work, and the second time was just about 2 weeks ago while I was lining up to pay for my food at a nearby Mamak where one of the customers in front of me bought an individual stick from the cashier. So, if the young people the government is trying to protect can't afford 20 sticks in one go, who is to say they can't afford a single stick from a packet opened by some devious business people?

*This might be illegal (it is in the US, but I can't find info about Malaysia)