The Hill Country is the most beautiful part of Sri Lanka we saw. We spent a day driving around Nuwara Eliya city (located at an altitude of 1868m) and were amazed by the picture postcard views.
Tamil Indian plantation workers. Our driver told us that life is very difficult for women on the plantations. They are usually from poor families and often start working from the age of 12. Most of them are illiterate and unskilled. They earn up to 500Rs a day if they are able to gather 18kg. Each day they start working as soon as the sun is up and finish when it gets dark. ‘Fair trade’? He didn’t know of anything about it. I wonder if their working conditions have really changed since colonial times.
Tea has been grown in Sri Lanka since 1860 after the coffee rust fungus destroyed all the coffee plantations. Most of the tree bushes are as old as the plantations and each bush can be picked every seven days.
The one thing we did not expect of Sri Lanka: cold temperatures! We expected Nuwara Eliya to be significantly cooler, but we were actually freezing. It didn’t help that we got wet while walking around town. By the time we got back to our hotel we were literally shaking with cold. Rooms were huge and not heated, windows let in cold air and we were afraid of having a miserably and cold night. Lucky for us we were able (for a small fee) to buy a stack of wood and enjoy a small fire in our room. And we got extra blankets!