posted on Monday, February 22, 2016

Nuwara Eliya

Today was my hardest as planned. Kandy to Nuwara Eliya will bring me from 500 to 1900 metres and from rice fields to tea! I left very early as I had to cross the city and I was trying to  breath as little nasty fumes as possible and it took about eight hours of cycling. By now my backward side is fully adjusted to these long days on the saddle and it gets uncomfortable when I get off.
The shsh dog trick in Kandy was a total failure, they just didn't get it. I was chased twice and both times I had to exhaust all my umpf to outrun the little rascals.
I practiced another trick that seems to work but is rather risky. It uses reverse psychology and seems to puzzle the beast, it involves slowing down to walking speed. Somehow they don't find me an enticing prey if I don't look terrified, legs spinning like mad, they give up on me. Just before passing them I also ring my bell a little, I declare all my good intentions and smile at them. It is a little bit like playing Russian roulette, If it fails, I am doomed so I should use it with utmost care...
As I started climbing the first mountains the bright green of rice fields gave way to the darker green of tea plantations. Literally mountains of them. Every plantation had its own grand colonial house, where the British owners were living in grand style I am sure. Ceylon tea is really good and Sinhalese have no doubt it is the best in the world. All the hours cycling up the mountain in the heat meant lots of stops. I must have drank at least ten litres of water and stopped for countless bites of local sweet breads and Milo, a chocolate and milk drink that is everywhere and keeps me cheerful when times are rough. Spotting a lady cooking coconut flat breads I stopped and asked for one. It was hot and tasted really good. My trouble with locals is that everybody I meet seems to have a relative working in Italy and they are keen to call them up and have me  chat to them. Really kind of them but having a mountain to climb the time for hearing strangers life stories is rather short. Despite spending most of my day panting and out of breath I managed to avoid excessive cursing and managed to keep my cool and spread good will to the thousand children supporting my ordeal.