How do you get 6 grown ups to agree on a day out in Sri Lanka?
Dead easy, you tell them your renting two TukTuks for the day!
There’s no need to bore them with were your going because that would only complicate matters.
I knew that we all wanted to see a tea estate, and I could already see the picture of the tea lady picking leaves on my mothers tea caddy when I was a kid (we all had one). I also had a feeling that we all would like to see turtles flip flopping about in the sand like in a David Attenborough documentary. That meant that the hardest sell might have been the Japanese Pagoda but again we had all admired it from bars and restaurants in Galle for the last three days and nights
Handunugoda Tea Estate was reported to be a very exciting 30-45 minute TukTuk ride from our accommodation in the center of Galle Fort. As there was 6 adults in our party I negotiated two Tuk Tuks for the day at a price of £15 each, Included in this price was a visit to the Japanese Peace Pagoda at Unawatuna, a visit to a nearby Turtle sanctuary at Tangalle and then onto the Handunugoda tea plantation for a cup of tea and cake.
Japanese Peace Pagoda. (Unawatuna)
This beautiful Japanese Peace Pagoda/Temple is situated on top of Rumassala Mountain and very close to the very popular Jungle beach, a small isolated beach which normally has a small café to buy sandwiches, snacks and drinks but as we went out of season the beach was just an empty untidy beach with rough seas pounding the rocks. The Pagoda and beach is just 3km across the bay from Galle Fort and only about 10 minutes up a steep hill from the main road. It is very nice to spend some time walking around the Pagoda and taking in the breath taking views across the bay.
Apparently, it is lovely to visit at about 6pm to watch the sunset but we got there about lunch time and it was very quiet and tranquil.
Turtle Sanctuary (Tangalle)
The turtle sanctuary to which our driver took us too was a very small breeze block building with a number of tanks in which the turtles were kept. Some of the turtles were rehabilitating after damage caused by engine propellors or fishing line tangles. Our guide was very informative and was able to answer all of our questions. There was also lots of information on the walls about what turtles we could expect to see in the area. Another area that was fenced off was were the turtles eggs were situated and what date they were layed by their mothers. The cost of entrance was about £2.50 each which would help to fund the sanctuary up-keep. When we were leaving our guide said that if we returned at about 5pm we could release some turtles for a small extra fee.
Three of us did return later in the afternoon and the guide said that each turtle would cost about £20 to release and although I really wanted to release the turtles I thought this was a little steep. He quickly came down to £20 for all 5 which I thought was a very reasonable fee for such an amazing experience. I found it amazing that whichever way you pointed the turtle, it would just stop for a moment then turn towards the sea (even though it might not be able to see it) and then dash away towards freedom……Amazing.
Handunugoda Tea Estate, Tittagalla.
Up to now we had trundled along the beach road, past the many hotels and bars and just before we turned off the main road we came across the famous Stilt Fishermen. Now some people say that these guys are just tourist traps and they are only there for the photograph tips. This maybe true but to be honest these fishermen looked the real deal to me and not one of them asked for any money even though plenty of photographs were been taken.
When we finally got going again the fun really started, the tuk tuks drivers weaved around avoiding the pot holes at a really fun speed. The scenery was completely different to the beach road. We Travelled through little villages, past the fields with the family cow standing guard over nothing but a paddy field….I don’t even know if they have rice fields in Sri Lanka but that’s what it looked like and I loved it.
We finally arrived at the Handunugoda Estate and our driver shot off to find us a guide. He returned with a middle aged gentleman who for the next hour educated us on everything that was TEA he also showed us what else you could smell and touch in this green oasis of beauty. After about 20 minutes we came across a lovely little cottage were we were invited to have tea and a slice of cake on the veranda. I could see on the faces of the rest of my family that they were loving every bit of our tour and if there was a detention to be had in this school of tea, then we would have all volunteered to stay back for hours.
Refreshed and happy we set off back down towards the reception area. Our guide at this point explained to us about the Virgin white tea that they make on the estate and how the leaves are picked by ladies who wear gloves so that there is no human contact. Virgin white tea is very very expensive and they are very proud of their process.
We finally arrived back at reception and we were encouraged to try our hand at tea tasting before maybe buying some of their teas. I would like to say at this point that I tried to give our guide a tip for giving us such a good afternoon but he refused and asked us just to buy some produce to take home.
I would just like to say thank you to everyone at Handunugoda tea Plantation for their knowledge and friendship showed to my family. There was no entrance fee and they fed and watered us for nothing, of course we all bought packets of tea and spices and we are still enjoying them today back at home.
I would advise anyone going to the tea plantation to wear light clothing and a hat as the sun was very fierce throughout the afternoon. A squirt of insect repelant and high sun cream is also advised.
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