Meet the Pluckers!

We have ventured further into the hills of Sri Lanka.??

After our couple of days in Kandy also in the hills at about 900 metres above sea level, our next part of our journey was through the stunning green hills covered in terraced tea plantations, mixed with tropical palms, rice fields and farmers market gardens as far as your eye could see sitting around 4400 feet above sea level we climbed and climbed and climbed.

It’s fair to say a few of us felt quite motion sickness through the day and that was before the train ride!

Our first stop in our long travel day was at a tea factory and plantation. Where we got to pluck a few leaves from the tea bushes.

The Tamil women from Sri Lanka, hand pick the fresh growth leaves off the tea bushes that are all roughly a metre high. They work the hills over a 7-14 day period collecting the leaves from the bushes with both hands at the same time and deposit them into a small sack, attached almost to their head scarf like a halo to enable them to throw the leaves over their heads into the bags.

We were given these amazing cane baskets that are then secured firmly in place high on our backs…. and yes I did try to acquire one!

Our guide explains the women collect approx 20 kilos of the leaves every day. They smell nothing like tea and are part of the camelia family. Our team of pluckers, picked 200 grams so we won’t be getting new jobs here any time soon. Including David who apparently tripped over a rock and face planted. Lucky he had his back back on his front.

Once the leaves are picked they get put into a long channel and dried for 12 hours and this is when it starts to smell like tea! If the leaves are wet it takes around 18 hours.

The leaves ?? are then twisted, turned, heated and aired by hand and then crushed by machines that are 100 years old! It’s incredible that it’s processed so quickly then bagged in very boring brown bags to go to auction in Colombo where the likes of Dilmah, Lipton, and Bushells choose the tea.

Of course it comes in various styles of black, green and the most expensive white tea and for anyone who drinks tea, don’t use tea bags it’s all the left over bits they put in the tea bags!

We drink black Pekoe tea at our tour – a medium tea that’s enjoyed by all.

Back on the bus and our driver goes at a slightly slower pace due to us all feeling a little ? pukey , and as I pass out the nausatil and a mints, I make sure the team knows I’m a really good sympathy spewer so if everyone could please not be sick that would be awesome ??

We arrive for lunch at Gregory’s Lake in the town of Nureya Ella a British styled town both in climate and architecture. A quick stop and we are of the bus again to get the train from Barawella to Ella !

The train stations are fascinating as they only allow one train between 2 stations at anyone time and have a disk that’s passed between the train and the station master to prevent a train leaving if they don’t have it….. again it dates back to over 100 years ago of course our David is all over the mechanics of the system that dates back to 1911 god love the British! The railway the tea and deodorant no one smells.

We catch the train with the locals and it’s been a funny disaster since we arrived _yes madam we have booked seats,no madam it’s not first class, yes madam it will be a comfortable ride! We jump on the very crowded train all have to stand and yep we are travelling like the locals so lucky for us our bus pushed on ahead and has already arrived at the next stop so we jump off and get the bus the rest of the way as I couldn’t even reach the handle above my head!

Ah the stories we will have to tell when we return;.

Our rest stop is the lovely Heavens Edge Hotel up in the clouds and the mist above the sleepy little town of Ella it reminds us all of a Tibetan town….. wait none of us have been to Tibet! Although Gwyn and Pete have been to the China side however we decide it’s the altitude, the monks chanting next door and all the back packers.

the pics above are a night shot and the morning sunrise, between the bright sun and the barking community dogs…… rise and shine people! It’s been such a fun few days and tomorrow we are off to see Little Adams Peak and walk to the railway line to see the 9 arches railway bridge

Happy days

Mrs W and the partridge singers x

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