Wednesday, October 3, 2012

cycling nuwara eliya

ooh, pretty.

yesterday we got ourselves two mountain bikes to cycle through the forests and tea plantations of nuwara eliya. the shop owner brought them to our guest house early this morning, all prepped and shiny for their busy day ahead.

now i dislike sport. intensely. i love yoga, i love dancing. but anything outside of that combo has me grimacing and scowling. which is why my husband's jaw dropped when i suggested renting bikes. he closed it again, i think out of fear i'd change my mind, and being the sport nut he is, gladly took me up on the offer. 

after breakfast, we hopped on them. we're staying up misty mountain (no, seriously, we are), so for an exhilerating quarter of an hour we flew downhill, flowers, fields and villagers whizzing past, shouting "hello, madam!". it was fantastic!


and so, as i sped down into town, i smiled smuggly. clearly, i was meant to be a cyclist. i was a natural, a pro. then the chain slipped and i almost shot into a three-wheeler. twice. suddenly a hill loomed ahead and i wasn't able to change gears, practically busting a vein as my thighs protested against the slope. i'll admit i did throw a mini tantrum, but after that i did us both proud. and loved it!

turning a hairpin bend in the road, a small wooden hut informed us we'd stumbled onto the Gallwaysland National park. why not? we thought, left our bikes with the pushiest sri lankan i've ever met (you come, madam, you come see. sir, you come. leave bikes, come now) and walked for hours on the forest trails, staring up in awe at the eucalyptus and elephant-ear trees and holding our breath to see if we saw deer. we didn't. but we saw hundreds of spiders. 

10 minutes back on the road, the trees thinned out and i wondered if we were in hobbiton: tiny, cute houses with laundry laid out on the tea bushes, mossy green hills rolling down towards the nuwara lake. 

as soon as we got back from the gruelling, gruelling uphill cycle from downtown - i wish roads could be downhill both directions - the heavy clouds that had spent all day getting together and uniting gave way to heavy monsoon rain. wrapped in blankets we asked our giggly guest house owner to bring us some tea. 

a lot steeper than it looks. gruelling.

 if you come to nuwara eliya, i highly recommend the Chez Allen guesthouse. it seems to be farout but with shortcuts down stairs cut into the rock, it's 5 minutes into the village, tops. the owner is hilarious and enjoys chuckling as she watches us eat, serving us bigger and bigger portions. 

the rooms are adorable, the more expensive ones (3000lrs, 18€) have to-die-for views of the valley. it's super clean and has the best shower i've had in 5 months: lots of water, from an actual shower, and HOT. usually they are lacking in either temperature, strength or structure. 

also, get yourselves a bike! it's 1000lrs per day, delivered to your door. what else can you ask for? ah yes, roads that go downhill both ends. 

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