Saturday, 24 January 2015

Day 11: Nuwara Eliya to Kandy

Today was a treat: 50 miles of mostly downhill – cashing in on 1400m of descent – including 20 of freewheel. There were more hairpins (pic) than in a hairpin shop that sells a lot of hairpins after a fresh delivery of hairpins.

Progress actually wasn't that fast, despite the hurtling downhill speeds of up to 30mph, because I kept stopping to admire the views (pic).

The scenery was pretty awesome all morning (pic). I stopped for breakfast at a friendly little shophouse and had fierily delicious hoppers (conical thin pancakes) and sambol (red-hot tomato and chilli salsa) and a cup of tea. The toilet was the house's own, an outside tin shed down the bottom of the garden past some chickens. It's little moments like this that delight me about bike touring. No, really.

Given the lush tea-plantation scenery all around, all this free downhill, and that 40p breakfast inside me, it's no wonder I looked happy (pic).

I got to Kandy by noon, and had time to visit the excellent Botanical Gardens on the edge of town before finding a hotel. I was particularly taken by the avenue of pine trees that look like they're staggering home after a particularly sociable party (pic). Apparently they're all wonky because their roots are weakened by chomping termites, and as they grow they get bent by the wind.

In Kandy I visited one of the city's famous dance shows (pic), which includes (for the female dancers) elegant and subtle gestures and (for the male dancers) somersaults, fire-eating and fire-walking, all accompanied by loud drums and snake-charmer wind instrument. Bewilderingly fast, noisy and danger-defying – but fun – it was curiously similar to cycling amid Kandy's traffic bedlam.

Miles today: 49
Total miles: 234
Miles since Dondra Head: 196

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