Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Day 7: Balangoda to Haputale

A short distance today – just 30 miles, whatever that is in km – but very strenuous ones, into Hill Country. There was around 1500m of climb, whatever that is in feet. But the dawn start from Balangoda was a delight, cycling through sunrise rice paddies to the sound of birdsong. Lots of steady climbing, and several downhills that were exhilarating but lost all that height-gain. Though with views like this, I didn't mind too much. (pic).

We're in tea country here, a Sri Lankan speciality of course. One plantation had a cafe where you can try their product, factory-fresh (pic). It was stronger and more tannic than we're used to in England; I liked it very much. Tea-factory bike tours of Sri Lanka could rival distillery bike tours of Scotland, and you wouldn't have to worry about how much you were drinking.

On and on uphill went the road (pic), with lovely vistas over the lower-lying valleys and distant hills. They're so unused to seeing tourists here that all the stallholders selling me water, cold drinks and curries forgot to overcharge me.

I rolled up at my destination, the hilltop town of Haputale, not long after noon (pic). I checked into a hotel, where they are used to seeing tourists.

They're clearly sticklers for accuracy here, giving the elevation of the place to the nearest millimetre (pic).

Miles today: 29
Total miles: 164
Miles since Dondra Head: 126


  1. Rob, how many languages are on that sign - and which are they?

  2. Sinhala at the top (language of the 75 per cent majority Sinhalese), and Tamil (language of the 20 per cent or so minority Tamils) in the middle. Both are syllabic, rather than alphabetic - in other words, one symbol (usually a combination of basic syllable sound such as 'ra' plus vowel-sound modifier ornamenting it) stands for a syllable.

    All road signs follow the three-language format, with English at the bottom - rather helpfully, for long-distance cyclists - though road signs are not very common!