Sri Lanka – Ziua 6 – Kandy si Nuwara Elya

RO: In sfarsit o ora normala de trezit in vacanta si-o cafea si-un mic dejun decent la hotel. Un ultim dhal picant, o ultima clatita cu cocos si inca ceva painici rotunde coapte, asa zisele roti-uri, pentru care am facut deja o adevarata obsesie. Intre noi fie vorba, mancarea sri lankeza e un mix interesant de influente ale colonistilor europeni cu accente si mirodenii indiene. Rice and curry e de departe cel mai apreciat fel de mancare si numai pronuntandu-l ne aminteste de cina de la Gema Gedara, in apropiere de Polonnaruwa, cu toate curry-urile de pe pamant intinse pe masa. Sau de cea de la Devon, in Kandy, unde am scos flacari pe nas de la atata chilli si picanterii. Si uite ca facem ce facem si tot despre mancare vorbim, desi nici macar n-a inceput ziua cum trebuie! Pana una alta, Sandamal ne asteapta deja la intrare si-avem in fata un drum si un traseu cam lung. Mergem in sfarsit la plantatiile de ceai, din preajma Nuwarei Elya. Si ha, cica ar fi o zona asa de britanica si de europeana ca o sa avem impresia ca ne-am teleportat inapoi in Europa. Dar hei, inainte de toate mai dam o fuga prin Kandy si pe zi, ca doar n-o fi sa plecam din centrul tarii fara sa vedem Dintele!

EN: Finally, a normal hour to wake up in vacation and a coffee and a decent breakfast at the hotel. A last spicy dhal, a last coconut pancake and a couple of roasted round bread, the so called rotis, for which we already made an obsession. Between you and me, the Sinhalese food is an interesting mix of European colonists influences with touches of Indian spices. Rice and curry is by far the most appreciated dish and just pronouncing its name reminds us of Gema Gedara, nearby Polonnaruwa, with all those delicious curries on the table. Or the dinner at Devon, in Kandy, with all that chilli and spicy food. And looks like we haven’t started our day properly and we’re taking again about food. Sandamal is already waiting for us at the entry and we have a long way and itinerary ahead. We’re finally going to the tea plantations close to Nuwara Elya. And hey, we’ve heard that this is such a British area that we will have the impression that we’re back to Europe. Buuut before that we’re staying a bit longer in Kandy as we’re not leaving this place without seeing the Tooth!
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RO: Dintele lui Buddha, cum care dinte? 😀 Sau in varianta complicata, Templul Sri Dalada Maligawa, cel mai sacru dintre toate templele budiste din… Sri Lanka am fi tentati sa zicem, dar nu, e cel mai sacru din lume. Asa ca nu e de mirare ca trebuie sa fii imbracat din cap pana in picioare, cu pantaloni/fusta care sa treaca obligatoriu de genunchi si maneca lunga. Si esti examinat de nu se poate la intrare, iar de nu esti conform cu regulile, intors din drum. Pai nu, cumva-cumva trebuie sa aiba profit si buticul cu nadragi si salvari de langa intrare :p Bun, cum-necum, am reusit sa trecem de scanarea-cauta-nod-in-papura si-o luam rapid spre dinte. Care e treaba cu dintele si de ce e atat de faimos? Pai pare ca ar fi o legenda la mijloc. Dupa moartea lui Buddha, cenusa sa a fost impartita intre opt regate, iar dintele cel sfant a revenit printesei Hemamala, care l-a ascuns in par pana cand l-a adus din India in Sri Lanka, la Anuradhapura. Si uite asa s-au construit temple si “stupuri” care sa ascunda dintele, iar populatia singaleza a devenit budista. Ok, am retinut asa: cel mai sfant dintre toate sfintele temple budiste si dintele lui Buddha ascuns in altar, ne facem curaj si intram. Noroc ca-l avem pe Sandamal cu noi, sa ne explice ce e cu toata nebunia si agitatia asta in templu, ca numai zenitate nu iti inspira. Ideea e simpla: e haos mai tot timpul la dinte, insa in weekenduri e prapad. Un fel de pelerinaj la Parascheva de la Iasi, n-ai loc sa arunci un ac.

EN: Buddha’s Tooth, what else? 😀 Or in the complicated version, the Sri Dalada Maligawa temple, the most sacred temple in… we would be tempted to say Sri Lanka, but no, it’s the most sacred in the world. So there’s no wonder that you have to be dressed from tip to toe, with trousers/skirts that cover your knees (and that’s mandatory) and long sleeve. You are checked at the entrance and if you’re not dressed according to the rules, you’re not allowed to enter the temple. Well, the trousers shack from the corner of the street needs to have some profit 😛 Ok, we finally made it through the meticulous scanning and so we’re heading to the tooth. What’s all the fuss about this famous tooth? Well it seems that there’s a legend that explains it. After Buddha’s death, his ash has been divided through eight kingdoms, and the sacred tooth was given to princess Hemamala, who hid it in her hair until she brought it from India to Sri Lanka, at Anuradhapura. And that’s how the temples were built and the so called stupas to hide the tooth, and Sri Lanka’s population became Buddhist. Ok, we got it: the most sacred from all the temples and Buddha’s tooth hidden in the altar. We summon up our spirits and we’re going in. Luckily we have Sandamal with us, to explain us what’s going on with all this chaos and madness in the temple, as it doesn’t feel like zenity at all. The basic idea is simple: there’s always chaos to see the tooth, but during weekends it’s terrific.
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RO: Lesson learned pentru data viitoare cand om mai veni: Templul Dintelui trebuie vazut cat mai devreme in dimineata, altfel ramai cu o imagine complet distorsionata. Iti raman in minte doar inghiontelile si mizeria de pe jos, impinsaturile si haosul general. Si apropo, nu se vede niciun dinte 🙂 Este ascuns intr-o cascheta aurita si impodobita  cu toate zorzoanele (umbla vorba chiar ca ar fi vreo sapte astfel de caschete, bagata una-ntr-alta ca la matrioscele rusesti), iar cascheta ascunsa si ea la randul ei in altar. Deci in cel mai fericit caz in care faci fata cu brio luptelor de coate si ajungi oarecum mai in fata, ai sanse mari sa zaresti prin multime si printre-o arcada (aurita, cum altfel), o silueta de stup aurit si nimic mai mult. Dar poate ai noroc si nimeresti fix in ceremonia care se tine o data la 5 ani, cand se arata Dintele! O Doamne, nici nu am vrea sa ne imaginam ce calcare in picioare trebuie sa fie atunci!

EN: Lesson learned for next time when we’ll be here: Buddha’s Tooth needs to be seen early in the morning, otherwise you will see a totally distorted image of the temple. You will only remember the nudges and pokes in the ribs, all the misery on the floor and the total chaos. and by the way, you’ll not be able to see any tooth 🙂 It is hidden in a golden box embellished with all sort of gewgaws (some people say that there are seven boxes one in another as if they were the Russian matrioskas) and the box itself is hidden in the altar. So in the best case scenario, if you manage to face all those elbow fights and you get somehow in the front of the altar, you have some chances to see through all the bulk of people and the golden arcade a beehive silhouette and nothing more than that. But maybe you’re lucky to be here right at the ceremony that is held every 5 years, when the tooth is shown to the people! Oh geez, we don’t even want to imagine what chaos must be here!
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RO: Dar ne intoarcem la oile noastre. Intram in templu si Sandamal ne arata ce e cu desenele de pe pereti. Simbolizeaza sarbatoarea Perahera, tinuta si facuta in onoarea Dintelui! Si-atunci da, e nebunia pelerinajului in floare, toata floarea cea vestita a singalezilor se prezinta in Kandy si sarbatoresc. Elefanti decorati si inzorzonati, dansatori, muzica, artificii. Nebunie curate vreme de zece zile, si toata in cinstea dintelui. Mai ceva ca un carnaval brazilian 🙂

EN: But let’s go back to our main story. We enter the temple and Sandamal shows us the paintings from the walls. They all symbolize the Perahera festival, held to honor the Tooth! And yes, that’s the total pilgrimage madness, every Sinhalese people gather in Kandy and celebrate. Decorated and adorned elephants, dancers, music, fireworks. Total madness for ten days, and everything is to honor the Tooth. That’s even more than a Brazilian carnival 🙂
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RO: Ok, acum ca ne-am lamurit cum sta treaba cu Templul Dintelui, pornim spre sud, la Nuwara Elya, sa vedem plantatiile de ceai. Dar inainte de toate, facem o oprire rapida la un atelier de sculptat in lemn si la un magazin de sari-uri din matase. Ambele destinate complet turistilor, cu preturi uriase, tipicele tourist traps. Dar nu e bai, am mai aflat una-alta despre mastile traditionale facute si pictate manual, si despre sari-urile traditionale si modul de prindere. E de olimpiada, nici macar tutorialele de pe Youtube nu ne lumineaza cum sta treaba cu impachetatul pliurilor de n luate cate n ori si prinsul in ace.

EN: Ok, now that we finally know what’s all the fuss about the Temple of Tooth, we’re heading south, towards Nuwara Elya, to see the tea plantations. But before anything else, we’re quickly stopping at a wooden carving workhouse and a sari shop. Both completely addressed to tourists, with huge prices and typical tourist traps. But there’s no problem, at least we learn more about the traditional masks, manually painted, and about the traditional saris and how to dress them. That’s quite a difficult task, not even the Youtube tutorials did not enlighten us on how to pack those pleats and clip them in needles.
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RO: Hai ca sarim de la una la alta fara sens, dar ne-am amintit de Nuwara Elya si plantatiile de ceai, ca doar e urmatoarea oprire pe traseu 🙂 Mare parte din ceaiul de la Lipton este adus din Sri Lanka. Nu ca asta ar face mare cinste ceaiului sri lankez, ca doar stim cu totii ca nu e tocmai cel mai calitativ ceai de pe pamant. Dar treaba sta in felul urmator. Ceaiul de calitate costa, chiar si aici, in patria ceaiului. In special ceaiul alb si auriu. Exista insa si ceaiuri de foarte proasta calitate (ceaiul dust), care e ieftin si usor de produs. Noi banuim ca numai asta ar cumpara Liptonu-l de aici, insa oamenii cu care am vorbit la fabrica de ceai Storefield ne-au spus ca nu ne pot confirma acest lucru (pai cum sa denigreze pionierul ceaiului sri lankez pana la urma?) Dar ca da, ne pot spune ca Lipton cumpara o cantitate suficient de mare de dust. Eeeeei, pai cine o mai bea de acum inainte pliculetele prafuite de la Lipton, cand ne-am facut stocuri generoase de masala, de ceai verde cu portocale si cu vanilie direct de la sursa?! Da, am cam sarit calul, am facut shopping impulsiv de ceai 😀

EN: We’re jumping from one subject to another, but we remembered about Nuwara Elya and the tea plantations, as that’s our next stop 🙂 Most of the Lipton tea is brought from Sri Lanka. Not that this would be a good thing for the local tea, as we all know that Lipton is not the best tea in the world. But here’s the thing. High quality tea costs, even here, in the country of tea. Especially the white and golden tea. But there is also a lower quality tea (dust tea), which is cheaper and easier to produce. We’re suspecting that this is the only thing that Lipton buys from here, but the people we have spoken with at the Storefield tea factory could not confirm this for us (how could they denigrate the pioneer of Sri Lanka’s tea? ) But they could confirm that Lipton buys a high quantity of dust tea. Heeeey, who’s gonna drink those dusty tea envelopes from Lipton, when we already made stocks of masala, green tea with orange flavor and vanilla, straight from the source?! Yes, we exagerrated a bit, we made some impulsive tea shopping 😀
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RO: Dar ca sa nu lasam in ceata toata treaba cu ceaiurile negre si frunzele si tot procesul nebun de producere a ceaiului, ne facem lectiile cum trebuie si aflam de la plantatia de ceai Storefield ce e cu incadrarile dubioase ale frunzelor de ceai. Am retinut din start ca dust-ul e oaia neagra a ceaiului, in vreme ce orange pekoe e (OP) un fel de pomul laudat. Nici ceaiul BOP nu-i de colo, atata doar ca B-ul vine de la Broken. Broken Orange Pekoe. Si tot aici aflam ca ceaiul oolong baut in China sau ceaiul verde nu intra in categorisirea asta. Pentru ele pana si procesul de productie si uscare este complet diferit. Buuuun, dupa atata teorie, e lesne de inteles de ce James Taylor si Thomas Lipton au preferat ceaiurile din Ceylon!

EN: But to clarify all these things with black tea and the tea leaves and all the crazy process of producing the tea, we found out what’s all about that weird nomination of teas. We know that dust tea is the worst part of the tea, while the orange pekoe (OP) is one of the best. The BOP is also a good tea, just that the B comes from Broken. Broken Orange Pekoe. We are also told that the oolong tea that we drank in China or the green tea have some other tea grades. For those types of tea even the production process and the drying one is completely different. Oooook, after all that theory, it’s easy to understand why James Taylor and Thomas Lipton preferred the Ceylon tea!
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RO: Ne-apuca iarasi shoppingul impulsiv si umplem traistele cu ceaiuri de tot felul. Recunoastem, am cam sarit calul 😀

EN: We’re shopping impulsively again and filling our bags with all types of tea. We have to admit, we exagerated a bit 😀
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RO: Si vai cat de tentant suna o cana de ceai fierbinte bauta in varf de vale, cu priveliste catre cascada Ramboda. Dar dupa experienta de ieri cu masa dementiala de la Gemi Gedara, mergem si azi pe mana lui Sandamal, mai ales ca ne-a propus sa incercam un loc traditional unde se prepara painicile rotunde roti. Si nici nu zicem bine “Daaaaa”-ul la unison, c-am si ajuns. O cocioaba darapanata pe marginea drumului, cu pungi de chipsuri atarnate in cuie la stanga si un sirag de chilli verde la dreapta, trei mese de plastic si cativa omuleti trebaluind de zor. Ne asezam putin timorati si sceptici ca o sa ne placa mancarea, dar nici n-apucam sa ne gandim bine la asta, ca si apar farfuriile pline de roti-uri fierbinti si proaspete, castronul de chilli-moarte, dhal si curry verde. O nebunie curata, si-o iuteala de scoatem toti flacari pe nas! Si ca sa fie treaba treaba, incheiem cu un ceai negru si cate-o bucatica de miere din lemn de sandal de-am putea jura ca-i miere naturala, un pic zaharisita. A, si sa nu uitam. Tot ospatul a costat 1700 rupii pentru toti 12, incluzand bauturile. Deci un pic peste 10 euro 🙂 Iar locul se numeste Samudra, in caz ca suna tentant si pentru altii J Nu de alta, dar sansele sa nu il vedeti (sau sa nu vreti sa il vedeti :D) cand veti trece pe langa el, sunt foarte mari. Insa credeti-ne, mancarea e senzationala, in ciuda aspectului dubios al cocioabei 😀

EN: Uhhhmmm and how tempting a cup of hot tea drank on top of the valley sounds, with views towards the Ramboda fall. But after yesterday’s experience with the delicious dinner at Gemi Gedara, we’re trusting Sandamal again, as he suggested us to try a traditional place where the small round rotis are made. And we don’t have time enough to finish our decided “Yeeeeeees”, and we’re already there. An old shack on the side of the road, with bags of chips hanging in crooks and a string of chillis to the right, three plastic table and a couple of people working. We’re having a seat, even though we seem a bit fearsome and skeptical that we will like the food and the plates full of hot rotis are already brought to our table. As well as bowls of chilli, dhal and green curry. A total madness and such a spiciness that makes us blow fire on our nostrils. And on top of these, we end up our lunch with a cup of black tea and a piece of sandalwood honey, that we could simply swear it’s natural honey, a bit candied. Aaah, and let’s not forget. All this feast costed 1700 rupees for all of us, including drinks. So a little over 10 euros 🙂 And the place is called Samudra, in case it sounds tempting for others as well 🙂 You’ll probably miss it when passing next to it, as the place doesn’t look too appealing, but trust us, the food is unbelievably good.
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Cocoa Fruit 🙂


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RO: Gata, suntem si mai pregatiti pentru plantatiile de ceai acum! Inaintam spre Nuwara Elya si climatul se schimba complet fata de ce aveam in sud. Vremea e rece si schimbatoare, acum e soare, acum sunt nori si-ncepe ploaia din senin. Pai cum sa nu le fi placut britanicilor sa vina aici sa se racoreasca in vremurile coloniale, ca doar se asemana de nu se poate zona aceasta cu ce au acasa 🙂 Si intre noi fie vorba, plantatiile de ceai vazute pe vremea asta rece si pe un pic de ploaie, sunt perfectiunea intruchipata. Iar de ne-ar intreba cineva care e locul nostru preferat din toata Sri Lanka, ei bine, sigur am spune de plantatiile de ceai. Iar daca initial am fi vrut sa carcotim referitor la cele patru ore petrecute in masina ca sa ajungem aici (da serios, patru ore!!!), acum parca am zice ca merita pe deplin efortul 🙂 Da, ne-a stat inima in loc de sapte ori pe drumul lung si plin de claxoane, depasiri periculoase si in general incalcari de reguli la orice pas, insa spre final recunoastem, a meritat efortul. N-or rezolva ei singalezii problema traficului prea curand, insa jos palaria pentru peisajele frumoase din centrul tarii.

EN: And now we’re ready for the the tea plantations! We’re heading to Nuwara Elya and the climate suddenly changes from what we used to have in the south. The weather is cold and unpredictable, now we have sun, in the next second there are clouds or it starts raining simply from nowhere. Well that explains why the British explorers liked to come here during colonial times, to chill out from the summer heat. The climate here is very similar with what they have back home 🙂 And between you and me, the tea plantations seen on this cold weather and a bit of rain are total perfection. And if someone would ask us what is our favorite place in Sri Lanka, oh well, we would say the tea plantations. And if we initially wanted to grumble about those four hours spent in the car to get here (seriously, four hours!!!), now we would say that it’s totally worth the effort 🙂 Yup, we were quite afraid on that long and full of honks road, dangerous over takings and in general all sort of contraventions, but in the end, we have to admit, it was worth it. Maybe the Sinhalese people will not gonna solve the traffic issue any time soon, but hats off for the beautiful landscapes they have in the center of the country.
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RO: Cat despre Nuwara Elya orasul, ei bine, e poate cel mai straniu loc vazut in Sri Lanka. Zici ca te-ai teleportat deodata inapoi in Europa, in vreun satuc englez de toata frumusetea. Casute tip cottage-uri englezesti, caramida expusa, gradini ingrijite la linie, flori, Mini-uri colorate in fata caselor. Nu-i de mirare ca aici e Mica Anglie a Sri Lankai 🙂

EN: As for Nuwara Elya, the city, it’s probably the weirdest place we have seen in Sri Lanka. Looks like you’re back to Europe, in an English authentic village. English cottage type houses, exposed bricks, well taken cared gardens, flowers, colorful Minis in front of the houses. No wonder this is the Sri Lanka’s Little England 🙂
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RO: Si dupa sase zile lungi si pline, ajungem la final. Incheiem articolul in avion, in timp ce decolam peste Colombo-ul agitat si aglomerat, plin de tuk tuk-uri, claxoane, galagie si culoare. Poate ca n-o fi Sri Lanka cea mai frumoasa tara vazuta pana acum. N-o avea cele mai spectaculoase plaje. Si nici cele mai curate camere de hotel. Are insa peisaje de-ti sta mintea in loc. Si oameni zambitori si blanzi si primitori. Are o mancare senzationala.O istorie controversata. Si o poveste impresionanta. Iar toate imperfectiunile si neregulile Sri Lankai au un farmec care te fac sa te indragostesti de tot ce inseamna tara asta. Da, e o tara incercata din greu. Ba de tsunami, ba de razboi civil, ba de saracie. Si e firesc ca lucrurile sa nu mearga ca pe roate dupa 26 de ani de conflicte intre tamili si singalezi sau dupa un tsunami cauzat de un cutremur de 9 grade in Sumatra. Dar progreseaza si asta se vede de la an la an. Asa ca da, concluzia paradoxala, in ciuda impresiei contrare pe care poate ca au lasat-o articolele noastre, este ca Sri Lanka a fost una dintre cele mai frumoase vacante avute pana acum!

EN: And after six long and full days, we’re at the end of our trip. We finish this article in the airplane, while taking off over the chaotic and crowded Colombo, full of tuk tuks, honks, noise and color. Maybe Sri Lanka is not the most beautiful country we have ever seen. Maybe it doesn’t have the greatest beaches. Not even the cleanest hotel rooms. But it has mind blowing landscapes. And people that are kind and welcoming and smiling. A sensational food. A controversial history. And an impressive story. And all these imperfections in Sri Lanka have a special charm that makes you fall in love with this country. Yes, indeed, it is a country that had some issues. A tsunami, a civil war, poverty. And it’s just logical that things cannot go perfectly after 26 years of conflicts between the Tamils and the Sinhalese people or after a tsunami that has caused a 9 degrees earthquake in Sumatra. But it keeps progressing and that can be seen from year to year. So yes, as a paradoxical conclusion,  unlike the contrary impression that our articles might have given you, the trip to Sri Lanka was one of the most beautiful ones we had so far! 

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