Our second day of Haputale had been assigned to take us to the Horton Plains National Park and its famed World’s End. World’s End is an 880m cliff drop that during the middle hours of the day is prone to being swathed by banks of cloud that cause an eerie appearance of the valley edge being the precipice of the edge of the earth. We had a slight re-shuffle in the group, dropping Ron and picking up Mark and Elvis. With our new squad we set out early doors, as one must in hill country to avoid the clouds, stopping off for a brew and to gather supplies (read: baby rusks) and carrying on up the bumpy windy track.
We begun the 9km round trip with a visit to Baker’s Falls, a site where the our resident wild man Jeff had us drinking from the river, vouching for its purity, and to be fair, none of us got ill or got the shits. The next stop around was World’s End itself and as you can see from some of the photos, the views from here were breathtaking. When I was there, I could only really compare its majesty to that of Jurassic Park, that fictional place that I’ve never been, and as shit as that comparison is, you can jog on as its my comparison and it made the most sense in my mind. Being swarmed with Chinese tourists as most of the major sites of this country tend to be, Jeff wandered off up the ridge to find a quieter spot, being joined a little later by myself and Oli. The site that we reached seemed to be the summit of the mountain, and it was composed almost entirely of white and rose quartz, with small crystals and chippings littering the ground. We collected a few, made an offering to the gods of the mountain, laughed at Jeff putting a moss moustache on his face, appreciated the serenity, and breathed the clean air before returning to the fracas of the main viewpoint. A little further round was another viewpoint, known as Mini World’s End which was the site of our group photo and the final stop on the tour. The park was very similar, in both climate and topography to our very own Peak District; a steady 15 degrees, perpetually on the edge of light drizzle and a stiff but welcome breeze and with this gave us a little slice of home just to ease our troubles. Not that we have any, other than where to go next.
Leaving Haputale and the friends we had made here was a tough one, many of them checked out the day before we did, having less time available to them in the country and thus feeling the pressure to get things done. Jeff and Ron had said that they would come back around and meet us in Kandy to go and watch the cricket at the end of July and so we said our temporary goodbyes and saw them off on their merry way. We had elected to lazily move on to Nuwara Eliya, one of the highest and more busy towns in the area and so, hopping on the train, we retraced our steps back along the train line we journeyed down on our third day in the country and back to the capital of hill country.
Arriving into the town, and moving on through to the centre was like taking a stroll through a Sri Lankan populated Buxton. A brightly coloured, slightly outdated park to our right complete with picnic greens and miniature railway, a bustling market dotted with taxis and touters to our left, and an undecided sky above us, one moment warming us with rays and the next smattering us with droplets of the fine stuff. I could quite happily settle in this place I thought, as my eyes wandered to the cloud capped peak of Piduruthalagala, Sri Lanka’s tallest mountain.
We hung around this area for a few days, visiting the market and loading ourselves with two brand new North Face coats, which due to mild factory defects, had been radically reduced to nearly a quarter of the price. My logic for the purchasing a winter coat in a tropical country was slightly rational, I have no cold weather gear with me, and given that we are looking to go to Ladakh in the Kashmir province of India and also Nepal, a trip to the Himalayas in just a t-shirt might not pan out too well for me, plus I fucking love a bargain. We would also need them for the pilgrimage climb up Adam’s Peak, which at the summit is a meagre five degrees prior to sunrise.
Our final night consisted of a curry cooking class with the hotel owner, his wife and “Auntie”. The experience was hilarious, Auntie stood watching over us grinning and laughing as we chopped ingredients, wrote notes and drooled at the smells. We prepared dhal curry, beef curry (beef rendang), green bean curry and beetroot curry, all piled up with rice and poppadoms. We had intended to leave a little for Auntie but our stomachs got the better of us and we demolished it all. With the exception of maybe Ella, it was one of the best authentic Sri Lankan meals we’d had, and not only that, we had the recipe on how to make it!
I sit now, looking at the foggy top of Adam’s Peak readying myself for the 3am rise, the waking in the small hours necessary to grab the stellar views which everyone hikes to see. Knowing my luck it is going to piss it down.