We arrived in Sri Lanka sleepy-eyed late Sunday night. Sri Lanka is 2 1/2 hours behind Singapore. The international airport north of Colombo is quite small compared to Singapore’s airport. Our driver for our trip, Indra Munasinghe, easily spotted us as we exited Customs. Our friend Pearl had arranged for a 10 seat, air conditioned van with driver for the trip. The cost of this luxury was $900 for 7 days; our half came out to $65 dollars a day. This money was well spent as we covered miles of the country in a roomy, air conditioned cocoon and left the road insanity for Indra to negotiate. Indra was up to the task! He was rarely passed, and deftly passed everything from pedestrians to bicyclists, to cows, to tuk-tuks, to dogs, to busses. And there is no passing lane on these two laned, no divider roads. The center line somehow morphs, Harry Potter style, into a 3rd center lane and everyone is cool with it. A little chicken? Obviously the norm, and Indra never batted an eye or jerked the steering wheel. Calm and focused and capable, he was.
Never in my life have I seen such ordered, accepted mayhem. For hours, we saw a never ending stream of activity along this blacktop artery. Heck, we even spotted a pair of working elephants walking alongside the road going in the opposite direction. Our first day in country was 7 hours of travel from the town of Negombe near the airport to the highlands tea plantation town of Nuwara Eliya. My family had never seen such poverty. We all just stared out the windows. Indra would point out sights along the road. In addition to the elephants, we saw a copse of trees with hundred of fruit bats hanging in the branches. We saw our first water buffaloes and rice fields (which became a mundane sight). We stopped at roadside stalls to buy cashews and avocados and fruits, all grown locally. This road passed through some very fecund and fertile land
We finished our day in the central highlands tea country. We stopped for a tourist lunch buffet and the Glenloch tea plantation. We also took a tour of the ttea factory, did a tasting round of tea, and of course bought some tea: green tea and jasmine tea.