Emerald Hills

After a few days soaking up the humid air and stinging sun at the golden beach, we decided to head up into the hills for a bit of a cool off. Our destination was Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage site nested in the emerald hills 116 km east from Colombo and about 500 meters above sea level. Not such a great elevation to get too excited about a heat relief. But anticipating a bit of a change for the better, we hopped in the backseat of our chauffeur driven, air conditioned car; a Sri Lanka assembled compact vehicle (similar to a small Toyota Sedan) and set out from the Mount Lavinia Hotel driveway on our new adventure. Turning onto the congested two lane highway, we bounced past peddler stalls and hole-in-the-wall shops at a crawling average speed of 30 to 40 km/hr as hoards of honking tuk tuks, motorcycles, overcrowded buses, trucks and pedestrians all vied for a spot on the road. And as we passed through village after village, all sewn together into one like a seam, the posted speed limit of 60 km/hr (37 miles/hr) made perfect sense. Rushing and stressing out over things is something quite foreign to these people. So, whether you arrive after three hours or five hours at your destination isn’t all that important. And almost five hours was the time it took us till we rolled to a stop outside the glass doors of the gorgeous Tourmaline Hotel, named after one of the many gems found in the region. As I stood at the window glancing at the homes sparkling like gems in the emerald hills, I wondered how the roads and transport options were back in the days when the British made themselves rulers of this rich land.

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