Haputale - My oasis in Sri Lanka


Beautiful beaches is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Sri Lanka, but apart from that I didn’t really know what else this small country had to offer. Therefore I'm surprised that without a doubt my favourite region so far has been the Hill Country with Haputale being my favourite town. Perched at an elevation of 1431 metres, much of Haputale can be engulfed in cloud but when the mist disappear the views are stunning. 

Haputale - famous for the surrounding hills and tea plantations.
Walking is the main activity here and a hike up Lipton’s Seat is a must. Named after the famous tea planter Sir Thomas Lipton (the giver of iced tea) this lookout point was his favourite in Sri Lanka and luckily for him, sits right at the top of his tea plantation. The walk up was brilliant, cutting through fields of tea plantations with friendly locals making sure you don’t get lost along the way.

Lipton's Seat - nice views spanning all the way to the sea on a good day. 

At the summit we were greeted by Ravi, a young man with good English who runs a little tea shop. Not only does he make a mean cup of Lipton tea (so I’m told) he’s also the nicest guy you could wish to meet. After taking in the views, there was only one thing to do – channel my inner child and attempt to make paper airplanes. After a few failed attempts I hit the jackpot and sent my baby soaring through the sky, at one point it even caught the wind and gained altitude. Stewie (a fellow childish Brit) and I were jumping around screaming at the sheer beauty of a piece of paper taking to the air so gracefully. This led Stewie to think deep and philosophise “life’s choices are like throwing paper airplanes, the first ten might be rubbish but eventually you’ll get everything just right”. I agree. Feeling our Karma might be affected by throwing paper over a mountain we collected 2 plastic bags full of rubbish from the surrounding hills and re-lived the moment we conquered the skies. 

Paper airplane world record attempt. 
You can just see the greatest paper airplane ever. Flight time of 5 minutes and at one point it actually gained height. Quite possibly the proudest moment of my life.

Me, Ravi and Disco Stu. Ravi runs the tea shop at the top of Lipton's Seat, he was so impressed with our planes that we left the design for him. We enjoyed Lipton's Seat so much we came back the next day.

Lots and lots of tea.... and me.
Adisham Bungalow - the former residence of Sir Thomas Villiers. Built in 1931, it was based on Leeds Castle in Kent. It's now a Benedictine Monastery.

A nice statue with Adisham Bungalow in the background.
Sri Lanka is such a small country and the transport is so cheap (£1 for an 8 hour train journey) that it’s not a problem to retrace your steps and revisit nice places. This is my second time in Haputale and during my previous visit I met a local farmer who just happened to be very photogenic. I promised to send him prints in the post unaware I’d be back, so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to print out the photos and hunt him down on my return. I walked through the maze of tea plantations looking for a familiar landmark and ended up showing the photos to a local man who happened to be his nephew. On arrival I was given the royal treatment – the whole extended family came out to meet me and enjoy the photos, I was plied with milky tea and loads of snacks, it was lovely. We then had a photo shoot and everyone wanted in on the action.

My new friends.
And finally, a great town needs a great guest house and there is no better than Bawa’s in Haputale. Bawa is a character is every sense of the word; eccentric, funny and extremely friendly. The food was probably the best I’ve had in Sri Lanka; all you can eat rice and curry for less than £2 and its top quality. Trevor McDonald stayed here in the past and Bawa’s would nearly have me in tears repeating the story each night, ensuring I knew how good and exclusive Bawa’s guest house really is. Can’t wait to go back and eat more mango curry.

Hanging out with 'Bawa the Great'. An absolute legend.

Really cool kids. Played a game of throw and catch while hanging out of the train doors in different carriages. They even bought me some sweets!

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