Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Adams Peak January 19th 2013

Adams Peak...

They call it paratha, a flat bread similar to roti, served with a sauce and dahl, washed down with tea and that was breakfast, about 80p. Today's agenda loosely speaking is to go and take a look at Adams Peak, a nearby sacred mountain. It's a pilgrimage for thousands of  native Sri Lankans and a must do on any Western tourists agenda. The legend is that Buddha left a footprint atop of this mountain some years ago hence the reason for the 7km hike by the natives. From the tourists perspective it's a 7km hike for a view point, one that is like no other, according to the guide books and on-line reading. There is a good chance though that any view from Adams Peak will be obscured with clouds, but that doesn't seem to deter the stream of tourists getting off the train and jumping onto the waiting bus.

Delhousie is the nearest place to Adams Peak and there should be frequent busses according to research. I'm not daft enough to take a 7km hike up a mountain on the 50/50 chance of a nice view, but I will take a few steps up and get some of the view. Turns out busses direct to Delhousie are not that frequent, about 3 a day that connect with arriving trains. If I hurry, should just make the next bus from the railway station. Thankfully it's just a 10 minute jaunt up the road, no need for a tuk tuk thank you.

35p for what is turning out to be a very bumpy ride on narrow roads. But the scenery is spectacular as the bus slowly and painfully creeps upwards towards Delhousie. Best seat is on the right, with a panoramic vista of lakes, mountains and of course tea plantations on the hill sides with their adjoining processing sheds, for practically the whole 1h20 it's taken to get here. So, this is Delhousie.

Delhousie, nothing more than a collection of concreted walls with corrugated rusted  iron propped up with bamboo and plenty of tarpaulins to fill the gaps. it's a hamlet born out of the tea trade I should think with the added bonus of the nearby mountain. The age old tradition of relieving tourists of their cash seems to be alive and well here with plenty of stalls lining both sides of the pathway. Amongst the tack, some useful items like woolly hats and thick socks for those arriving unprepared. Shady looking characters ask me to sign some kind of register only to discover another money making scheme - in the name of charity of course, a polite decline much to their disgust.

It's surprisingly quiet, very few tourists making the effort this afternoon, but plenty of natives coming down from the mountain looking unsurprisingly knackered. Seems that most tourists pitch up in a guest house and begin their climb at around 2am in the hope of seeing the sunrise  - mad, mad, mad, the 2am climb I mean.  One thing I wouldn't do here is eat from these stalls, looks like the food has been hanging around all day!

Well, I've been on this mountain, albeit the lower slopes, for 1 1/2 hours now and those clouds are getting ever closer. A dampness in the air and the view becomes obscured. With plenty of  photos of Adams Peak and the surroundings taken, it's time to head  back down into sunshine and warmth. Hope there's a bus back!

No bus back and that sinking feeling kicks in. Actually there is a direct bus to Hatton leaving at 9h30 tonight, only 5 hours to wait. There is a bus to Maskeliya I am told, and from there get another bus to Hatton. Could be a fun challenge as that option seems preferable to a 5 hour wait. It's a red beaten up old rattletrap to Maskeliya, fare about 15p for the 30 minute journey. The Hatton bus rolls up as I jump off this old crate. It's a slightly better bus, not so beaten up, a Leyland I think. 20p from Maskeliya to Hatton, about a 30 minute journey. Somehow seemed quicker getting two busses back than the one bus going - could just be my imagination of course.

It's been a good day out, getting around on local busses paying local prices. Further stories of tourists getting fleeced emerge. One such is a couple being charged $60 for a  room in a delhousie guesthouse - prepaid over the internet Of course. It pays to do some research and sometimes just turning up is the best option.

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