Delightful Sri Lanka and it’s….Drivers, Safaris, Buddhist Monks, Vegetable buns and Arrack……Part 6
As we leave this small place I remember to ask Nisha about last night’s prayers. He tells me that there are two dates in the year, depending on the moon, which dictate the crowd gathering for prayer here at Dalhousie, that I witnessed last night. Again tradition has it that Adams Peak is also believed to have harboured ‘the buddha’s tooth’ for a short period as it made its journey from India to its final resting place at ‘Temple of the Tooth’ hence the quantity of Buddhists that arrived last night in their bus loads.
The drive from Dalhousie to Ella is a mixed bag, we head through the busyness of Nuwara Eliya then get lost in the winding roads that take you through stunning scenery including waterfalls and tea plantations. We stop off at the Sita Hindu Temple, which is beautiful on route to the quaintness of Ella. We arrive here at some point in the afternoon, it must be later on because I am hungry………I am completely at ease and have now lost track of days and time. I know that I have 6 sleeps whilst I am in Sri Lanka and that I am about to check into the Rawana Hotel Resort where I will have my third sleep in my Sri Lanka experience.
As we arrive in Ella it is quiet. There are shops and bars as well as ‘Little Adams Peak’ which some people climb instead of tackling its much bigger neighbour at Dalhousie. Maybe I will consider this in the morning before we leave for Yala.
Whilst in Bali a couple of years back myself and the ‘offsping’ all experienced a local cooking class which was marvellous. We then dined on the feast that we had created with other tourists, that we had peeled/chopped/fried/boiled and grinned with throughout the afternoon, it was a great experience, something that I was hoping I could repeat in Sri Lanka.
When I had researched ‘Cooking classes in Sri Lanka’ back in the UK I didn’t really get very far and whilst I was arranging the tour with the ‘original driver who I shall say no more about’ I had mentioned the possibility of seeking a class out. After discussing this with Nisha he had assured me that the hotel I would be staying in tonight would be able to accommodate my request and I can cook my own dinner……….I am excited as I had experienced nothing but wonderful flavours whilst dining in Sri Lanka and this afternoon I was particularly hungry.
I check in and after being shown to my room, Nisha tells me that I can cook here and to head to the kitchen for 4pm…….Fabulous ! I unpack and sit out on the communal balcony which my room opens onto and soak up the scenery whilst reflecting on how lucky I feel to be here and how all of my anxieties and concerns back in the UK about taking this first ‘solo trip’ have now disappeared.
I make my way over to the restaurant after checking my phone and seeing that it is now just after 4pm and I present myself with clean hands at the kitchen door and patiently await my instructions……..A tired looking ‘Senior’ with very few teeth observes me and I see him look in the direction of the kitchen, there is an exchange of rapid ‘chatter.’ A younger gent comes to the door and I explain that I am here to do the ‘Cooking class’ he looks at me with a blank expression……….umm something isn’t right, I explain that my driver Nisha had told me to come here for 4pm and I can be taught all there is to know about Sri Lankan cooking……..nope still no recognition from him.
I am looking forward to this and I am not prepared to let this ‘supposed’ opportunity go, so I stand my ground and say I have arranged to help you in the kitchen and I show him the dollar, “2000 LKR I was told to help you in the kitchen” there is a flicker of recognition and I am told to wait around the corner “Sit at the table and I will tell you when you can come”…………..I am not waiting long before the ‘Senior’ comes to collect me and takes me through the door into the kitchen. I was a little surprised at the health and safety aspect of the kitchen area, where hygiene clearly is not in keeping with the standards back in the UK.
That said the work surface was clean and Chef was particular about the washing of hands……There is only me engaging in the ‘Cooking class’ and it’s a very different experience to Bali but just as rewarding and extremely enjoyable.
The next couple of hours are spent with me frantically writing down recipes chopping and stirring whilst drinking tea that is fed to me in copious amounts. I am asked “Why are you travelling alone?” “I like my own company” is my reply, there is a seconds silence before an ‘umm’, before we continue with the stirring……….The two hours pass and there is a feast of different dishes, deviled chicken, aubergine curry, spinach curry, garlic curry (which is my favourite) a selection of different vegetables and rice and I am told to take a seat through in the restaurant where I will be served the delights that I have just helped to prepare.
Regardless of my earlier concerns about the kitchen hygiene, the dishes are delicious and I am unable to stop at the point of my stomach shouting ‘enough I am full’, I completely overindulge…….but it is my holidays and I have managed to restrain myself so far. I do my best to make a large dint in the platter of 8 different dished placed in front of me and after washing this down with two diet cokes I am full to bursting !
I thank the kitchen staff and Chef, hand over my 2000 LKR and head to my room, where I shower and sit out on the communal balcony to the front of the hotel, nursing my bloated stomach……….The air is humid and as I sit in my thoughts the guests to the left side of my room join me. They are English and we exchange ‘Hello, how are you and before I know it, in true British style, I am playing cards and being introduced to the delights of Sri Lankan Coconut Arrack.
Arrack is very similar in taste to Malibu which takes me back to a much younger self…….and I quickly realise that Arrack is a lot stronger!
I am woken the next morning, way past the agreed meeting time of 9am by Nisha knocking on my bedroom door ‘Hello….. Lisa Lisa are you ok ?’ I am pulled from my dream, where a Buddhist had offered me his white shirt so that I could attend at the temple and I had exchanged this for a grey ‘hoody’ that is way too small for him?! I wake wondering why my head hurts, why Nisha is knocking at my door asking if I am ok and why I made the decision to overindulge in such a HUGE dinner last night…….These thoughts are followed by ‘Have I swopped my grey hoody for someone’s white shirt ? Why did I think it was a good idea to consume really strong local Sri Lankan liquor ? Then I remember ‘Oh yes I’m entering my Mid Life Crisis’