Last week I went on a trip with some of the other international students at the University of Peradeniya. We went to Riverston, part of the Knuckles Range where the wet zone meets the dry zone. There were six Americans, two Sri Lankans, and one Bangladeshi Buddhist monk, who was very funny. We all met at the university bright and early at 6:45 to start the day. We had an excellent van, borrowed from the dental faculty, that was very modern and equipped with air conditioning. On the way, we stopped in Matale, one hour outside of Kandy, for a breakfast of stringhoppers, dhal, hard boiled eggs, potato curry, and tea. In Sri Lanka when you order ‘tea’ it is mostly milk, sugar, and a little tea. Plain tea is tea with just sugar, ad there is a Sinhala phrase for tea without milk or sugar that translates as ‘stained water.’ The trip to Riverston took about two hours, the last hour up windy roads (of course). The first hike took us up a paved trail to the top of a mountain where there were some impressive views.
The hike up was not so bad, but the hike down was punishing. Our guide, a graduate student in botany, tried to impress us all with a short cut he used all the time. The shortcut was a balance beam wide staircase running straight down the hill and disappearing into bamboo shoots and waist high grass. It had rained the day before so there was also the threat of leeches. Walking down this ‘shortcut’ took a great amount of balance and halfway down my legs were already shaking. At this point there the trail encountered low shrubs and I had to crab scuttle through. At the bottom I found two leeches on my shoe, but luckily none of them attached to my skin. Others in the group also found leeches on their shoes an ankles.
The next part of our hike was to a mini World’s End, a gigantic drop-off similar to the Big World’s End in Horton Plains, just smaller.
After this hike we visited a beautiful river where there were families swimming, and groups of men dancing and drinking. Luckily, we had a monk in our group, so the revelers behaved themselves pretty well. We spent about an hour at the river before heading back to Kandy. On the way we stopped for tea (milk and sugar, please) and Munchee brand full cream crackers. By the time we got home it was seven pm and I was exhausted and happy.