30th May- Matara
Today the plan was to go to the Star Fort, visit the Nandana Tea Factory and find time in between to exchange money. After, once again the same breakfast of fried eggs, fruit, toast and tea, we headed off to the Star Fort. While it’s original name, Redoute Van Eck, was given by the Dutch, the locals kept it simple by naming it after its shape.
No pictures are allowed to be taken inside so unfortunately I can’t show you any but the place is essentially a museum that’s free for all. There is a lot you can learn about Sri Lankan history here and their culture too. It’s well worth the visit and it doesn’t take too long too. There were objects from paintings and sculptures to archaeological finds and ancient tools.
Shortly after we needed to exchange money but instead we became distracted by the shops further down the road which distracted us even further until we ended up at Matara Fort. While not as pretty as Galle Fort, it’s still visit worthy if you’re in the area. There are plenty of shops around and fruit stalls which we visited to buy some as well as coconut water.
Finally, after some guidance from our tuk tuk driver, we exchanged money and headed back home to prepare for our tea factory visit. We gathered our strength and with the help of the owner of the Culture Resort, we made it to the tea factory, only after letting them know we were coming of course.
Our host, the manager, was a very kind informative man who personally gave us a tour of the factory. Firstly, he took us to the field to learn more about gardening, plants and trees as well as the tea. The land was so fertile and rich that fruit naturally grew there without them having planted any. Everything was labeled and he explained the plants properties; whether it helped with healing or for upset tummies or so on.
As there were so many things to see, we had a pleasant iced tea break and then continued. We even got to see one of the workers plucking tea leaves to take to the factory. Afterwards was the actual factory visit to see how it was made from the plucked leaves.
First the leaves are dried to lose 40-45% of its water content then it is moved into a separate room where humidity is controlled. We were shown all the different machines used to make tea. Some dried it, some separated them by colour, some got rid of unnecessary particles.
After that was a tea tasting session where we tasted several varieties and tried them in different ways such as with lime or milk or with biscuits. Lastly and more excitedly we were shown the teas we can buy. It was a tea-lovers heaven.
Flavours from vanilla and mint to mango and orange it was so difficult to choose a few to buy. It didn’t help that it was the cheapest tea we’ve bought. We bid our farewell 2 hours and a half since we arrived as we rode for half an hour back home. The rest of the day was reserved for some well earned rest and relaxation.
31st May, 1st & 2nd June- Matara, Galle Fort, Matara and back to Colombo
On the 31st of May, due to our plans being thwarted and our love for the area we decided to head back to Galle Fort. We had our usual breakfast then checked the train times to see when to take the train from Matara to Galle and back the same day. It wasn’t too long since the areas were close to each other. With time to spare we decided to walk from Galle’s train station to Galle Fort.
Since this was a very touristy part of town we decided to spend the day enjoying the burger place we loved and buying presents for our loved ones. Walking our Galle Fort is wonderful and incredibly pleasant; there are shops, restaurants, spas, churches, mosques, a lighthouse and the list could go on endlessly. Soon it started to get dark, indicating that it was time to head back home to Matara.
Disappointed, we jumped onto the train and then took a tuk tuk back to the hotel. The next day we were out of ideas on what to do, partly because we did so much and partly because of sheer exhaustion. The owner of the place initially suggested that we, including himself, could go crocodile watching and while we initially agreed, we were somewhat happy that he got caught up with work and didn’t call us to leave for it.
Instead we enjoyed our rest and the food the resorts restaurant had to offer. After all, early tomorrow morning we had to bid farewell not only to the Culture Resort but to all of Sri Lanka as we had flights to catch.