Here's a little secret for you: I'm not much of a holiday "experience" girl. I like to sit back swinging in a hammock as a man with a tray delivers a daiquiri, while the furthest I have to walk is from sun lounger to sea and the most I have to think about is whether or not I'll have the french toast or the eggs royale at breakfast. That's my idea of heaven. As far as doing "stuff" while on holiday, I've never been in for it. However, I feel a change in the wind brewing with this latest stop in Sri Lanka at the Ceylon Tea Trails.
From day one you discover that it is easy to just sit back here and relax at Ceylon Tea Trails. You are taken care of every moment of the day. In the morning your tea is brought to you in bed and in the evening a hot water bottle is left in between the sheets for you as an added bonus, everything in between, that can be imagined, is organized to perfection, including activities. If your game is lounging by the pool with a book, there's no judgement here. Go for it. However, this time around I abandoned the lounge lizard mentality, mostly because of the outstanding surroundings. There was so much to discover and for the first time ever I couldn't get enough of turning corners with the aim of uncovering unexpected beauty. I was never left disappointed, even in exploring my own surroundings at Castlereagh Bungalow.
And don't even get me started on the food. Each bungalow comes with its own chef - surely the most decadent and wonderful "extra" on holiday. You can order from menu, off menu or just let him take the reigns entirely. One thing is for sure, you will never go hungry at Ceylon Tea Trails. In fact, as I speak I'm finding it tough to button the old jeans today.
This is what breakfast on the first day looked like. I think you get the point...
After breakfast I went back to school. Ok, it felt like I was going back to school only I swear I was never this interested in Bio-chem. Andrew Taylor, descendent of James Taylor who brought the tea trade to Sri Lanka so many years ago, gave us all a new appreciation for every cup of tea we drink. The Tea Trails experience takes you through every step of tea production from meeting the beautiful tea pluckers, who are all women, to visiting the factory where you are taken through the production process from start to finish. Truly, this was such a learning experience in which you discover the art of plucking to the importance of timing in the factory. I'm writing this as a sip an English Breakfast Tea in bed and must say it certainly does not taste the same. I can now visualize the men and women that make each cup of tea possible. Damn, I love my job.
Naturally, going back to school to learn all about tea only makes one hungry, right? And what was I saying about the food at Ceylon Tea Trails? Just outstanding, folks. I am blown away by the variety. I have released the hamburger hold this week to embrace exciting culinary moments. Yes, you are witnessing a changing person.
I even made a new friend while dining...
After lunch, it was time to burn off some of those calorific courses, so we went trekking. Apparently many guests at Ceylon Tea Trails hike the distance between the bungalows in the collection. This could be a trek that lasts anywhere from one hour to three hours and is certainly not to be missed. We hiked our way to the Tientsin Bungalow in the afternoon. It was cloudy and a sprinkling, but it did nothing to damper our spirits as every corner turned revealed a new and breathtakingly gorgeous landscape. I kid you not, I took over 350 pictures along the way. I couldn't stop snapping. But, even I had to put the camera down more often than not to just stand there in the moment and realize the beauty that was surrounding me. The green fields, the hills covered with Camellia Sinesis, the fairytale like trees and the welcoming families along the way all contributed to me falling in love with this part of the world. I could have walked for hours, days, a lifetime even.
While I wish I could share all 350 pictures with you, that might be a bit excessive. So here's just a small selection for your perusal.
Naturally, the best motivator for a long trek is a promise of refueling on the other end. When we arrived at the Bungalow, we were treated to a lovely afternoon tea on the porch. How dignified!
As it was dark when afternoon tea concluded, we were driven back to the villa rather than hiking the 30km back. Phew! Upon returning, we were treated to the most delightful evening, starting with cocktails in the living room and followed by an epic curry. There are no words.
And now we're off to the coast. There's more to come here. But, for now, I'll just say this has been the experience of a lifetime.
If you're interested in booking:
Cox & Kings has a 7-day / 5-night trip to Sri Lanka priced from £2,355 per person, including flights from London, road transfers, 2 nights all-inclusive at Tea Trails and 3 nights’ half board at Cape Weligama. Transfers by sea plane with Cinnamon Air can be arranged for an extra cost.
FFG was a guest of Ceylon Tea Trails.
All photos taken with an Olympus Pen. FFG is a UK ambassador for Olympus.