money for elephant ++
The best way to get a transportation around Kandy is to rent a tuktuk from your hotel. Most often than not, random drivers will overcharge and try to rip you off every singe way they can. Like, duh! You get this modus operandi in any tourist place on earth so don’t act like you are surprised. Renting private cars will usually costs around 10,000 and we got a tuktuk at 4,000 (for a half day run) through a recommendation of our butler–YOU READ IT RIGHT! We got a butler during our first few days in Kandy. (snap-snap-pout-ya-mouth-momma!)
Our time was limited, the places we want to see is not really a stone throw away and we were still on a flashpacker mode from the pampering of our generous host–It was the best option that we got. While running along the road, our driver laid out the plan and he literally gave us ALL imaginable stops in the province.
“Mister! We don’t want to see the spice garden, I have no interest in botanical parks, We just want to see two things… ELEPHANTS and TEA PLANTATION! And please stop swerving on blind curves we still want to get laid before this summer ends!”
He took us to the 1925 abandoned tea factory up the hills of Hanthana. The place is now a Tea Museum with a collection of some big toys, paraphernalia and memorabilia of the big boys themselves, James Taylor and Thomas Lipton.
CASH OUT #1: LKR 1,000 for a museum entrance ticket.
It wasn’t that bad, I mean the cash out. The dispensable amount is something that we anticipated, although we weren’t really amused by those big machines. FYI, anything that has a nut and bolt will definitely make me and Monette die out of anaphylactic shock.
So we just entertained ourselves by acting like irritating tourist (which came out effortlessly). The guide in the museum accompanied us throughout the whole run and approximately lasted for 20 minutes. We tried asking stupid questions to test her knowledge and patience but she remained composed and unshaken. GOOD JOB! <Slow clap! Slow clap! Slow clap!>
The spacious, dusty and woody ambience of attic shop offers a … err spacious, dusty and woody experience. There’s an antique copper telescope on the top floor that you can play with, use it to view the surrounding hills of Knuckles and Matale, or spot a PLATFORM 9 3/4.
FLIP’N WORD OF THE DAY:
PLATFORM 9 3/4 adj. A term to describe someone who looks hot from afar but ugly up close. Derived from the people watching scoring system of rating someone from 1 to 10 with 10 points as the highest. PLATFORM 9 3/4 means the subject scores an almost perfect 9 rating from afar, but actually scores 3/4 from a close perspective. (eg. Michael Phelps, Haylie Duff, Carmit of Pussycat Dolls, Adrien Brody and more.)
The entire Ceylon tea catalog keeps the class of tea harvested in the highlands. At the end of the museum tour, you are entitled for a free cuppa of your choice, pick from the menu of different tea types ranging from BOP 1 to a mind-bogling, nose bleed-inducing FBOPF 1 (FF1) Ex. Sp1 (no, it’s not a math equation).
CASH OUT #2: LKR (unknown) for a photo op with the tea pickers.
We stopped in the middle of the highway when I spotted a group of tea pickers. When they saw me holding a camera they smiled and immediately climbed up to where we were standing. I gestured a permission to take their photos, they nodded as a sign of approval and I started clicking the shutter.
One lady pretended to pick some leaves and the rest followed the choreography. Lo and behold! They definitely know how to do their blocking for the photo composition. And Tyra would be very proud of these ladies as they know how to find their light too.
The lady far back in this shot seemed to know the do’s of modeling, she constantly been owning the scene by standing-out with her smize (smile with the eyes).
After several shots, I told the ladies that it’s time for us to go. That’s when we uncovered the horror, their smiles faded away and they started to move slowly towards us, like a small army of those kids from the Village of the Dammed.
Monette’s survival instinct kicked in, she quickly drew some loose Rupees from her wallet and handed it to one of the ladies, but the rest weren’t happy. We immediately jumped in the tuktuk and instructed our driver to move as fast as he can! But to be fair with these tea pickers of Hanthana, the photos I got made this cash out all worth it.
CASH OUT #3: LKR 300 for a photo op with african crested porcupines
In the middle of a catnap while we were running on a long open highway. Monette woke me up by nonchalantly slapping my back really hard that it almost elicited my Manny Pacquiao reflex.
Surprisingly, she didn’t woke me up because she spotted a prospective prey, but for a pair of porcupines (I know, WTF?). She giggled like a retarded Dora the Explorer while she had me take her pictures with the two leashed Nicola Formichetti walking headwear.
Shortly after few shots, the owner of the porcupines approached us and the three other curious tourists.
Lady: LKR 300…
Lady: you have to pay LKR 300
Monette: FOR WHAT?
Lady: for the banana. My pets eat banana.
Monette: But LKR 300…?!
Ron: (to the lady) 300 is already for Monette’s Sri Lankan banana. She eats banana too you know…
CASH OUT #4: LKR 8,000 for an elephant ride
Now this major rip-off made us throw some serious seizure episodes.
We came to Sri Lanka with a fixed mindset of seeing elephants. So we headed off to the elephant sanctuary in Pinnawala. Everyday, the 70+ jumbos marches 400 meters from their home to the river for a bathing spree from 10 am to 1 pm. And we arrived a little too late, they were already starting to parade back to the orphanage and we didn’t get the chance to watch them with a hundred other tourists.
A man hopped in to our tuktuk and offered an elephant ride. I initially refused and literally shooed the guy off our faces, but with the notion that we would actually have a close encounter with the giant–the next thing we remember was that we were shelling out LKR 6,000, hopping on the back of our four legged ride and the wingman offering to take our pictures while we are on it.
The whole elephant ride business is simple and basic. They just put a mat where we can sit and they will ask us to hold on to the metal chain braced around the animal’s neck. I was in the worst position though: what’s preventing me from falling down from an 8 foot tall mammal was the squeezing of my legs on the elephant’s hump and holding on Monette’s waist… Who, by the way, was constantly cursing and complaining of being “devirginized” due to mal-allignments of positional angles during the ride.
… the mat was useless too, the elephant’s hair was poking my ass the whole time. And it wasn’t fun.
After riding around the riverside village for about 30 minutes (including traffic). We stopped at the river to play and bathe our adopted pet.
That was the time the guy mentioned that it was the end of the tour, and they casually asked for an additional LKR 2,000 as tip, LKR 1,000 for both of them. There’s NO WAY I’m giving them 2 more grands! I told him we only have 500 left in our pocket and the 2,000 on top of the 6,000 is just ridiculous! There was a momentary awkward silence, until the other guy drew out a sharp dagger and started shaving off the elephant’s hoof-like toe nails while sinisterly looking at us.
looking back, the whole experience wasn’t bad at all. It is just that we have to learn our lesson, the US$150++ way!
Please do not forget to get a valid visa to Sri Lanka prior to your trip. Nowadays you do not need to visit the local embassy anymore, you can get it online, it is called ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization). Sri Lanka ETA is linked to your passport electronically and your passport. You only need to show the passport to Immigration on arrival.