Thursday, 21 January 2016
21.01.2016 - 21.01.2016
No laps of the deck this morning and no visible sunrise due to the ever-present blanket of fog/smog/haze that has dogged us for the last week or more. The ship manoeuvred into her berth in the shadow of some huge container cranes. Buses and taxis are lining up to take passengers into the city. We have a booked excursion and are scheduled to meet in the Wheelhouse Bar at 07:35.
Our tour consists of a 2 to 3 hour drive to a tea plantation and associated processing plant. Our transportation is a 22 seat mini-bus which proved most appropriate for the task. As there were only 16 of us no one was required to sit on the jump seats - bonus !! Our very capable young driver managed to wend his way through traffic that barely moved and had scant regard for any road etiquette. It was not quite as chaotic as Chennai.
The drive took us through some spectacular rural country and finally up a lengthy narrow drive into the heart of the estate. It was obvious that a regular 45 seat coach would not have been able to travel along this road. In addition to tea, the estate has an extensive rubber plantation. The tea here is classed as low country tea.
The Ingiriya Tea Plantation is NOT a tourist attraction. It is an old working tea processing plant and there was but a single toilet. Needless to say after almost 3 hours on the bus all 16 of us had a need.
The complete processing of the tea from being picked to bagged and ready for export involves many steps and in this plant relies on a considerable workforce. The picking is performed by women and they also do much of the finer grading of the product as it moves through the facility. The heavier labour is performed by men. All workers are barefooted and pass though a water bath on entering the factory. We were able to keep our shoes on but were restricted to specific walkways. The floors of the plant were of highly polished wood and were constantly swept to recover any spilt product.
After the tour of the factory we were driven to the "Superintendent's" residence where we were served tea and cake in the garden under the shade of the tropical trees. Interesting YES, but a tourist attraction with facilities for the 11 bus loads that arrived - NO.
Once again it was the scenery and the skill of the driver that impressed me most. We both enjoyed the tour and consider the $56 each well spent. We arrived back at the ship just before 14:00 and made our way to the Horizon Court for a quick lunch after which we went ashore again to peruse the market stalls set up on the dock. There were many gaudy trinkets but also some serious leather goods and jewelry. We manged to resist the temptation.
Put together a light meal in the Horizon Court after which Jenny returned to the cabin and I went to the Theatre. The 'show' was the screening of the movie Mars. A totally unlikely film created with lots of special effects. In some way it illustrated that a government could spend billions of dollars to potentially save one human. Sends a strange message but perhaps I read too much into it.
The late return of some ship's tours has delayed our departure by almost two hours. The Captain will need to kick in the overdrive. Another sea day tomorrow.
I've used a the face of a 'tea picker', if you have time you can view her by following this link to the image for Today
Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony