Journey time from Kaleliya to Kandy took four hours which included a stop off at an elephant orphanage as suggested by Lal our private driver. We had rested at Casa Heliconia for two days and we were ready to see and explore. The roads are poor in Sri Lanka but travelling was comfortable in an air conditioned car with an expert private driver who knew his way. Roads twist and turn but the scenery through town and country is interesting so the hours quickly flew by.
After leaving the more local road of the AB29 we joined the A1 which took us through the cities of Kegalle and Mawanella where traffic builds up with tuks tuks, bright blue Leyland buses, mopeds and cars and of course locals going about their daily chores, children in pure white school uniforms, mothers in cheerful saris and young men in jeans and t shirts.
As town meets countryside the lush green vivid vegetation rears up with palm trees, vines, rice fields, grass and people working the land. Two villages that fascinated me were Weweldeniya and Kajugama.
Weweldeniya is a village full of items made of cane, as we passed through we saw furniture, hats and toys and in fact you name it and it would be hanging from a stall made of golden cane.
We stopped off in Kajagama which is home to cashew nut farms. Stalls and shops line the A1 and children hope that you will stop at theirs to buy a pack. Of course we did! They cost just under a pound and were the sweetest tasting cashews I have ever tried.
Conveniently about half way we stopped off at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, I was in two minds about visiting as I had read both good and not so good reports. We arrived just before it was time for the elephants to be led out of the reserve across a busy road helped by police and down to the river to bathe. It is something I will always remember and can say at the time that I was there I did not see any poor treatment. We watched the mahoots spray the elephants and some of the animals laid down to roll about in the cool water.
There are buses that take this route but we chose a private driver for ease and comfort – two necessary criteria for The Grey Traveller.