In August I headed up into the hill country with two friends to beat the heat in Colombo. Our destination was the Kelbourne Tea Estate just outside of Haputale. Kelbourne Estate has three English tea bungalows set high up in the mountains in the middle of a working tea plantation. You are waited on hand and foot, and can have dinner in your own dinning room surrounded by ever present green tea bushes.

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Of course half the fun of getting to the hill country is driving up through the stunning scenery

That is until you get stuck behind a manure truck and two bused sizing up each other’s %$##*

We picked the Wildflower Cottage with three bedrooms and…

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…what was supposed to be a stunning view….
Getting closer to the view as the clouds pass underneath us
Ah, there it is

At night the temperature drops enough to rationalize a fire in a tropical country

The front doors open up the living room to the most amazing couch view I have ever had
In front of me a cliff drops 50 feet down, and then another couple of miles straight down to elephant roaming plains

With tea trails crossing endlessly before us we couldn’t resist a nice hike

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Windy
Scattered through out the trails are small villages of tea pickers
With no supermarkets in walking distance these guys supply the family with milk

Tea plantation kids

Hindu temple with a view
We finally had to force ourselves to stop as the views were never ending

There is never a dull moment, even on the way home

Tea fields

I highly recommend Kelburne Mountain View Cottages to anyone going to the hill country. It is a bit more expense than other bungalows (about $180 USD per night without food). However, the cottage accomodates up to 6 and the views are breathtaking. Of the three cottages, the Wildflower has the best views and atmosphere followed by Arie cottage.


If you go

Reservations:

Visit the company’s website at:

http://www.kelburnemountainview.com/

Reservations can be made in Colombo as well as payment in advance. The small, hidden, unmarked office is just off of Galle Road before Liberty Place. Call them if you get lost…which you will.

Getting there:
A car is essential, either a hired car (which is easily sorted in Colombo), or your own. You can also take a bus to Haputale town and then a trishaw the rest of the way.


From Colombo : Take the Badulla/Bandarawela Road through Ratnapura (A4). At Haputale Town cross-road take the right turn on the Dambettene Road (approx. 1 mile). Turn at the Kelburne Mountain View board.

From Kandy :
Take the Peradeniya/Badulla Road (A5) to Welimada. Turn right on the Welimada/Bandarawela Road to reach Haputale.

From down South: Take the A2 road to Wellawaya through Hambantota and turn left onto the Koslanda/Beragala Road , join the A5. Or, go straight to Ella on the A23 and drive to Bandarawela/Haputale.


When to go: The guide books suggest December to April are the driest months in the hill country and the South West. They are right, but if you want to the excellent views the staff at Kelbourne recommended the rainy season of May-September as the clouds below are regularly blow aside.

Considering that most of my posts are about travel and exotic locales it may be shocking to hear that I actually do have a job. Many of you may have wondered about what it is I actually do and what type of work a development/human rights/conflict resolution worker actually does. To shed a little light into my work life, and to help educate on some of the most pressing matters facing Sri Lanka, I am posting two recent publications that I wrote.

The first publication was released through my former employer, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE). It deals with the High Security Zones in Sri Lanka and how they have been used to deny citizens their human rights to adequate housing, and return to their former homes and lands after displacement.

The second publication was written in my private capacity and published in the Forced Migration Review. It offers policy guidelines for the return of more than 280,000 internally displaced persons in Northern Sri Lanka. The article also highlights lessons learned from previous displacement and return events including the 2001 tsunami and the 2007 government pacification of Eastern Sri Lanka.

The full article can be accessed here: Protecting housing rights for IDPs in Sri Lanka

The full issue can be accessed here: Protracted displacement

Research and publication are just two of the many tools that development and human rights specialists use to help make an impact. It is often difficult for small agencies to get a seat at the table when key decisions are made. As most decisions are political in nature it is important to have as much information publicly available as possible. While nothing is guaranteed, reports and information help ensure that policy makers cannot just turn a blind eye and pretend serious issues do not exist.

Kay won a free weekend at the Lighthouse Hotel, in Galle, Sri Lanka during a Japanese sponsored raffle over New Years. Knowing we only had a few more months left in Sri Lanka we decided to cash in the vouchers at the Geoffrey Bawa designed luxury hotel.
While I was not too impressed with the view of the hotel from the street (like most places in Sri Lanka), the view of the water and the inside were fantastic.

At the entrance guests are greeted to a colonial war waging its way up the spiral staircase.
Feeling relaxed yet?

If you need help getting up the stairs I am sure these guys will help out…

Nothing to see here sir…move along.

Ahhhhh, all right, all right, you caught us…good one!

Once you make it past the carnage in the entrance, you can shut your door and relax in spacious rooms. I would recommend the rooms just above the dinning area as they are the largest of the standard rooms.

The views of the Indian Ocean are breathtaking.
Tropical downpours add additional beauty when you are stuck “inside.”
The lounge area on the water. Just behind is a huge pool.

A monitor lizard looking for food right next to us. This one is actually small!
We had to fight the traffic getting back to Colombo. At least we didn’t have to worry about the car stopping quickly and being stepped on by an elephant.

While there is no beach at the hotel, it is non-the-less a beautiful place to spend a few days. I would recommend it to anyone staying near Galle.

In June I traveled to Geneva for a week of work. However, as work started on Monday I took advantage of the weekend to get some hiking in through the early summer air.

I met up with two friends who live outside of Geneva and they took me out to the St. Cergue area.
Just one hour on a local train and we were left out in the middle of winding forest paths, and centuries old farm houses.

The view stepping off of the train. Luckily we arrived a few hours before the rush hour commute…

The area is covered with paths that wind peacefully through the mountains.

We came across a farm house selling cheese. Who could possibly walk buy without buying homemade cheese?

We wandered into the house to find the owner in the middle of making cheese!
We bought a nice big chunk of goat cheese.

What hike would be complete without getting lost. We were prepared to slather ourselves in cheese to keep warm if we could not find our way out.

The cow bells would have also kept us up all night, preventing us from dying a frozen death…
In the end we found our way back to a quaint Swiss town and were able to enjoy our cheese with fresh crusty bread and glasses of red wine. We were lucky to make it out alive, especially with those murderous cows roaming free in their enclosures.

It was the perfect day, with nice cool weather and a perfect meal to reward all of our hard work. However, the next time I am in Switzerland I am hoping to tackle something a bit steeper.

Yes, I have been silent for four and a half months. My only defense is that my blog (well actually my life) is dependent on me wandering…and I have certainly been on the move.

Since I last graced the world wide web in May, I have traveled to Geneva, planned a wedding from half-way around the world, taken numerous trips around Sri Lanka, handed in my resignation, published a long report on high security zones, packed up my house in Sri Lanka and saw my fiance move to Kosovo, was published in a journal, ended my tenure with COHRE, traveled to Japan, got married in the US, traveled back to Japan for receptions with friends and family, returned to Sri Lanka to hand over our house, and finally moved to Kosovo (actually I am still waiting for my plane in the Vienna airport as I write this).

Now, with a bit of free time ahead of me, I am looking forward to catching up on all of the trips that I have not published and sharing my new life in Europe.

As always, comments are welcome as they keep me motivated and help me see who is reading and what people are interested in.

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