This is the story of our trip to Sri Lanka between December 5th and December 22nd. A place so long on our bucket list, but up until then, as yet unvisited. Over the coming week across three posts, we’ll be telling you a bit about our travels and including an exhaustively long selection of imagery from our trip. In two weeks, we managed 10,000 photos. Just the ten. Perhaps a little trigger happy, bur Sri Lanka is a dizzyingly photogenic place, so we’re really excited to share our shots from the tea trails to the lakes, the palm trees to the walls of Galle Fort. Writing a story on our December trip to Sri Lanka is, of course, bittersweet. Ensconced in the latter-stages of pitching and production for Issue.5, poring over photos of sun-drenched beaches and luscious tea plantations inevitably tweaks this writer’s baser instincts to abandon everything and escape. Again. But escape we won’t. Instead, we’ll just tell you about the first stop on the trip – the rolling tea country near Hatton, and the Sommerville Bungalow at Ceylon Tea Trails.
Tea Trails is a special place. With four separate bungalows, scattered across the Castlereagh lake, we spent two nights in the Summerville bungalow. Summerville could have been lifted from an E.M Forster novel (if he’d ever gone to Sri Lanka); classically beautiful, welcoming but understated and, yes, richly indulgent. List a checklist of desirables and Tea Trails will have them all: warmth, friendliness, excellent food (from traditional Sri Lankan fare to excellent, innovative modern dishes) and - for this stage of the trip - very important and much welcomed peace and quiet. For fear of waxing lyrical too loudly, we’ll let the pictures do the talking.
The entrance to the blissful comfort of Summerville Bungalow at Ceylon Tea Trails. Serenity now...
Our bedroom at Summerville Bungalow at Ceylon Tea Trails
The photo opportunities of a jasmine rose petal bath...
Breakfast at Summerville
The bath situation
On our second day, we manned the (perilously small) rowing boat and put our weedy arms to task to get to Castlereagh bungalow across the lake. Just as with Summerville, the food and service were deliciously impeccable.
The cinematic stillness of Castlereagh lake, taken from the Summerville bungalow.
The rolling lush greenery of Ceylon Tea Trail’s plantations
The following series of shots, were taken on Lomography’s new Lomochrome Purple film. As devout fans of featured Issue.2 artist Richard Mosse’s series ‘Infra’ we were very excited to toy with colour negative film that renders naturally infared results. We strongly recommend investing in a few rolls and shooting foliage-heavy setups.
After crossing the lake, shooting lots of infrared film and eating our way into another food coma, we finally dove into the purpose of the trip – a tour of the nearby tea plantations. The tea ‘experience’ if you will, guided by our resident tea planting expert. After having done similar tours of Munnar in India's Western Ghats, we were wary of another exhaustive dispassionate run-through of the process. From the science of tasting, to planters picking the bud themselves, the tour felt wholly different, leaving you with genuine appreciation of the craft and a snooty condescension for the cast-offs packed into your PG triangle.
The never-ending attraction for a photography nerd – taking pictures of broken, antique cameras that definitely no longer work
High tea at Summerville
For what was to be the longest drive of our two week trip, we embarked on a 5 and a half hour drive south towards Cape Weligama. Luckily, like the rest of the world, we were totally engrossed by a tale of teen murder in 1990’s Baltimore, so spent the majority of the trip gorging on NPR’s ‘Serial’ podcast. When not biting our nails and wondering whether Adnan Syed did it, we had the chance to take in the country from the car window. Sri Lanka, as you can possibly guess, is spellbindingly beautiful. Once we hit Colombo, however, the heavens opened, welcoming a storm of biblical proportions. When it rains in Sri Lanka, you can’t see your hand in front of your face.
Despite what seemed like the armageddon, we arrived safe and sound at Cape Weligama, the newest and most heralded luxury development on the south west coast of the country. The manager at Tea Trails spoke of Weligama’s recent glut of positive press and favour from the country’s virtual deities, cricketers Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. Upon early inspection, it wasn’t hard to see why the patronage of Sri Lanka’s foremost celebrities was quick in the coming. Cape Weligama is a serious hotel. Regrettably, or perhaps not so regrettably, our room was the size of our London flat, complete with steam rooms and personal butler. Yes, butler. The crescent shaped infinity pool is lifted from your favourite postcard / pinterest pin / tumblr dream location image and the view no less impressive. We’ll let the photos say the rest.
Before the glamour, here are a few car window shots, taken on our $7.99 Walgreens disposable, but some of our favourite photos from the trip...
What a good night's sleep looks like
The veranda at our Cape Weligama bungalow
Taking in the view at Cape Weligama’s picture perfect beach
Stay tuned for part two of our Sri Lanka photo diary, coming this Friday. Our special thanks to Bird Travel PR for all their help in coordinating our stays.
All images © James Wright