Was I greatly disappointed? Maybe. Would I recommend going to Tissa? Not really.

What should I do in Tissa you ask? Nothing, would be my answer. Walking along boring stretches of the town’s dusty roads, if they can be called that, a spectacular sight of absolute nothingness opens up. There are rice paddies on each side of the road, sometimes broken up by safari jeeps and shops selling tires and scooters

Tissa might not be many things I would hope to see in Sri Lanka, but what Tissa is, is a bat parade. That can be seen especially in the evening. Before sun sets, bats waking up and screamingly leaving their trees to seek their meal.
Tissa lacked many of the things I had hoped to see in Sri Lanka, but what Tissa did have was a bat parade. During the early evening, just before sunset, the bats awaken and leave the trees in search of a meal.
In the middle of nothingness a Buddhist stupa, which at night looks like a white tooth in a black man’s mouth.

Every Sri Lankan we passed was staring and scratching his head, thinking “Why the fuck?”, they seemed so confused to see foreigners walking off the beaten track. Tissa is the entry point for Yala National Park, and where many tourists stay for one night before heading off for a day-long safari. Tourists are ready to drop large sums of money to see leopards and an elephants, but of course sightings of these animals can’t be guaranteed. It’s become quite popular over the past year, but is pretty controversial among some bloggers.

We had made a deal and agreed a price and pick up and drop off points, times etc with a driver on the evening we arrived. Everything fell apart the next morning when we were greeted by a completely different driver. Who claimed to know nothing about the deal we had made, and that the terms agreed with the initial driver no longer counted. Mocking us he threw out a few nasty comments and so we decided to go back to the hotel and sleep another two hours before heading off. Was I greatly disappointed? Maybe. Would I recommend going to Tissa? Not really. Why? Because it has become another tourist trap with greedy and rude tour agents who will fuck you over for money and manage their businesses purely on your naivety. Not to mention park’s governing regulations.

Tissa lake in the morning.
Lush green tea behind the dustbin.

Haputale.

It was another day trip on our rented scooter. Several kilometres from Ella and we found ourselves in a small hill-town of only 5,000 residents but world renowned for its tea plantations. Frankly the place was mainly populated by slaves, working their asses off smiling in the distance and waving to signal ‘no photo’. Wonder where that came from? We were mainly in the hills looking for the quietest roads, which were also the least well maintained. We drove higher and deeper into the hills to escape from the anti–tourist vibe. I wondered what the scooter owner would think if he’d seen the roads we were riding on?

Green tea plantations in the Haputale hills.

The British influence can be seen clearly in the architecture here, from churches to tea plantations. Everywhere you look, tea houses and plantations cover hillsides with the narrow stretches of road the only break in the scenery.

Inscription on a tombstone, written in English and Tamil.
An interesting combination of a colonial style bell and an arch topped with a Buddhist Dharma symbol — wheel.
We were near a school when the end of day bell rang and a flurry of schoolchildren emerged, smiling and sometimes staring, they ran past us and towards the station on the hill.

Everybody knows Lipton Tea, the brand that Thomas Lipton bought to the world from Sri Lanka, formerly called Ceylon. He resided here in Haputale and today tourists gather to visit his lookout point — Lipton’s Seat. But why go to Lipton’s Seat, when the whole town is surrounded by such views?

View over the villages on hills from Haputhale.

Since Lipton’s day the tea business in this area has grown, but not the town itself, it looks half ruined, messy and faded.