Nuwara Eliya Recap

Biking to Pedro's Tea Factory, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

My next stop after Kandy was Nuwara Eliya, a little mountain town in Central Sri Lanka that is known for its tea plantations.


I found a hostel called Mountain Stream Courtyard, and upon arriving found that it was known in the area as the “Chinese place.” Apparently a Chinese couple moved to Nuwara Eliya with their young (around 3-year-old?) son less than a year ago and opened this hostel. Major props, that takes a lot of guts! I found it solely because it had good reviews on, so I had no idea. In retrospect though, I guess I should have known from the pictures.

Mountain Stream Courtyard Hostel, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

Anyway, Chinese tourism is huge in Sri Lanka, so I’d say they’re very well positioned. The Chinese tourists appreciate being able to communicate in Chinese and also miss the familiar taste of home (the other day I overheard two Chinese guests commiserating with the hostel owners that Sri Lankan rice just wasn’t as good). Best of luck to them and their fledgling business!

Horton Plains – World’s End

About 30km from Nuwara Eliya is World’s End, so-named because a sheer cliff drops off to the valley and village below at that spot. The hike to World’s End at Horton’s Plains is a 7km circular loop, and it is most often done at dawn before the fog rolls in and obscures the view. After about 10am, the world ends in a wall of white, which is not nearly as exciting.

As with Sigiriya, the best way to get there it by hiring a car or tuk tuk, and it is cheapest to split the cost with as many people as possible. Luckily there was another couple at the hostel that also wanted to go to World’s End, so Lisa (my wonderful traveling companion from Kandy) and I tagged along.

The car came to pick us up at 5am, my earliest morning in Sri Lanka by about 4 hours. World’s End is clearly fairly popular, because the entire hostel seemed to be up at that time and the hostel owners had packed us all breakfast to eat on the way.

Packed breakfasts for the World's End hike, Nuwara Eliya

We left in the darkness and arrived at the entrance to Horton’s Plains just as the sun was rising, around 6am. There was chaos, with long lines of cars, vans, and tuk tuks. Drivers and tourists walked in between them, presumably to investigate or pay. The driver and the couple that we were with abandoned the van to pay the entrance fee. But Lisa and I, figuring we wouldn’t add to the chaos, stayed and enjoyed our packed breakfasts. There’s some complicated formula that dictates how much you need to pay based on your vehicle type and the number of people in it. I have no idea what it is, but it came out to about 3000 LKR ($20) for each of the four of us.

As soon as we parked, we had our first encounter with wildlife! Wild animals are all throughout the park, but this was unfortunately the only one we saw.

Wildlife at the World's End hike, Nuwara Eliya

Before going into the park, there is a security checkpoint where they rummage through your bag to remove any plastic. All water bottles are stripped of their labels, and plastic bags are replaced with paper ones. That’s certainly one way to keep the environment clean. I wonder how effective it is overall, though I did note that there wasn’t much litter at all throughout the park.

Checking for plastic at the World's End hike, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

The morning was gorgeous, in sunrise golden hour.

Dawn at the World's End hike, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

The World's End hike, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

The World's End hike, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

The hike itself was not overly difficult. It was fairly flat except for a small stretch, so it was more of a delightful little stroll in the wilderness. With the fresh crisp air, I couldn’t believe that I was actually in Sri Lanka. As soon as the sun came up and the temperature rose, though, I was more convinced.

As the hike is a loop, it doesn’t matter much whether you go clockwise or counterclockwise. However, most of the tourists turned right, so we turned left. It was significantly less crowded, and we got to World’s End marginally earlier (though fog had already set in, so it didn’t really matter).

The World's End hike loop, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

World’s End:

World's End, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

Baker falls:

Baker's Falls, World's End hike, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

Pedro’s tea plantation & Lovers Leap Falls

The number one thing to do while in Nuwara Eliya is to visit the surrounding tea plantations, so on the second day Lisa and I rented bikes from the hostel and decided to ride to the nearby Pedro’s tea plantation.

Let me start out by saying that Sri Lankan roads are scary, especially in the mountainous regions. Cars, tuk tucks, vans, and trucks are constantly passing each other, regardless of whether the road is straight or if it bends. I’m pretty sure a large number of drivers spend at least 25% of the time in the opposite lane. So biking amongst all this craziness is just slightly stressful.

Thankfully we made it through the day without any accidents, but we did have an almost comical amount of bad luck with finding places. Google maps led us on a hilly dirt road through rows and rows of tea plants to Pedro’s, which we enjoyed at first.

Biking to Pedro's Tea Factory, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

Path to Pedro's Tea Factory, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

But after 45 minutes of struggle without another person in sight, we started to wonder whether we had taken the wrong path. Was Pedro’s not open? And how did tourist vehicles navigate this skinny dirt road?

Path to Pedro's Tea Factory, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

Eventually in the distance, we saw a tourist walking among a row of tea plants. Salvation! About 30 minutes later, we finally arrived at Pedro’s – through the back door. All the other tourists there were well-kempt and relaxed, and the two of us arrived sweaty and disheveled. It felt like we had just found our way out of the desert into civilization.

Pedro’s was a great place to cool down, as it had a cafe with outdoor seating overlooking the tea plants.

Pedro's Tea Factory, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

We paid 200 LKR ($1.33) each for a tour of the factory, which unfortunately was closed because there was a full moon. Every full moon is a public holiday – that’s automatically 12 holidays, plus all the other big ones! Meanwhile at my last company, we only got 6 public holidays total. I’m thinking Sri Lanka’s doing something right!

Some tea facts:

  • The tea plants are picked once a week
  • A tea plant’s lifespan is 100 years, and it is pruned every 5 years
  • The tea processing includes drying, rolling, cutting, drying again, and filtering
  • The tea is dried to 97%, never 100%, because it could burn
  • Filtering separates out the bigger particles from the smaller ones. The smaller the tea particles, the stronger the tea.
  • All the tea is sold at auction in Colombo. The bigger brands (e.g. Lipton) might buy tea from multiple factories and mix them together, or mix the tea from the factories with their own ingredients.

The tour also came with a free cup of tea, which we enjoyed out on the terrace.

Tea at Pedro's Tea Factory, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

Once we had sufficiently recovered, we decided to bike to lovers leap falls, which was on the way back. Again, google maps said it would be an easy 20min ride. Again, google maps lied. The route ended abruptly about a quarter mile downhill from the falls, and we had to stumble through a village to reach it, pushing our bikes up a path with a 30 degree incline. Once again, we emerged haggard amongst other tourists who were just taking a nice stroll to the falls from their tuk tuks.

Lover's Leap Falls, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

We really did seem to have a knack for finding the most difficult possible way to get to places! It was a more strenuous day than either of us predicted, but also one with great memories and stories. Who knew that a relaxing day at a tea plantation could wear us out more than an early morning hike?

Well that’s a wrap for Nuwara Eliya. Next stop, Adam’s Peak!

Lessons from the first week

Week 1 Lessons

With a full week under my belt, it’s time to tally up the lessons!

1. You will never be ready

This hit me hard over the last month, when time started ticking. From when I first started thinking about taking a trip, I had over 9 months to plan, but somehow even that wasn’t enough. I kept saying “oh, I’m going next year” and “yep, leaving at the end of January.” Then all of a sudden it WAS January, and it felt like nothing had been done.

The last two weeks before I left especially were a scramble to wrap up work, pack up my stuff, say goodbye to friends, and put together everything I needed to travel. Somehow I managed it (though it may have caught up to me when I got to Sri Lanka), flying by the seat of my pants. Interestingly, I don’t think there’s much I would necessarily change if I went back in time and knew better. The only things would be trying to sell more of my stuff earlier on, because I had to throw away most of it, and planning in more time for sleep.

More than anything, though, this applies to mindset. Because of the frenzy of things to do, it didn’t hit me until the day before I left that I was actually leaving. A few hours before going to the airport, I briefly entertained the idea of not taking my flight to Sri Lanka and buying a ticket to go back home to Colorado instead. But you get on the plane, book the things you need to — just do it. Was I ready? Not at all. But am I glad I took the leap regardless? Yes, for sure.

2. Look at a map before you book.

After Sri Lanka, my next stop is India, and then Nepal. For whatever reason, I got it into my head that I would visit New Delhi first and work my way around to Mumbai. So for my ticket out of India, I booked a flight from Mumbai to Kathmandu.

A few days later, I actually looked at a map and realized that Mumbai is much closer to Sri Lanka, while New Delhi is up North near Nepal. My Mumbai to Kathmandu flight even had a stopover in New Delhi, but for some reason this didn’t register with me at all. I ended up paying a $30 cancellation fee and rebooking from Sri Lanka to Mumbai and New Delhi to Kathmandu (even with the fee, it ended up being cheaper).

But I learned my lesson: look at a map first to avoid backtracking, and be careful when you book!

3. Stop comparing prices to NYC

When I first arrived in Colombo, I went to a recommended restaurant that ended up being a fine dining establishment. Looking at the menu and doing conversions to USD, everything looked fairly reasonable, in the $15 (~2500 LKR) range. In NYC you’d be hard pressed to get a good sit-down meal for less <$20, let alone fine dining.

But later that night when I went to a local Indian restaurant for a 150 LKR ($1) dinner, I realized just how overpriced the first place was. Now, a week later, I’ve learned that a reasonable meal is probably in the 300 LKR – 600 LKR ($2 – $4) range.

Conclusion: NYC is crazy expensive, and should not be used as a benchmark of comparison for anything. I still don’t know a quick way to gauge what local prices should be, but I’ve at least learned that a single meal should probably not cost more than half a night’s stay at a cheap but clean hostel (~$12 (1800 LKR)/3 = $4 (600 LKR)).

4. Ask for directions

I learned this lesson by witnessing my taxi driver from the airport get lost on the way to my hostel. Because the GPS doesn’t seem to be much used yet, at least 5-6 times, he pulled over to whoever happened to be at the side of the road (usually a tuk tuk driver), rolled down the window, and shouted out questions (I’m guessing about directions, but not entirely sure). Everybody listened and tried to point us in the right direction, and it was only by asking strangers that we eventually managed to find the hotel.

The next day I tried it as I explored Colombo, and found that most people were helpful. Sometimes it was a struggle, but I found all the places I was looking for!

5. …But don’t always follow them (the directions)

Most people were helpful with directions, but not necessarily accurate. At least twice I was pointed in the complete opposite direction, but managed to find my way by following the GPS on my phone. (Thank god for location services!)

Another experienced traveller at the hostel shared that sometimes you ask multiple people for help and get pointed in multiple different directions. Eventually you learn who is likely more accurate and develop an internal compass. But sometimes when you ask people who might not know, rather than admitting that they can’t help, they’ll simply point in a random direction. So collect what information you can, and then make the judgement yourself.

6. You’re going to waste a bit of money

This is a preemptive one that I thankfully haven’t yet put to the test, but want to remind myself as much as I can.

There’s always going to be a cheaper, more efficient way of accomplishing the same thing. As much as I’d love to always score the best deal, it’s all a learning process and oftentimes not worth the effort. Especially in a country like Sri Lanka where the difference might be at most 2000 LKR ($14), don’t sweat the small stuff.

Train ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

Train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

Profile on the train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

Whereas I had booked the first train ride from Colombo to Kandy, I left all subsequent train rides unbooked so that I could be flexible on where to go and when. As soon as I arrived at Kandy, I realized that might not be such a good idea, as I started hearing reports that all train tickets from Kandy were booked out for at least the rest of the week. The next morning I went to the station to confirm, and indeed, all tickets for the day that I wanted to leave Kandy were sold out.

Thankfully, even though all the seats may be sold out, Sri Lanka Railways allows you to buy unreserved seating tickets on the day of, an hour before the train arrives at the station. That means that there’s always some way to get on any given train – it just may not be the most comfortable ride.

This was my only option, but the hostel owners had a good tip. Right before Kandy, the train going south to Nuwara Eliya (my next destination) stopped in Peradeniya, which was only about 20 minutes away by car. If I could get on the train there, before it stopped at the popular Kandy station, then there was a higher chance of getting a seat. So on the day of, that was the strategy that I pursued. My new traveling companion and I took a tuk tuk to the Peradeniya station, and then waited to see if our gamble would pay off.

The train came, we got on, and…the train was so full that we could only stand in the hallway with our heavy backpacks. The 10 minute ride from Peradeniya to Kandy was extraordinarily uncomfortable, and the thought of going through 4 more hours of it made me grimace in pain. But when we got to Kandy, as we had hoped, multiple people got up to leave and we snatched adjacent aisle seats.

Within a minute, a stream of tourists boarded, each with a massive backpack. They were packed like sardines in the hallway. The Dutch couple standing next to our seats set their bags down in the middle of the hall and sat on them like benches. The entire hall was peppered with gigantic backpacks and people either standing, sitting, or squatting.

Tourists and backpacks on the train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

I think we made a good move. But at the same time, sitting/hanging out at the doorway doesn’t seem like the worst option either!

Train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

It took around 4 hours to get from Kandy to Nanuoya, the station closest to Nuwara Eliya. Along the way we passed amazing views of villages and tea plantations.

View from the train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya View from the train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

And I made another friend! All the locals I’ve talked to so far have been helpful and friendly. This one helped me lug my gigantic bag onto the overhead rack and told me that he made the trip from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya at least twice a month. On hearing that I was Chinese, he excitedly shared that he had been to Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Dubai, and many other places abroad. And to prove it, he pulled out his current passport and his two previous ones (does he go everywhere with these?) to show me all of his visas and stamps.

Our crappy phone selfie:

New friend on the train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

Second train ride, success! And a little affirmation that it’s okay not to have things booked out far in advance. Getting more and more comfortable with being flexible every day.

Day trip to Sigiriya

Sigiriya rock fortress from a distance

When initially researching Sri Lanka I came across the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, but I crossed it off my list because it seemed too far North to visit. However, upon arriving at Kandy, I discovered that it was only a 2.5 hour car ride away. Guess Sri Lanka is a lot smaller and more compact than I thought! So day trip to Sigiriya, yes please.

The easiest way to get out to locations like Sigiriya that can only be reached by road is to hire a driver of some sort (tuk tuk, car, or van). Hiring a driver for the day might cost anywhere between $35-60, but it’s even more affordable if you find other tourists to join together and split the cost. There were a couple of other groups at the hostel I was staying at that were interested in going to Sigiriya, so I joined a Chinese couple and we shared a car for 6500 LKR ($43).

Most travel websites talk about leaving early for Sigiriya to visit before the sun starts to heat up at 10:30am. However, the couple wanted to see the sun set, so we left at 11am instead. As long as we wouldn’t be outside during the heat of the day, it was fine by me!

Along the way, we stopped at a few smaller attractions, including a spice garden and the Dambulla cave temple. There are a series of more than 80 caves, but the 5 biggest ones are the only ones that contain Buddhist statues and are open to the public.

Dambulla cave temple paintings

Dambulla cave temple statues

We arrived at Sigiriya at about 3pm, which left us plenty of time (perhaps too much) to hike through the gardens and climb the rock before sunset at 6:30pm. I guess that was just as well, because the entrance fee, at 4500 LKR ($30) for foreigners, is pretty hefty. For a bit of comparison, the three nights that I stayed at a hostel in Kandy only came out to $27. There’s insane price discrimination for foreigners (4500 LKR/$30) and locals (50 LKR/$0.33). But I get it, and the money is hopefully going towards preservation.

The park surrounding the rock fortress is large, and you have to walk for quite a ways through moats and gardens to get to it. Since I didn’t opt for a guide, I’m depending on Wikipedia, which says that the site was selected for a capital in the 5th century and the gardens are among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world.

Apparently other critters are quite fond of the gardens as well:

Wasp warning at Sigiriya rock fortress, Sri Lanka

Sigiriya is also called “the Lion Rock,” as the king built a lion gate on one side. From what I could tell, this “lion gate” consists of just the paws on either side of the stairway. How did they ever get on top of the rock without this stairway??

Lion gate at Sigiriya rock fortress, Sri Lanka

On top of the rock, the outline of the palace (which is all that is left) seemed to be fairly small, maybe the size of a large living room + dining room. I guess there’s only so much flat surface on top of the rock, after all. But there were plenty of additional gardens and landscaping.

The view of/from the top:

View from the top of Sigiriya rock fortress, Sri Lanka

Top of Sigiriya rock fortress, Sri Lanka

We found a place to sit and wait for sunset, and were joined by plenty of monkey friends. They were everywhere!

Sunset with a monkey friend atop Sigiriya rock fortress, Sri Lanka

Sunset with a monkey friend atop Sigiriya rock fortress, Sri Lanka

Since we knew that it would get dark fast after the sun set, we booked it back down the rock as soon as the sun approached the horizon and made it to our car before it got pitch black. We still had the same long ride home, but we crashed in the car the entire way back.

A great day trip, overall!

Train Ride from Colombo to Kandy

Hanging out the side of the train from Colombo to Kandy

Having relaxed and gotten comfortable (with oh-so relaxing hospital visits) in Colombo for a few days, it was finally time to start exploring the rest of Sri Lanka! I had a pretty good time in Colombo, but all of the other travelers in the hostel complained that Colombo was just a city without much to do, so I was excited to venture to other parts of the island.

My second stop was Kandy, one of the biggest tourist destinations in Sri Lanka. The train rides into and out of Kandy to the surrounding towns are supposed to be gorgeous, so I booked a seat in the 1st class observation car in advance.

I did some research on the different types of train tickets, and this is what I gathered: There are 1st class, 2nd class, and 3rd class tickets, which can all be booked in person at the train station or via phone. With the first class ticket priced at a out 6 USD, there isn’t really a big difference in cost, but potentially a difference in comfort (A/C, better seats). To book a seat ahead of time while abroad, I used this site, which doubled the price. But even then, the ticket only came out to $13.

At the Kandy train station, I found that the 1st class observation car is actually the last car on the train, with all of the seats facing backwards and two large windows at the end. Those seats at the very end of the car in front of the windows are prime seats! Otherwise, you at least want a window seat to be able to look outward. Apparently when you book, they also assign you a seat, though I don’t know whether you have any control over picking which seat you want.

1st Class Observation Car, Train from Colombo to Kandy

I got to my seat at about the same time that a young couple arrived. One had the seat next to me and they wanted to sit together, so being ever in search for good karma, I told them that I would switch seats. As soon as I sat down in the row behind, though, I realized that I had given up a window seat for the aisle. Damn it! I couldn’t very well go back to them and say that I changed my mind, though I’m almost so shameless now that I considered it. Thankfully, either karma works fast or I look like a desperate tourist, since my new seat mate offered me his seat next to the window. I will say, my new window seat didn’t have quite as large a window as my old one. But time to let go, Jessica.

The first two hours of the train were rather uneventful. Or rather, unscenic – we passed by lots of shantytowns with people sitting outside their aluminum siding or wood plank houses, which was a different kind of sight to see. But around hour two, we started up the mountains and the beautiful scenery that everyone talked about began.

The day before, a fellow traveler at the hostel advised that the best view was on the left side of the train. I wasn’t really sure how to interpret this… my seat was on the right, but we were facing backwards, so I was really in the left side, right? Yeah, no, everything was on the backwards left side, so the right side, in actuality.

Well, great. But where there’s a will there’s a way! I may not have had a seat next to the window, but there was also a window on the door, so I left the compartment and claimed the area next to the door. Seeing me there, the conductor for our car told me to open the door, for some classic hanging-out-of-the-train pics.

Train ride from Colombo to Kandy

Open door on the train from Colombo to Kandy

He also pointed out the areas with the best views.

The view on the train from Colombo to Kandy

So in the end, I found a better vantage point and made a new friend!

My conductor friend on the train from Colombo to Kandy

And the adventure continues. Hello Kandy!

The view from the 1st Class Observation Car, Train from Colombo to Kandy

Sunset at the Galle Face Hotel

Galle Face Hotel sunset, Colombo, Sri Lanka

I got a few recommendations to watch the sun set over the water while in Colombo, with the Galle Face hotel being the apparent venue of choice. So around 4pm, with nothing else in my plans, I set off to Galle Face to grab a drink and write while I waited for the sun to set.

As soon as I saw the entrance of the hotel, I knew it was grand. Very traditionally posh, the kind of place where you’d expect there to be place settings with more than 2 utensils and butlers who knew exactly which side to serve you on in order to be truly classy (at least, I was previously told that there is a difference? Should have asked one of them to confirm). I felt like I was going to be judged big time with my explorer garb (and all I brought were quick drying shirts/pants and hiking shoes, so absolutely nothing that says “posh”).

posh galle face hotel lobby in colombo sri lanka

But when I walked into the lobby (yep, posh), there was no one around. There was a staircase leading up to rooms, an array of beautiful couches, and no real reception desk to speak of. I’m sure they have security cameras, but seriously – I could have strolled in, pocketed a vase (that’s “vass,” of course, not vase as in “face”) and meandered back out. And the wifi – fast, unsecured, AND unpassword protected. What is this magnificent place??

The lobby opened up to the back, where there was a gorgeous terrace and pool side bar.

ocean terrace at galle face hotel

I found myself a table, ordered a fancy schmancy cocktail, and settled in to wait for the sun to set. With the beach off to one side and the hotel on the other, I felt like I wasn’t in Colombo any longer. Being surrounded by predominantly middle-aged white people, who seemed to be Gale Face’s primary clientele, probably also contributed to this feeling.

As sunset approached, more and more people filled up the terrace, and a live acoustic band came out to serenade us with light rock.

galle face hotel poolside bar

And the moment we were waiting for:

galle face hotel sunset

galle face hotel sunset

To be honest, the sunset itself was fairly average, maybe because of the cloud cover at the horizon. But that ambiance? On point. 10/10. What a classy but surprisingly unexclusive hotel. Next time, I’m wondering if anybody would actually stop me if I brought a swimsuit and took a dip in the pool… Anyway, no matter what, please don’t ever password protect your wifi!

The acoustic band on the terrace post-sunset:

galle face hotel sunset palm tree silhouette

galle face hotel terrace after sunset

I came to Sri Lanka to see…the hospital?

sri lanka colombo hospital infected thumb

Day 2, and already gone to see the doctor. T_T

Let me start out by saying that I’m okay and it’s nothing serious! But turns out that traveling is fairly stressful for the body. Even more so when you’re packing up your entire life to go travel.

I think it started with the cold that I got the week before, which never quite went away as I scrambled around trying to finish everything and see everyone at the last minute. My body hung in there until my 11 hour layover in Shanghai (in between a 15 hour flight and a 6 hour flight), at which point it went, “what?? It’s still not over?” and warmed itself up into a light fever. With the help of some rest and Advil, thankfully it cooled itself down over my first night in Sri Lanka.

However, the next morning I woke up with sore lymph nodes. And all of the little cuts on my body were somewhat swollen, particularly my thumb, which was already dry and cracked because of the winter. No big deal, I thought, it will all probably get better by itself within a day or two. But throughout the day, it just got worse.

sri lanka colombo hospital infected thumb

This morning, another day later, my parents convinced me to see a doctor by casually but seriously mentioning blood poisoning and the possibility of death or at least losing my hand. Allllright then.

I found the closest hospital, though I didn’t know quite what to expect. Could I just walk in and see a doctor? Would the doctor speak enough English for me to communicate my symptoms? Would it cost me an arm and a leg?

durdan's hospital in colombo

Surprisingly, it turned out to be downright easy. I walked into the outpatient department, paid for a 350 SLR ticket ($2.40. It only costs $2.40 to see a doctor here? It cost me $189 to book a travel appointment with my doctor in the US, when all she did was open the CDC travel lists that I had already looked up on my own to tell me what vaccinations to get), and was led directly to the doctor. She was an older, stern woman who spoke broken English but understood “lymph node,” and within 5 minutes I had a prescription for antibiotic pills and creams. She didn’t even seem to mind (much) when I barged back into her office twice to confirm if I really HAD to take antibiotics and to ask if she could prescribe a different cream because none of the pharmacies carried it.

All in all, 350SLR/$2.40 to see the doctor and 2800SLR/$20 for the medicine. I can’t even imagine what the ordeal would have been like in the US. The difference in cost aside, I don’t think I would have seen the doctor right away and she certainly wouldn’t have stayed around long enough for me to ask any follow up questions. Of course, the ultimate benchmark is whether or not I feel better. Here’s to hoping I can bend (and feel) my thumb again and my lymph nodes return to normal!