Train Ride Across Sri Lanka
i arrived in Sri Lanka's Bandaranaike International after a short night flight from Abu Dhabi, via Mumbai, at 04.30. I was happy to get my checked in bag very quickly. After my last Indian experience transiting thru Dehli, I was expecting some sort of cock up as Indians are famous for being, hmm, what's the word I seek? hopeless? useless? I digress yet again. I took a good coffee in the arrivals hall as I waited for the world to wake up. Out side, first impressions, which, as those who know me, mean a great deal to me, I was shocked. I was expecting chaos and trash and shit, everywhere. The people are Tamil and Tamil Nadul, across the strait in India was on my experience, the dirtiest, shittiest area in India I ever had the misfortune to ever go to. I did not know there were Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian Tamils. It was clean. Neat streets with lots of flowers, no trash and no one shitting on the sidewalk. I was heading to the train station to take a commuter train to Colombo and transfer to a Kandy bound intercity. A bus with KANDY on the front crawled past. I hopped on. Welcome to Sri Lanka, my 82 country.
Escaping the chaotic traffic of Kandy with a 3rd class train ticket to Hatton and a bus conection to the end of the road in Dalhouse jumping off point for Adams Peak.
Between December and April pilgrims flock to Dalhouse to climb Sri Lanka's most sacred mountain, Adam's Peak. The rest of the year only crazy tourists come here and brave the elements: heavy rain, swirling clouds. The idea is to climb at night and watch the sun rise. Even now, despite the south west monsoon, westerners come here with the idea to get up at 2am to start the climb but for what? I climbed in the day time. No need to waste my torch batteries. Mist is mist. It was only with luck that the day I made the climb, was less wet than the 5 days that followed.
The usual crowd, come, sleep a few hours, climb, see nothing, descend, have breakfast and head off to the next thing on their list. It's my 4th day here. It's picturesque, quiet and cheap. Why hurry? Am hanging out with an Aussie guy who I met in Kandy. We both have similar ideals and travel slowly. We stayed a week in the end. Other than the climb, which leaves EVERYONE with sore legs for a week, we made short hikes in the surrounding hills - tea country. The nicest walk, on our last day, a view point across the lake to a water fall, and then walking up and over the hills, along un marked trails, dead reckoning our return walk.
Back in Hatton, we continued by train to Haputale. With luck we scored a great price after we said we'd stay 4 days on a twin room with a huge balcony and valley views about 1km from the noise of the town. We found an Indian curry house to top up on some Masala Dosa. We've been eating Sri Lankan 'curry rice' everyday up until now. And on a 'short' hike to a small temple, we met by chance a tuk tuk driver who suggested we could take a certain path to the left of the St. Benedict monastery and come out at Idalgashinna, station and take the train back. Which we did after a fair ammount of bush whacking. The 10Sri Lankan rupee ticket must be the cheapest ticket I have ever bought.
Another thing we did there was to take the train Pattipola, the highest station in Sri Lanka and walk back along the tracks, photo'd below. Yes there were trains and even a few tunnels but 4 trains a day, each direction it was easy to work out how long we had. Twice we waited and got awesome close-ups as the trains passed. The bolts that hold the rails to the sleepers are all loose. Just as well the trains travel at barely walking pace.
Last stop on the journey thru 'hill country' was Ella.
Little Adams Peak as seen from Ella Rock. The journey thru the hill country over. Time to go check out the coast and the far north!