A beautiful train ride through the tea plantations.
17.12.2018 - 18.12.2018 34 °C
The slow train ride from Ella to Kandy was long and beautiful. The train snaked through hundreds of miles of tea plantations as far as the eye could see. Every now and again hardy looking men carrying baskets of questionable food would walk through the busy carriages.
They would have small doughnuts (With chilli), little batter balls (With chilli), and various other small pastries (Also with chilli!) They would have this odd patter that they would say as they passed. It was in Sri-Lankan so not quite sure what they were saying but it sounded a bit like: “eeh- wantonbentonfentonlanton ,eeh- wantonbentonfentonlanton.” Very strange to hear but the locals seemed to know what was going on.
The train was very busy and when we embarked there were no seats. Admittedly a third was filled with loud young backpackers singing 'Wonderwall' (We aren't fans.). A little embarrassing as we were one of them! (We were one of the quiet old ones.) Since our time in India we had gotten used to being off the backpacker’s trail (And quite happy to be.) and following the path of our own design.
The train doors were wide open the entire trip. If a seat wasn’t available, then people would hustle to try and sit in the doorway with their legs dangling out of the train! This afforded them uninterrupted views of the landscape surrounding us as we passed by.
With no seats available we found ourselves a nice doorway perch and took a seat. (Really couldn’t see this being allowed in the UK!) As the train rushed through hillside and jungle we would have to pull our feet in quick for fear of losing a shoe to a bush. (Or a knee to a rocky outcrop!) But totally fun though! And the views were spectacular. We had read that it is one of the most beautiful train rides in the world, and we can see why!
It was dark and the sun had set by the time we arrived at Kandy. As soon as we got off the carriage we were surrounded by rickshaw drivers vying for business. However, we had chosen to use a local app called ‘Pick Me’, similar to ‘Uber’ that showed a much cheaper price than the ones they were quoting.
A lonely young traveller from Sweden had spotted us and asked if we would share transport in to town. Of course we agreed and shared stories of our travels as we headed through the suburbs and in to town. Our hotel looked pleasant enough from the outside but the bathroom left a lot to be desired!
The following day we went to go see the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Apparently this temple houses Buddha’s sacred tooth! As we are meandering around the beautiful but busy temple we found ourselves in a large room upstairs filled with people. We were ushered in to a queue of hundreds of people all waiting to give offerings of flowers or money around a barrier that soon prevented our escape from the line. Shoulder to shoulder and toe to toe we slowly shuffled around a cordoned off area full of flowers with a monk sat in the centre to a small alcove at the back. The devotees were verging on the aggressive in an attempt to get a glimpse of the relic and give their offering. Once we reached the alcove we could see a room full to the brim of golden trinkets, elephant tusks and a plethora of other explainable items. The worshippers would give their alms and be blessed by the monk stationed just inside.
Honestly, it was a small relief to get out of there. Believer’s are a crazy bunch!
Now out of the complex we took a walk around the lake that sat beside the temple. Every now and again we could see huge monitor lizards draped over a branch or near the water basking in the hot sun.
We had now come to the end of our Sri Lankan trip. We found a pleasant hotel in Negumbo only a few miles away from Colombo airport. Here we relaxed and enjoyed the pool and sun for a couple of days before we jetted off to Thailand!
Link to our Kandy/Negumbo Gallery here.