Sri Lanka – a travel story

Part 2 – enjoy the road, not the goal

The next day i go up early but take it easy as somebody told me what time the last bus goes, already at 9:30 am, don’t ask me why. My first step to go to Adam’s Peak will be to pass by the small town of Ella. When i get to the bus station i ask two different people working there but they both tell me i need to go to Matara to take the bus from there. I do what they say, thinking that I will miss the last bus but instead I arrive just in time. One and a half hour later I am back in Dickwella, not surprised at all and just smiling.

The bus continues and after a while 3 young monks enter the bus. Usually people here are very polite and stand up for elder people, but this time the old people sitting most near the door where the monks enter stand up immediately, giving their seats away (later on I understood that those seats are reserved for monks). I also realize that the monks pay for the bus trip, something I have been curious about earlier as I have seen monks before on the bus stations here.

Finally we arrive and i jump out of the bus, after verifying both with the bus driver and a passenger that this is the right city. But after a tuk-tuk driver wants 1000 rupees to drive me to Ella I quickly realize that I jumped off in the wrong city, Wellawaya. This is obviously not my bus day. The tuk-tuk drivers tell me there is no more bus to Ella today, but of course 30 minutes later I am sitting on a bus on the way, once again, to Ella.

The road to Ella turns out to be beautiful with a great mountain view and even one waterfall. Probably there was just mis-communication again, and I needed to change bus to go here. Anyway, when arriving to Ella I see a really touristic small town but still nice in its own way. I get a double room (there are no smaller) with warm water and WIFI for 1200 rupees and manage to publish my first blog post about Sri Lanka. The next morning I need to go up early again, around 5:30, so I make it an easy evening with some food (curries and lassi) and finishing off with a beer. In the restaurant I hear some travelers complaining about how expensive Sri Lanka is. Again I see how different people think about one and the same place, and why you need to know a person well first to understand what you should make out of the persons travel tips. I would recommend to follow local peoples advice, and from people not working with transportation or similar tourist occupations. However, I am glad people have different interests and think in different ways, in other case we would all end up in the same place.

The next day I am standing at the train station in Ella at 6:30 in the morning.

– “Have you got any money? Yes, a little.” the English learning program on the radio teaches me, while playing children music in the background. While I stand warming myself with the sun in the face people are starting to show up, walking on the rail track like it was a normal pathway.

Sri Lanka travel - Ella train/railway station
Ella railway station in the sunrise

From Ella I take a train at 6:40 in the morning to Hutton. Because the last days travel was a bit tiring I choose to sit in 1st class. Usually I like to travel like the majority of the locals and even though there are Sri Lankans also in 1st class I feel a bit weird being there in the beginning, but after a while I fall back into the comfortability and just enjoy it. Here I have a booked seat, a waiter, food and drinks to buy, a TV and even WIFI that works sometimes, mostly when the train stops at a train station  Next to me sits a guy from Amsterdam that I met on the street the day before and was surprised to see again on the train platform in the morning, us being the only two foreigners there waiting for the train. We have a nice talk and combined with the interesting view, the 4+ hours my train trip takes passes almost to fast. When arriving, I get out of the train and thinks that now it will only be 10 minutes walk to a guesthouse near the trail to Adam’s Peak. Again, thanks to a tuk-tuk driver I realize that I should have read up a bit more about the destination. There are actually 2 more bus rides that takes one hour each before I reach my destination. I double check the information online this time and then jump into the first bus. Two hours later I arrive and find a guesthouse with a good location quickly thanks to a Swedish guy I ask in the bus. We even decide to share a room and spend the evening talking. We also decide to check out the start of the trail and end up taking a dip in a lagoon we find. Later that night we play some games with two Austrian girls before going to sleep somewhat early.

Sri Lanka travel - Train
People riding in the doors of the train

Sri Lanka travel - Ella to Hutton
View from the train to Hutton

Sri Lanka travel - Train crowd
A lot of people pressed into the train, most of them have to stand for several hours. The buses and trains in Sri Lanka is a service from the government and are kept at a low price which the other private companies have to follow.

Sri Lanka travel - Hutton bus view
View from the bus to Adam’s Peak

In the morning we wake up late because of problem with the alarm clock and start our walk at 3:20. The idea is to be at the peak at sunrise. People have told us that the walk will take around 2,5 hours but we manages in 1,5 so the late wake up turned out to be no problem at all. Clouds. The sunrise is not visible but I enjoyed the walk so much that the sunrise feels unimportant. I instead find some guys that lives up here selling tea to the tourists, and we get invited to their home for a while to warm up before the walk down again.

Finally arriving back to the guesthouse a superb breakfast awaits us, before taking the two buses back to Hutton again where we depart from each other.

Sri Lanka travel - Adam's peak
Arriving to Adam’s Peak in the afternoon, after a long trip from Ella

Sri Lanka travel - Adam's peak lagoon
Lagoon perfect for a quick dip in the evening

Sri Lanka travel - Adam's peak sunrise
View from Adam’s Peak just before the sunrise

Sri Lanka travel - Adam's peak bells
Bells at Adam’s Peak which you are supposed to ring (one time for each visit you have done to the peak) and then make a wish which you want to become true

Sri Lanka travel - Adam's peak hut
The hut at the top of Adam’s Peak where we got invited for tea

Sri Lanka travel - Adam's peak stairs
The path down from Adam’s Peak. There are steps the whole way, so the path is easy to find.

Sri Lanka travel - Adam's peak tea lady

While I am sitting alone waiting for the train from Hutton to Kandy a group of school girls surrounds me. At first I think they are around 12 years old, but when I ask the girl flirting with me she tells me she is 18. She tries her best to use her very limited English to speak to me, while being really shy and hiding her face in her hands several times. Her classmates help her the best they can, and we can at least understand a few sentences both ways. This time I have chosen 2nd class and when the train arrives everybody pushes into the carriages. I realize quickly that there is almost even no standing place in the normal carriages so I take a place in the restaurant carriage. Here there are no chairs so the lucky people sit on the tables, while the less lucky sit or lay down on the dirty floor, or stand up like me. Luckily I only have somewhere between 2-3 hours train ride, and although I only slept a few hours last night I feel somewhat ok. Hopefully I can stay 2 nights in candy to get some rest, and then head over to the capital, Colombo, the last night before my flight to Australia.

That’s my 10 day transit in Sri Lanka. Next time i will stay for at least
2 months!

Sri Lanka travel - Hutton to Kandy
Train from Hutton to Kandy, 2nd class wagon

Did you miss part 1?
Sri Lanka – a travel story

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