Good day to you all once again and welcome to yet another post in the series concerning my three month trip to Sri Lanka in early 2014 which by now was turning into an incredible journey with much more to come.
If you wish to read the whole piece from the beginning then you should go here.
I had by now become comfortable in Ella, possibly a bit too comfortable as, apart from odd spurts of activity to go exploring the environs of the village and one trip to Haputale and Lipton’s Seat I really was doing very little. I spent my days sitting in the Chill Bar watching cricket and choosing different restaurants for my evening meal.
In hindsight the cricket may have been part of the reason I was doing so little. A couple of days previously the Asia One Day International (50 overs per team) Championship had concluded with Sri Lanka fairly comprehensively beating a decent Pakistan team in the final. In a country as mad about cricket as Sri Lanka is, this brought great rejoicing.
The Asia Cup had been held in Bangladesh and the teams didn’t even bother coming home because a week later on the 16th of March the same country played host to the T20 (20 overs per team) World Cup. I was certainly being spoiled for cricket but I hasten to add that I had not planned my trip for that reason, it was just a happy coincidence.
Whilst the cricket was very enjoyable it was doing nothing to hasten my onward progress to Kandy to meet Jo as promised and her messages were becoming more and more exasperated and understandably so. It got to the stage that she had threatened to come up to Ella and drag me out if it by the hair which I knew she was more than capable of doing.
The rather sparse collage above represents ten days of my trip, pathetic isn’t it? I should say that the image of my playing the rocker does not include any form of ectoplasm rising above my head, it is merely common or garden smoke from a cunningly concealed cigarette.
The little blue hut is the police post at the beginning of the Passara Road which I mentioned previously and I did ask the officer before taking the image which I find is always a good idea even if they are always more than happy to oblige. You just never know when something may be deemed to be “sensitive” so best to ask.
The image of the guys opening up was taken early one morning when I had inexplicably awoken at some ridiculous hour. By that point I was such a fixture in the bar they used to let me in before they were even officially opened, fired up the coffee machine and produced my usual without me even ordering. It really had got that stupid..
I did not actually move myself until the 21st of March and I had decided to do the journey by rail which is probably not the most efficient way of doing things but I just love Sri Lankan trains. The distance between Ella and Kandy is 40 miles as the crow flies but almost exactly double that by road due to the topography of the Province. I do not know the exact distance between the two points on the railway but it takes a lengthy six hours and six minutes if everything goes to plan, not always a given on this network. You can work out the average speed yourself.
A lot of time is taken up with the innumerable stops, often at places where the station seems to be the only building for miles around but there must be a need for it as people do seem to get on and off and I do not suppose they would go to the expense of maintaining stations that were not used.
I had opted for the observation car which cost me £5 or thereabouts although I could have travelled much cheaper had I wished to. I have to say the car was not nearly as plush as similar wagons I was to travel on other trips but it was OK.
It was not a spiffy “blue train” this time but comprised of much older, less comfortable stock but it was quite quaint and I had a very pleasant journey, getting into Kandy just after 1700 to finally meet Jo, who had arranged a room for me with yet another friend of hers. I swear that woman knew half the island.
I was staying in a reasonable sized hotel which has a lovely position overlooking the lake and the town but it is a bit of a hike to get up there. To my eternal shame I cannot even remember the name of it. Jo, if you are reading this, can you assist? I got into the habit of walking down to the town in the morning and getting a tuk-tuk back up in the evening.
As you can see, my room was clean and tidy, en-suite with hot water if required, which was not often. I went back down to the foyer area where I was delighted to find out that the premises were licensed so it was beer time whilst waiting for Jo to turn up, she had been busy in the afternoon. I had not seen Jo for a couple of years so it was a lot of catching up and then we headed out on the town.
We had a few more drinks, a lot more catching up and then a meal which I have images of but could not tell you for the life of me tell you where it was. I suspect it may have been the Royal Hotel and Bar as that turned out to be something of a favourite of ours but I wouldn’t swear to it.
After having been suitably fed and watered, it was a matter of retiring back to the hotel where I probably don’t need to tell you that the bed was very comfortable and I slept well. Hotel rooms in Sri Lnka always seem to offer a good night’s sleep.
In the next post I get laid up with a dodgy tummy for a day or so and then go on to explore the historical wonderland that is Kandy, so much so that the entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so stay tuned and spread the word.