Tranquillity and chaos in Ella

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Asia » Sri Lanka » Central Province » Ella
March 12th 2019
Published: April 13th 2019
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The train arrived in Ella, and we pushed our way through the disembarking passengers to the entrance of the station. The platform was very busy, all tourists, and it certainly gave us an idea of what Ella would be like. I’m sure the train would have been nearly empty when it left the station to continue it’s journey.

With no sign of Saman and the car we walked into town, passing only tourist cafes and guest houses. Ella is surrounded by tea plantations and now is a town that has been taken over by tourism. Tourists come here to walk amidst the tea plantations, hike the surrounding hills and admire the pretty scenery.

Saman rang to say he would see us shortly and we waited outside a cafe in the Main Street, which was also the highway through the town. We were constantly dodging trucks and buses, and I was starting to feel quite stressed. The early start was catching up with me, I was tired and just wanted a bit of peace and quiet. Our car and luggage arrived and we drove the short distance to our hotel which was thankfully off the main thoroughfare and much quieter. It did however have four steep flights of stairs to our room - our legs noticed it after our long hike that morning. The room was very comfortable and had a great view, albeit over rooftops, of Ella Rock.

After a rest in our room we headed out for a drink and meal in one of the restaurants in the main street. It was even busier and we decided that the traffic noise and loud music was more then we could handle that day so we headed back towards our hotel. Thankfully we found a lovely restaurant in a side street close to our hotel and spent a couple of hours there. It was not as peaceful as we expected though as the power went off and a generator outside started. We were told that the power system wasn’t coping with the influx of new guest houses and restaurants and power outages were a daily occurrence there at the moment. The local people were angry that the government weren’t trying to improve the situation.

We woke to Buddhist chants early next morning, coming over loudspeakers from a temple above the town. No chance to sleep in for the tourists...

We planned to climb Little Adams’s Peak that morning - a much easier climb than Ella Rock which dominated the horizon. It was a pretty walk the base of the rock, passing tea plantations and with a great view to the valley and winding road below. The walk up to the top was mainly on stairs with a rock scramble at the end. At the base of the stairs a zip line into the valley had recently opened and seemed to be doing reasonable business. You couldn’t miss them as they were blasting music out over the path as you went passed, which shattered the serenity of the area unfortunately.

A golden Buddha statue greeted us at the top and we spent a while admiring the view. It was hazy, probably caused by the daily habit the local people have of burning leaves and rubbish. We could see the thatched roofs of the 5* 98 Acres resort below and decided to go there for a coffee, before walking to the Nine Arches bridge, a colonial stone railway bridge built in 1921. We walked down towards the resort, passing tea plantations and watching the tea pickers at work.

The resort was lovely, with a fabulous view and prices to match. After our coffee break, we ended up catching a tuktuk to the view point for the bridge. It was a tiny cafe attached to a guest house, and they were doing a roaring trade in fruit juices and seats overlooking the bridge. We had no idea when the train was due but by chance we arrived ten minutes before it crossed the bridge. From there the owner of the cafe told us to clamber down the hill from his guesthouse to the bridge and follow the rail line back to Ella. It was much more of a scramble then we expected, and much further...

We arrived at the bridge and joined the other tourists just as a train came across from the opposite direction. From there we walked along the train track back to Ella station and our hotel. Later that afternoon we caught a tuktuk back to 98 Acres for a drink and dinner. It was lovely sitting on their terrace, listening to the birds and watching the sunset. We spent only a short time in Ella, another day would have been great, but Saman was collecting us next day. The whole area though was much busier than we were expecting and we visited in the shoulder season.

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13th April 2019

I didn't stay in Ella but I went there to hike. It was nicer spot than Bandarawela. I think, tranquility and chaos describes all of Sri Lanka. I'm enjoying the walk down memory lane with your blog!

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