Sri Lanka day 13: Tuk tuk to Ella. A rock to climb at last!

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September 14th 2017
Published: September 14th 2017
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This morning it was time to say goodbye to the best place we've stayed at in Sri Lanka. Another huge breakfast (£1.75 each) was prepared to see us on our way by the ever helpful manager. Nature Park is just £6 a night, has great rooms, bathrooms that drain, hot showers, excellent wifi, more fans than you can shake a stick at and great food (dinner £2.50 each). The manager will help you out with safaris, transport etc and is a lovely guy. Do us, him and yourselves a favour and go and stay there.
A tuk tuk was the cheapest option to get to Ella and who wouldn't turn down a trip in one anyway? We'd been lazy today and had a lie in until 6 but hey, we're on holiday! We were on the road just after 8 for what was rumoured to be a two hour journey to the hill country town of Ella.
To get to hill country one must go uphill as the new saying goes and our tuk tuk had some climbing to do for the last few miles. The views were amazing and we had a brief stop off at a spectacular waterfall cascading down a steep mountainside as well. While we were there blokes were 'giving away' gemstones or wanting English coins for them....apparently. We didn't partake so we don't know what the scam was. We don't have any English coins handy anyway.
Our next accommodation is Rowenrich Cottages and they are up a hill so steep we didn't think the tuk tuk was going to make it. But make it it did and then there were some steep steps up to our room and what a room! As it's up high we get a splendid view from our balcony, the room is on two levels, the shower is hot and the place is only six months old. It's quite expensive at £22 a night but you have to splash out every now and then.
As we'd not done much exercise yesterday Claire was itching to get me to climb something. As I haven't been ill to lose weight yet she is determined to get some chunk off me and fair enough (Claire: this is not true!). Luckily for her Ella Rock was in sight and of course you climb it for the views.
Books warned us of getting lost, locals telling you the wrong way and stuff but Claire found pictorial step by step instructions and saved the pdf. We walked down to the starting point which was Ella train station and then we had to follow the tracks....yes, walk down the tracks....
So we walked to the end of the platform and there were warning signs saying it was dangerous and you could be prosecuted for walking on the tracks. We were a bit hesitant until a deaf girl signed to us that it was fine. So onto the tracks we went. Only for a couple of miles or so and we weren't the only ones by far as both locals and tourists were traversing either way. Sometimes there was a bit of a path at the side but most of the time we were walking on the wooden struts under the rails.
And yes a train passed us and yes of course we got a photo. The trains are quite noisy and slow so we had plenty of time to get out of the way.
Some locals did try and get us to go the wrong way but we ignored them and followed the directions we'd been given. This lead us through tea plantations that were sadly devoid of workers as we were looking to get the classic shot of someone picking tea. We reached a ridge and then the instructions just said it's a long, hard slog from here, basically just go uphill. Cheers!
They were right though. I think I found this more challenging than Sigiriya as at least that had actual steps while this had steps made by people walking as well as rocks to scramble over at times. I plodded on though and 36 years later we reached the top....or so it felt.
The view was okay, there were annoying dogs barking and fighting and someone playing the bongos. Ah well. It would have been nicer had it been quiet and peaceful but we sat a while and tried to block out the racket. After peanuts, bananas and Refreshers I was ready for the descent. This was livened by two exquisite lizard sightings, some tea plantation workers who beckoned us to take pictures but were quite far away and our first time getting lost this holiday. We've normally got lost about 20 times by now and it wasn't for long today so we're quite proud of ourselves.
We were soon back on the train tracks though and this time no train disturbed our walk.
After freshening up we headed into town and I'm afraid first impressions weren't good. There's a place called Chill for goodness sake and a bar with live music with someone whining out some dirge that I wish I could remember what it was. It was an old 'classic' and by classic I mean dull and insipid. There were tourists everywhere with awful looking places to accommodate them.
Later.....I've was Leaving on a Jet Plane...see I told you it was dull and insipid.
We found a local looking place and both had an awesome cheese kottu. Claire had a beer but had to hide it under the table as they presumably don't have a licence. That wasa bit odd as there were spirits on the menu...
We had a wander round tourist town and found a souvenir shop where you had to take off your shoes to go in. Naff off!! Temples etc fine but a souvenir shop? No chance mate. Keep yout tat.
We then decided to sit out on our balcony and wrote blogs and walked back up to do just that whilst listening to the sounds of insects chirruping in the trees. My watch tells me I've walked 19km today so I think I deserve a sit down.

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