A cup of tea, a splash of serendipity and a bucket load of kindness, this is Sri Lanka - part 2

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April 21st 2015
Published: April 21st 2015
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Part 2…

The Hill country, trains and buses

Morning came and the first of many early starts with a 5:30am wake up call. I decided to head straight past Kandy and Nuwara Eliya and head onto Ella where I would spent a few days over the NY. This would mean a 2 1/2hr bus to Kandy and a 6 1/2 hr 'express’ train journey from there to Ella. All this and I still had change of a fiver! The guys where heading to Kandy so we headed off on the bus together. A new transport experience and it turns out the buses are just as busy as the trains but pimped up with a PA system playing 'ring ding ting ting' tunes and showcasing a flashing Buddha statue at the front of the bus. I briefly sat next to a local guy who told me he’d seen 16 countries and travelled over 60 times as he sailed ships around the world. His son, a banker in the next town was saving to move to Australia and he then introduced me to his wife and daughter. He gave a huge smile when I said I thought he was lucky to live in such a beautiful country. A normal bus encounter - standard friendly Lankan, proud of his country and his family and open to sharing life stories. The engine gave it everything trying to get the overpopulated bus up the hills but eventually it gave up and we had to hop onto another passing bus. Again this was something I was going to become familiar with.

I said farewell at Kandy to the guys and headed for the train station. This was the first time I was to see a lot more tourists. This didn't stop the local children waving at me, asking my name, how old I am and where I was from. A constant but friendly experience throughout my time here. Here I met Cor, like me he'd packed up his life and decided to go backpacking. When the train pulled in we tried to get into 2nd class but to no avail so jumped into 3rd. I spent most of this train journey standing, and for a big majority of it surrounded by bags of rice and spices and 4 generation of females from a family. Grandma was about 4 ft so fitted neatly under my
A room with a vewA room with a vewA room with a vew

Idyll Guest home, Sri Lanka
armpit and the children clung to me to stop them from falling. They gave me the biggest of smiles every time our eyes met. And the scenery of this journey was utterly beautiful. The train slowly chundered up and down the tea plantations and paddy fields and I couldn't keep my eyes of it. I might have also been a bit delirious at this point through the heat and the fact i was losing the feeling in my right leg thanks to the weight of the rice bags.

Cor left at Nuwara Eliya and so did most of the train so I moved through to second class and found a seat. Here I met Pat (the laid back 'afraid of nothing’ Ozzie surfer)and Loz (the bass playing Bear Grylls from England) who where soon to become my mates for the next week.Also without digs they came with me to my homestay. The hill to my homestay was so steep that the Tuk Tuk couldn't get up. Instead i had to run along side it with a bag until it became possible! Comedy moment. There was no rooms at the Inn but the family found one just next door. We
Maisy the dogMaisy the dogMaisy the dog

who helped us conquer Ella's rock
arrived in thick flog that covered the land and we couldn't see a metre in front of us - we'd have to wait til the morn to see Ella, the place I'd come to chill in.

Sun rose and my view hit me like an egg to a hopper - wow - Ella was a stunner! And thanks Jamieson for the homestay recommendation. It has been my favourite place so far. As the town's people shut shop to spend New Year with their families eating sweets and getting smashed on Arrack we spent the days climbing Ella's rock with a lovely dog and girls we met along the way, watching cricket, having epic massages, eating curries, drinking beer, hiring scooters, letting of fireworks, and drinking endless cups of tea and biscuits and just thoroughly enjoying the pace of life here. Sadly our time was to come to an end as Pat was heading south for his last chance of Sri Lankan surf and Loz and I where heading to Adam’s Peak further west near Hatton.

Having left paradise Loz and I arrived at our destination in pouring down rain and booked into a guest house that resembled a
Adam's mighty PeakAdam's mighty PeakAdam's mighty Peak

The final crawl to the top
prison. Whoever was here last I think had a dirty protest! On the plus - we'd only be sleeping for a couple of hours as Adam's Peak was to be tackled at 1:30am. Over a surprisingly tasty dinner we met a lovely quiet couple and 2 crazy and funny German girls. People also shared their leech war stories…Eeewww! We decided to take Adam's Peak on as a group and set of into the dark night looking for the trail of lanterns that would guide us up 5000 steps to the top in time for sun rise. My knowledge is a wee bit shaky but I think Christians believe that this is where Adam fell (Adam and Eve) and that Sri Lanka was in fact Eden. His foot print can be found at the top of the peak. Muslim's think similarly whilst Buddhists have a different thought process. Anyway…I had to find an internal understanding as to why I was climbing Adam's massive Peak about half way up when the enormity of the task hit me. Thankfully I had the support of 5 fellow companions to keep my motivation going and we succeeded to make the peak in time for sun rise. On the way down I had to test my leg strength by applying the 'squatting’ technique when using the local toilet. Terror filled my body when I could feel my legs collapsing but thankfully I managed to hold out! Following this the descent included us singing Beatles songs while the local boys performed backing vocals. It kept spirits up as our legs turned to jelly.

Part 3 to follow…

Additional photos below
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Pat, Loz and MazPat, Loz and Maz
Pat, Loz and Maz

Ella adventures

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