Ella was the last place I aimed to visit while in the hill country and it encompassed the second segment of the popular train ride between Kandy and Ella. When I got to Nanu-Oya station the other day I purchased a 1st class reserved ticket to make sure I got a seat but this cost 1000 rupees as opposed to just getting a 2nd or 3rd class on the day for less than 150 odd rupees. But after chatting to a few other travellers I didn’t want my ticket anymore because 2nd class is actually better since the windows open and it’s not as hard to get a seat from Nuwara Eliya to Ella. Thankfully I was able to sell it to a German couple this morning and got a 3rd class ticket for just 60 rupees instead!!! Wheewww I love saving money.
I met a girl name Yi yesterday and we took the train together, though we were separated for the ride. It took 4 hours and it definitely delivered on spectacular views as promised. So much so, I didn’t bother to take any photos and just take in the scenery. The train chugged through woodlands, cliffs, rugged mountains, tea plantations where you can see ladies picking tea up close, little villages, and grassy plains. Sri Lanka had felt like such a small country until now.
A lot of locals and families with children would hop on when we stopped at small villages and I think I had 2 different toddlers sit on my lap as it got more crowded. But I was glad because they were keeping my legs and body warm from the cold air! If the train went any faster I probably would be too cold to sit next to the window, even if it meant missing out on the splendid views!
I was BUSTING to go to the toilet 3 hours in but I was too afraid to leave the train and go at one of the stations. The train does sit idle at some stations for 10-15 minutes but if it left without me I’d have to wait 3-4 hours for the next train (Can’t complain about 30 min delays on Sydney trains now can I?). Amazingly I held my bladder til 1.30pm when we arrived.
It’s cute, but besides the two main hikes, the bridge, and waterfall, there isn’t much else to do. There’s the main strip of restaurants and then it sprawls out into little streets with guest houses and holiday Inns. I found it to be quite a touristy town and pricier, but it was still a lovely place to be and go for walks.
I managed to find a local restaurant tucked between the tourist-filled ones for a mid-afternoon snack of paratha. It was just 50 rupees, perfect since I wasn’t looking to spend much. The guy was lovely to chat to and even gave me some dhal curry to go with it. It wasn’t too spicy or filled with onions/garlic so I was able to tolerate it quite well.
After fuelling up I was ready to climb Adam’s Peak! I actually returned to the same restaurant with Yi later in the evening and I think it was the best meal I’ve had in Sri Lanka. One, because it was so simple and delicious, and two, it only cost us 200 rupees altogether!!
Little Adam’s Peak
The guest house we stayed at was actually on the road/pathway to little Adam’s Peak so that was convenient. I think it was about a 45 minute walk to get to the peak – around 20 mins along the busy main road then another 25minutes actually trekking. I was getting annoyed that there was noisy trucks and pollution everywhere. It wasn’t what I was after, going to the hill country. I was expecting / hoping for a peaceful environment, breathing in fresh air, and soaking up views of mountains that go way into the distance. I guess you can get that, you’d just be situated in an expensive resort far from restaurants and the hip-happening places.
Anyway, the peak was a decent climb, dangerous too I would say. The last bit of the climb is quite slippery if you don’t have good gripping shoes (like Skechers!!!), and there was a further peak you can climb to to really be on cliff edge. The views were quite stunning and I’m glad it was only a 1.5hr trek as opposed to Ella Rock at 7 hours which apparently has just as awesome views.