Sri Lanka - All India Tour
  • Sri Lanka

We visited Sri Lanka for a two week holiday from our "holiday" with the aim of renewing our Indian visas like many before us. However, we were both also keen to explore the beautiful beaches and get to know the country and its people.


After arriving at Colombo International Airport  from  India, we cruised through immigration and customs, exchanged money, purchased and installed two SIM cards (and of course visited the loo) all this within 40 minutes of getting off the plane!  Public transport was another story.  We later found out that we had timed our visit to Sri Lanka to perfectly coincide with school holidays so that the already overcrowded buses and trains were beyond packed.  Standing for hours on end, at times half alseep, soon became the new norm.


Our first destination was Kandy where we applied for our new Indian visas.  Then it was off to the southern beaches!  We based ourselves in Talalla, and with the recommendations and assistance of a friend, expolored the surrounding area and beaches on hired motorbikes. We couldn't handle not having the freedom of two little bikes we hired struggled to reach 60km/h.

The highlight of our southern stay, apart from swimming in the ocean, was the jeep safari into Udawalawe National Park.  Neve rmind that we had to ride six hours, three of which were in the dark, for our two hours of bliss in nature!  At least we weren't packed into a bus like sardines   ; )





From Talalla we opted for the scenic route back to Kandy to pick up our visas.  Two separate buses brought us to the scenic hill station of Ella.  Fresh mountain air and an abundance of cafes - all of which served the SAME food!! - greeted us as we gratefully disembarked from the bus. Four hours of standing room only had brought us to Ceylon tea country.  After a quick walk - certainly not the 2 hour 'hike' described in some guide books - out to the Nine Arches Bridge to catch the last train of the day and take to the mandatory tourist shots, we enjoyed a delicious dinner accompanied by a healthy sample of local spirits (COconut arrack); you have to try the regional offerings!.  The next morning it was off on the popular scenic train ride from Ella to Kandy.  All reservations were fully booked (1st, 2nd and 3rd class) so we were forced to purchase 2nd class general tickets - good luck getting a seat. 


This train journey is obviously a very popular one as we were surrounded by other Western tourists who had also purchased 2nd class general tickets and thus would be competing with us for the limited seats.  However, seasoned travellers that we imagined ourselves to be, we opted to downgrade ourselves to 3rd class general; surley no other tourists woud venture there. Although there were few tourists, there were also no seats; standing room only upon boarding, but we could still walk around relatively freely...for the first thirty minutes of the six and a half hour journey.


At each stop, the train became increasily crowded with domestic tourists. Halfway through the journey we were fortunate enough to move up in status and get the open doorway positions where we could sit with our legs dangling and heads sticking out of the train.  Sadly that only lasted until the next stop, when the train then became too crowed to even sit by the doorway.  Bugger.  The last challenge of the trip was extricating our 90 litre backpack from the crowded train.  Who needs doors when you have open windows and friendly Sri Lankans who are more than happy to help birth your luggage through the window onto the platform? : ) 

This was only one of the many friendly and helpful interactions we experienced during our short stay in Sri Lanka.


After picking up our passports, and armed with fresh Indian visas, it was back to Colombo via train.  Upon booking seats for this train we were told that all reservations were full - which could mean another three hour standing journey. So we tried a trick we had heard about, which basically involves asking the station master if there are any unallocated seats left for tourists as often there are special 'tourist quotas' on each train reserved to encourage international tourists. Sure enough, he scribbled a few things on a post-it note and told us that we could now get two seats. The ride back to Colombo was very nice indeed; Sri Lanka is a picturesque country and the trains we took showed some of this scenery well.


Powered by SmugMug Log In