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Train ticket purchasing was quite straight forward however to get the class you wanted is a little tricky. The first class ticket is extremely hard to obtain. I think the best way is to purchase the first class ticket via a local travel agency in advance. We left it way too late so we didn’t even manage to buy the second class ticket.
When we popped by the train station in the centre Kandy to get our ticket to Nuwara Eliya, it was a bit chaotic. The ticketing officer didn’t speak much English, so we eventually got unallocated seat tickets in second class. The train fare was really cheap, costing approx £1,50 for Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. The journey lasts around 4 hours.
We departed from Kandy in the early morning, the station was packed with many other foreign travellers. I finally realised that second class ticket doesn’t allocate a seat either, so people were crowded into the carriage.
Do you know?
It’s actually more comfortable to sit in the third class where you found less people and you share the riding experience with the locals. We moved to third class once we found a good spot.
Many people chose to sit by the door, this is another enjoyable way to appreciate a different train ride. The temperature and climate was just pleasant. All you need is to relax and enjoy the stunning views of the green tea plantations and you pass by.
As we sat with the locals most of our journey, there were many food and drink sellers wandering through the train carriage selling all sorts of wares. I also noticed some men were constantly chewing then spitting out some sort of red stuff, and their teeth were similarly stained red. Later I found out the red material they were chewing is called Betel Nut Chew. Apparently it’s a popular thing in South Asia. It gives people a buzz equivalent to six cups of coffee and is used variously as a cure for indigestion and impotence. However it is also leading tens of thousands to an early grave due to oral cancer. These nuts are harvested from the Areca palm.
The train rocked away slowly, an average moving speed of 30km per hour. When we arrived in Nuwara Eliya it was an early afternoon. There were plenty tuk tuk drivers just outside the station waiting for customers.
Nuwara Eliya is a city in the hill country of the central province. The name itself means “City on the plain. It sits at an altitude of 1868 meters and is considered to be the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka. It’s a picturesque landscape and temperate climate, a coolest area in Sri Lanka.
Nuwara Eliya is also called the Little England as it was a hill country retreat where British colonialists could immerse in their pastimes of hunting, polo, golf and cricket. Many of the buildings retain features from the colonial period. New hotels are often built and furnished in the same colonial style. Many private homes maintain their old English-style lawns and gardens.
We decided to do a half day tour around Nuwara Eliya since the tuk tuk driver was so kind and patient. I seriously couldn’t remember the name of every places we stopped and visited.
It was wet most of the afternoon, tuk tuk isn’t really ideal for exploring in such a weather. It got really chilly at one point when we went past some roads through a misty forest.
We first stopped at a tea factory where we wanted to have some lunch but the factory was packed with other visitors. We walked out quite quickly after browsing their leftover lunch buffet choices. The second stop we made was near a waterfall, we had to walk through a hotel to its base floor on a cliff. There is a viewing deck just outside the hotel bar. Without our tuk tuk driver, we would not be able to find this place.
We stopped at the entrance to a tunnel with a quite attractive archway entrance and the driver showed us a note of 20 rupee. We saw the same arch is printed on the back of the 20 note.
The last stop we tried to do was to stroll through the tea plantation, however due to the bad weather, we weren’t able to go very far as the floor was muddy and slippery. The half day touring around Nuwara Eliya was easy going. We ended in a very local restaurant suggested by the driver. I liked very much to try something completely local, although the food wasn’t really up to my taste.
Our accommodation – Cottage San Francesco sits in middle of the hill. The location was a little hard to find. However the cottage was really nice and the room was spacious. The only bad comment about this place was there is no heating system in the cottage and the temperature can drop well below 10 degrees celsius in the evening. Condensation formed on the walls overnight and it was generally quite damp.
Continue reading Sri Lanka Adventure, a morning hike through Horton Plains National Park.