S R I ∙L A N K A
Of all the places we've traveled, we've never experienced driving like in Sri Lanka. Cars, busses, trucks, tuk tuks, motorcycles, and bikes all recklessly weaving in and out of lanes while dodging people and stray dogs. Everyone was in a rush to get somewhere and we're still trying to figure out where...
People also get around Sri Lanka by train. Our plan was to use the trains to explore the mountainous tea region and warm southern coast.
We quickly learned the boarding process for the trains is similar to that of the chaos on the roads. After being told to avoid third class, we bought second class tickets hoping to grab a seat and enjoy the four hour train ride from Colombo to Kandy.
Through the nerves and sheer panic of boarding, we somehow ended up on the third class carriage. It was sweaty, crowded, and uncomfortable, but turned out to be one of the most special experiences of our travels. It didn’t take long for us to become close with the family sitting next to us. We played tic-tac-toe with the children, Hailey got a henna tattoo, and we even received an invite to dinner at their home in Kandy.
After a sweaty train ride, we were happy to unwind and freshen up at Theva Residency before dinner. They greeted us with fresh juice and there was an infinity pool calling our name. The views we're incredible, the staff was amazing, and the property was quiet and relaxing. The hotel is up in the hills, so it offered a nice retreat from the Esala Perahera Festival that happened to be going on in Kandy during out visit.
We tried the train again the next day, leaving from Kandy to Ella for an eight hour ride. We successfully boarded the proper carriage, but it was already full with passengers. We squeezed our way on and as the train departed we schemed how to make the quickest exit. Claustrophobia was already setting in. Two stops and twenty minutes later, we ended hiring a private car to take us to Ella - worth it!
After a much needed break from the trains, we hiked Little Adam’s Peak to see the surrounding area and Ella Rock.
Our third train ride was much different than our first two (third times a charm!). There were third class reserved tickets available, so we had our own seats, moved around the carriage freely, and we even got access to the train conductor’s carriage.
The views of Sri Lanka's from our train were breathtaking, but the views from outside might be even better.
We stopped to visit a tea plantation near 9 Arches Bridge and locals waved to us from the windows as the train passed by. Moments later a local whispered in Hailey's ear, "don't move, don't scream"... She had a leech on her ankle! It was tragic, but we all survived.
When we heard Sri Lanka had a national park with a safari, we were excited to relive our trip to Africa. Lakpura Safari took us out for a tour through the Udawalawe National Park.
Although we were unable to see the shy leopard, we were lucky enough to see a whole bunch of elephants, peacocks, buffalo and deer. We also saw the Sri Lankan Junglehen, which is the official bird of Sri Lanka. If you ask Danny, it’s just a rooster.
After zig zagging our way through the mountains of Sri Lanka’s tea region, we made our way south to the sleepy surf town of Mirissa. Here we were able to relax and enjoy the beaches.