Thursday, 12 January 2017

National Holidays, broken down train and Kandy days!

So Tashya arrived in the evening and the next day, after a breakfast of traditional Sri Lankan coconut pancakes (these quickly became a favourite of ours) from a little stool down the road, and a coffee from a bakery nearby, we decided on a rough route and were headed inland towards the hill country!

So we packed our bags and grabbed a local bus to the train station thinking we could just hop on the next available train. Error. Not only do trains get pretty packed but it was also the beginning of a Poya holiday (full moon holiday). Shit. Every train to Kandy that day was fully booked, there wasn't even standing tickets available. However, we went to the ticket reservation booth and were told the only availability was in a private carriage, first class and air conditioned for 1000 rupees. When the normal classes were 150 rupees we were like, Jesus that's too expensive. But then we worked out how much that was in pounds...£7!! For a 3hr journey first class. So we quickly scrambled to the window and booked what were possibly the last tickets!

It was a two hour wait til the train so we amused ourselves on the platform by trying snacks (I'm quickly becoming addicted to Samosas, fried vegetable pancake rolls and coconut pancakes - they are filled with coconut, honey and spices.) And watching the packed trains roll in and out of the station.

Our carriage was pretty plush, reclining chairs, aircon, water, wash cloths handed to us - defo worth £7, wouldn't get in on British railways!

Two hours went by and we suddenly grounded to an abrupt stop, about half an hour from Kandy. By then it was about 5.30pm, and then we saw the commander walking down the track towards the 2nd and 3rd class carriages, and then all the locals start to get off and walk along the track! So we asked what was going on, turned out the engine had broken and we were waiting for another one to be brought out. Yay! So we waited as it went dark, obviously all the locals knew we weren't far and so walked to the next station and got tuk tuks but the rest of us just had to wait.

Luckily we were only delayed by an hour, and when we got to Kandy we hadn't booked accommodation so we went in search of a place we had seen online, luckily they had beds. It was a pretty cool open plan place, kitchen and living room downstairs with the dorm in the loft compartment upstairs with a view/balcony looking out over the hills of Kandy.

We went out for a local meal, actually frequented by the stewards from our train so we knew it must be good. I tried a Kottu there, which is veg, chicken/fish, mixed with chopped up Rotti with a spicy sauce - its delicious and became something I had again and again.

The next day we spent walking around Kandy. We first had to go in search of other accommodation as the place we were staying at were full for the 2nd night. So we found somewhere in the city centre also not far from the station as we knew the train to Ella the next day left super early. We went to the station to try and buy tickets to Ella, however again, turns out all the reserved seating was gone and a limited number of 2nd class standing tickets were left but we could only buy them from 8am in the morning - 45mins before the first train departed. Yay, more fun! Guess we would be up early to wait in line!

We walked the city centre, stopped to have a traditional milk tea - a bit like a Chai, with hot frothy milk and super sweet. And grabbed some of our favourite pancakes and snacks for our walk around the lake which took us past a giant monitor lizard.

We then decided to go to the forest in the hills behind, which took us ages to find, we kept getting lost down little backstreets and into peoples houses lol. It was a lovely quiet walk around protected forest, with barking deer, wild Boars, lizards and turtles and lots of cool birds and a viewpoint. However the map they gave us was Sri Lankan in its directions in that it didn't match anything! So we got completely lost and ended up going a way we didn't want to but it did show us some of the amazing animals there so we were happy.

We then headed back to our old hostel to pack up our bags as we had checked out but hadn't actually moved our stuff! And we chilled for a bit as we were super exhausted after walking so much. Some new guests came and with them was the most annoying Canadian woman ever who basically lived to talk at you. You could tell the backpackers she was with were relieved she latched onto us for a bit lol. She was also a super gullable person with all these ailments and she had gone to a spice garden that day (we had read most of them are scams that make you pay for things you don't want and say these herbal treatments are good for your health but are actually shit. She had gone in and believed everything they told her and bought over $300 worth of products - one was a hair removal cream that was supposed to stop your hair from growing after a while - its just Veet! Lol so we made our excuses to get away from her and went for a meal back at our local find. But before we left we fiund out they were all trying for the train to Ella tomorrow too, nooooooo! So we made a pact that we would get up earlier to try and a. Avoid her and b. Get tickets before them lol. So we got a tuk tuk over to our new place, where we basically showered and went to bed due to having to be up at 6.30am to nail these tickets to Ella!

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