Monday, 18 May 2015

The trains of Sri Lanka

Our recent 3 week adventure through Sri Lanka included 3 train journeys; which in my opinion is the best and most affordable way to get around.  The rail network was established by the British (in the 1860's) to facilitate the transport of tea and coffee from the hill country to Colombo.  At that time the natives of the little island referred to these machines as 'Anguru Kaka Wathura Bibi Duwana Yakada Yaka', which means the coal-eating, water-drinking, sprinting metal devils (taken from a very interesting article in the Sri Lankan Daily News, from 2011).  The present-day natives have become a lot more comfortable with these machines and they are now a very popular means of transport.  This makes for highly entertaining travel and although occasionally being overloaded, the open doors and windows, the never-ending scuttle of tea and snack sellers and the jaw-dropping scenery around every corner, make for an absolutely enthralling experience.  As a tourist, if you happen to be on a seat, you will certainly be on it's edge.  These trips, that last hours, fly by in the blink of an eye.  It's the only time I've ever felt sad to get off of a train that I had been on for 3 hours, without ever being able to sit on an actual seat.  I must advise that even though the much prized position of sitting in an open doorway has a million positives, there is one very important negative, or warning.  Make sure your feet don't stick out too far.  The train comes pretty close to station platforms and if you're on an express, that's travelling through at speed, it's a very good way to clip your toenails or something more significant.     

On the way to Ella, through beautiful tea plantations

Mind the gap!

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