Train Ride From Kandy To Nuwara Eliya - Was It Worth It?
After packing my bags, I was excited about my next destination. However, more than the destination the journey to the destination excited me the most.
A land that’s filled with breath-taking mountains, aromatic tea plantation and picturesque beaches, I was up and excited for my next adventure - a train through the hills of Sri Lanka. And what’s the better way to do it rather from Kandy to Ella through Nuwara Eliya? Having seen numerous pictures and videos online about the train ride through the hills of this island nation, I had my hopes up and had my camera ready to get that perfect shot. But my bad – the timing that I chose to endure this journey was not great.
With no confirmed tickets available online for the train ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, I settled for the second-class ticket which is a great deal if you are on a budget (and not travelling in December or any holiday season). A 5-hour journey through the hilly terrain of the country, I was pumped about this whole experience. However, December is a busy month everywhere around the world and in Sri Lanka, there was a vast difference between expectation and reality.
When the train reached Kandy, it was packed and there were at least 200 tourists just like me who were waiting to board the train. There was no way that I could have made it inside the train with my luggage, but if I was to miss this train, the next train was not in a couple of hours, I wasn’t sure about the buses and I would have ended up taking a taxi which would have cost me a bomb.
After contemplating for a minute (because that’s all I had), I decided to give in and pushed myself in to train to the third-class compartment because there was no room for me in second-class. And boy, for the next 5 hours, I could barely stand as people were all around me with their luggage. One thing that I understood at that point in time is how these trains weren’t made for tourism but were introduced by the British to transport tea and other amenities from the hill station to the city, and vice versa. But with the boom in the Sri Lankan tourism, this has become a must-to-do while in Sri Lanka.
Travelling through the thick and thin, I’ve come to realise the beauty in experiencing the inexperienced or the unexpected. Sometimes, what one expects is not what one gets, and the best I could do was to think of this as an exhilarating experience and moved ahead with a story to tell. On the hindsight, I got to see the hillside beauty of Sri Lanka, the perfectly laid out tea plantation and to be honest, at one point I could even smell the aroma of tea through the cold hillside breeze.
After reaching Nuwara Eliya that afternoon - exhausted and tired, I met up with some amazing folks at the hostel that I stayed at and all of that I endured earlier in the day was compensated with this good company.
Delicious Sri Lankan Poke-ball from Themparadu (sorry, no picture because it was my first meal of the day and it went straight into my mouth from the bowl), a walk through the local market, experiencing the fog coming out my mouth at 4 PM, a good end to the last Friday of 2019 with Arak and ginger beer with a company of people from different walks of life and a bonfire to keep me warm on the cold winter night in Nuwara Eliya. And to be honest, I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Where to stay?
I stayed at this beautiful property called the Laughing Leopard hostel. Ashwin and Sanjay were by far the funniest hosts I have come across during my travel in Sri Lanka. And I have to say that they have two friendly dogs (one of which looks like a wolf). Great home-made food, cosy dorms, spacious living area and a high-speed WiFi connection with a funny password. If you plan to visit Nuwara Eliya, I highly recommend you to book your accommodation here and enjoy the taste of love, laughter and belongingness.