We turned up up at Colombo Fort Railway station at rush hour. Probably not the best time. We’d been pretty excited about getting trains in Sri Lanka, particularly the route from Colombo up into Kandy and the Hill Country beyond.
The Sri Lanka rail network doesn’t suffer from the same overcrowding as India’s does but, it does still have similarly stunning journeys (more so in fact) and equals its romance.
There are four classes: 3rd Unreserved, 3rd Reserved, 2nd AC and 1st AC. On some routes there are tourist only Observation Carriages at the front of the trains, with larger windows to get the perfect picture.
After the night before we didn’t fancy 3rd class and thought we deserved a treat. So we shelled out Rs1,100 (about £5) each and waited for the train. Although this is over 10x cheaper than a southern train to Victoria before 9am it represents a similar sized jump when compared to 3rd class prices.
The train was impressive, new with inflight-style entertainment, flushing loos and reclining seats.
We travelled up to Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second city and the last independent Sinhalese community on the island whilst the rest was under Colonial control. We stayed in an amazing homestay which was slightly out of the city and on the river.
For 2 days and nights we explored the city and relaxed by the river, eating excellent home cooked Sri Lankan Rice and Curry. Kandy is pretty nice. The main attraction is the most revered buddhist site in Sri Lanka, The temple of the Sacred Tooth. We visited here during Puja and found the temple to be a pretty lovely experience. The botanical gardens are also pretty stunning.
Now that we had “done a bit of culture” we thought we deserved a drink. We got a tuk-tuk to take us to The Slightly Chilled Lounge just in time for last orders at 2pm. Bloody mentals.
We got a couple of Lion orders in before the bell and sunk them in the afternoon sun before we headed of to watch some ‘cultural dancing’. Why we agreed to this I don’t know. We couldn’t be arsed with it but made the classic traveller mistake of kidding ourselves that it would be interesting.
It was shit. Not helped by the fact we were both pretty smashed either.
Julie and Sams’s 1st traveller lesson: in most instances we do not enjoy cultural dancing and are better off staying in the pub.