THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TRAIN RIDE IN THE WORLD
The journey to Ella has been touted, by many guide books, blogs and travel shows, as the one of the most beautiful train rides in the world so we obviously needed to do it while we were in Sri Lanka, and on hindsight, it's one of the stories that we'll probably tell for the rest of our lives.
What you're probably here for:
WHAT CLASS: 2nd class, unreserved.
COST: $2.30, if purchased from the train station directly.
WHERE: We got on at Peradeniya Train Station, to avoid the crowds at the main Kandy train station.
Back story: we were travelling from Kandy to Ella on Christmas Eve and even though we've done massive research about our trip, we were complacent about getting tickets. Train tickets bought through agents would be massively inflated, and as far as we knew, there wasn't a way to buy second class reserved tickets directly through the Sri Lankan railway station. A week before our trip, we contacted our Air B&B host to find out if he could help us purchase tickets, only to be told that they're all sold out but we could get to the station early on the day and hope that we get on one of the trains.
And so we did.
Train journey: Colombo - Peradeniya (where we were) - Kandy (where lots of people get off because it's a city) - Peradeniya - Mountains
The first train from Colombo was packed. People were hanging off the train. We were hoping to get on this train, and get seats when passengers got off in Kandy. Didn't happen, if you can tell from the video. Instead, we managed to get on after the train came back from Kandy, when two backpackers got off, and gestured for us to squeeze in.
NO PERSONAL SPACE
If you're travelling on 2nd class unreserved on Christmas Eve like we did, expect to be chest-to-chest with people for most of your journey. It was a seven-hour trip, and for a lot of points in time during the journey, I couldn't find another spot to rest my foot if I had lifted it.
Women, fret not. Locals were incredibly respectful, and friendly. I wasn't leered at, or groped, and neither were the other female tourists around me. In fact, people were sharing food, singing, making music. We didn't speak a common language (although a lot of people thought I was local), but we had a common beat fo' sho.
I should also mention that John and I didn't have anything to eat or drink since the night prior because we didn't want to brave the bathrooms. We're pretty brave, but not that brave!
WHERE WAS IT MOST SCENIC?
At some points in time, we managed to sit in the doorway with our legs dangling off the train. We were sitting on the right side, if you're facing the direction where the train was going, and the most scenic parts, we think, were between Hatton and Nuwara Eliya.
Note - get up when it's approaching a station if you have your legs dangling by the doorway. The stations have varied platform heights and your foot may end up getting hit!