Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Ella, ella ey ey ey... (Sri Lanka)

Ella - 23 October to 26th October

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, plant and outdoorAfter the mountains of Nuwara Eliya, we took another picturesque train ride down to the mountains of Ella. Once again we got to hang out the side of the train while it was hurtling around mountains, and the trip was about 2 hours longer than planned because for some, unexplained reason we were sat in a station going nowhere. However, we finally arrived at the tiny train station in Ella and haggled for the taxi (as per usual), although we found out the hostel was actually quite far as it was at the top of a winy mountain path which we later just about managed to walk down (the rest of the times we had to get tuktuks). The hostel was fairly new, and was a very cute little place. We had a big bed with a much needed mosquito net, a bathroom and a little outside seating area. The owner even brought us tea and biscuits when we arrived which was much appreciated.

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We didnt want to go very far the first day, so we just had a walk around and had some dinner that the hostel owner arranged for us. We quickly discovered that when it gets dark, all the bugs attack. We got back to the hostel at about 6pm (in the dark), and there were the biggest damn dragonflies/some sort of monster fly all around the lights outside. Safe to say I didn't really want to sit outside with those buzzing around my face, but when they bought us the dinner (made of fruit, rice and curry), they fashioned some sort of plastic bag contraption around the lights so the demon bugs couldnt escape and we could eat in some sort of peace, which was nice. We only had a few days in Ella, so got onto Lonely Planet and planned the next couple of days.

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Tea with a view
We had a packed few days, as there are plenty of mountains to climb/hikes/things to see around Ella. The first day we decided to hike up Little Adams peak, which is the beginner's version of the nearby Adam's Peak climb.  We heard it only took a couple hours, and as it had been raining on and off all morning we wanted to go for something small. We got some food and headed down the trail. It started to rain again just as we reached the bottom of the 'mountain' (more like a hill), and luckily there was a nice little cafe so we took some shelter there and had some tea (standard). The views were amazing, the tea was tasty, and luckily the rain only lasted for a little while so we were soon off again. The hike was pretty chilled out, and we only nearly got lost a couple of times (as the path wasn't very well signposted), met a lot of ants and got to the top. The views on the way up and down were pretty incredible, even though it was a bit cloudy. At the top we met the sweetest stray dog and gave him some of our water, and admired the impressive mountains. It was still pretty early in the day, so we decided to do a loop back to the hostel. 

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We walked a lot that day, without really realising it. Once at the bottom of the hill, we took a path to a big tea factory (because we hadn't had tea in a while), which was quite and where we sampled some of their tea. We then checked the map again, and saw that there was a railway bridge fairly close by called the Nine Arch Bridge which was recommended on Google. It was a bit further than it looked on the map, but it made for a nice walk. The bridge is impressive, and we walked down to get a closer look. As is common in this part of the world, trains don't come often, and when they do you can hear/see them coming miles off so you can easily walk along the tracks. We walked along to the bridge, where we met some other travellers who informed us that the next train was in 15 minutes. This was pretty good timing on our part, as watching the train run over the bridge is an awesome sight, and something that only happens 4 or 5 times a day. We sat to watch, by which time it started to rain again. 

After watching the train, we were told that it was about a 45 minute walk back along the tracks to Ella, so we followed some people down the tracks. Train tracks aren't particularly easy to walk on (huge wooden panels, lots of stones) and it took us a bit longer than 45 minutes, especially with the constant rain drizzle and how it got dark very quickly. However, we finally reached Ella and decided it was time for something to eat, as we hadn't done that in a while. We found an awesome little cafe opposite the railway, which had 3 tables and a constant queue (which was a good sign). We ordered a french onion soup, garlic bread and a pudding (which was very much needed and appreciated). We then got a taxi home and finished our activity packed day.

Image may contain: mountain, sky, outdoor and natureThe next day we went to a place called Haputale which was another place Lonley Planet said to check out. It was about an hour or so from Ella, and was home of Lipton's Seat, where Mr Lipton was said to have sat and chose his tea plantations. Due to our love of tea, we had to check it out. The hike up and down took the best part of the day, mainly due to the fact that once we got to the top of the mountain (where Lipton's seat it), the heavens opened and we couldn't walk back down. We therefore sat in the tiny cafe for about an hour, being fed various Sri Lankan food, and tea, until it was safe enough to go back down. The rains were so heavy I genuinely thought that the cafe would be destroyed. Luckily, it wasn't. Anyway, the views on the walk were spectacular, with miles of tea fields and tae pickers everywhere. It was so quiet as well, as it wasn't tourist season so it was pretty much just us. Us, and for the final part of the walk, a little boy who spoke pretty good English and told us about his school and family. On the walkway were also a few motivational phrases, written in questionable English, which were an amusing addition to the hike. All in all it was a successful day, and we even got to meet Mr Lipton ('s statue) at the top! 

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Us and Mr Lipton

As I said, we only had a short time in Ella, and were looking forward to getting back to the beach (it'd been a long 2 weeks without it...) so headed on down to Weligama!! 

Ciao, Sarah

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