Day 13 - Nuwara Eliya to Ella (by train)

I decided to walk around Nuwara Eliya early in the morning, before catching the train to Ella. I was told the first train would leave at 12:30pm by the staff at my hotel, but whilst having breakfast I was then told the first train was at 9:40am! I quickly finished my breakfast & checked out of the hotel & made my way to the bus station where a bus was waiting to go to Nanu Oya (by this time it was about 8:55am). I was sat on the bus for a while & I did begin to wonder when it would leave, & I started to wish I had caught a tuk tuk to the train station. Luckily a local lady jumped on the bus who was also catching my train & said all would be fine and we would arrive in good time at the station. She even rang the station (I gave her the number) to confirm when the train would be leaving; it was 9:35am. She then seemed to say something to the conductor & within a few seconds the bus driver appeared and we were off!

Nuwara Eliya - It could be England!

Tuk Tuks for Sale in Nuwara Eliya!

Nuwara Eliya

However, as soon as we left the station we then just crossed the road to the Post Office, whereby the lady then handed some letters & some cash to somebody else on the bus so he could purchase some stamps and post some letters for her! Soon we were off again and we arrived at the train station a couple of minutes after 9:35am, I saw a train waiting on the platform & 'legged it' as I saw other people running as well (I did wonder why the lady didn't run however). I soon realised when I reached the ticket office, the train which was stationed was the one going to Colombo! I had missed my train by minutes! The lady showed up at the ticket office, & I think she sensed I wasn't impressed! I was then told that the next train would be at 12:30pm & so I had plenty of time to kill.

I walked around Nanu Oya for a while & took some photographs of some kids playing cricket along the rail tracks & then made my way to the station restaurant. I knew of the nearby waterfall and asked the man at the counter for directions. There was also another man at the counter (I think he did 'odd jobs' for the restaurant manager) who offered to take me to the waterfall. After I’d had my cup of tea & gave the local man 50 LKR (I thought this would be enough as a 'thank you') and we headed off along the track (behind the restaurant) & kept walking along a path for a while. We later came to some kind of cement mixing place & kept following the path & soon we reached a concrete foot bridge which was actually located at the centre of the falls. (If you look up from here, you will see the bridge the train passes over.) We later passed a few houses with lots of friendly children wanting to say 'Hello'! To finish the loop we walked back over three more bridges (some had really wide gaps, & so you have to watch your footing!). It was a round trip of about 40 minutes & so I offered the man another 50 LKR, however it was obvious he wanted another 100 LKR, I didn't bother arguing & gave him the money! (I had my backpack with me but you could easily leave it with the station master.)

Nanu Oya Train Station (music from loud speakers)

Nanu Oya Train Station

Nanu Oya Train Station

Nanu Oya Falls

Careful how you walk across the bridge!

I had another cup of tea back at the restaurant & later sat on the platform before I was approached by a local man who wanted to know where I was from. He seemed very delighted with the fact I was from England & it turned out he was the Signal-Man for the station (& had been for the last 20 years). He asked me if I would like to see the signal box, I jumped at the chance! It was amazing to see British craftsmanship at its best from over 100 years ago, even the old phone system was still intact (although no longer in use). He then proceeded to operate the controls, including shifting the points for the train that I was about to board.

The Signal-Man at Nanu Oya Train Station

Nanu Oya Train Station

Just before my train (the fare was 110 LKR) was due to arrive, I bumped into the lady again whom I'd met earlier on the bus & we had a joke together about if she had not stopped the bus to post her letters we would have been in Ella by now! She laughed. She had actually paid for 3rd Class, & so we became separated when we both boarded the train. However she knew I wanted to be on the right hand side of the train heading to Ella (best views) & so she later came to see me and asked the man seated next to if he wouldn't mind swapping seats so I could have his window seat, which I thought was very kind! The journey was lovely even though it became more cloudy and misty as the journey progressed.

Initially after chatting with the man next to me I thought he was ok, but later he started talking about his kids & mentioned his oldest son collects stamps & foreign notes, and asked if I had any spare! (I've heard this story a few times now!) He later tried to sell me some stupid lanterns & also recommended a hotel in Ella I should stay at. He said he would call his friend who owns the hotel, as he was getting off at the next stop. Bizarrely at the next stop this owner of the hotel then boarded the train and as soon as he walked in my carriage, the man sitting next to me got up and walked away to let this hotel owner sit with me! He asked me how much I wanted to pay for a room?, I just said around 500 LKR (I was being a bit cheeky!) He said he had a place with rooms at 800 LKR (with Wi-Fi). I said I would think about it, he then left & I watched him walk the length of the train approaching all the other travellers! I later spotted the local man I was originally sat with who also jumped off at Ella!

On my way to Ella

On my way to Ella

After I jumped off the train there were a few local men hanging around all wanting to take me to a hotel, & they all seemed to want to take me to the 'Ella Holiday Inn'? I decided to walk down the road with one of these men & booked into the hotel for a fee of 800 LKR. The rooms were fine with hot water and Wi-Fi. I later realised the hotel owner was the man I had met on the train (who I think may have been called Suresh Rodrigo & mentioned in the Rough Guide book?). I suppose he is only trying to make a living, but I did wonder later how the other smaller establishments survive, when he clearly has one of the biggest hotels in Ella?

After checking in I went for a walk around Ella & made my way to 'Rawana Holiday Resort' as I'd heard they did a good garlic curry, unfortunately I was too late as lunch had finished & I had to settle for an omelette! But the omelette was worth it just for the amazing views overlooking Ella Gap.

After my meal I continued to walk south (all downhill) towards the 'turn off' for the local water falls & the cave & kept walking for a little while longer. I met a local man who I had a brief chat with & then I headed back before darkness approached.

I had a bite to eat at the 'Curd & Honey' shop (200 LKR for a 3 vegetable curry) and headed back to my hotel. Back in my room I started to ponder over staying two nights in Ella or possibly just leaving in the morning. I could either get up really early & climb Little Adam’s Peak & try & make it back to the hotel before check-out at 10am, (or take my backpack with me) or stay an extra day & climb Ella Rock? Decisions Decisions ...

The wonderful Ella Gap

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