Ella (Round Two) | Sri Lanka

6 June 2015 – 9 June 2015

So here we are.
Mike, Vic and Tom – gone.
Hollie, Michael and Ryan – present.

The three of us set out on a bus from Arugam Bay to Ella, not ideal considering Ryan’s foot is really sore and falling to bit despite the stitches.

When we arrive in Ella we have two very important things to do.

One: Eat.

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This is the Chill Cafe rice and curry. So many little dishes and so much flavour.

Two: Fix Ryan.

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Here’s Ry giving the doctor the glad eye. No, I think he’s just talking to Michael – but we did visit the doctor to get Ryan’s poor wee foot checked out.

I was really keen to return to Ella – mainly for the pasta at AK Ristoro and to do a short walk and train ride that we’d missed out on with Mike and Vic.

The Train Ride

This might sound really stupid but there was just one part of the really scenic train ride that we hadn’t been on – and I REALLY wanted to do it. The section I wanted to ride was from Ella to Bardulla, 20.0km in length, takes 1 hour and costs 20 LKR each – that’s $0.20 cents NZ each. BARGAIN! My main reason for wanting to ride this section was so that we could cross the Nine Arches bridge (a big bridge with nice arches!) AND, the most exciting bit, at one point the railway does a complete loop around a hill and the track drops down 30 metres lower on the hill from where the loop began. I was SUPER PUMPED to ride the hill loop.

We patiently wait a good half hour for the train to arrive at Ella.

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We get on. It’s exciting.

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I’m tracking on a map where we are. The bridge is coming up. I try to look out a door to see it. We’re on the bridge BUT I CAN’T SEE ANYTHING! We’re off the bridge. It’s over. I was pretty disappointed to say the least.

Not to worry, we’ve still go the loop. I’m back looking at the map. The loop should be coming up annnnnytime soon. Anytime now. We pass the next station. I look at the map. WE’VE BEEN ROUND THE LOOP. I missed it. I couldn’t even tell we were circling a mountain. Too say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

To top things off, we had to take a tuk tuk back to Ella. We’re maybe 15 minutes from home when it starts to rain. Absolutely pour. The tuk tuk stops. The driver is trying really hard to get it going again but he keeps flooding the engine. So we’re just sitting, in a tuk tuk, not moving, while it’s raining like a mo-fo. I feel terrible for the driver. He eventually get’s his tuk tuk going and we make it back to Ella. I only hope he made it home without drama.

Nine Arches Bridge

Not letting yesterday’s train ride get me down, Michael and I got up early to walk to Nine Arches Bridge. Built in 1921, the bridge is between the Ella and Demodara railway stations. It is just over 30 meters high and constructed out of solid rock, brick and cement – no steel. This bridge looks like it belongs on the Island of Sodar with Thomas and his buddies.

You have to walk about 2km on the train tracks and through one tunnel to reach the bridge, so we checked with the station master before we left to make sure we weren’t going to get squashed.
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Walking on train tracks is naughty. I know this because when I was 8 or 9 year old I sat through a rail safety session in the library at Grasmere School, Invercargill. A man taught us about the dangers of trains and walking on the tracks and how the train SUCK you under, so that’s why you can’t stand tooo close to them when they’re moving. At the end of his presentation he took off his t-shirt and showed us the scars all over his body from the time he got sucked under a train. I remember being horrified. If there was ever a way to put the fear in a group of kids, that was it. I also have a certificate and a badge from that session to prove that I’m rail safe. So there.

Walking on train tracks in Sri Lanka, however, is 100% a-okay. In fact, the tracks seem to serve as a main route to access towns and villages or an easy way to move a heard of cows from one area to another. If a train does come, you just step aside. No worries.

We were not as casual as the locals about being on the tracks as we quick walked from sleeper to sleeper. It was comforting to see others walking though, because at least they would have been sucked under with us!

The tunnel was maybe the grossest part. It was really wet in there and full of bats.

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We arrived at the bridge, sat down, and waited. And waited. We waited almost an hour because what I really, really wanted to see was a train come over the bridge.

And then it happened.

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And there were people waving to us and I was really excited AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.

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When all was clear, it was my turn to walk on the bridge.

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Can you see me? It’s a really big bridge! Who knew bridges could be this fun?!

Then we walked back to Ella on the train tracks. Itt was so much fun. Fair to say that maybe I enjoyed it more than Michael. It was worth the trip back to Ella just to see the bridge.

The rest of our time in Ella

Well, it pretty much looked like this. Beer and cards.

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I was a little concerned that I hadn’t seen our best friend Dobby since we’d been back in Ella. All her other mates were around.

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Then out of the blue, who should appear… DOBBY!

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Look at that face. She is such a lovely dog.

And then she tucked up beside me for a snooze. Bless.

Our return to Ella wouldn’t have been complete without sharing the joy of AK Ristoro with Ryan. The owners were happy to see us back, but not as happy as I was to be back. Back with my cabonara.

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And that’s Ella – Round Two. Equally as good as the first round.

Costs

Rate 1 NZD = 100 LKR | All prices in NZD unless stated

  • Tuktuk Arugam Bay – Pottervil – $2.00
  • Bus Pottervil – Monoragala – $1.99 p/p
  • Bus Monoragala – Ella – $0.90 p/p
  • Hotel Sobaro – $20.00 p/n
  • Ice tea & arrack cocktail | AK Ristoro – $6.00
  • Ice tea | AK Ristoro – $2.50
  • Spaghetti bolognese | AK Ristoro – $8.50
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