Hi Guys and Dolls
How are we? I am so far away and feel so distant from the other side of the pond. The group had a late start today. I had such a sound and relaxing sleep after yelling and screaming during my deep tissue massage. Do not do this unless you are a masochist and need or like pain. Our hotel in Newara Eliya was so nice and the climate was very refreshing. We left the hotel for a thirty minute drive to the railroad station. We were boarding a train that was going to take us to a town named Ella and then board the bus again. The Sri Lankan railroad network is never on time. The train arrived thirty minutes late. Not bad for Sri Lanka. We had first class seats. The train looked and felt like it was left over from the British occupation. Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, received its independence from Britain in 1948. If we were sitting in first class, I wondered what the rest of the train looked like. We had cushioned seats and I was told that economy class has wooden benches. It didn’t seem to matter, since once the train started, many locals hung out the windows and doors. A few interesting things I picked up. The route we were on only had one track. No double tracks and I did not see any other tracks near our track. What would happen if another train came our way? The second point I picked up was that the tracks would not shift and change by electricity or automatically. I saw local people, with red flags, turn the tracks in certain directions by hand. Olivia said this system would never pass inspection in America. Two locals carried drinks and local looking food up and down the train. This food needed to be avoided. The windows were very dirty so I decided to stand between cars with my camera ready. We passed some beautiful tea plantations and then started to climb. There were numerous small tunnels to pass through. We finally reached a sign that said the elevation was 6500 feet. The landscape was so green and lush. We stopped at some local railroad stations where lots of locals got off and on. We finally climbed up into some clouds. There were lots of local farmers living in horrible conditions. Many of them were picking the leaves of the tea plants. Laundry was hung out to dry on the shacks and ground. My camera clicked away and I got a great view of life in rural Sri Lanka. We passed some large stupas that dotted the landscape.The train ride lasted close to three hours. We finally pulled into Ella and got off.
We then boarded our bus, but first had to make a rest stop. I immediately noticed the change in the climate. “Africa Hot” was almost back. We drove to a beautiful bar overlooking a view to a lush valley. I thought of Bali Hi. Had a Lion beer and we all boarded the bus. Drove for around thirty minutes over winding roads through lush vegetation. We stopped at a waterfall named “Ravana Falls”. This waterfall is the widest waterfall in Sri Lanka. It was back into the bus for a drive that seemed that we had entered the “Twilight Zone” We drove through lots of local villages. There were water buffalo being herded on some stretches of the road and the ride seemed to never end. Finally reached our hotel at 7:30. I could hardly wait to bolt out. I was sorry I did. “Africa Hot” hit me in the face. Our hotel is located in Yala National Park. This park has many different kinds of wildlife and is known for the having the most leopards in the world. There are also large herds of elephants. Will let you know tomorrow night. Yala National Park also boarders the Indian Ocean.
It is about time for me to rest my weary bones and mind and try to recover from this exhausting days journey.