Day 2 – Traditional food and the national sport
We had a great start in the form of a traditional string hopper breakfast provided by our hostel, we stayed around our rooms washing clothes, playing Carrom with the other backpackers, and watching cricket with our hosts.
String hoppers are clumps of rice noodles, which you can put dhal, curry and boiled eggs on top of, then mash it around with your fingers and eat it by hand, only the right hand of course!
We also visited a local eatery for lunch, and enjoyed some authentic egg fried rice.
For the afternoon we made our way to the beach, where my day became made, and my love for Sri Lanka solidified – Beach volleyball!
Haaziq photographed while I played, dressed impractically, but hey, another bloke was in jeans!
4 glorious sets later, I was exhilarated, but parched, did you know Sri Lanka is a little on the warm side? A local selling trinkets along the beach approached me with the usual “hello sir” shaking his bag of wares. I’m not very interested in filling my bag at the start of the trip, so I declined, but did ask if I could pay to take his portrait, he had an interesting face.
The missing piece for our Negombo assignment was nightlife, perfect, I was in dire need of a drink. We headed for Lewis street, the tourist area of Negombo.
We tried out a couple of bars, including Lords, which had a lot of culture.
Then we went on to the Rodeo bar, where locals and expats, as well as the many visitors were clustered around televisions showing the football. I asked one of the nearby groups who would win, and they confidently replied with Chelsea, it was looking pretty grim as they ended up trailing 1-2, but right at the end managed to tie it, to raucous cheers from the watchers.
We have also been taking recommendations from fans of the KnowSL blog, and to fulfill this, we went into the back streets searching for the Tuk Tuk Wine and Dine.
It was worth the trip, with great food and a nice feel to the place.
Our night journey was soon cut short by torrential rains!
It’s not even the wet season, but it sure felt like it to us. By the time we got back to the hostel we were wiped, and had a 4am wake up planned, to be able to make the train to our next location.
Day 3 – The train to Ella
A taxi takes us to the train station in Colombo.
The cafeteria sells my new favourite Sri Lankan food, vegetable roti, it’s roti bread folded into a triangle, around a potato curry center. They are sold on streets everywhere, and I made two of them my breakfast.
We walked the train station, taking in the sights.
Sun rose while we were on the move, and ended up setting while on the train too.
The windows were all open, and most people waved a hand out the window, or leaned out entirely, it was a great experience to feel the wind and the world rushing by.
I saw incredibly innovative caterers on the train too, they would board with hot food fresh from the wok, and disembark later to be replaced by a fresh seller with more food.
There were several hours of delay too, while the track was repaired, but it wasn’t so bad, it’s all part of the experience.
Something that brought a beaming smile to my face each time was the way everyone would shriek when the train went through a tunnel, it would echo off the close walls, through the open windows, and many people would answer the wailing calls, it was something else.
The train to Ella goes through the highest station in Sri Lanka, and passes above many clouds.
Ella had been talked about a lot by backpackers in Negombo, so we were keen to see what was in store, we checked in and quickly went out to stretch our legs, encountering a pleasant street, catered to the many who travel to the area.
Traditional food and street vendors vie for position with trendy bars, and hostels are everywhere.
We had a popular street meal of kottu roti, which is roti bread cut into noodlesque strips, and mixed in with vegetables and chili.
A small walk found a bar with cold beer waiting, is it a positive or negative that beer only comes in large bottles? I’m not the type to complain.
Day 4 – Ella
Birds and insects provide a soothing morning song, and our view only adds to this pleasant effect.
Breakfast provided by the hostel was a tasty feed of scrambled eggs on toast, we would need the energy.
Still stiff from the long train journey we set out walking, destination: Little Adams Peak.
Regular Adams Peak was closed due to heavy rainfall, but our replacement mountain was hardly disappointing. Word to the wise, the directions send you right at the gate, if you’re there you’ll know the one I mean. Take the left, they mean the next gate!
We did not know this.
Faced with the challenge my stubborn nature took over, and I ended up rock climbing to meet up with the correct trail, Haaziq was more sensible, and not in the footwear to climb, so we reconvened near the top.
Small Adams Peak brought spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, and it had so much more to offer, with tracks leading to other peaks.
We explored them, including this final one, with views that span from near the centre of Sri Lanka, all the way to the sea. Today there was too much cloud to see the water, but it’s easy to believe from the vast landscape stretching further than the eye can see.
The walk back was exhausting, with the sun starting to beat down on us, and around 2 hours of hiking and climbing now behind our boots. We stopped for a King Coconut juice fresh on the trail side, and I made a new friend.