Yala NPElla-Kandy, Sri Lanka

Journey Through Sri Lanka's Tea Core

In 2rd Class
2nd Class passengers on the Ella - Kandy train.
tropical freshness
Sri Lankan bathers refresh themselves in the waterfalls of Ravona.
On the way to the countryside
Peasant woman drives two cows across the railhead of the Nine Arches Bridge.
A Bridge with 9 Arches
Composition crosses the Nine Arches Bridge, a few km from Ella station.
the stationmaster
The head of Ella's train station, in his office.
Standby mode
Sri Lankan family waits at Ella train station.
human trains
Passengers leave Ella station on the rails.
Sri Lanka cha plantation
A patchwork of the vast tea plantations on either side of the line in the area between Ella and Kandy.
An Audience On Board
Passengers enjoy the view from the train's doors and windows.
In 2rd Class
2nd Class passengers on the Ella - Kandy train.
Passengers at the train window Ella Kandy-Sri Lanka
Passengers refresh themselves from open windows and outside windows.
the most obvious way
Pedestrian walks on the line at the exit of Nanu Oya station.
a risky air
Passengers lean out of the train at the entrance to a tunnel.
The Driving Machine
Locomotive outside Nanu Oya station.
Hanging passengers-Ella Kandi-Sri Lanka Train
Passengers hanging from the train held at a station.
We leave the seafront of PN Yala towards Ella. On the way to Nanu Oya, we wind on rails through the jungle, among plantations in the famous Ceylon. Three hours later, again by car, we enter Kandy, the Buddhist capital that the Portuguese never managed to dominate.

We spent the early morning and early morning wandering around the forest of PN Yala, looking for its ever-elusive leopards.

Around noon, owners and masters of ill-gotten photographs of specimens that were too far away or too hidden, we returned to the company of driver Ari and inaugurated the route that would take us to Ella.

We pass Kataragama, Sella and the local Hindu temple where the faithful praise Lord Ganesh. After a few kilometers on the same road, we come across real elephants, busy devouring fruits from trees on the side of the asphalt.

At Buttala, we turn west. A few minutes later, Ari announces Wellawaya and, soon, the first stop worthy of the name: “There, we're here in Buduruwagala.

This is one of the oldest and most important Buddhist shrines in Sri Lanka. They usually close early, so we came faster and more direct. Have fun, I'll be here."

Buddhist Monk, sculptures from Buduruwagala, Sri Lanka

Buddhist monk visiting the ancient sculptures of Buduruwagala.

Stopover at Buduruwagala, a Thousand-Year Buddhist Shrine

Not that it was necessary, but the sequence Sella-Kataragama – Buduruwagala once again brought to light the religious complexity of the Sinhalese nation.

At the late hour when we entered the Buduruwagala space, the surrounding natural stronghold seemed to be on our own.

Millennial, the monument consists of seven images carved side by side on the face of a great rock blackened by time. Six of them appear lined up beside a now-whitened Avalokitesvara Buddha, Sri Lanka's largest Buddha sculpture. One of them is believed to represent Tara, the consort of the Buddha.

A closer look at the wide surface of the boulder proves that we had company after all. In a corner, each seated on his rounded rock, two Buddhist monks admired the sculptures.

Out of respect for their reverent peace, we kept our distance, but when one of them walked over the stone slab at the base of the monument and prostrated himself at the base of the great praying Buddha, we took the opportunity to enrich the images we carried from there with a precious scale and human relationship.

The monks were not long in disbanding. Pressed by the path that still lay ahead, we followed their example.

The Slow and Winding Rise for Ella

Gradually, we leave the flat lands of the south and inaugurate a winding and slow ascent to Ella's thousand meters of altitude. Along the way, the mountain jungle thickened before our eyes. It was irrigated by countless veins that carried the water poured back to the Indian Ocean by the persistent rains.

Slowly, slowly, held back by successive Tata lorries (but not only), we reached a meander of the road crossed by one of these streams, frequented by dozens of Sri Lankans who came out of exuberantly painted excursion buses.

Sri Lankan bathers, Ravona, Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan bathers refresh themselves in the waterfalls of Ravona.

The Melodramatic Delight of Ravana Falls

Ari stops the car. He advises us to take extra care as we walk over the polished stones that lined the steep course of the waterfalls above, the Ravana Falls.

“Every year someone slips there and already several tourists, even foreigners, have ended up dying. Thirty-six so far, believe it or not. The authorities should have done something to this place by now… “

Despite the drama of the alert, we dedicated ourselves to admiring and recording more than just the waterfalls themselves, the bathing frenzy generated by the visiting Sri Lankans, given up to thorough baths in sari or loincloths (depending on the gender) under fountains fallen from small ponds, or in well-disposed coexistences in the lakes which were then almost shallow, supplied by the waterfalls.

Attentive as we are to the tumults and commotions of bathers, monkeys sinics Sri Lankan endemic fluffs stalked the best opportunities to steal the tidbits and possessions of inattentive human cousins.

Ella was only five kilometers away, twenty minutes of final turns and counter-turns. By then, the early awakening was taking its toll. As he also claimed Ari.

Accordingly, we returned to the car and completed the route to the guest houses hidden in which we had booked a stay.

We installed ourselves and gave the driver the freedom he had longed for, with the painful commitment to pick us up again at eight in the morning.

Peasant and cows, Nine Arches Bridge, Sri Lanka

Peasant woman drives two cows across the railhead of the Nine Arches Bridge.

The Railway Epic of the Ella – Kandy Railroad Stretch

At that same hour, we put our bags in the trunk of the car, after which Ari left us at the entrance of a detour that led to a valley crossed by the tracks of the Ella-Kandy railway route. We knew that the train was passing over a colonial-era bridge, Ponte dos Nine Arcos.

After a descent down a goat path to the rail level. We install ourselves in a privileged place to enjoy it. In the process, successive peasants crossed the so-called Bridge in Heaven, some of them leading cows.

Finally, around 9:20 am, the convoy appeared from the covert curve that precedes the structure. First, a long, powerful locomotive.

Little by little, the eleven carriages pulled by the machine, the whole of a pale blue that stood out from the surrounding vegetal-tropical panorama.

Composition on Nine Arches Bridge, Ella, Sri Lanka

Composition crosses the Nine Arches Bridge, a few km from Ella station.

We were far from being the only ones dedicated to that program. On other slopes subsumed in the vegetation, on balconies and terraces made with panoramic views of restaurants and inns around it, several other foreigners admired the railway film.

Brief contact with Sri Lankan Authority

On either side of the bridge, two policemen in traditional Sri Lankan mustard-colored uniforms controlled the movements of the outsiders in order to prevent their photographic misadventures from ending up in tragedy.

After descending from the unstable perch we had chosen, we sat in a makeshift bar in the forest, between the bridge and the tunnel that followed. there we drink two weary in conversation with JMWS Karunarathne and AWM Nandasena, the authority duo assigned to the bridge.

Invigorated by the rest and by the yoghurt-refreshment, we followed the tracks until Ella station, a mere 2km away, where we would board the train.

As expected, tourist and 2nd Class seats with a seat booked were sold out. We buy tickets for 2nd Class Normal and we are subject to the unexpected.

Ella's Fascinating Station

During the new wait for the train, we made life at Ella station a delicious cultural trip.

We duck into the stationmaster's picturesque office and photograph him, proud of his rank, beneath framed photos of the Sri Lankan president, with a small Sri Lankan flag on his mahogany desk.

Head of Ella Railway Station, Sri Lanka

The head of Ella's train station, in his office.

We examined with inevitable ethno-religious curiosity, the entrance on the platform of a Muslim family, its three women covered by chadars blacks.

However, the sudden appearance of the composition interrupted the banter of a group of Indian friends on the rails and generated a frenzied scramble for the edge of the platform.

Finally, on board and on the way

More confusion, less confusion, we managed to install ourselves at the door of one of the carriages that the absolute relaxation of the Sri Lankan state railway company allowed us – like so many other young acrobat passengers – to keep open, serving as perches and providential ventilation for the vendors of food that walked from one end of the composition to the other without rest.

Passengers, Train Ella Kandy, Sri Lanka

2nd Class passengers on the Ella – Kandy train.

The convoy flowed with a smoothness compromised by the many meanders imposed by the mountain range and the successive tunnels that perforate it.

The initial stretch of the route was made through a somewhat parched jungle, preceded by banana and papaya trees along the waterfront.

At a certain point, already at a higher altitude, it flows between vast and undulating tea plantations, the same ones perfected by the British settlers and who continue to produce and export the famous tea from Ceylon, such as the reputable and endless Edinburgh State .

Badulla, Ohiya, Pattipola, Ambwela, the seasons followed.

At each stop, the composition renewed its people, the saris, the men's shiny shirts, the bags, bundles and parcels thrown on both sides of the carriages with the usual emergence and audacity of these overcrowded stops.

Two little painters newly boarded on board are delighted with our photographic commotion.

Without shame or ceremony, they demand our attention with poses and more stylish poses behind youthful smiles and cheap glasses pretending to be an aviator.

In these and other entertainments, we don't notice the arrival at the stop where Ari was waiting for us. Only the strident warning communicated, via loudspeakers, by the stationmaster saves us from proceeding in vain.

Early Disembarkation at Nanu Oya

We had already gone through the really unmissable section of the Ella-Kandy section that Lonely Planet sensationally classified as “The Most Beautiful Train Trip in the World”. Accordingly, largely on Ari's advice, we left on Nanu Oya.

We didn't find the driver either first or second. We've given up looking for him.

We see the villagers walking on the rails as if it were a trail and we emulate their smooth steps. We ended up photographing the red composition that we had abandoned crossing another local bridge.

Ari appeared out of nowhere. Or rather – so we calculated – another one of his frequent masala chais. We returned to the hybrid car in which we were driving and to the asphalt.

It was two in the afternoon. Kandy was 85km away, three hours in the worst case. We warned Ari that we would continue unhurriedly, with the necessary stops, even if we arrived at night. No sooner said than done.

Two in the afternoon: Time for the Discovery of Sinhalese Tea

we crossed Nuwara Eliya, other hill station post-colonial teeming with tea, at the moment, covered by a blanket of mist that irrigated the verdant plantations.

A further kilometers to the north, we stop at the Glen Loch tea factory, also symptomatic of the Scottish colonial predominance of these parts.

Ari parks and leaves us to the service guide, Shiva Kala of her name, a Sinhalese but goddess of destruction, time and death (like the gods who had inspired her baptism) at least divine; the most beautiful and charming woman we had ever met in Sri Lanka, we agreed shortly afterwards, without too much friction.

We follow her and her smiling narratives. We smell green tea leaves. We compare them with other tostadas, made by black people. We taste a series of aromatic infusions and peek into the store well stocked with boxes and bags with appealing designs.

We were the last visitors to the factory, on an afternoon that had turned rainy.

The Ultimate Kilometers for Kandy

We reckon that, smiles aside, Shiva Kala would be willing to exchange us for his family, and we do his bidding.

We arrived in Kandy at quarter past eight at night, a late hour that left Ari apprehensive about the journeys to come. To compensate, we let him take us to a hotel where he could stay for free. We regret it in three times.

In any case, we were in Kandy, in the heart of Ceylon, in the historic City-Kingdom that Portugal never managed to subdue and that, from the XNUMXth century and the Dutch conquest of Galle fort, precipitated the collapse of Portuguese Ceylon,

Siliguri a Darjeeling, India

The Himalayan Toy Train Still Running

Neither the steep slope of some stretches nor the modernity stop it. From Siliguri, in the tropical foothills of the great Asian mountain range, the Darjeeling, with its peaks in sight, the most famous of the Indian Toy Trains has ensured for 117 years, day after day, an arduous dream journey. Traveling through the area, we climb aboard and let ourselves be enchanted.
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

The Capital Fortress of a Parricide King

Kashyapa I came to power after walling up his father's monarch. Afraid of a probable attack by his brother heir to the throne, he moved the main city of the kingdom to the top of a granite peak. Today, his eccentric haven is more accessible than ever and has allowed us to explore the Machiavellian plot of this Sri Lankan drama.
On Rails

Train Travel: The World Best on Rails

No way to travel is as repetitive and enriching as going on rails. Climb aboard these disparate carriages and trains and enjoy the best scenery in the world on Rails.
Fianarantsoa-Manakara, Madagascar

On board the Malagasy TGV

We depart Fianarantsoa at 7a.m. It wasn't until 3am the following morning that we completed the 170km to Manakara. The natives call this almost secular train Train Great Vibrations. During the long journey, we felt, very strongly, those of the heart of Madagascar.
Galle, Sri Lanka

Galle Fort: A Portuguese and then Dutch (His) story

Camões immortalized Ceylon as an indelible landmark of the Discoveries, where Galle was one of the first fortresses that the Portuguese controlled and yielded. Five centuries passed and Ceylon gave way to Sri Lanka. Galle resists and continues to seduce explorers from the four corners of the Earth.
Nesbyen to Flam, Norway

Flam Railway: Sublime Norway from the First to the Last Station

By road and aboard the Flam Railway, on one of the steepest railway routes in the world, we reach Flam and the entrance to the Sognefjord, the largest, deepest and most revered of the Scandinavian fjords. From the starting point to the last station, this monumental Norway that we have unveiled is confirmed.
Ushuaia, Argentina

Last Station: End of the World

Until 1947, the Tren del Fin del Mundo made countless trips for the inmates of the Ushuaia prison to cut firewood. Today, passengers are different, but no other train goes further south.
Cairns-Kuranda, Australia

Train to the Middle of the Jungle

Built out of Cairns to save miners isolated in the rainforest from starvation by flooding, the Kuranda Railway eventually became the livelihood of hundreds of alternative Aussies.
Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo's Hypno-Passengers

Japan is served by millions of executives slaughtered with infernal work rates and sparse vacations. Every minute of respite on the way to work or home serves them for their inemuri, napping in public.
savuti, botswana, elephant-eating lions
Savuti, Botswana

Savuti's Elephant-Eating Lions

A patch of the Kalahari Desert dries up or is irrigated depending on the region's tectonic whims. In Savuti, lions have become used to depending on themselves and prey on the largest animals in the savannah.
Herd in Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 8th Manang, Nepal

Manang: the Last Acclimatization in Civilization

Six days after leaving Besisahar we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). Located at the foot of the Annapurna III and Gangapurna Mountains, Manang is the civilization that pampers and prepares hikers for the ever-dreaded crossing of Thorong La Gorge (5416 m).
Music Theater and Exhibition Hall, Tbilisi, Georgia
Architecture & Design
Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgia still Perfumed by the Rose Revolution

In 2003, a popular political uprising made the sphere of power in Georgia tilt from East to West. Since then, the capital Tbilisi has not renounced its centuries of Soviet history, nor the revolutionary assumption of integrating into Europe. When we visit, we are dazzled by the fascinating mix of their past lives.
Full Dog Mushing
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.
Ceremonies and Festivities
Pueblos del Sur, Venezuela

The Pueblos del Sur Locainas, Their Dances and Co.

From the beginning of the XNUMXth century, with Hispanic settlers and, more recently, with Portuguese emigrants, customs and traditions well known in the Iberian Peninsula and, in particular, in northern Portugal, were consolidated in the Pueblos del Sur.
fastened by several wires
Curitiba, Brazil

The High-Quality Life of Curitiba

It is not only the altitude of almost 1000 meters at which the city is located. Cosmopolitan and multicultural, the capital of Paraná has a quality of life and human development rating that make it a unique case in Brazil.
Beverage Machines, Japan

The Beverage Machines Empire

There are more than 5 million ultra-tech light boxes spread across the country and many more exuberant cans and bottles of appealing drinks. The Japanese have long since stopped resisting them.
MassKara Festival, Bacolod City, Philippines
Bacolod, Philippines

A Festival to Laugh at Tragedy

Around 1980, the value of sugar, an important source of wealth on the Philippine island of Negros, plummeted and the ferry “Don Juan” that served it sank and took the lives of more than 176 passengers, most of them from Negrès. The local community decided to react to the depression generated by these dramas. That's how MassKara arose, a party committed to recovering the smiles of the population.
combat arbiter, cockfighting, philippines

When Only Cock Fights Wake Up the Philippines

Banned in much of the First World, cockfighting thrives in the Philippines where they move millions of people and pesos. Despite its eternal problems, it is the sabong that most stimulates the nation.
Ross Bridge, Tasmania, Australia
Discovering tassie, Part 3, Tasmania, Australia

Tasmania from Top to Bottom

The favorite victim of Australian anecdotes has long been the Tasmania never lost the pride in the way aussie ruder to be. Tassie remains shrouded in mystery and mysticism in a kind of hindquarters of the antipodes. In this article, we narrate the peculiar route from Hobart, the capital located in the unlikely south of the island to the north coast, the turn to the Australian continent.
Gizo, Solomon Islands

A Saeraghi Young Singers Gala

In Gizo, the damage caused by the tsunami that hit the Solomon Islands is still very visible. On the coast of Saeraghi, children's bathing happiness contrasts with their heritage of desolation.
View of Fa Island, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Exotic Signs of Life

Jean Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center, New Caledonia, Greater Calhau, South Pacific
Grande Terre, New Caledonia

South Pacific Great Boulder

James Cook thus named distant New Caledonia because it reminded him of his father's Scotland, whereas the French settlers were less romantic. Endowed with one of the largest nickel reserves in the world, they named Le Caillou the mother island of the archipelago. Not even its mining prevents it from being one of the most dazzling patches of Earth in Oceania.
Brava Cape Verde Island, Macaronesia
Brava, Cape Verde

Cape Verde Brave Island

During colonization, the Portuguese came across a moist and lush island, something rare in Cape Verde. Brava, the smallest of the inhabited islands and one of the least visited of the archipelago, preserves the authenticity of its somewhat elusive Atlantic and volcanic nature.
St. Trinity Church, Kazbegi, Georgia, Caucasus
Winter White
Kazbegi, Georgia

God in the Caucasus Heights

In the 4000th century, Orthodox religious took their inspiration from a hermitage that a monk had erected at an altitude of 5047 m and perched a church between the summit of Mount Kazbek (XNUMXm) and the village at the foot. More and more visitors flock to these mystical stops on the edge of Russia. Like them, to get there, we submit to the whims of the reckless Georgia Military Road.
José Saramago in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain, Glorieta de Saramago
Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain (España)

José Saramago's Basalt Raft

In 1993, frustrated by the Portuguese government's disregard for his work “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ”, Saramago moved with his wife Pilar del Río to Lanzarote. Back on this somewhat extraterrestrial Canary Island, we visited his home. And the refuge from the portuguese censorship that haunted the writer.
colorful boat, Gili Islands, Indonesia
Gili Islands, Indonesia

Gili: the Indonesia's Islands the World Calls “Islands”

They are so humble that they are known by the term bahasa which means only islands. Despite being discreet, the Gili have become the favorite haunt of travelers who pass through Lombok or Bali.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Flock of flamingos, Laguna Oviedo, Dominican Republic
Natural Parks
Oviedo Lagoon, Dominican Republic

The (very alive) Dominican Republic Dead Sea

The hypersalinity of the Laguna de Oviedo fluctuates depending on evaporation and water supplied by rain and the flow coming from the neighboring mountain range of Bahoruco. The natives of the region estimate that, as a rule, it has three times the level of sea salt. There, we discover prolific colonies of flamingos and iguanas, among many other species that make up one of the most exuberant ecosystems on the island of Hispaniola.
on Stage, Antigua, Guatemala
UNESCO World Heritage
Antigua (Antilles), Guatemala

Hispanic Guatemala, the Antigua Fashion

In 1743, several earthquakes razed one of the most charming pioneer colonial cities in the Americas. Antigua has regenerated but preserves the religiosity and drama of its epic-tragic past.
In elevator kimono, Osaka, Japan
Osaka, Japan

In the Company of Mayu

Japanese nightlife is a multi-faceted, multi-billion business. In Osaka, an enigmatic couchsurfing hostess welcomes us, somewhere between the geisha and the luxury escort.
Mangrove between Ibo and Quirimba Island-Mozambique
Ibo Island a Quirimba IslandMozambique

Ibo to Quirimba with the Tide

For centuries, the natives have traveled in and out of the mangrove between the island of Ibo and Quirimba, in the time that the overwhelming return trip from the Indian Ocean grants them. Discovering the region, intrigued by the eccentricity of the route, we follow its amphibious steps.
Engravings, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
luxor, Egypt

From Luxor to Thebes: Journey to Ancient Egypt

Thebes was raised as the new supreme capital of the Egyptian Empire, the seat of Amon, the God of Gods. Modern Luxor inherited the Temple of Karnak and its sumptuousness. Between one and the other flow the sacred Nile and millennia of dazzling history.
Chepe Express, Chihuahua Al Pacifico Railway
On Rails
Creel to Los Mochis, Mexico

The Barrancas del Cobre & the CHEPE Iron Horse

The Sierra Madre Occidental's relief turned the dream into a construction nightmare that lasted six decades. In 1961, at last, the prodigious Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad was opened. Its 643km cross some of the most dramatic scenery in Mexico.
Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Daily life
Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

Work is essential to most lives. But, certain jobs impose a degree of effort, monotony or danger that only a few chosen ones can measure up to.
Masai Mara Reservation, Masai Land Travel, Kenya, Masai Convivial
Masai Mara, Kenya

A Journey Through the Masai Lands

The Mara savannah became famous for the confrontation between millions of herbivores and their predators. But, in a reckless communion with wildlife, it is the Masai humans who stand out there.
The Sounds, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Fiordland, New Zealand

The Fjords of the Antipodes

A geological quirk made the Fiordland region the rawest and most imposing in New Zealand. Year after year, many thousands of visitors worship the sub-domain slashed between Te Anau and Milford Sound.