Archives for posts with tag: transport

Because of the various places I have been able to live and work, I have travelled quite a bit over the last 10-15 years. A lot of the time by myself. Travelling alone can sometimes be hard work – you have to do it all – there is no one to help out when you’re feeling tired or ill. Although, conversely, travelling alone sometimes brings amazing opportunities that may not come along otherwise!

And sometimes to travel alone, and to a new destination, you need to be in a good place, mentally and emotionally. For lots of reason, it has been easier the last couple of years to revisit places in Europe and South East Asia – and they’ve all been good trips.

But I was determined to do something new for this trip, to get out there and challenge myself again, become the person I enjoy being when I’m travelling – the person I feel sometimes gets lost and caught up in the everyday grind.

And so to Sri Lanka. As I have mentioned, I was slightly unprepared for this trip. I was also slightly apprehensive about travelling alone – the guide books indicate that travel in Sri Lanka as a single woman can sometimes be difficult.  But as I quickly, and fortunately, found out, the guide books are quite out of date in many ways, and there is so much to see and discover! And I’m so glad I’ve been here! Despite my worries and apprehension, travel was easier than I thought, everyone I met was very helpful, and I certainly did get back into the swing of travelling and exploring!

I challenged myself at times.

I had many funny moments – watching the young guy seemingly leap over people and seats to save me a spot on the crowded train, being intensely stared at at a very local tea shop on the road from Kandy to Puttalam.

There were happy moments – watching the elephants bathe in the river at the Millennium Elephant Foundation, having fun with the traders at Galle’s fruit and vegetable market, eating delicious curries, making new friends with shy children, finding a huge pod of dolphins that frolicked and pirouetted around us for an hour.

And relaxing moments – an ayurvedic massage, cocktails by the pool (after not drinking alcohol for most of the trip!) with new friends, watching beautiful sunsets in Galle in the south, and at Udekki on the west coast.

And no major dramas or problems.

Of course, I didn’t see everything there is to see in Sri Lanka! My plans changed often, and depended on busy travel during the Buddhist New Year period, as well as remembering I was on holiday and did need some time to relax – I didn’t want to be moving to a new place every day or so! My travel plans ended up being right for me at the time. There’s a lot more I could have been, or some may say ‘should’ have done – but with this sort of travel, each has to find their own way of making it work, and being happy along the way. But it also means there are plenty of reasons to return!

I’m so glad I spent this time in Sri Lanka. And glad that I ended up not having a car and driver for the entire trip as I had originally thought would be the best way. Whilst I may have been able to visit more places, I would have missed out on many of the wonderful experiences travelling by train, tuk-tuk, and bus!

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I’m now in Kandy, and everyone around me is preparing for the 2 day New Year celebration later in the week. The streets were so crowded today that every corner was blocked with pedestrians trying to get through with their shopping!

Yesterday was a travel day, as I made my way from Galle in the south, to Kandy in the hill country. 120 kilometers to Colombo by bus, and then another 120 by train to Kandy. Doesn’t sound that far. Well I got the bus from Galle at 9am and arrived in Kandy at 4pm. Because of the roads, and the amount of traffic, you have to plan very differently for travel in Sri Lanka. But it all adds to the adventure!

Two things happened that still make me smile as I think of them.

After getting the luxury A/C minibus to Colombo, I found myself at Fort Station – Colombo’s main rail terminal. I knew there was a train mid-afternoon with 1st class as well as an observation carriage and I thought that would be a nice change after traveling 3rd class the other day – and the air conditioning wouldn’t go astray either! But after a bit of back and forth between various counters I discovered there were no reservations available for the 3.30pm train. The attendant suggested I get the 12.40pm train in 2nd or 3rd class – but I needed to decide then as the train was about to pull in! So yes! Why not?

Walking onto the platform amidst the crowds, I asked a young guy who was changing track numbers for a nearby information board, which end the 2nd class carriages would stop. He indicated not far from where I was standing. As the train pulled in there was a surge of people pushing and shoving to get into the doorway and to find a seat! Next thing the guy who had just helped me, leaped ahead of everyone and seemed to jump over seat backs indicating that I should follow him! I made my way, slightly slower, to find him guarding a window seat for me – he had opened the window and also found a spot for my bag. I can’t believe how quickly it happened! And I’m not sure where I would have ended up if he hadn’t done that! It was more than worth his tip! And even as I think about it now I burst out laughing!

Of course we sat there for another 15 minutes, and the train continued to fill up. It was so stifling hot in those carriages! Sweat running down my back, and everywhere I put my hands, another damp patch would appear. Everyone sighed with relief as we finally pulled out of the station and the overhead fans began working and we had the natural movement of air from all the wide open windows.

I hadn’t eaten much the day. The original plan had been to eat lunch between the bus and the train. About half way through the 3 hour train trip, as we were winding slowly through the hills, getting higher and higher, the traders began to make their way through the train. With 4 spicy samosas, a bottle of water, and some Indian-style sweets that the gentleman next to me shared. What a simple lunch but what a delightful way to be enjoying it! The samosas were wrapped in the re-used pages of a child’s math notebook – as they were calculating how to turn fractions into percentages.

I have a few days in Kandy, and then hope to get across to the west coast. But travel may be difficult over the next few days as everyone goes home for the New Year celebrations, and many things close or have altered schedules. So we’ll see how it goes! I’ll keep you posted.