I’m so happy that I didn’t ignore everyone that told me to please, please, please, take the beautiful train ride in Sri Lanka.
There was a bit of confusion regarding which route to actually take but I eventually discovered that it was the route from Ella to Kandy.
I’d taken two other train rides across the country prior to this route and I was beginning to think that maybe people gave these trains way too much credit.
The first route I took was from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya. It was a sleeper train very late at night. I opted to spring for first class, thinking it would be nice to have a bed to lay in.
This was the creepiest experience of my life.
The men were EXTREMELY aggressive prior to me getting on the train and once I got on. When I entered the stinky first class room and saw the stained sheets on the bed, men were knocking on my window as well as my door.
When one began speaking in his native language while trying to enter, I screamed for help. A guard showed up and I asked to be escorted to second class which were regular seats.
I wasn’t able to see anything that night because it was dark, but my opinion of the train system in Sri Lanka was quickly going down.
Don’t Be A Foreign Woman Traveling Solo On A Night Train In Sri Lanka
Then there was the second time I found myself on a train where I traveled from Nuwara Eliya to Ella. This time I avoided first class and asked for second class. When he asked if I wanted a reserved seat, I ignorantly said, “No thanks, I don’t need it.”
Oh boy, what a mistake.
I should have known that something was off when everyone began running to the train when it pulled up.
I thought, “What’s the big deal?” Sadly, I couldn’t run with my big suitcase. I’m so not the live out of my backpack girl.
Well, the big deal was that people were trying to get seats near the windows and doors as this was a fairly scenic route as well, but most importantly people were just trying to get seats in general. I had no clue that they sold more tickets than seats available and that I was expected to stand.
Luckily my big luggage came in handy and acted as a seat for me. You guys, I have to tell you that the train was gross, especially the bathroom, I had to sit near it. Ugh! I wanted to share an image but couldn’t bring myself to even look at that long.
It was rusty, worn, stinky, broken and just gross and the train was packed to an annoying capacity.
There was no enjoying the view for me. I just wanted it to be over as soon as possible.
Lesson Learned: Always Get A Reserved Seat
So I’d pretty much decided that the bloggers were all liars and they were not telling the truth about the tragedy that is the train rides of Sri Lanka.
I was never going to board one again, however once I reached Ella I was repeatedly told that I just have to take the one in the morning, second class with a reserved seat and they promised me that it would be worthwhile.
I reluctantly got a ride back to the train station and followed the instructions I had been given.
I could see a huge difference in the demeanor of everyone and I could even tell that the train was in much better shape than the others as it pulled up.
I stepped onto the train and was pleasantly surprised that there was no running, pushing or shoving. The walls looked new and clean, there was fresh air flowing and I could easily get to my seat.
I even went to the bathroom twice. This train experience was everything that I’d read about and more.
So much happened for me over those seven plus hours. I felt as though I was being kissed by God and hugged by Nature, which is all one in the same for me.
The beauty, the oohs and the ahs….the connections that I made with those that I shared a car with.
The reflecting that I was able to do and the epiphanies that I was able to have. I loved, loved, loved, this train ride.
Lesson Learned: Try, try and try again.
I highly recommend that anyone traveling to Sri Lanka should take the train ride, in the morning, second class, reserved seating from Ella to Kandy.
You will not be disappointed.
Below are more images from the beautiful experience.
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