Day -12 - 29-Dec-2015 (I continue From Here )
I settle the amount for the homestay and scooter with Lal and he drops me at the main town. I request him to stop at a restaurant that servers hoppers or veliappam. He takes me to a small restaurant on the main road and then bids me farewell. He has truly been the nicest hotel owners I have met thus far. At the shack, I meet a Costa Rican who is traveling around the world on his bicycle. He plans to be in India next. Over breakfast he tells me some of his interesting experiences like in Iran he was stopped at the border and asked for a flight ticket. Apparently it is required per their rules to issue visa. I have a lot of aapam and iddiyapam and of course some Ceylon tea. I walk to the railway station and buy my tickets to Ohiya.
The train arrives very crowded and it gets even more crowded with tourists at Ella. Tourists, like parasites (term from the movie The Beach) are filling all the available spaces - Standing in pathways, sitting by the door. I find a corner for myself and enjoy the view as the train takes off. A bunch of young foreign travellers speaking a language that I cannot identify are busy playing video games. One of them is even inconsiderate to the locals by blocking their way and sarcastically asking people passing by where they wanted to go. This is so annoying, coming to someones country, flooding their towns and trains and blocking their way and then demonstrating sarcasm. What's your point? I pat him on his shoulder and tell him that his bag is hurting the old lady sitting behind him. He was too busy with his video game to hear her call him and request him to move a little. The so-called cultured group of this world are really beginning to make me angry. I don’t mean this to all but there are some who are insensitive and are dawned with a feeling of superiority for themselves or their race. Sri Lankans are very polite but the indians generally are much more blunt when it comes to conveying something to people irrespective of their ethnicity.
At the station, I take an auto to the Hill Safari Lodge that was booked by a traveller called Khairul with whom I have teamed up to trek a mountain. I have not met him yet and is on his way to the lodge as well. So I have no clue of what this place is like. But as the tuk-tuk makes its way to the lodge, I am totally impressed by the view. The route takes me through a dense forest filled with Eucalyptus trees that are covered in mist even at this mid morning hour.
The last stretch of the road is unpaved and is very scary as it takes you down to the lodge, which stands alone midst the mountains. This is one of the most beautiful places I have been to. I am so glad to be here even if I have to pay a little extra. But since I was sharing a room with Khairul, it did not seem expensive at all.
At the lodge, I meet Sunny and Gamini - The caretakers. Two Srilankan youngsters who were in the same train look at me and say that we could have shared the tuk-tuk had we known that we were all coming to the same place. Arathy and Kavan seem very cheerful and kind. Amy from China too checks in around the same time. Sunny, who was brought up in Austria and works as a plumber in Australia now is on a vacation to Sri Lanka and he chose to work at this lodge. He is very witty and cheerful, always engaging you in some or the other kind of conversation. They cook pasta for us and we all have a good chat over lunch. We share our travel experiences; learn from Aarthy and Kavan about Sri Lanka a little and discuss our profession and life in general. The place is nicely designed with some Swiss architecture.
Khairul comes in at around 3 and we all hangout together watching the sunset from a nice viewpoint beside the lodge. The view is spectacular.
The grass below is so green that we try out some group selfies taken from top using a selfie stick. The pictures turn out brilliant.
A French traveler Damien joins us. He is cycling around Sri Lanka. As the sunsets between the mountains and midst the clouds the change in colours present to us some magnificent views.
This global group of travellers is an interesting one and we discuss a lot over dinner. It would be difficult to summarize our discussions as the topics varied drastically. It is interesting to notice that suddenly we strangers from a cross the world meet at a given location and we know we diverge out again soon but the moment that we share shall be special to share our experiences. I teach Damien and Amy to play Carom after dinner. There is no wifi here, no mobile network and thus it makes it a perfect place to relax and enjoy the views and interact with your fellow inmates.
It is interesting that sometimes we think that a day is going to be normal like filled with travel or something but then no such day is dull while you are traveling alone as you keep meeting new people, you keep interacting with locals and you are always surprised with something unexpected. The night is very cold but I sleep really well, undisturbed. I am all excited about the trek tomorrow to the second highest peak in Sri Lanka.
Route - Ella - > Ohiya
Route - Ella - > Ohiya