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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

4 January 2020

Nine Arch Bridge

Rare selfie

Rare selfie

22 December 2019

Still no rain to speak of! It definitely must have been the modest offering to the Buddha back at the Temple of the Tooth. It was literally from that point onwards that the weather improved. In fact, I got a bit sunburnt today while walking up the 230+ steps to Little Adam’s Peak, a hilltop not far from our lodgings with epic views of Ella Rock and the lowlands to the south.

We extended our walk back down to the road and across to find the Nine Arches Bridge, an iconic railway bridge seemingly lost in the jungle. Well, lost apart from the hundred-odd tourists who had found it along with us. We

Train over Nine Arch Bridge

Train over Nine Arch Bridge

stopped for a coconut and learned that the reason for the crowd was probably the train due to come through in 15 minutes. It ended up being 15 minutes late, but was still worth the wait.

I think a journey on this train through the verdant hill country would be rather lovely. Much nicer than driving through. The problem is that everywhere in the developing world there is a thin layer of human habitation that runs right along almost every road. It’s never more than one property deep, but it’s very consistent. You can stop anywhere at all on the road and you’ll be within site of a few houses or shacks, if not a whole row of little properties and businesses. The railway, running only a few hundred metres away, will be travelling through almost pristine wilderness or at worst semi-cultivated terraces.

Rice and curry

Rice and curry

Since Wilpattu and perhaps the buffet at Sigiriya Village, our dining has been distinctly mediocre. It’s either been over-salted and a bit basic, or blanded-down for tourists. We tried to fix this with lunch at Kitchen Garden, a place out of town that does cookery classes and which everyone seems to agree is authentic home cooking. Well… yes and no. The flavours were much better, very distinct spicing and very good, including unusual curries like cucumber and mango. But they had most definitely taken the trouble of leaving all the heat out. It was another little family business, though, and felt rather nice and friendly.

Back in Ella we stopped at a spice garden, where a genial old chap taught us a bit about the spices of Sri Lanka with the aid of photos when the plants themselves were a bit half-dead or not fruiting. I’d hoped it might be a place to buy lots of cheap cinnamon, but sadly it really did just exist for tourists and a half-dozen quills was little cheaper than in the UK.

We stopped off for a coffee at one of the backpacker places in Ella. Who needs dance music at 3 in the afternoon? I mean, really? And then we went home.

Ella Rock from our hike

Ella Rock from our hike


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