19th – 21st February – Ella, Ella, Ella…

I hope you have Rihanna’s tune in your head now – we’ve been singing it since we came here 🙂

We thought Kandy was touristy but it’s nothing compared to Ella, we outnumber the locals by about 10/1 it seems!

Steve is still ill. I really shouldn’t have joked to a friend that he had ‘man flu’, it’s a lot worse, although he is playing the ‘it might be glandular fever’ card now annoyingly. No mate, you just have a bad throat!

Anyway, we travelled from Kandy to Ella by cab in the end. I overheard someone saying that train reservations were fully booked for the ‘epic’ train journey (supposed to be fantastic views en route), and knowing that Mr D wouldn’t survive a 6-hour train journey standing up we opted for car instead. We ended up using the Sri Lankan equivalent of Uber, Pick Me. Just as we departed, the clouds started to turn grey, and within five minutes the heavens opened! Huge constant downpour for about an hour of our journey. Turned out our driver was a complete div and drove like an idiot through the hills and windy roads – a couple of times my stomach started to roll – ‘relax, inhale, look up at the sky’ was my mantra. Even passing two overturned lorries on the journey didn’t slow him down 😦 . Not going to forget that 3+ hour car journey in a while! Hairy.

We decided to spend a bit more on our accommodation in Ella as I was fed up with having just basic (dirty towels, stinking bathroom, ants everywhere etc) We shouldn’t have bothered! Nice enough place, but it’s only recently built so room is slightly damp and floors are still concrete (what with Ella being in the hill country there are constant showers and mist) and to make things worse there’s a family of monkeys lurking around. They’ve peed, pooed and other things right outside our room!  At first it was funny but then the alpha male one (King Monkey) turns up, gives you the ‘look’ and encourages the clan to gather round! Horrible animals, and that’s coming from me an animal lover. The hosts turned out to be lovely, the wife being a character. They were from Colombo and were quite well-to-do, the husband had worked for Glaxo-Smith & Kline for 30 odd years and had now retired. I think his wife was a ‘woman of leisure’. She appeared to be quite bored in the countryside. They spoke perfect English and mentioned how they visited England last year. I never thought I’d be having a conversation about Luton and Bedfordshire to a Sri Lankan!

Ella was basically built up by the British in the Empire days, the climate is perfect to grow copious amounts of tea in the area. Apart from the tea plantations, I don’t think there is anything else here for the locals, work-wise at least, so it’s the dramatic landscape that encourages a gazillion tourists here every year. It’s worth it! The town part is just full of restaurants and pubs, all catering for a mixture of old couples and young hippies. You notice some couples like us (early 30s, no children, digital nomads etc), some with families too. I could be cynical again but I’ll try not to. I just find it bizarre that these places only exist for foreigners. Literally no locals here, except to serve tourists. Anyway, aside from that the photos will show why this place is still a ‘must visit’. Jaw-dropping landscapes.

The main activities in Ella are hiking and/or chilling, and, judging by the number of bars/cafes that serve booze, also the place to have a good time. As Steve is still playing Sick Note, I spent Monday morning walking up Little Adam’s Peak. The somewhat larger Adam’s Peak is further west. You needn’t worry about finding the track that leads to Little Adam’s – just follow the sheep! (there were a few of us heading there alas). It was an okay climb, tough in places, but nothing too hard. The views were out of this world, I could have stayed up there a long time, but it was packed and nowhere to sit down to relax unfortunately.

Final day in Ella, it was my turn to be ill. Just a common cold though. So, nothing further to report, I can’t wait to hit the coast now and soak up the sea air in our final days. When one or both are ill it can take its toll. There’s been a couple of occasions that I’ve whined, ’I want to go home’… I suppose illness is something that travellers have to deal with, it’s all part of the adventure, maybe we had it too easy up to now (still no food-related sickness y’know!). It’s just a shame because it’s put a downer on the past week or so. We both agree that we should have settled in one or two areas, rather than shifting every other day. Four places in the last week was too much, it’s really no surprise our immune system took a pounding. This is when ‘slow travelling’ wins hands down.

Places

Remo’s Restaurant – voted 4th best restaurant on TripAdvisor, this place lived up to the hype. Tiny family run place, only had seven tables, and the curry was fantastic. Steve opted for the Lump Rice (sometimes called Lamprais), which is basically a whole mixture of meat, vegetables and rice wrapped and cooked in a banana leaf. We found out that this wasn’t an actual Sri Lankan thing, it was invented by the Dutch colonials. Regardless, likely to be the best food we have during our time in Sri Lanka. Dee-lish.

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