If the early bird gets the worm, I certainly caught it today. The chaos of Colombo just wasn’t doing it for me, and the hostel I stayed at had no vibe at all. So I moved on quickly to Kandy, the culture capital of Sri Lanka, world heritage site and what’s considered the hill-country.
Guys, if you are big planners, I strongly advise booking your railway tickets in advance at http://www.railway.gov.lk/. However, if you are like me and like to go with the flow, Booking.com, Agoda and Air BnB are going to become your best friend along this trip. Don’t be afraid if you haven’t booked anything in advance, there are always options around you (unless, of course it’s high season).
Another learning is that travelling solo in Sri Lanka does not necessarily equal cheap cheap. Unlike so much of Asia, this would have to be one of the most expensive countries I’ve travelled to in Asian standards.
Colombo fort railway station is the main hub for trains, and you won’t miss the main counter. Class 1 was sold out for people that had pre-booked but you can still purchase unreserved tickets from 2 and 3. I purchased class 2 tickets for just 200 rupees. Bare in mind, you will have to hustle to get a seat, most locals will help you out. But be wary of people who are ‘helping’ only to then pretend they are deaf and request a donation. I wasn’t sure if this was legit or not but go with it.
I always love catching trains in a new country, especially when it’s been voted as one the best train rides in the world. The train ride from Colombo to Kandy was quite picturesque, scenic and very comfortable. Time passed by really quickly. Locals came and went, practicing their English, curious to what brought us into Sri Lanka.
Regrettably, I missed out on one attraction that is apparently worth checking out – the Pinnewala Elephant orphanage (if catching a train, stop at Rambukkana).
Kandy: Where I stayed?
I decided to try Air BnB with a lovely host by the name of Bernard. It overlooked the hills of Kandy, offered traditional Ayurveda massage, delicious traditional Sri Lankan breakfast and he even arranged to pick me up. Monkeys roamed wildly through the property and the hospitality I received during my time here was unreal.
Check it out here: https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/1978288