Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Train Excursions in Sri Lanka

Train travels,  who can resist them? It is the most magical way to travel,  provided you have a lot of time to do it. I won't lie,  I'm pretty crazy about them.

I recently took a little trip from Colombo, to Ella - down to Bandarawela (bus) and then to Nuwaraeliya.
Having heard about Expo Rail. I was curious about it. As most last minute planning ends up being, well,last minute, observation tickets were out.

Expo Rail in a nutshell is a privately owned rail carriage (attached to the normal train - NOT a train by itself) and can easily be booked online. I spent Sri Lankan Rupees 4500/- for two people from Colombo Fort to Ella (One way). It also included breakfast (pastries), Lunch (Sri Lankan rice and the choice of vegetarian - soya rice with carrot and yellow rice, or chicken and the same yellow rice and carrot). Tea/ coffee was provided, along with water bottles and tea time also included a little snack with a sri lankan version of a tiny muffin and egg pastry sort of thing, they were both quite nice). Bathrooms are quite nice and clean. The stewards speak English (for the out of town tourist) and are quite friendly. 

I've shared a couple of pictures below for the potential traveler, considering a trip - while the ticket is far more expensive than the regular carriage ticket (Observation is SLR 500/-), it is not a bad idea to check out. It is not the authentic train experience, there are no wadey and fruit sellers walking in. It is overall very comfortable, quiet and kinda like being on a plane with breath taking views.

A google search to private trains in Sri Lanka also showed Rajadamri (I hope I got this right, will verify later) also has a private rail carriage, which you can also purchase online. It seems cheaper. A girl I met while waiting for the train told me she paid SLR 800/- from Colombo to Kandy. Second class tickets are also cheap, can be busy - but recently renovated/ upgraded I think, so not really that bad either.

The train to Badulla on a Tuesday morning was about 30 mins late. 
This is what the Expo Rail carriage looks like from the outside.
The breakfast was provided by Paan Paan, and was nice
This was the lunch - soya on the left and chicken on the right. Honestly they both tasted the same
The view somewhere along the way
Tea time - they provided hot coffee/ tea and water bottles as well. It was nice with the air condition cold
Rail tracks - Ella, Ella Rock in the background! 
Second class tickets from Bandarawela to Nanu Oya - so very comfortable and 90/- each
I am also excited to learn Expo Rail (or the normal train really) travels to Trinco and Kilinochchi (in 5 hours!) as well and wish I could make a trip sometime.