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Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Returning from Ella

Day 68 - Good morning, Ella! It seemed colder than we're now used to. I expect it may have been around 20°C or less during the night. This just shows how quickly one gets used to his or her environment. As we were in the mountains, it was a good 5 or 6 degrees colder than what we've become accustomed to. It seemed funny seeing people wearing jackets. We all walked into town to buy some bakery and Sri Lankan breakfast items that we brought back to the hotel. The nice open air space of the Sun Top Inn would be great for relaxing here on a long stay.

Ella, Sri Lanka

Good Morning, Ella

Finding Breakfast

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Ella is now on many tourists' itineraries. It is nice seeing the fresh faces of young travellers. We run into this lot whenever we are out and about in the world. In fact, we used to be members of this youthful horde of wanderers. We still wander a lot but we've matured.

Our first event of the day was to locate the Nine Arch Bridge. The stone-and-cement rail bridge was completed in 1921 without the use of steel. It was part of an ambitious Demodara Railway Loop. Forgotten by many Sri Lankans, the area has been re-discovered by the recent tourist crowd. I did notice that there's a faint image of the Nine Arch Bridge on the current, Sri Lankan 50-rupee note.

Sri Lankan 50 Rupee Bank Note

After some breakfast, we packed the van and travelled just a few kilometers for a hike to the bridge. We had to pass through a lot of tea cultivation. There are several ways to reach the bridge, but we first went to the end trail.

Returning from Ella (Unedited)

Nearly to Ella Station

Nine Arch Bridge

No Scheduled Train

It's Comin' Round the Bend

We had to struggle down the last part of the trail and Jay's sisters were just wearing flipflops. A train went into Ella Station as we climbed down. A later train would later arrive while we were still looking around.

Many tourists came to watch the train and one fellow brought a drone. However, since the Easter bombings, drones are not allowed in Sri Lanka. A policeman had to ask that he pack it up. Many of the selfie-generation did their selfies.

We started our hike back to the road after the 9:30 am train arrived. We chose another hiking trail which was longer but rather pleasant and less steep. I still hurt a bit from yesterday's mountain climb. We walked through pine forests which, of course, only grow at high altitudes on a tropical island. One we got to the road, we called the van driver and gave instructions on where to pick us up.

Before starting our return drive home, we had to see Ravana Falls too. These are at the foot of the Ella pass on the main highway. In fact, we parked not far from a small highway bridge that crosses the river at the very foot of the falls. Lots of other people stopped there and enterprising shops set up to sell food, beverages, and trinkets. Of course, where there's potential food, there can also be clever scavengers.

Crowds Come and Go

Ravana Falls

Not a Pleasant Personality

Up the Falls

So it was time to head towards home. Distances in Sri Lanka can be deceiving. As with all the world, save for a glaring exception, the metric system is used. So the 200 kilometers between Ella and Minwangoda sound fairly close. However, my actual preception, unless on one of the new expressways, is that distances are still in miles. Today's 200 kilometers seemed like 200 miles. Sri Lanka has so much geography packed into such a relatively small island. This land a bit smaller than the size of Ireland. We did a lot of sitting between noon and 8:30 pm.

Not far from Ella, we did stop at the Dhowa rock temple, a protected heritage site. It's on the Badulla - Bandarawela Road. The site is probably around 2,000 years old.

Returning from Ella (Unedited)

Returning from Ella (Unedited)

Dova Cave Temple

We had lunch in the town of Haputale. This was the same area we saw all the travelling monks yesterday. The view was excellent and we finished lunch with some homemade ice cream. Also, coming back we stopped in Bandarawela to pick up some packaged tea. The price and selection was better than at home. The city was not as nice as I remember although in an excellent location. It was big, noisy, and not very pretty.

Returning from Ella (Unedited)

Returning from Ella (Unedited)

We retraced our route buying takeaway dosas for dinner when nearly home. We got here at 8:30 pm.

Returning from Ella (Unedited)


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