The next stage of our journey took us from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, a tea growing area in the Hill Country south of Kandy and a five hour train ride away. The nearest railway station is Nanu Oya, where we were met by a car to take us the 8 km to our accommodation at Mount View Cottage. Set high in the hills above Nuwara Eliya, it was so cold we had to ask for a fan heater to take the chill off the room! Wearing thick clothing we were soon feeling cosy again. The views and the hospitality were good, and made up for the low temperature.
But first back to the rail journey…
At Kandy Station we tried to book 1st class seats the previous day, at a price of about £4.00 each. But they had been sold out days or weeks before. We had been assured that we would get seats in 2nd class at the vast sum of £0.80 each, even if we had to stand to begin with. The train arrived a little late from Colombo, and everybody piled on. After much jostling and a slight altercation Elaine got a seat immediately, and Bob was left standing. But it turned into a really sociable trip with the initial problems promoting conversation. Bob chatted to an interesting American lawyer, and then a delightful Muslim lady from Harrow travelling with her brother. Cries of vendors struggling through the overcrowded carriages selling their wares all added to the atmosphere. From samosas and roti to spicy peanuts, segments of pineapple to tubs of yoghurt and water, all were on offer!
We had imagined travelling 2nd class in a boneshaker of a train with wooden seats, but none of it! Ours consisted of a modern diesel engine pulling carriages with comfortable seating. Imported from China we understand. Some of the station paraphernalia was definitely not state of the art as we know it!
After about an hour Bob got a seat, and the train wound its way up through the valleys, with the scenery changing from urban to country, and then forests giving way to tea plantations. The train weaves its way along the sides of the valleys, across bridges, and as we climbed so the views became more spectacular. Not having been able to choose our seats, we found ourselves on the wrong side of the carriage going up, but were able to ensure we were on the correct side coming back to Kandy as we boarded an almost empty train from Nanu Oya.
Kandy is at 500m, Nanu Oya at an elevation of 1,623m with Nuwara Eliya at 1,889m . No wonder the British used to come here to holiday, built a sanatorium and other residences to give it the name ‘Little England’.