Me and Peter enjoying the curry and rice feast at Garden View Inn
After a final breakfast with Lloyd and Dieter, I set off. Ebert told me to take a bus to Weilawella junction from just outside the guesthouse - about three bus drivers deliberately ignored me as I tried to wave them down - idiots! I walked a bit further down to where a local was waiting and got on one there (LKR10). At the junction, the Colombo A2 road joins and there I got on a bus towards the hill country after waiting for about 15 minutes. However, there no chance in hell of a seat! In fact, there was barely standing room, there must have been about 100 people packed onto a bus with about 30 seats....mmm, not the most comfortable journey ever! Thankfully, the conductor put my bag in the boot (first time I've seen them do that!), but I was left crammed against the front windscreen of the bus, so while I had a great view of the road ahead, I was also almost certain to die it we hit anything.
I just looked at the tacky plastic Buddha above the driver and prayed! I stood the whole way to Wellawaya (LKR63/40p/65c) and 2 hours later I was overjoyed to be getting off. I had to wait for the next bus to Ella (the name amused me as I have a friend called Ella, who was happy to know there was a townn named after her!!), but a nice chap called Radith helped me out. He ran a stall at the bus station in Wellawaya and although he wanted me to buy something, he was very friendly and didn't try and rip me off. I had a 20 minute wait for the 12.40pm bus, so I had a cup of tea with him and bought some biccies. You certainly notice the difference in the towns that haven't been completely overrun by tourism, the people are definitely more genuine.
Err...yes, the summit of Ella Rock....great views?!?
My bus to Ella (LKR40) took about an hour as we winded the 25km up from the hot southern plains into the hill country.
The hike back down from Ella Rock through the forest
Ella wasn't really what I was expecting - I had images of an old colonial classy village, but it was really just a ramshackle street, with a few touristy cafes and restaurants. After being offered ridiculously expensive rooms by a couple of guesthouses, I was tempted to move straight on and go somewhere else - my frustration was getting the better of me! I thought better of it, however, and took a look at Garden View Guesthouse. They initially wanted KLR1,000 for a room, but I managed to get the owner down to LKR750.
Just after I concluded the deal, a Belgian guy called Peter arrived and I asked him if we wanted to go halves on a room - he was happy to, so we agreed to pay LKR1,000 for the room, 500 each, which is pretty cheap and it was a nice clean room. The weather was looking a bit ominous, so I decided not to venture on any of the walks, but spent the afternoon drinking tea and checking my emails - the NesCoffee cafe had free wi-fi, which was a treat! Peter and I ate at the guesthouse in the evening - a huge banquet of curry and rice for the astonishing price of LKR250 (£1.50/$2.50) each. Yum, yum! While eating, we got chatting to two Canadian sisters, Tali and Karen and a beer with them to finish the night off. Jan, a dutch guy, who was staying at the guesthouse also joined us and as an oceanographer, he was explaining all about tsunamis - how they start and the impacts they have, which I found very interesting.
It's obviously very topical in Sri Lanka, given what happened here on 26 December 2004.
View from Little Adam's Peak...not quite so misty as the day before!
Peter and I got up early the next day to hike up to Ella Rock, hoping that in the early morning we would be spared the heavy hill country mist. We started off on the route down the train tracks (memories of the Inca trail hike came flooding back) and soon discovered that this is a typically badly signposted Sri Lankan trail. the Lonely Planet description was also woefully inadequate and unless you ask for directions/help, you'd be buggered. After turning the wrong way, a local farmer gave us directions. well, it turned into a guided tour, and the cynic in me thought that perhaps this was all deliberate i.
e. that once there had been signs and that they'd been taken down so that you'd have to be guided up there. We went along with it though and soon we were winding our way through a tea plantations and on toward the forest. the grass was long and I got 'leeched' - I looked down and saw my bloody sock - little bugger was having a feast! I managed to shake him off as I think he'd finished and we carried on up the now very steep path. It appeared the farmer was taking us through a short cut as we saw another path join it that looked much more gentle. I was out of breath and struggling to keep up with the farmer's pace - amazing, given that it was rocky and slippery due to the rain the day before and he was just in flip-flops!! We reached the top after about an hour and fifteen minutes, but the view was totally obscured by mist - bugger. Real shame after the effort to get up early and get there.
We hung around a while, but it was obvious it wasn't going to clear, so we headed back down to the village to get some lunch at the Curd & Honey shop - from the outside, it looked a bit run down, but it had got good reviews and was always busy, so we had kottu rotti (a rotti cut up like noodles and fried with vegetables and spices - delicious!) for LKR200 (£1.20/$2).
The market street in Ella
I chilled out in the afternoon, with some more tea drinking. It is the hill country, after all! We had dinner at the Dream Cafe in the evening, but I thought the food (curry and rice) and average and overpriced (LKR500). I exchanged some tips and recommendations with Peter as he was leaving in the opposite direction.
Ella train station!
I got up early the following day and headed up to Little Adam's Peak. It wasn't as tough as Ella Rock, taking about half and hour each way, and it was a better morning, so I got at least some kind of view, but the stubborn mist some clung on the hills. After having breaky at NesCoffee, I set of for the 9.47am train to Haputale....
Ella Hotels & Accommodations review
Affordable clean guesthouse
This is a decent option in Ella. I walked round a few others such as Beauty Mount and Hilltop Guesthouse who were either full or asking too much.
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