Guestpost by Feet on the Map, images by Alice Luker
Spectacular sunsets, golden sand powder, delectable sea-food platter and a crystal blue Indian Ocean are some of the words that come to mind, when you think of Sri Lanka.
However, once you have scratched the surface of this island country, take a train ride from Colombo, the state capital to the lesser known regions of Sri Lanka and be ready to be blown away by the surprises thrown at you.
So go now, and take my list of the indulgent yet immersive list of 5 reasons to add a train journey to your Sri Lanka itinerary…
1. Experience Sri Lanka like a local
The best way to experience any destination is to do what the locals do. Once on the train, you’ll see a lot of Sri Lankan families, hopping on the train for a quick weekend family retreat. Smile a little and say a quick hello to the strangers.
The next thing, you would be doing is listening to stories from locals about who they are, what they do for a living, what jobs they do, where they spend their time over the weekends, etc. If you are lucky like me, you could end up meeting a family of 4 generations together.
Riding the train truly opens you up to experience the aspirations and hope of the people from different faiths- all joined together by love for the country.
2. Experiencing beauty
One of the compelling reasons to take a train ride in Sri Lanka is to marvel, how all the stations, small or big are inexplicably clean and kept with impeccable beauty.
All the stations, as you would experience are largely filled with beautiful flowering plants, adding a whole new dimension to the journey. The stations though, smaller in size, are visually appetizing.
3. Return to childhood
I must confess, I am not a big fan of train travel. However, chugging up with the slow blue or red coloured, toy like train is a fun and beautiful experience to remember. Peeping from the window, you can see the villagers passing by with colourful umbrellas, sleepy cattle, constant rising of the lush tea slopes.
You can feel the soft wind blowing through your hair and wave to kids across the streets. You can also make animated hand figures and host your own puppet show as you would pass through several dark tunnels. In short, take the train ride, if you want to return to your childhood!
4. Indulge in the Sri Lankan cuisine
While small distance journeys don’t always offer ‘small eats’ or even ‘lunch’ on-board, you can still indulge your taste buds, as you stand by waiting for your train. Almost all the stations have a cafeteria or a canteen as they are locally known and offer tasty ‘small Sri Lankan eats.’
Rolls, fresh breads with veggies, peanuts, cutlets and sometimes even local signature dishes such as hoppers or Kottu roti are available to eat. Make sure, while you are there, you take a sip of the Ceylon tea.
5. Admiring the diversity of the country:
A train journey through the postcard countryside of Sri Lanka will challenge your pre-existing notions about an island life.
As you spend more time on-board, you’ll pass through mist laden hills, colourful rainbows, gurgling waterfalls, foggy rice fields, cabbage gardens and tea plantations.
So what are you waiting for? Book a train and get ready to be transported to another world!