Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sri Lanka: tea and trains



In Sri Lanka, the railroad is not just a track for trains. People build their homes along it, open shops on the sidings, and walk between the rails. We decided to take the train to Ella and visit World’s End, where the central plateau drops suddenly over a thousand metres to the low land below. It was like stepping back in time.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Time machines: travelling on Sri Lanka’s railway

Children greet us at a village on a hike through the mountains of Sri Lanka
© Andy Brown/2013/Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, the railroad is not just a track for trains. People build their homes along it, open shops on the sidings, and walk between the rails. This is what I was doing in November - walking along the train tracks to Ella Rock. Together with my friends Rob and Laura, I was on a hike high in the mountains of Sri Lanka’s central plateau. Our guide, Chamal, assured us that the train tracks were the best route. "No need to worry," he said, noting our concern. "If the train comes we'll hear it in plenty of time to get out of the way."

I'd already seen how slow Sri Lanka’s antique trains go - around 15km an hour - so it seemed reasonable enough. If I had to, I could probably outrun one over a short distance. Rob was less convinced. "Have you seen ‘Stand by Me’?" he asked our guide, and described the plot of the movie in which four boys go for an adventure along a railway line, get caught by a train on a bridge, and have to jump off into the river.