Train Journeys – Kandy to Colombo

It’s Thursday and I’m taking to the tracks again. This time I’m headed to Sri Lanka, a place I visited in early 2013 with my wife and we stayed about 10 days there, mostly in Kandy. We took just the one train trip whilst there, although more were planned, but that day turned out to be one of high adventure – and not all in a good way. But to be sure, there was some good from it.

Beautiful, lush Sri Lanka
Beautiful, lush Sri Lanka

The route from Kandy to Colombo by rail is supposed to be very beautiful. In fact, they have a special, ultra-swish tourist train that plies that route. There are television monitors in the carriages and nice seats that appear to have come from aeroplanes, and of course you pay quite a premium for those seats. If you’re interested in the full-service option, check out Exporail at their website (just click on the word ‘Exporail’ 😉 )

Looking at the track we've just passed over.
Looking at the track we’ve just passed over.

For those wanting to save a few pennies, there are around six or seven daily options run by Sri Lanka Railways. The prices in 2014 range from less than a dollar for 3rd class, to under 3 dollars for 1st.  For a distance of some 120km, that’s not a bad price. train sl 7 My wife and I planned to change at Colombo Fort Station and head on down to Galle after the first journey of about 2 hours and 45 minutes. This meant taking the very first train of the day from Kandy, at 6.15am. In retrospect, perhaps not such a great idea. We were barely awake when we arrived at the Kandy Station. The train was already there, and we had tickets for the ‘observation carriage’, at the end of the train. train sl 6 The train was a long one, with first, second and third class carriages. The observation carriage was just 20 rupee on top of the first class ticket price as far as I can make out. It was a diesel engine pulling the train. train sl 3 It wasn’t the best of days; in fact it would rain for the first couple of hours non-stop. The observation carriage wasn’t as cool as it sounded. It was quite old for one, and secondly the back was open to the sights (not to the element, there were windows!) so you could only see what you had passed. Add to that low-lying cloud and rain, and despite it being clear that the place was very green, not so much was to be seen. Sri Lanka is very densely covered in forest in many places. You could almost call it a jungle. It’s hilly too, so it’s really beautiful, and so we could appreciate that at least even if we couldn’t see all that much. But, we were so tired, we missed around half of the trip, asleep!

ooops! see the greenery outside!
ooops! see the greenery outside!

The trip came to its conclusion at the Colombo Fort Station.  A hive of bustle and hustle, it was a pretty cool place we thought. Getting our onward ticket was pretty easy, and we had over an hour to wait for the train to Kandy. I got some money via debit card from an ATM, and we waited and watched as the station saw trains arrive and leave. Finally, our train arrived, only slightly late. The push to get on was intense to say the least. I was caught up in the fervour in an effort to grab a seat for my wife and myself, but managed only one for my wife. I was putting the bags up above the seats when I realised my pockets were much lighter than usual. Yes. I had been pick-pocketed in the rush to get on the train. train sl 4 The one and only time in my life too. We got off before the train left, and people searched the carriage for us, but, well, that was that. The story of what followed is awesome really – we were taken in by a family, and had an amazing time, but that will be for another post. My experiences on the trains in Sri Lanka were somewhat disappointing in the end.

Colombo Train Station
Colombo Train Station

Given a sunny day though, I suspect from all accounts it is spectacular. Some days don’t pan out how you’d like them to though, and this was one of those days. But, I will never forget my experiences with the trains in Sri Lanka!

13 Comments

  1. This post brings back amazing memories from Sri Lanka. We both loved our train rides! It was a bit crowdy, smelly, hot and so long and shaky, but the scenery seen from train’s window was absolutely worth it!!

  2. I’ve been wanting to go sri lanka…cos it’s on a budget airline route n more importantly, I’ve seen some awesome photos of some beaches there…soon! 🙂

  3. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with smiling peoples. most of the pupils are kind. but very small no of pickpockets are hear so secure your goods.

    1. thanks for reading! Yes I agree, it was my own fault I usually secure my wallet in a pocket with a zip, but was careless and just and it in my front pocket this time. It’s very rare I do that, I know better!

  4. Wow. I am sorry that you lost your wallet. Yes I am from SriLanka and i felt bad when i read that. But its only a handful of people who do that. But overall srilanka is a very friendly nation and our hospitality is first class. Hope you got that vibe :). I was born and bread in the beautiful, sacred and world heritage city of Kandy. But you were wrong with one thing. The most beautiful train ride starts from Kandy towards Badulla. Its a journey you will never forget. I hope you can come back to go on that journey. The beautiful “podi manike” , the famous “udarata manike” trains travelling around the misty mountains of the hill country, that a another story to write. This was a nice text to read. Keep Travelling.. its more fun that just saving! Cuz life is damn short! 😀

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