The journey from Colombo to Kandy by train is simple enough once you know how. Our tickets have been bought by a company that provide a taxi and train ticket service throughout the country, so the challenging part is complete. We arrive as directed, 30 mins early, although I’m not sure why. With my limited experience of train travel in this country, the train never leaves early. When the trains do leave, they are often followed by several flip flop running passengers who got their timings wrong and manage to chase the train and dive on at the last minute. After watching this several times, I can’t help but think there is a new unexplored Olympic sport here. One of the conductors we watched blew his whistle but looked around and waited for a few people to run to the train before raising his flag to indicate he was ready.
Years spent in the military have taught me the special art of hurrying up to wait, so being early is not a problem. Although the fumes in the station are intense as several trains completely full of passengers have their engines running constantly whilst stationary, I hope I don’t get overcome by fumes before our train departs.
Our train arrives and everyone hurriedly boards despite there being loads of time. I think everyone thinks we are in London. We shove our bags into the limited space provided, I think travellers sent their luggage on ahead of them when this train was originally made, as there doesn’t seem much space in this carriage. That said, the first class carriage gifts you more space then any economy seat on a plane and hopefully vomit bags will not be required.
The journey up seems quicker than last year, that may be because we were taking pictures of literally everything we saw last time. This time we sit back and take in the scenery, the good the bad and the ugly. Whilst we seem to be observing everything, the 2 girls sat opposite to us are the exact opposite. They sound like they are polish but I can’t say for sure. What I can tell you is they apply makeup by the shovel full. For the first hour of the journey they neither stopped talking or stopped applying make up. I’m not sure they realise it will slide off their face within 30 mins of leaving the train in this plus 34 degree heat.
It was great to hear the Nokia ringtone is still alive and well in Sri Lanka, there are at least 3 different people on this train with that infamous ringtone and they seem to be pretty popular individuals. Whilst it seemed funny when Trigger Happy TV did it in early 2000, 2 hours into this journey and the ring tone is not greeted with a loud “HELLO, I’m on the train”, it doesn’t seem funny at all.
Each time we pull away from a station we are jolted back and forth as the train seemed to get itself in order but apart from that it’s quite a smooth journey.
The same dude as last year walks up and down the train trying to sell you items of food and drink, it all sounds quite nice but I can’t risk the chances of being ill again, no Micky Flanagan incidents here please. He has upped his game somewhat and is now also providing Chia Tea and popcorn! Not sure who did his business model, must have been an interesting mind storming session that clearly ended in “fuck it get popcorn, the foreigners love it”.
Half way through the journey I decide to use the loo, I’m not desperate but I think it’s best I use the loo on the train rather then the one at the station. I still have the occasional flash back from using the station toilet and the assault on my senses from last year. I go armed with tissues, wipes and hand sanitiser and I am not disappointed. I open the door and there is no stench but that’s probably because it’s just a hole in the floor with foot holes! Ok, I prepare myself and have one of the quickest pees of my life trying to remain on target whilst bobbing around. I finish just in time and unscathed before we pull into the next station. On my return to the seat Rich asks about the toilet situation and when I tell him he decides to wait to Kandy!
As we get closer to Kandy, those left in our carriage start to move to the back of the carriage, sitting close to the luggage. I’m not sure why as this is the end station for this trip and it’s not London, but I’m not worried about my bag, it’s way to big and doesn’t have wheels, so no ones gonna try and make a run for it with that.
We step off the train and a few short moments later we are hit by the smell of the train station toilet, I turn to Rich and say “told you”, I’m so glad I went on the train.