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We needed to get from Negombo to Colombo Fort this morning for a train to Kandy and had two options. A Taxi to station or a Tuk Tuk to the bus station to get the air-conditioned bus to a bus station a 10-minute walk from the station. Since we think we have too much baggage and Mum wasn’t feeling great we opted for the taxi which took about 1 hour along the Express Highway.
After a lovely smooth air-conditioned taxi ride in which our Son slept all of the way we arrived and were dropped off at the station. It was very hot and we had to work out which booth to get tickets to Kandy from. Dad was lead off by a man to the tourist information room but soon returned. It turns out they wanted to sell the train ticket on condition we also take a whole tour package, drivers, accommodation, etc. Slightly frustrated by this, Dad went off to get the tickets while Mum looked after the bags and kids. While we were waiting many people approached attempting to sell tours, or ask if we needed a Tuk Tuk or taxi. Finally, Dad emerged with two 2nd class tickets to Kandy. By this time our daughter needed the toilet and had her first experience of a squat toilet, coping very well!
Entering the busy and bustling station to find our platform we were assisted by a local who let us know where to wait for the train. We had an hour to wait and the kids were hungry so we got them some food from the café on the platform. The locals thought the children were lovely.
As the train approached we placed our bags on the platform ready to board the train. At this point our daughter decided she needed the toilet again so Mum raced off to take her. The train pulled in and Dad stood waiting with the bags watching the people swarm into the carriage to grab a seat. Mum returned in time to help with the bags, and we were lucky to get a couple of seats for the kids to sit in while the adults stood.
The fans and the breeze from the windows were a welcome relief from the heat. Our son loved watching the local life out of the window while our daughter promptly fell asleep. After a couple of hours, we were in the hill country and the train stopped at a tiny station. The lights and fans went off and we stayed motionless for a while. The locals started to chat between themselves and get off the train. We didn’t really know what was going on. Eventually we asked around and found out that the train had broken down. The options were to walk 2km and get the bus (not really an option with kids and bags!) or wait about an hour to an hour and a half for a new engine to arrive. The third option was to take a Tuk Tuk, but apparently there were only 3 in the small village and they had already been commissioned.
So we waited for an hour and a half and kept the kids as entertained, fed and hydrated as possible. While we waited we got to know a lovely French couple. Elizabeth was incredibly chatty and told us they had been travelling for 2 years. They were heading back to France after Sri Lanka but not telling anyone, so it would be a surprise when they showed up. She was also planning to marry Jeremy on their return and was getting a dress made for the occasion in Sri Lanka.
Eventually a new engine arrived and we got going again. However, the heat had taken its toll on Dad and he was feeling rather ill and lethargic. Holding back feelings of nausea as we finally arrived in Kandy, he still managed to haggle a Tuk Tuk to the hotel. The poor little guy struggled to fit our bags into the back of the Tuk Tuk though somehow managed it before heading off up the hills to our hotel, Days Inn Kandy. He was a very funny guy, and very proud of his Tuk Tuk! After dropping us off at the hotel we still had to get a further Tuk Tuk to the apartment we were staying in – down a steep hill. Even when we got to the bottom of the hill there were still more stairs to descend. The stairs seemed to go on forever but being tired and hungry wasn’t helping.
By the time we all got into the apartment Dad was looking really unwell and went to have a lie down. Mum proceeded to unpack the backs so we could all get into PJs and relax. Since we were a long way from any shops she rang the hotel to order some food. At this point the kids started to really play up but despite being ill Dad tried to calm it all down before everyone lost it with each other.
Nothing seemed to work in the apartment and when we got a knock on the door and the man said we all had to go back up to the hotel to eat we were feeling very fed up with Kandy already. However, a Tuk Tuk was provided free of charge and Dad joined the rest of the family for the meal. We were seated outside and ate curry and rice noodles with the kids. It was just what we needed. Relaxation and food and by the time the Tuk Tuk took us back to the apartment we were happy again. The ride down the steep hill in the dark with the Tuk Tuk had us cracking up in hysterics. Even the driver was laughing with us and it was a great end to a very long day!
We settled in to our apartment, ready to have a good time in Kandy…