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Sri Lanka

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The classic train to Kandy, classic Kandy itself, on to Lion Rock at Sigiriya, the most famous attraction in all of Sri Lanka, then back down to the coast to spend our last couple days on yet another beach (Negombo). This is the story of our last week in Sri Lanka: The Train The old train between Kandy and Ella is one of the iconic things to do in Sri Lanka and in my last post I described the short leg we took between Ella and Haputale. After our rain-drenched time in the Highlands we picked up the train where we left off, settling in for the 5-hour journey to Kandy. It is good to do your research ahead of time so you know exactly how to take the train between Kandy and Ella. Fairly typically for Sri Lanka, however, the train was not at all on time, as heavy…

Ella or Haputale? It may not exactly compare with Rome vs Paris, but more and more travellers are finding themselves debating between these two great Sri Lankan hill towns. Ella has long been Sri Lanka’s lone non-beach backpacker mainstay and is a standard entry on every Sri Lanka bucket list. However, its ever increasing popularity is leading more people to opt for the far less touristy Haputale (HA-poo-ta-la) instead. The following comparison may be (will be) extremely subjective but can still help you make a decision for your next Sri Lankan visit. Ella Ella’s popularity is undeniable, with terrific hiking and the closest thing to a backpacker vibe outside the surfing beaches. As often happens, however, its popularity is becoming a problem, and at times it can be hard to tell you are actually in Sri Lanka with waves of foreign faces lining the town’s 2-3 streets as far as…

A quick history lesson, before I get to talking about the best beaches of Sri Lanka. Lanka means “island” in Sinhalese (what most Sri Lankans speak) and that has been one of the things this surprisingly large country off the southern coast of India has been called for millennia. Sri means “resplendent”, giving us “resplendent island”. Yeah, sure, sounds fine. Not exactly modest or anything but I’m all for national pride and that sort of thing. Colonists, however, well, I think it’s fair to say national pride is not something they tended to encourage. So, when the European powerhouses began taking turns subjugating it, they all called it some variation of “saheelan” (the Arab name for it, not entirely sure why) – Celiao in Portuguese, Selan in Spanish and Ceylon in English. As the British were the most recent oppressors this is the most well-known form today. The country was…

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