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Way Up North & Back Down The West Coast

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We already had our tickets that we had booked on our arrival for the train from Anuradhapura to Jaffna, which were for 1 st Class, so didn’t need to get to the station too early this time. Normally we wouldn’t travel that class, but this train was a new service and that’s all that is available, and at 1200 Rs each for the 3-hour journey, the most expensive so far on the trip. But it was a comfortable and pleasant journey, as all the carriages are A/C and the seats were nicely spaced too, if not a little too cold due to the icy cold A/C. Arriving in Jaffna around lunchtime, we got a TukTuk to our accommodation for the next 2 nights, as sadly we had just missed out booking it for all 4 nights, therefore we had to book 2 separate places near each other for a couple of nights at each. First place was called Nallur Residence, where our host Haran kindly greeted us along with other new arrivals, who bizarrely had all came off the same train! There was a family of local tourists from Co

Whales, Birthdays and Ancient Cities

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Oft, trains at 4am are not fun. The trouble with some trains in Sri Lanka is that you can’t reserve seats on them so it’s best to turn up an hour before they depart to get a ticket, however at that time in the morning not much is running smoothly and I’m normally a little grumpy. The ticket office was a bit late opening, the electrics weren’t on in the station toilets so no lights and no paper, the train although in the station isn’t on yet so no lights or fans working and as such the carriages are dark mosquito havens…..but on the plus side tickets were cheap at around 420rs each (£1.40) and Paul managed to find us some triangles for the journey, so even though it was going to be a long one it wasn’t all bad. We were heading back down to Unawatuna as New Year on the beach sounded cool (we’d heard the beach fireworks are a sight to behold) and as Paul was turning 50 on the 11 th of Jan, we wanted to be with the friends we’d made so far on our travels. We’d already booked in with Manu

From Yala up through Hill Country

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We had been in Sri Lanka for exactly one month, and it was time to move inland and see a bit more of the country other than beautiful beaches, though we will return to them later! Our rough plan was to spend around 2 weeks exploring the Hill Country, which gave us plenty of time as most tourists/backpackers do it in a few days or a week maximum, and consists of 3 or 4 stops, which conveniently run along the railway line from Kandy – Ella which is a must do on this beautiful island. However before that, our next stop was at a small town called Tissamaharama, which is one of the main places to stay for a visit to Yala National Park where we planned to do a safari. Yala is one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see Leopards in the wild, so along with that opportunity and also chances to see Sloth Bears and Elephants plus lots of other wildlife. So, with a taxi booked to take us to our next hotel, we had also arranged to visit Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara on the way there, which is a