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  • Day9

    Southwards to Galle

    January 23, 2019 in Sri Lanka ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Long day today! Among the earliest times I've ever gotten out of bed I think! Unfortunately for us, there's only a single direct train that runs between Kandy and Galle each day, and it leaves Kandy at 5am. Even worse, it's an entirely unreserved train, meaning that you can't book a seat or even a ticket in advance. Your only option is to rock up at the station, buy your unreserved tickets, and hope that you're there early enough to find seats.

    So we got up at about 4am and were out the door by 4:15. 10 minute walk to the station, where we grabbed our second class unreserved tickets and hurried to the train. Thankfully it was mostly empty when we boarded, about 35 minutes before departure, but it gradually filled up and there were hardly any seats left by the time we left.

    It was a three hour run to Colombo, and the train got more and more packed with people standing - mostly commuters and office workers I think. Would've sucked to stand all that way though - or worse, hanging out the door! Didn't see much as it was completely dark until about 6:30, so we both dozed on and off.

    The train sat at Colombo station for about 20 minutes while they changed engines, and about half of the train got off though another load of people got on to replace them. Quite a few more westerners now, as Galle is a pretty popular spot.

    Another three hours on the train, running down the coastline, and finally we arrived in Galle. Noticeably warmer down here, and more humid too despite being right on the coast. Galle is notable mostly for its old fort, first built by the Portuguese then enlarged by the Dutch and later the English. We were staying at a guest house inside the fort so after a hot and sweaty 15 minute walk from the station, we arrived.

    Not the nicest place we've stayed in, but it has air conditioning which is the main thing! Relaxed for a couple of hours then headed out to explore the fort. Lots of old colonial buildings are around (we're even staying in one), but they give me mixed feelings. It's hard to enjoy the style and elegance of the designs while ignoring who built them and why. Complicated cultural legacy I guess.

    The fort area isn't super large (only about three N-S streets and 6-7 E-W streets), so after wandering around here and doing a lap of the thick granite walls we'd seen everything within a couple of hours. Quite touristy here as well, much more than anywhere else we've been. Fancy designer shops, western food restaurants and so on. Higher prices too.

    In the end we had a beer watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean, and then just had a curry buffet dinner at our hotel. Reasonable food though quite spicy, especially the pineapple curry.
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