Although there were outliers I would estimate the average was 40 years and going up. There were also a lot of mature women traveling with a friend or alone. The most striking was the number of midlife crisis guys who clearly would have been suit wearing executives back home but had shaken off the shackles of cooperate life in favour of flip-flops, a sarong, and a man bag. But they wore them with awkwardness perhaps realising it was a look that Beckham pulled off in the 80's and/or many reasons mainly his youth and athletic physic allowed him to “culturally appropriate” with style. The landscape of the street was also curious. It reminded me of those open fronted bars which line sea resort promenades but there’s no sea only a mirror of the same type of bars and restaurants on the opposite side of the road. You never needed to wonder if you were missing anything as everything was on this short little street. The traffic was bedlam with rows of tuk tuks parked facing the curb on either side of the road. Buses and delivery trucks at will would stop in the middle of the road to drop passengers of make their deliveries which obviously created huge bottle necks going in and out of the town. More interestingly no one seemed to mind and just accepted it as part of the normal progression through this town as did we.
We made our way through the town at the far end of which was a steeply winding road heading up the mountains. Our destination was Ella Hide View and so up, up, up the side of the road we went until about three quarters of the way up the mountain we happened upon "The View Ella". This like most hotels on the mountain were on very steeply declining narrow roads just about wide enough for a tuk tuk. Our driver pulled in at the side of the road and told us we would have to make our own way down. My back packing days are over and I am now sporting a giant suitcase with wheels weighing 25 kg. Dragging that case was not an option in this terrain and the van driver was not being particularly helpful by asking us to get out of the van and walk. I pointed out to him that he wouldn’t be getting paid until we got to the hotel as that was what the agreement was. Seeing the logic of my argument he stopped telling us to get out of the van and stood outside talking with some road worker while I phoned the hotel. The hotel seemed a little confused which surprised me because the receptionists english was very good. We eventually established that they had a room for us and they agreed to send a tuk tuk to pick us up at the cross road. After a short wait a tuk tuk came up the hill from he town but went to take the turn towards the hotel. I started running towards him waving frantically to get his attention. Fair play to the man he stopped on the turn and I did my best to explain that he was sent by the hotel to pick us up. The poor man didn't have any english so I asked our van driver to explain the situation. All misunderstandings aside Róisín and the bags were loaded into the tuk tuk to make the journey down the little track with me following on foot behind. I paid our driver with no tip and sent him on his.
I made my way down the little track at the bottom of which were a gang of workers repairing a bridge. They politely move equipment and themselves to let me pass and all offered a friendly salute while clearly looking bewildered as to why this middle age foreigner was strolling alone in what was a path through a jungle. I rounded a bend into a small car park below the hotel. My hackles being raised to see a few cars parked there, so our driver could have driven down if had wanted to do so. I now had to face the final part of the track which was almost vertical to reach the hotel at the top. Half way up my lungs were in my month and I was glowing like a lighthouse. There were a group of young people coming down the hill so rather than reveal I was about to keel over I took the opportunity to strike up a conversation based on the lovely little yellow mini parked below. They had a look of young trendys about them so it was possible the car was theirs even if not it was a good opener. To my surprise two of the group stopped while the others continued on their way and what I thought would be a hi bye conversation turned into a 20 minute chat. They were so friendly. The young man had some English but he called his girlfriend back as she had excellent english. It turned out they were from Russia holidaying in Sri lanka for a few weeks. This was the last day of the trip. They gave me loads of tips telling me where they had been shared the holiday pictures with me. Told me of a villa they had hired on the coast with a pool and a private beach and if that were not enough luxury the villa came with a chef. They were heading into town and asked me to join them in their apartment on their return. I was genuinely floored by how friendly they were and agreed I would call later. We waved our goodbyes and I hauled my way the final few meters (feet) to the mountain of steps which curled toward the reception. My god but my heart got one hell fa work out and I was impressed that the walk didn't kill me clearly not as unfit as I thought myself to be! I fell in the door of the reception and sat to catch my breath as I was incapable of speech. I was offered and given a refreshing drink which I consumed in the blink of an eye. The staff were incredibly kind and after giving me time to recover we set to finding our booking.
Tuk tuk ride to our Accommodation
They seemed to have no record of our booking so I took out my phone to show them the confirmation and details at which point the receptionist informed me that they were "The View Ella" and not as my booking showed "The Hide Ella" which was further up the mountain. They were still very eager to give us accommodation but the correct place had been booked and paid for. So with embarrassed apologies from me and above and beyond courtesy from them they ordered two tuk tuks from the town to come and collect us and bring us to the correct location. They had porters help us down the steps with the luggage and Roisin and I shared one vehicle and the bags went in the other. Off we went again over the bridge and back onto the winding road. Up and up we went until we came to another tiny side road which was just the width of the vehicle and if I mentioned the last road was steep this was a vertical decent with a twenty foot drop on the side. I prayed we wouldn’t meet another vehicle on this path because there was no way I was going to sit there while the driver attempted to reverse. That said it wasn’t possible to get out of the tuk tuk without getting on the roof and climbing down over the bonnet. I kept my eyes closed and just prayed. We get to the bottom and the driver swings the vehicle around to land us at the top of a very steep stairway. He was laughing at my terror and more so when he saw the look of horror on my face at seeing the stairs. All the buildings seemed to be cut into the edge of the mountain and all squashed together and on top of each other. Oh the horror looking down those 63 steps covered from light because of the other buildings on either side I was tempted to run but that would mean having to face the tiny road again. So nothing for it but to keep going. The tuk tuk driver had already thrown my 25 kg bag onto his shoulder and skipped down the steps like a mountain goat. I on the other hand took cautious steps over this block built stair, terrified that if I fell I would die breaking every bone as I rolled and bounced to the bottom. I very much doubted there would be any helicopter rescues here. I made my way slowly down with the intention of never coming back up those stairs until it was time to go, Róisín would just have to bring provisions to the room. We checked in and we were brought through the breakfast room through a series of corridors and stairways to be shown into our room which would be home for the next few days. Oh my, what a room! We entered at the back of the balcony with our room sporting french doors which lead directly to the bedroom and bathroom behind. It was lovely and had all the mod cons for a very comfortable stay. After the porter had left we made our way up the steps (only 3), passed the table and chairs and then swing to survey the view and what a view! We were perched over high over the valley and although there were many properties sharing this mountain they were concealed from view by the lush green and thick rain forest. The sun would raise between the mountains at 5:30 every morning filling the valley with a warm orange glow. At night it was possible to see the lights from the cartridges of train as it chugged and winded its way through the valley below. Every so often on it's slow progress through the valley it would send out a whistle exactly, I imagined, as it has done for more than one hundred years. Perhaps it was worth the hardship to get here. Next week folks and hope all is good in your part of the globe.
View from our accommodation of Ella
Hi, I'm Olive and I am the writer of this blog. I am traveling the world with my 22 year old daughter, Róisín, who has just graduated University. I wanted to document this journey because it is unusual for a woman of 58 years old to go on adventure that most students do on a gap year. I will try to share my insights into this epic journey with you along the way and maybe inspire more people my age to go on these crazy adventures too.