FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Beyond the boundary

Posted in Kandy, Sri Lanka, Talawakele by folkestonejack on February 3, 2018

Our re-arranged morning saw us take a bus to Talawakele at 6am, ready to take advantage of the glorious morning sun. The first few shots around the station were enough evidence of how good the decision to change the plan had been but better was to come.

A morning glint at Talawakele

A short walk across the railway bridge, over the waters of the Kotmale Oya, gave us a wonderful view that just kept improving the further away you walked. Up close you had a shot of the town with a pretty splendid distance signal but as you walked back the mountains came into view along with some lovely reflections in the water. A couple of double-headed runpasts over the bridge had everyone smiling and Bernd joked that we could go back to the hotel now, the best shots of the day in the bag…

On our return to Talawakele we boarded our train and headed off in the direction of Hatton (8:53), once again passing through the tea fields and small communities on each side of the line. An extended stay at one spot a little further on, not too far from the small halt at Derryclare, saw us descend upon a community cricket match. Play had just finished but we were able to persuade some of the team to return to the field to give us some impressive foreground for a couple of runpasts. If you got the shot right, as some did, you could have got the batsman striking a six just as the train passed. Needless to say my photographic efforts don’t capture this!

Colonial imports: cricket and steam

After continuing under the midday sun we found ourselves at a spot just beyond Kotagala where we tried a shot that required a little climb. It didn’t really work out for me but paid back the effort some had made with wet feet, muddy clothes and some leaches! We spent a while shunting up and down the line around Kotagala, getting out of the way of service trains that needed to overtake or cross us, only leaving for good in mid afternoon (14:16). The increasing cloud cover, with only small breaks for the sun, certainly backed up the re-arrangement of our activities for the day. If we had stuck to the original schedule we would have missed all the best conditions for photography.

A few more shots from the hillsides (14:35-14:45) were followed by a fast run to Hatton (arriving 15:05). The choice of continuing on by bus or by train seemed a fairly simple one – the bus would take two hours to reach Kandy whereas the train would take four and a half hours (our two steam locomotives would need to take water first, around 30 minutes per loco, and wouldn’t get a clear run). The faster drive by bus had its downsides – our driver had an interesting line in overtaking on blind left hand bends (think it was better in the fog when we couldn’t see how bad the driving was!).

Token exchange at Kotagala

We finally reached Kandy just after 6pm and were soon enjoying what I can only describe as the blandest meal of my life – a bowl of lukewarm tomato soup followed up a rather tasteless carbonara pasta dish with pomegranate seeds – served up by some of the most hopeless waiters I have encountered! A bit like theatre performances that are so bad that they become unmissable, this was one meal that could only be appreciated for its comedic value. Thankfully, no-one seemed to have agreed to their requests for credit card pin numbers to be disclosed…

My day finally came to an end with a session of night photography at Kandy which involved working around the late night trains and empties moving in/out of the station. It was a lively experience but I think we were all happy that we could return to our beds for a good nights sleep before too long.