The bumpy trip to Ella was, I think, the scariest experience of the trip. All was going well, but after three incredibly long bus journeys our luck was about to run out. Somehow, we ended up in a tuk- tuk for the last leg of the journey, rain pelting down with no wind screen wipers and, obviously no clue where we were going, helplessly leaving our lives in the hands of our driver. Half way up the mountain, he told us that landslides had been blocking the roads all day, and that we should turn around and try again tomorrow. However, being stupidly determined to get from A to B, we ignored his advice.
Three hours later, after a near death experience, having collided with what felt like half the cliff, we arrived in Ella, soaked to the bone and dying to get out of the ‘death cab’. We decided to splash out for a room for the night since we were in need of a hot shower, (very scarce in this humid country) and some sleep.
This became utterly impossible however, because as Eve and I repeatedly grumbled to each other, twisting and turning throughout the night, twenty irritating English girls decided to stage their own rendition of the X-Factor, screeching along to the top ten chart hits at the top of their lungs. The cats had definitely been let out of the bag. Although laughable now, it was incredibly un-funny at the time.
A single road led through the small town of Ella, restaurants and bars on either side glittering with fairy lights and a buzzing atmosphere immediately lifting our spirits. Waterfalls are one of Ella’s main attractions, along with Little Adam’s Peak (a tiny hike surrounded by tea plantations) at the end of which are the beautiful views of Ella, a definite must for any keen hikers wishing for some gentle exercise. Other attractions include Ella’s Rock and Nine Arch Bridge, a site which, although beautiful, is exactly what it sounds like: nothing other than nine arches and a bridge.
The train which supposedly rides over the bridge was the complete opposite to what we’d anticipated, a hilarious but disappointing experience. As we heard the rumbling, everyone eagerly got their fingers on buttons, cameras at the ready. Just as the front of the train came into sight we realised that not only was it the wrong one, but it was only one carriage long and looked just like something out of Lego Land. Very slowly, it made its way across the bridge and together with its squeaky horn, it was a pretty pathetic sight.
After the discomfort of our first night we decided to move (yes, we really were annoyed) and ended up about a fifteen minute bus ride away in the mountains at Tomorrowland Hostel, an experience within itself and somewhere that prided itself on being hard to leave. However, if you were to put my parents in there, I’m sure they would’ve insisted it was the easiest place to leave in their lives, since there was no privacy whatsoever and constant noise.
An unconventional hostel, the dorm beds were mattresses on the floor, cramped together to fit in as many people as possible; and, the fact that there was almost no light, made the walk up the enormously wide stairs at night an absolute mission, which definitely didn’t end well. Downstairs, day and night blurred into one, and music of all different genres constantly played in the background.
All being said, it was actually a lot of fun. This was partly down to the fascinating characters we encountered, but also due to the delicious vegetable curries, prepared every day for their ‘family dinner’ as it was called, with candles and incense burning throughout the night. Every day new travellers joined the clamour, instantly overwhelmed at first but settling in after an hour two.
Ella almost defeated us, but after a death cab, relentless music and the precarious staircases it was- without a doubt- time for a new adventure.