After another of Venura’s epic breakfasts, Flo and I hopped back onto the railway tracks down the slope from his place to start our trek towards the Nine Arch Bridge. This time, we headed in the opposite direction to Ella Rock, and back towards Ella Town.
We passed the Ella Station where most visitors hop on and hop off the train.
To get to the bridge, we essentially had to keep following the tracks. From Kithaella where we started, it took us about an hour or so before we reached the tunnel that led out to the iconic attraction Ella has become known for.
And no, you cannot pass through the tunnel without taking one of them silhouette-y photos.
Once we passed through the tunnel, we were right by the Nine Arch Bridge and just in time for the 11.45am train that was due to pass.
The train came a few minutes past its scheduled timing which was fine by us – better 5 minutes late and an hour, and everyone had their cameras on the ready to capture its passing. About 30 seconds before the train could be seen, we were able to hear it horn and its chugging.
Flo managed to fly his drone up in time to capture some awesome shots of the bridge as well as the train from top down.
Be warned that beneath the arches are a number of humongous hives!
We hung around a short while after the train had passed until my bladder threatened to burst. Thankfully, right next to the bridge sits Nine Arch Cafe where I was able to relieve myself and start the walk back to Ella Town.
I was wondering how people walking along the tracks would know when a train was about to pass. We soon found out when we heard a train whistle from afar. Still, we couldn’t ascertain quite where it was and continued walking. Soon after, we heard voices yelling ‘Train coming!’. Flo and I found a bald patch of grass to stand on and within a couple of minutes, the train had come and gone.
I’m assuming that’s how passers-by find out to move aside – by verbal warnings. Granted, just next to Ella Station there’s a sign that says not to walk on the tracks but realistically, that’s a difficult thing to do especially with the tall grass that lines both sides at some points, as well as wet, heavy mud after rain that encourages one to step on the wooden or concrete slabs that form the track.
It was quite a bit hotter as well walking back to town. The sun decided to beat down on us and Flo, who worried about being cold, was decked in jeans, which made the trek back particularly tiring.
Once at Ella Town, we decided to lunch at The Curd Shop. I had read that Sri Lankan buffalo curd is quite delightful especially when sweetened with their local treacle. I assume that in most eateries, it is served as simply as it sounds.
Flo ordered a Tuna Sandwich which turned out to be a 5 slices of bread! Two layers had salty tuna, there was a layer of egg, one of cheese, and another of fresh vegetables with a second slice of cheese. We shared this although I mainly tasted it because I didn’t find it particularly appetising.
My order of Traditional Curd with Treacle, which I had assumed was the simplest sounding one, turned out to be quite a fancy affair with the curd topped with thinly sliced apples, oranges, a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, chocolate wafer rolls, and a cherry on top.
I had the ice-cream moved to Flo’s Vanilla Malt Milkshake (which was sweetness overload!), and had to remove the orange slices in order to dig in.
Surprisingly, as sugary as it looked, it turned out to be very good! The curd itself was much like greek yoghurt and the treacle was not too sweet at all. I enjoyed the julienned apples which were refreshing and crunchy. Flo also gave it his thumbs up. And craving a bit of sugar, I tried some of the ice-cream and while definitely not a high-end vanilla bean ice-cream, it was still creamy and comforting. Still, for the price – about 420 rupees (SGD3.20) if I remember correctly, it was high, especially seeing that you can get the same for a quarter to half the price at other dining places. Perhaps without the frills but you don’t need that.
After cooling down a bit, Flo and I decided to walk to the other side of town and up Little Adam’s Peak. This is the little brother of Adam’s Peak which is located at Nallathanniya, Dalhousie – smack in the middle of Kandy and Nuwara Eliya.
We followed the trail up which was easy-going. Then we reached a base point that said it’d be 300 steps to reach to top. I counted. And I lost count because eventually, when you’re higher up, the steps disappear anyway.
As with at Ella Rock, by the time we got to the highest point of Little Adam’s Rock, the mist had caught up with us.
Unlike at Ella’s Rock, we were granted a few seconds of clear skies every so often because the mist moved quite quickly with the winds.
We were down from our climb just after 3pm, so a return trip around Little Adam’s took us under an hour half. We considered popping by a Green Tea Plantation on our way back down to Ella Town but decided that we were too tired and apparently, it’s not advisable to go after 3pm because production would have stopped for the day. So we went all the way back down, stopping for drinks at Ceylon Tea Factory before carrying on to Cafe Chill.
We reached Cafe Chill around 5pm, thinking we were early enough to score a beanbag each at their top level where they had an area simply for lounging. We figured we’d earned it after all the walking! Sadly, all the beanies were taken and we were assigned a sensible table with chairs.
The weather had started to cool down so we both had a pot of tea each – Ginger Lemon and Honey for the man who was starting to feel a little under the weather, and for me, a Sri Lankan herbal tea.
I had no idea what to expect for the herbal tea but I really liked it! It was soothing, warming, lightly sweetened and had accents of ginger that warmed me right up. Ok so I just looked up where I can buy Sri Lankan herbal tea here in Singapore and it looks like it’s not easy to get here. Boo!
We stayed at Cafe Chill a bit longer, thinking we’d then head to Matey Hut for dinner since it apparently serves up one of the best rice and curries, but then the heaven’s opened and we decided to make do with Cafe Chill’s rice and curry – just to complete the Sri Lankan food experience. We didn’t get round to eating Lamprais – rice wrapped in banana leaf and steamed with a myriad of curries and an egg.
It didn’t impress me so much in terms of presentation but the curries themselves were good. Probably not the best in town but still good enough to quell our curiosity and satisfy us. Around the mound of rice, there was the mandatory Parippu (dhal), Gotukola Sambol (pennywort salad), Ala Hoddi (potato curry), Pol Sambol, Pathola Maluwa (snake gourd curry), Beetroot Curry, Wambatu Moju (pickled eggplant), and Wattaka Kalu Pol (pumpkin curry) as well as Poppadums for some texture.
I spied a seafood soup on the menu and my imagination brought me to a hearty stew brimming with prawns and fish and mussels. Alas, it came in a little soup bowl with toast on the side.
No real chunks of seafood although there were little bits of fish swimming around. The flavour of the soup though, was actually punchy and akin to a seafood bisque. So not quite what I was expecting but definitely better than it looked.
Cafe Chill is probably better known for their beers, fresh squeezed juices, pizzas and burgers. I did see quite a few orders of lamprais being served too, but I suggest to try a place that’s more on the down-low – that’s where all the best foods tend to be found. Cafe Chill is generally filled with tourists and backpackers, and not somewhere the locals throng to. If you’re missing home, this is where you’ll want to be for both the food and the atmosphere.