After a week playing in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, it was
time to make our way across the Island of Sri Lanka to the capital, Colombo.
The journey on paper is only 267kms. We had re-searched a few options when
leaving Trincomalee and as always discussed it as a family. The five us, aged 40-4,
are all adventurous and all have our favourite ways to travel.
We came up with three options.
1. Small flight. 30 minutes. $1200
2. Private car and driver, 5 hours. $200
3. 2 Trains, 9 hours. $30.
Because we love a challenge (and travelling on a small budget) and the most adrenaline packed route we chose number three. When I say we, I really mean Andrew and I with a few whinges in the background from the kids! This reaction cements the decision as a slow travel train trip will show and teach the kids more than a drive or flight ever could. These adventures also make for the best travel stories.
We were well aware that the trains in Sri Lanka were not going to be wheelchair accessible but what we did know is that the local people would be more than willing to help, and always with a smile. We purchased five tickets at 6:30am and threw ourselves in and on. Literally, we boosted the kids up three steps to the carriage, along with our two bags and Coopers wheelchair broken into three pieces. We made instant friends who helped carry the wheels and made sure the kids were safe and found them a seat.
As we sat in our 3rd class seats with the windows open for free air-conditioning, I looked across at the kids faces, all flushed, sweat on their foreheads and with big smiles on their faces. The train started to move, rattle and sway as we crossed the country.
They spent the entire ride having photos with new friends, sharing snacks of
rambutans and pea-nuts and supporting kids with their English speaking skills.
We saw mountains, villages and green lush rice fields. At each stop food sellers
would come onboard singing down the aisle spruiking their snacks. We tasted fried
lentil patties, fresh roti, samosa and many other treats we couldn't pronounce or
recognize, and all were delicious. The landscape started to change and buildings
appeared as we closed in on Colombo. The younger kids woke up from a nap as the
train slowed to a stop.
We climbed off the train onto the tracks then up to the platform instantly
swimming in a sea of people. A young man helped carry all of Coopers wheelchair,
while we carried Cooper and our bags. We set up the chair to then discover a large
set of steps at the exit. It might seem a mountain to us standing at the bottom of
steps with a wheelchair user, but we are willing to climb it!
Bron Leeks leads the adventurous team at Smithsholidayroad.com where she shares her families adventures with a focus on wheelchair access and inclusion. Based in Melbourne, Australia and exploring far and wide.