Day 16 - Nallantanniya & the climb to Adam's Peak. Nallantanniya to Hatton (local bus) & Colombo (by train) & finally another train to Ambalangoda

I set off for Adam’s Peak at 3:00am, the rain had stopped which was a relief! There were some lights lit all the way, so my touch wasn't really needed. There were also plenty of stalls selling food & tea which was great as I stopped half way for a much needed sweet tea! The steps did become really steep into the second half of the climb & it was quite tough going towards the end. I was a little amazed at how many people were coming down from the peak; I assumed they must have left the summit at around midnight? Some of the people I saw coming down were in a bit of a state!

It was a long way to the top which included about 5,500 steps to reach the summit. At a height of 2243m, it’s Sri Lanka’s 5th highest mountain. The mountain has accumulated a mass of legends centered around the curious depression at its summit, the Sri Pada or Sacred Footprint. The original Buddhist story claims that this is the footprint of the Buddha himself, made as a request of the local god Saman. Although around about the 8th century, Muslims began to claim the footprint as that of Adam, who is said to have first set foot on earth here. Its tradition the climb is done through the night, so as to watch the sunrise at the top & the rather unusual shadow that is created against the other nearby mountains.

 The start of the climb to Adam's Peak

The start of the climb to Adam's Peak

 At the summit - Adam's Peak

 Pilgrims waiting to pay their respects - Adam's Peak

 Everyone rings the bell at the summit - Adam's Peak

Everyone rings the bell at the summit - Adam's Peak

 Views from the summit - Adam's Peak

 Watching the sunrise - Adam's Peak

Adam's Peak
Views from the summit - Adam's Peak

Pilgrims going to see the Sri Pada (Sacred Footprint) - Adam's Peak

I reached the summit at 5:00am (still dark) & was amazed at the amount of people already present waiting for the sun to rise. Some were huddled together sleeping & trying to keep warm, I am not sure why they hike up the mountain so early only to freeze at the top! It was wonderful to see the sun rise, and I took some great photographs. I started to make my way back down at about 6:30am, & it wasn't long before my legs were feeling like jelly (I did race a little going up!) I finally made it back to my guest house at around 8am, just a little tired!

 On my way down - Adam's Peak

Macaque monkey eating a cracker! - Adam's Peak

 Looking back at Adam's Peak

 Dagoba at the bottom of climb - Adam's Peak

Back at the start of the climb - Adam's Peak

I packed my things & headed off to the north of the village to catch the bus back to Hatton (55 LKR). It was packed & although I did have a seat I was constantly nudged & poked by the passengers standing in the aisle again all the way to Hatton. After reaching Hatton, I purchased my train ticket for Colombo (164 LKR), for the 10:45am train. Unfortunately it was jam-packed again & I did not get a seat, although I did spend most of the journey sat by one of the door ways, sat on the step, (a bit like the locals do!) This initially was great fun & the views & fresh air were a welcome, however being awake since 2:30am & after my hike to Adam’s Peak, I was beginning to feel really tired & so I had to be careful I did not fall off the train!

 Me on the train to Colombo!

On my way to Colombo

On my way to Colombo

After arriving in Colombo at about 3:45pm, I booked my next train ticket to Aluthgama, (Galle train at 4:40pm) the fare was 110 LKR. It was one of newer trains (hence the higher fare) & it was nice to travel along the coast with some wonderful views in comfort. The train was busy; however I did get a seat which was great as I was really tired by now. Unfortunately, I missed my stop for Aluthgama (I do remember the train stopping briefly at some point but I never noticed a sign?) I decided to jump off at Ambalangoda instead, luckily there wasn't a ticket inspector when I arrived so I didn't have to pay any extra!

It wasn't long after walking out of Ambalangoda train station (& looking through my guide book) when somebody approached me & asked if I was looking for a hotel. He told me he was a local fisherman & he had a friend who had an apartment on the beach nearby that I could stay at. As it was quite late & I was very tired I accepted his offer. During our walk through the town together he told me how he had lost his wife & home in the Tsunami of 2004. He also told me he now has a new home (further inland), which was built with the help of aid from England!

After about a 20 minute walk (heading south, parallel to the beach), we reached what was obviously a half-finished apartment. The owner was also a local fishing man who had also lost his home & holiday apartment in the Tsunami & both buildings were still currently in the stages of being rebuilt. Before too long the owner’s wife joined us & also a local tuk tuk driver (a friend of the hotel owner). The owners wanted 1500 LKR for the apartment, however I told them it was a lot more than I would normally pay. They then asked me how much I would normally pay & so I said between 700 LKR & 1200 LKR, they agreed to give me the apartment for 800 LKR which I thought was a bargain!

Whilst the owners were preparing my room, the local fisherman & the tuk tuk driver were obviously very keen on offering their services around the town! I made it quite clear that I was on a very tight budget, & I think they got the message!

Later the owners invited me into their home (only a few yards away) & I was served a lovely fish curry. Their home was only half finished with the upstairs like a building site (just like my apartment!) After my meal I headed back to my apartment for some much needed sleep!

Accommodation details are:
H. K. Ratnasiri (The owner is known locally as 'Thirty')
Beach Garden
Hirewatta | Ambalangoda

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