I reached Hatton station at around mid-night after traveling the last hour alone and trying really hard to avoid looking at the couple sitting across me going overboard with public display of affection. There was no time to take a room then as I had planned initially. Also now that I had company I wasn’t afraid of traveling at that hour. I saw my Russian friend waiting at the station and I was so delighted. Clad in shorts, grey sweatshirt, and a cap he looked everything like the person I wanted to meet in this trip. I’m smiling even now while writing about it.
The trek begins at 2 a.m. so we moved to take a tuk tuk directly. The tuk tuk driver quoted 2000 LKR for the journey and both of us thought it was absurd to pay that much for 30 km. As we had time we moved to look for options. There were no buses at that time. Another person who knew Hindi (and mostly because he was high) gave us a ride till the nearest bus station. We didn’t find any bus but we negotiated with other tuk tuk drivers and finalized one for 1200 LKR.
The journey is again very beautiful with tea plantations, waterfalls, and we also got to see mongoose, deer, and boars on the way. Much closer view than I got in Yala national park 🙂
My Russian friend had been to India twice before so we had many things to talk about. It was a fun one hour of auto ride with interesting conversation and beautiful view. I was already looking forward to the trek with him.
We reached Adam’s peak base where the auto driver asked for more money and we gave another 100 LKR to him. Close to the base we found a couple trying to figure out their way. They turned out to be Russians as well. Everyone changed into their trekking gear. I had seen this coming so was already wearing my shoes. We started the climb at around 1:50 a.m. and I realized just how unprepared I was. My phone was out of battery, I had no torch, no warm clothes, and it was a chilly night with absolutely no lights. The route is well lit during the climb season which starts in December.
After walking for about 20-30 minutes we reached a point which was the actual starting point of the trek. We clicked some pictures and headed forward again. I could hear a waterfall really close by but could see nothing in the darkness. I would not have moved an inch had I not met these people. God has always been kind to me!
Gradually we started meeting other people who were catching up with us. We didn’t want to run to the top as we had time. There was one person who had smoked some really good quality pot and went up dancing and singing.
While we were moving up there came a time when at the end of vertical stairs I saw a gazillion stars and among them I saw a shooting star. I quickly made a wish knowing it will probably never come true. It was a magical moment. It would remain etched in my memory for a long time.
We took about 3 hours to reach the top. I was so exhausted that after absorbing the view for some time I decided to take a nap. I got up around sunrise and it was chilling. I thought I would freeze there. I put on another t-shirt. Although I was carrying my entire luggage with me, I had nothing in there to keep me warm.
I started walking around to keep me warm. The view from up there was truly amazing. With clouds way below us it seemed too surreal. We clicked pictures again. Looking back at pictures I really wish I had posed better brushing aside the thoughts of being dead.
We went to the temple located on the top. The Russian couple were taking pictures. I enjoyed my trek buddy’s company. He was chivalrous and I was in love with him. I fell in love with him over his innocent travel stories, each time he stopped for me to catch up with him, each time he came back to check on me, each time he turned back to help me climb in his torch light. I wonder how easy it is to fall in love with strangers you meet for a brief period. There is nothing that you expect of them and there’s nothing they expect of you. It’s so easy to forgive them and so easy to reciprocate the love and it’s just that easy to also let them go. Some stories are meant to be brief, really brief.
After soaking in the beauty of that place we headed back. Descend gave us an opportunity to see the place in different light (quite literally). In daylight the place seemed beautiful in an entirely different way. While in the night I had imagined the waterfall now I could see it and appreciate how clear the water was. The stars were replaced by the view of valleys, tea plantations, and waterfalls.
While the three of them were sharing stories in Russian I made new friends. A female from Bali was very friendly and told me how she met another Indian girl travelling solo in Bali once. She was about to get married to a stranger and was taking a solo trip to Bali as her last flight of freedom. I was wondering how her life was going, can something like marriage bind a free spirit like that.
The Russian couple had to rush in the last stretch of descend to avoid missing their breakfast at the hotel. That left me with my trek buddy again. I apologized for slowing him down and asked if he wanted to continue on his own because I had no intention of running through it. He smiled and said ‘it’s ok’ while I focused on the dimple he got each time he smiled. I continued walking slowly stopping every now and then and looking back to see what we all achieved last evening. There were some people who were starting their hike then. I could not see the point but who am I to judge.
We reached the bus stop around 9:15 a.m. My trek buddy figured how to reach Unawatuna where he was supposed to meet his other friends. He decided to take the bus till Hatton (I was praying he does) and then figure out what to do from there. This was another fun stretch of your journey.
There were no seats so we sat next to the driver on I guess the engine. He kept dozing off while I made conversation with some of the other travelers. There was a family travelling with two kids. The little girl completed the trek in 2.5 hours which is a better timing than a lot of people.
We soon got a place to sit and we spent the entire journey sleeping. As both of us hadn’t slept in two days. I woke up with a jerk and he held my index finger like a sign that ‘everything’s gonna be okay’. I slept peacefully and woke up when the bus stopped and a lot of hustle bustle started happening. Google maps was showing Hatton to be a few more km away so he didn’t wake me up but then we got to know we have reached Hatton. It was so sudden I gathered my stuff and alighted the bus. I had to take a bus to Kandy and he was going to figure out what to do mostly take a bus to Colombo. I kept hoping till the last minute that he would say ‘chuck it, I’ll come with you’. I was headed south too that evening. But then this was no love story. We were two people travelling on our chosen paths and it wasn’t fair for anyone to change their plans. I still had a very strong feeling that we’re going to meet again as we were both headed south later and it was all so sudden we just hugged each other good bye but there was no goodbye message, no thank you, no nice meeting you. I so regret this now though. I wish I had taken a moment of pause and thanked him for being so nice to me the entire time.
I took a bus to Kandy and slept through most part of the journey. Upon reaching the bus station, I used the paid public toilet to freshen up and change. I did get some stares while brushing my teeth in the mid afternoon. After this I sipped tea at a really small place but big enough to have charging points. I charged my phone and camera here till I was sipping tea and munching on something. I waited for the rain to subside and then headed for the temple of the sacred tooth relic. I knew it would be very touristy but I had to go there. It’s walkable from the bus station. Enroute I had something to munch again also made conversation with some other travelers on what else to do here. I wanted a relaxed day as I was a little exhausted from the trek and my knees were not in my control.
I got to know at the security that you’re not allowed in shorts inside. I tried to wrap the scarf around but it was too transparent and still a little short for her taste. She started adjusting it for me and then I realized I had my entire luggage with me. So I quickly took a pair of cotton trousers and put it on.
The temple maintains its calmness in spite of all the crowd. It also has many story boards that makes it easier for people who are on their own (that’s without a guide). I sat inside the temple for some time and then outside. It’s a pretty calm place.
I then walked around the town eating at a café, checking out local stores, and then walking by the beautiful lake. I also checked the government craft emporium Laksala. It started raining heavily so I waited under a shed for the rain to subside and then I headed for the railway station. Enroute I found Kandy shopping complex and purchased few souvenirs from here. It was cheaper than Laksala and some street shops outside the tooth temple.
I reached station at about 6:50 p.m. and got to know there are no trains heading south or even to Colombo that evening. I ran towards the bus station as I knew that the last bus to Mirissa from there was at 7 p.m. I reached and got into a bus that was going to start at 7:30. That was the latest I could reach Mirissa. Till now there wasn’t a time when I was travelling alone in a public transport as in without other travelers not even when I had the crazy idea of reaching Adam’s peak directly from Ella. But this time I was alone and I had absolutely no idea what would I do upon reaching Mirissa at 1:30 a.m.