"Hmm...he's not answering, I'll try to call another a few others."
There I was... waiting... and finally at 5:30am a tuk tuk guy shows up at the front door! Off we speed to the Colombo Fort Railway station. I had a train to catch at 6.00am and I'm not sure if we would even make it!
"Counter, thaare. To Habarana" said my tuk tuk driver.
So off I ran to the counter to only be told there are no 1st class tickets only 2nd and 3rd class, plus the train leaves in less than 10 minutes! And the next train is only in just 12 hours time. Whatever, 2nd or no 2nd class I wasn't going to wait for 12 hours to get another train!
Paid for my tickets, raced on to the platform and onto my train. Within seconds it started to move. Pheewwww! Made it just in time. Now, these trains are those 1960-1970's sort of trains where the seats have ample leg room and from the wear and tear of the seat, you know it's old. But I found it exciting to be on one of these trains as it's been too long since I've sat in something similar to this since childhood.
Double-checked with a person on the train that this was the train that is heading to Habarana (just to be sure) and parked my bum in carriage with a family of 5 for my long train ride ahead. Early that morning, the train was almost dead empty. The ample legroom (even with my backpack on the floor in front of me) was welcoming. The difference between 2nd class and 3rd class, is not just the price (3rd class being half of what I paid) there was also no fan. The windows open up and you can stand by the door way too if you pleased.
I love to watch people and this train ride allowed me just that. With the sunrise rising I watched people getting to work, schools kids rushing onto the trains and off to get to school and watch the city and it's suburb waking up to another busy routinely day. As an hour went by I got used to the rhythmic 'shake, shake, shake, rattle, rattle, bang, rattle' of the train ride. Out of no where, my ears which had adjusted to the rhythmic sounds was suddenly broken by the shouts of,
"VADAI! VADAI VADAI VADAI!" followed by another with "KAAAAPI! KAPI KAPI KAPI"
The family right next to me had 2 little girls with the youngest being the most grumpy. I felt sorry for her parents... she made her dad lift her from one end of the train to the other. Until her aunt or mum caught me taking pictures of them and pointed out to me hoping she would sit put. I got a nasty little look for that little girl. The more pictures I took of her, the more she hid her face and gave me an even nastier look. Talk about unfriendly!
Another 5 hours to burn... and as I suspected, I was the only tourist on this train as I saw no other tourist getting on or off. And this little kid was my only source of entertainment apart from reading.
"Enna pillai?" (What is it child?)
Like who you calling child? And that's how our communication began. With my half past six tamil and english, mix we established communication! They we so over joyed I spoke tamil, that they were curious about where I was from and how come I could speak tamil.
"Your fathar is Sri Lankan?"
"No, great grand father is from India. Mother's side from China"
"Aaaaahhhhh...Malaysia vary mix"
Manage to ask them to help me locate Habarana station as I figured it was just a little station, which is easy to miss. These trains don't have a PA system where it announced train stations so if you over slept and missed your station, it's your fault. Plus half the stations we passed were so small that half the carriages didn't have a platform to get off from! After passing Maho South station, the train started to fill up by which point the conductors came by which gave me a chance to ask one of them for an estimated time of my arrival at Habarana.
"Checkarad shirt, white pant, 3 wheeler, dark green"
The description of what I was to look out for.
Kakirewa came and went. As the family told me I was two stops away, and elderly man who heard the conversation came up to me and confirmed that Habarana was two stops away.
Finally! Habarana station! As I bid goodbye and said my thank yous, I spotted my 'checked shirt, white pants, 3 wheeler, dark green' waiting on the side of the small station. The major detail they forgot to mention was super greasy hair that made my driver stand out.
On the agenda next: Sigiriya, Dambulla, Polunnaruwa and Anuradhapura.
But first, I need a decent loo!