We didn’t really do anything in Ella, yet it was one of our favorite places in Sri Lanka.
In fact, there is not that much to do in this little mountain town, and maybe, that is its appeal. We thought about doing some hiking in the nearby hills, but it rained everyday we were in Ella.
And the thing was, we didn’t mind the rain. Actually, we really liked it. After 6 months of travel, it was great to have an excuse not to do anything.
We woke up late, ate breakfast (hoppers – a bowl shaped thin pancake, often filled with a sunny side up egg, or masala dosa – like a crepe filled with a spicy potato mixture), wandered around town if it wasn’t raining, ate lunch (usually vegetable roti – somewhat like a burrito filled with a spicy potato filling – from a shop called Fish and Chips), rested in our room, reading or attempting to use the barely-there wifi, and then ate dinner (vegetable kottu – chopped roti with vegetables and spices – most nights).
Restaurant meals in Sri Lanka take a LONG time to arrive at your table. Like up to an hour and a half. Luckily, we had nothing better to do in Ella than sit and wait for our food, but it did get a bit boring, so we started bringing cards with us.
We would sit at our table, watching the rain fall on the hills outside the open front of the restaurant and play hearts and rich man/poor man, and sometimes rummy. The sound of roti being chopped up for kottu created rhythmic background music.
Our room at Ella Holiday Inn was great. We stayed in a family sized room with two double beds. There was a balcony that overlooked the hills, perfect for viewing the mist on the mountains.
One day the rain held off long enough for us to take a longer walk. We visited the adorable Ella train station. It looked like it jumped right out of a story book. If only we had known we needed to reserve our train tickets ahead of time we could have traveled to or from this station and maybe have had a better impression of the Sri Lankan railway . . .
Then we walked up to the tea fields and looked out over the green hills as far as the eye could see.
It is hard to explain why we liked Ella. It is a backpacker town, much like Pai, Thailand (which we hated). But we found Ella to be cute instead of annoying, Perhaps it was because there was more of a café culture than a bar culture. Maybe it was because most people seemed to be there to enjoy the outdoors instead of just to party. There were also more families and older couples in Ella.
Whatever the case, we liked Ella. It was a great place to hang out and rest from our travels for a few days.