We have just disembarked our Galle to Columbo train. After our recent success on the stunning Nuwara Eliya - Ella line in 3rd class, we decided that we would also travel 3rd class on this route. Also for 100 Rps each it was another bargain and it was the express train so how bad could it be.
The Galle to Columbo route, is famous for the costal views and we had high expectations of a similar spectacular route with great views of crashing waves and turquoise sea. In fairness there were properly wonderful views. Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of the train. Also we were trapped in a human game of sardines for the 2 hour journey. The only view we had for the first 30 mins was of flip flops and armpits. This was not the relaxing journey we had anticipated. In fact I felt like a character from Tenko (those readers that's are too young to remember Tenko it was about a Japanese prisoner of war camp for British women.) All I really remember from it, were a lot of sweaty women who were very posh, which off course we obviously are darlings.
Halfway through the journey we were carried by the throng towards the open doors. It could have gone two ways. The first with us carried out onto some obscure railway station, where we would have to scrabble back on. Or we could attempt to brace ourselves so the throngs flowed around us.
We went for the brace position, I think it was for the best but my feet were very sore from being stood on. We managed to wedge ourselves in the open doorway with natural air con, as I am smallish, I then could slide down the wall and sit across the door opening, this was bliss in the shaded sections of the journey, unfortunately for me there was not much shade. So I spent the next hour being baked by the sun, I imagine this is what a Sunday roast must feel like in a fan assisted oven, as the skin on one side of my face is definitely crispy now.
So some advice for you if you do find yourself if this part of the world, go first class, you can afford it. If you are a tight arse like me then, perhaps don't get the commuter train. As this is a foolish idea, and will only end up with you enjoying very close encounters with fellow passengers. Trust me on this, deodorant is not considered a necessity here.
What I have learnt:
Never ever be fooled by the smiling demeana of the elderly ladies at the train station. They may look sweet and frail, in there brightly coloured saris, but as soon as that train has pulled in they will have shoved you out of the way, punched you in the ribs, elbowed you in the windpipe and clambered effectively over you to get on that train. They are smiling ninjas and will have the seat and your legs from under you, before you realise what is happening.
3rd class is fine on mountain routes where there are less people, however at peak rush hour from one city to the capital city, it is foolish and stupid off you to assume that you will get a seat. You will be extremely lucky to get enough space to gasp for air.
Do not decide to treat yourself to a nice coffee and cheese cake once you have returned to the big city. This is because you will have become used to paying less than £1.00 for dinner for two, and the eye watering price of £11.00 for 2 warm milks and a congealed blueberry cheesecake may make you pass out, as it is actually cheaper in the U.K.
If you do buy the coffee, and grumble about the price of said extravagant purchase do not say " how much " in a shocked Yorkshire accent as you will get very odd looks from other customers. Not to mention your traveling partner who will call you a tight arse for the rest of the day. Your feeble excuses, of looking after the budget will not wash, so best to just keep stum.
Colombo Fort station