I stayed a few nights over Vesak (4th- 7th May) at Ratmale residence near Kaudulla National Park.(www.ratmale.blogspot.com) I was without transport. I was confined to my house. I am still unable to walk without feeling stiff with the elbow crutch!
On reflection the enforced stay was a great relief, as I could sit on the rocking chair on my verandah and watch a splendid show of bird life pass me by, all unexpected and a thrill. The pied hornbill was the best in show this time, as he came every day and sat on a tree eating fruit from place to place almost in front of me.
The regulars, like the Serpent Eagle, and the Fish Owl, along with the smallies, like the paradise flycatchers, four varieties of kingfisher along with barbets, woodpeckers, oriols, and numerous small finches to eat the jam fruit from the trees all added to the interest of sitting and taking all natures wonders in.
With my verandah open the birds fly right through it, and when we include the butterflies, dragon flies and other flying insects there was a constant display.
It was the first time I had stayed so long here and I must say I enjoyed every bit of it and was sorry to leave. I had to use public transport to get back the toss up was taking the faster bus, but catching it in Hingurakgoda to get a seat as the Minneriya Station junction, the closest point in the main road would mean a tight squeeze in. The second choice was taking the slow train catching it at Minneriya or the faster express catching it at the Gal Oya Junction and I opted for the latter.
After dinner at a very close farmer friend who is also a neighbor, I was taken in a trishaw by two friends who are both park rangers at the Minneriya National Park the whole distance of about 5 km to the Station about 15 minutes away.
The train was late the 11pm coming in at Midnight. They only sell the tickets once the train leaves Hingurakgoda station, I do not know why. Anyway each ticket was Rs400, though the ticket itself has Rs220 stamped on it. So I hope I was not overcharged for the second class ticket.
We got to Fort at 6am on the dot so the train made up all the lost time. I was fortunate to get a seat as the train was full, with people getting back to work after the long weekend. It was the Batticaloa Express to Fort. I nodded off to sleep from time to time so I do not know all the stations it stopped at but unlike the ‘thapal train’ which stops at over 20 stations I think this was about 7. Palugaswewa, Kekirawa, Maho, Kurunegala, Polgahawela, Gampaha, Maradana.