Day 12 (2 of 3).
Our last train journey in Sri Lanka is one of the most popular railway routes for tourists: the Coastal Line from Galle to Colombo. In a little less than two hours, our train moved from seaside resort towns near Galle to the old fort and metropolitan area of Colombo. Constructed in late 19th century, the Coastal Line is the second oldest railway line in Sri Lanka. For much of the journey the train was winding along the southwest coastline of island. The coastal scenery reminded us of the train scene in Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, in which the protagonist Chihiro Ogino boards on a train that runs across water on submerged tracks. The moving reflections in the water, the tranquil scenery at the far horizon, the evolving lights from late afternoon to early evening, and the melancholy yet romantic train cabin come together to become one of the most remarkable animation scenes ever made. The train journey to Colombo might not be as romantic as Miyazaki’s scene, and the train was fully packed with standing tourists and locals and could get a bit noisy sometimes, but the late afternoon scenery of the Indian Ocean would live long in our memories.
Galle Station was first established in 1894, and has undergone an upgrade in the 20th century with a modernist concrete building.
The wooden timetable at Galle Station should be an antique that has been around for decades.
The Coastal Line runs between Matara and Colombo Fort via Galle.
Taking a train in Sri Lanka is always a delightful activity and a great way to interact with the friendly locals.
Leaving Galle signified our Sri Lankan journey was coming to an end. After dinner in Colombo, we would go immediately to the airport near Negombo for our midnight flight.
For the entire journey I was sitting at the opened door between two passenger train cars.
As the snack vendor left the train, it was time for departure.
For the first half of the journey, the train ran along a waterfront road.
Sitting or standing by the doorway on a Sri Lankan train is a pleasant way to enjoy the scenery. Despite the low speed of the train, certain level of caution should be taken when standing at the opened door.
After the halfway point, the train ran right along the coastline.
Our train passed by a number of coastal resort towns.
These seaside resort towns serve mainly the city dwellers from distant Colombo.
We also passed by a number of impoverished communities by the sea.
The train passed right in front of the houses of the seaside communities.
The southwestern coast of Sri Lanka was badly hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Many lives were lost and some communities have never fully recovered.
The Coastal Line was severely hit by the 2004 tsunami. Known as the 2004 Sri Lanka tsunami-rail disaster, a Matara Express train was running from Colombo to Galle before getting hit by the tsunami at the village of Peraliya. After two rounds of waves, the village of Peraliya was completely destroyed, and about 2000 people died (including passengers of 8 train cars and villagers who climbed onto the train top to escape the waves). Out of about 1700 train passengers, only 150 people survived. The incident is the single worst rail disaster with the largest death toll the world has ever seen.
The Indian Ocean offered us the perfect setting to view the sunset.
We were getting closer to Colombo as the sun was about to set below the Indian Ocean.
After 1 hour and 45 minutes, our train was finally approaching downtown Colombo. We were ready for the final act in Sri Lanka before flying home.