Scenes from when my train broke down in Sri Lanka

The day was beautiful. Everything was perfect. Because the train journey to and from Galle was much easier than I expected, I was delighted to go on another 5-hour journey to Anuradhapura. The train wasn’t busy at all. We got comfortable seats, I settled in with my Kindle and camera. Different from the train to Galle, that runs along the Indian Ocean, this train was going through rice paddies and villages. I liked to see the wild ocean from my window, but I was happy to see the green patches and yellow coconuts.

I had a post planned out about two hours in. Photos of beautiful scenery, interesting people, and the joy; it would make a great photo post, I thought. The train was making quite an odd sound, we were noticeably running slow, but I thought that’s how it was in Sri Lanka.

We were supposed to arrive at 3pm or so, but by my Google Map, we were barely a halfway by the time. The train stopped at Kurungale, dropped people off, and it stopped altogether after 5 mins. I thought it was the usual running-slow occasion that already happened many time today, but people were starting to talk more loudly, pointing outside. There was obviously something wrong.

People were starting to heading out to see what was going on. I pulled my head out to the window to scope out the situation. Something wasn’t working. We were barely out of Kurungale Station, and mechanics were examining the train. I’ve never on a broke down the train, I had to admit, it was quite exciting. How many times a person can see a broke down the train, and people squirming out from the compartments with their plastic bags, taped boxes, and duffle bags?

“You have to get out and take another train in an hour.”

Someone from the train station informed us. Apparently, the train was in a bad condition to run any further. The next train to Anuradhapura will be in an hour, and we were already three hours late from the schedule. We packed up. The amazing thing was, no one was complaining. I didn’t need to speak the language to understand the tone of complaining. They were just quietly packing up, standing in line to get out on the train, smiling even. I thought, if it happened in Seoul, everyone was on the phone, yelling at somebody, or shouting at conductor or something. I was quite impressed how people remained calm.

There was nothing violent happened. The train literally just stopped, and we got off. I got some of the best photos I took from Sri Lanka, met some kindest people, and the five hours of the slow train ride wasn’t bad at all.

Train ride to Anuradhapura
Train ride to Anuradhapura
Stopping for the train
Traffic stopped for the train
Riding train in Sri Lanka
Riding train in Sri Lanka
Stephen riding train in Sri Lanka
Stephen riding train in Sri Lanka – wearing Sri Lankan made shirts
Sri Lanka woman
Sri Lanka woman with an umbrella
Crows are everywhere in Sri Lanka
Crows are like pigeons here
Train ride to Anuradhapura
Train ride to Anuradhapura
Man riding a bike
Passing the station
Passing the station
Beautiful white bird on the rice field
Beautiful white bird on the rice field
Train broke down - everyone out!
And… Train broke down – everyone out!
Train broke down - everyone out!
Getting their bag, gathering their family members…
Train broke down - everyone out!
Everyone was busy watching, and packing.


11 thoughts on “My Train Broke Down in Sri Lanka and It was the Best Thing Ever”

  1. I was once on a train in France that broke down for 3 hours. We didn’t quite have this milling crowd to deal with but we get to stretch our legs at a small train station in the middle of nowhere which had the most wonderful cafe/bakery next to it.

  2. It seems like any train journey in Sri Lanka is a unique one. I traveled from Kandy to Colombo in the wrong compartment while the one where I was supposed to be in was exactly at the other end of the train. I had to jostle my way through endless compartments, walking over people’s luggage, only to find out that the door to my compartment was locked from the other side. I had to wait until the train made a brief halt – less than 20 seconds to be precise – then I jumped off to the wet grass, ran forward, and climbed back to the train. But it was fun nonetheless.

  3. Ahh, I remember when I was taking a train from Daegu to Daejeon – it turned out to be an hour late, and all the passengers on the platform were going mad at the conductor. Then again, the announcement said, “the train is delayed by X minutes due to certain circumstances of the train” and gave us zero information.

    When you travel though, there’ll be delays and I’m starting to be more relaxed. There’s no point getting mad when there’s nothing you can do about it!

  4. Elizabeth Lewis

    Hello Juno, Love your blog and your photographs. You are an inspiration.
    (What camera do you use? I am curious because I live in China currently and must replace mine.)
    Thank you! ewl

  5. Hi Juno, these are beautiful photos! I’m just about to start planning a trip to Sri Lanka and I’m wondering if you travelled alone and how you found it? Were there many other backpackers there that you could connect with? I’m hoping to travel at least to Ella, Kandy, Hikkaduwa and probably much more that I haven’t researched yet!

    Appreciate any tips you can offer!



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