Ceylon is the name the British used for Sri Lanka. Their tea plantations are still here, scenically covering the hills and valleys of Sri Lanka’s mountain region. Next time you buy an expensive small package of exquisite Ceylon tea, think about how it was scooped up from a huge pile on a factory floor here.

Ella’s main landmark is Ella Rock, a mountain towering five hundred meters above Ella. Getting there requires walking a few km on the train tracks. At home I’d be afraid of TGVs at 350 km/h, but here the trains are slow and everyone does it. In fact several restaurants can not be reached any other way. The climb up to the top of Ella’s Rock is quite strenuous, and the path markings strategically vanish where the guides are waiting to intercept tourists. For winter in the mountains, it was very hot.

The view from the top is fantastic. I sat with my feet dangling down the 400m vertical cliff that faces Ella, admiring the views up and down the valley. A few tall trees below conspire to give a sense of height. It’s not as dangerous as it sounds because the rocks up there slope up.