The Best Seat in the House

The Best Seat in the House by Son of the Morning Light on

Unable to get a window seat — or even standing room in a doorway — on the Kandy-Badulla train, I had to beg my way into the guard’s carriage so that I would have a vantage point to shoot the legendary Nine Arch Bridge between Ella and Demodara. Pointing out that he was bending the rules considerable, the guard allowed me aboard with the stipulation that I not make him famous in my “American paper”. The rail route from Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, to Badulla, in the Central Highlands — particularly the six-hour stretch from Kandy onwards — is now considered one of the world’s great train journeys, and seats are booked up months in advance. For those unfortunate enough to be crippled by the inability to plan ahead, the only option is to buy a third class ticket and hope a window seat eventually becomes vacant. Or try charming a railway guard. Shot on assignment for The New York Times. My photos appeared in award-winning travel journo Lucas Peterson’s piece, An Island Nation that is Best Savored Slowly, which ran in the Frugal Traveler column on 30th January 2019. Follow the link for more photos and the full story.


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