The Tale of the Lost GoPro – Sri Lanka

While we traveled most of Sri Lanka by bus this summer, we were told that the route from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is a must by train.  The scenery through the tea plantations that the train takes was described as unforgettable and one certainly not worth missing.  And, after a many hours on local crowded buses, we were up for a change of pace and scenery.  Plus, if the views were even half as good as people described, what better opportunity to snap 5000+ photos for a time lapse?

The plan was to suction cup the GoPro to the side of the train, outside of the window.  We’d tested the GoPro suction cup on the hood of a car without any problems (see video), thus had no real concerns about testing its strength on the train.  The only real worry we had were the tunnels, after talking to some friends we had met who had taken the journey already.  They warned us that the tunnels were narrow, but that there “shouldn’t” be a problem if the camera didn’t stick out too far.  Fingers crossed!

Boarding the train, there were no seats.  Of course more tickets were sold than there were seats.  This is Sri Lanka of course!  :)  Feeling that our time lapse was doomed before it even began, we were lucky enough to find an open space with a window near the servery to drop our bags and sit on.  It wasn’t the most comfortable, but it had a window, which was absolutely necessary for the footage.  We quickly adjusted the suction cup, cleaned the lens, and affixed the GoPro to the side of the train.  All that was left was to sit back and enjoy the scenery!

And what scenery it was!!  The tea plantations were absolutely gorgeous, and the train ride was proving to be worth every second, despite not having seats.  About three quarters through the trip though, we started to get ansi as the views were looking to be far better out the other side of the train.  Should we switch sides? Should we leave it?  Do we have enough footage?  The questions were endless as we decided whether or not to switch the GoPro to the other side of the train.  Long story short, we switched it.

That right there was our costly mistake.  The window across from us didn’t have somewhere to stand or sit to keep an eye on the camera.  Setting it up, Thomas asked a man if he wouldn’t mind moving for a moment.  It was then that the camera started getting lots of attention, and the questions were pouring in about what it does, how much it costs, etc.  After mounting it to the side of the train, there was no way that camera was going anywhere.  It was stuck on like glue, and setup for some excellent footage!

Checking in on it every few minutes, things were looking good, until one check brought the shocking surprise.  The GoPro was gone!!  It was actually gone.  Off the side of the train.  Suction cup and all.  “Did it fall off?  No way.  The ad for the suction cup says it can be mounted on a plane.  Did it hit something?  Not a chance.  Those tunnels weren’t that small after all.  Did someone steal it?  Oh crap.  Someone stole our GoPro!”

We’d probably both feel better about the situation if the stinkin’ GoPro would’ve just fallen off the train.  We hate to think someone stole it, but reality is, somebody probably did.  At first we had thought it probably fell off the train, but the more we thought about it, the more our gut told us somebody probably snatched it at the one train station we stopped at where Thomas didn’t walk over to keep an eye on it.

Word spread pretty quickly on the train about the GoPro’s “mishap”, and everyone was so kind and genuinely worried about us and the camera.  Some offered to call the men who worked at the stations to ask them to look for it.  Some offered to take our hotel information down in case it was found.  And others just offered such looks of empathy, that we just couldn’t help but be touched but the kindness of the Sri Lankans.

In the end, it wasn’t the missing camera that bothered us the most.  It was of course the amazing footage it had captured for 3+ hours among the tea plantations of Sri Lanka that we are left without.  We’d like to think there’s a glimmer of hope that it will be returned, or the footage will show up somewhere. Like it did for the guy who lost his camera at sea and found it 2.5 months later (see video).  But reality is, we’ll likely never see that camera again.  All the more reason to make another journey over to Sri Lanka!  :)

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Categories: Sri Lanka, Travel Tales

Author:Thomas & Katherine

A love for travel, adventure, and photography. We just can't help but write about it!

2 Comments on “The Tale of the Lost GoPro – Sri Lanka”

  1. Fazio
    February 25, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    I’m from sri lanka, and lost my gopro hero 3 today at Benthota beach, while I tried to use the head mount & bang – hit by a wave and the camera was gone. It nice to share your story, I had over 8 hrs of video from Australia & Sri lanka, sadly i was too lazy to upload it, and now it all gone, let just hope someone finds this page.


    • March 18, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

      Hey, did you every find your camera?? We’re still waiting for ours to show up!! haha

      Sorry to hear about all of the footage you lost! Luckily we only lost what we were capturing on this particular train ride. We’ve learned out lesson the hard way too! :(


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