Travel

Mirissa, a free and easy beach trip

It took me a long while to be able to decide which beach to go to as there were too many to choose from in Sri Lanka. There were beaches that are more touristy, great for surfing, has whale watching and a whole lot more. I decided to go to Mirissa after finding a place which offers bed & breakfast as well as yoga sessions.

Now that was probably the sole mistake I have made for this trip as the place did disappoint me in a lot of ways. Mirissa was perfect, but the pricey place I stayed in was not. I stayed at Surf and Yoga Mirissa, and for USD 310.00, here’s what I got:

  • accommodation for two nights in a sizeable room with a double bed and single bed, has a huge balcony as well, looking into the jungle
  • simple breakfast of toast, eggs and jam
  • two yoga sessions
  • a day trip all-inclusive to Yala National Park (transport to and fro Yala as well as the safari jeep)
  • a one hour massage at The Secret Root Spa

The place looked decent but there were a couple of things that were really frustrating. One, the door lock was so difficult to open – it uses one of those really old keys which had the longer stem and it made me so upset just trying to get inside my room. Two, they have major issues with water supply. I am not sure if this is the same for the rest of the hotels in Mirissa, but there is no water at major timings that you need to take a shower – mainly in the evening and morning. And the worst part is, the staff cannot do much about it. The bed was so-so, a little bit rickety, the AC gets really loud at night and disruptive. Now even if I live in the city, I am used to total silence when I go to sleep – so this was also kind of a let down.

P1030586.JPG P1030590.JPG Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 1.34.01 PM.png

The yoga, on the other hand – was great. The sunset yoga brings us to the cliff by the beach where the view was perfect. The sun sets just when we are about to end our practice and it’s just mesmerizing to be part of it.

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 1.34.23 PM.png Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 1.34.11 PM.png

Mirissa is a place that’s more for relaxing rather than exploring. There’s really nothing much I did during the two days I was there, except for laze around on the beach – practically anywhere I can lay my beach mat on and drink cheap cocktails at Papa Mango. This place is really chill with hammocks all around hanging on coconut trees, day beds and wooden planks to just lay on.

P1030631.JPGPapa Mango at sun down

Some of the places I would recommend:

  • Papa Mango – a place to chill with free WiFi, good chill out music and decent cocktails
  • Dewmini’s Roti Shop – the banana chocolate roti was superb!
  • The Secret Root Spa
  • The Secret Guesthouse – I wish I would have stayed here instead
  • Zephyr – awesome dinner place just along the beach with seafood, awesome cocktails and that chill out ambiance great with friends or your partner. Not bad for going solo as well!
  • and just lazing around the entire coast of Mirissa, choose a spot and chill out

P1030594.JPG my favorite beach mat made in the Philippines – it is ‘sand-resistant’

P1030604.JPG P1030615.JPG

Standard
Travel

Galle to Mirissa, a ride along the coastline

After a great start at Galle, I was now heading deeper into Sri Lanka but keeping to the coastline. To take me to my B&B in Mirissa, I took a tuk-tuk all the way from Galle which took about four hours including the photoshops (lots of it!) and a swim at Jungle Beach.

P1030475.JPG

Driving me to Mirissa was Sampath from Danu Travels & Tours – fluent in English and knows the sights along the way, even those ones that you have to cross private property to see a stunning beach! He was driver, tour guide and historian all rolled into one! Some members of his family have perished during the tsunami in 2004 and he told me about that day on 26th of December.

Here are the places I went to along the way:

Buddha Temple not far from Galle P1030483.JPG P1030485.JPG

another Buddha Temple – you can’t wear your slippers or shoes in here so you need to brave the burning tiles P1030496.JPG Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 6.49.42 AM.png

 The Jungle Beach where both locals and tourists go for a dip P1030527.JPG P1030533.JPG

 a secluded beach which has powdery sand and turquiose waters P1030548.JPG P1030553.JPG

another sprawling coastline where they do fishing on stilts (the fishermen were out for lunch when we came) P1030561.JPG P1030563.JPG 

another stretch of really fine white sand, so white that it makes the water look more of a baby blue hue, the catamarans are also lined up along the coast P1030576.JPG P1030578.JPG P1030583.JPG

Sampath (tuk-tuk driver) – +94 774 067 442 | danu.travels@outlook.com

Note: photos are all raw and unedited. Yes, they all look that good!

Standard
Lifestyle, Travel

Discovering Sri Lanka | The journey from Colombo to Galle

Day 1. I left Singapore with my new backpack in tow with high hopes of this place. It did not disappoint and I am looking forward to the rest of my trip.

I got on a red eye flight to Colombo and after praying long and hard for my bag to reach the belt, I toIMG_5480.jpgok the first bus in sight to Colombo Fort Railway Station. You literally take the exit at the airport and go straight, cross the street, board that bus – but of course, still ask about its route. Onboard the bus, I wish it was me instead behind the wheel, the driver was taking risky overtakes that won’t bring him to the destination any faster. After an hour or so, we reached Colombo Fort Bus Station. After asking around, it was an easy 200 meters walk to the Colombo Fort Railway Station.

At the counter, I asked for a 2nd class ticket for one to Galle Fort. In half an hour, I managed to get myself on the train after trying to get a sense which one was 3rd class and which one was 2nd. With the help of an eager vendor, he brought me to the 2nd class carts, 5-minutes too late that all of the seats have already been taken. I was standing at the correct platform after all, if I didn’t freak out because of the men surrounding me, I would have gotten a seat.

But fret not, I got the best spot after all, on the first cart just behind the wheelie, an open spot where I had to stand for more than two hours – but with floor to ceiling views of the coast. It was amazing. The coast was unadulterated, often with locals living in it or swimming in it. The sand looked fine enough for a swim and sunbathing – the water clear enough for a good dip. Nearer to the resort areas such as Bentota and Hikkaduwa, the larger hotel properties are dotted along the coast – but nothing as bad as Bali. From the train, there are still a lot of untouched stretches of greenery and sea – open for all to enjoy. It’s been a while since I’ve stared at something for a long time, just admiring its beauty and longing to be able to live in this kind of place for as long as I want to.

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 7.47.11 AM.png

Every trip brings me to this point – the borderline of a city and nomadic life. I know in some way I can live without a 9-6 kind of job but a part of me likes the stability of it, the routine life. But a huge part of me also loves the nomadic life, I can take an online freelance job and jump from place to place, living on a backpack. But to me, no matter how beautiful the world is, cash is king and this is a necessity of life – and with my responsibilities, I would need loads of it. Enough about my dilemma.

And so the journey continues, with an elevated entertainment to boot with a couple standing beside me with the obnoxious girlfriend who kept bossing his BF around to fetch her some water, and teaching him how to pronounce town names – which obviously they both can’t – just making them both look like idiots. To my amusement, they let off a town or two, earlier than my stop, giving me enough time to savor the solitude.

As the train was approaching the next stop, a Sri Lankan man approached me and did the usual small talk, ‘where are you from?’, ‘what do you do?’, ‘where is your husband?’. A tip to single ladies, even if you are not attached at all – just say you are married or that you have a boyfriend, it would make the conversation shorter. And so of course I was traveling alone and had to justify to him why – of all people. While I was explaining myself, this old man suddenly poked my face! “Oh, it’s a birthmark!” – to my shock, I didn’t realize he was actually referring to my mole right beside my nose. I was numbed by my shock that I didn’t know how to react. Before I could say anything, he poked it once more! “This is considered lucky in Sri Lanka.” Now to all you people who have dealt with Indians, you would know that generally, and I am not being racist here, they have no sense of personal space. And so maybe he thought it was okay to literally poke around.

After I recovered, I just played along as he told me that he was from the Tourist Office. He seemed legit, giving me some history lessons and all. So after much prodding, he managed to convince me to allow him to take his recommended tuk-tuk – which was the first one he saw on the street, right across the exit from the train station – pointed to a ‘official’ sticker and charged me 80 rupees for every kilometer, which I thought was not too bad, $1.00 for every km. I agreed on the places I want to visit, got on the tuk-tuk as it brought me to my B&B hostel for a quick shower before I head off.

My hostel was at Antic’s Guesthouse, located conveniently along the famous streets of Galle dotted with shops and quaint cafes. Read about this beautiful inn on my next blog which is all about Galle. After asking the receptionist about ongoing rates for a tuk-tuk tour, I was told that I was being ripped off – so I sent the driver away after paying him 200 rupees for the trip from the station to my hostel.

Tuk-tuk tips – they usually charge based on the places you would want to see and give you a package price which would usually cost you about 2,000 – 3,000 rupees based on seeing places like: Dutch Fort, Spice Garden, Turtle Sanctuary, Jungle Beach – and for me, taking me all the way to my next stop in Mirissa which is about an hour away.

And so finally, I settled down in my room – ready to take on and explore Galle!

Quick Info:

Ticket from Colombo Fort to Galle Fort (Railway) – LKR 1800 | 2.5 hrs roughly | 2nd class is the best!

Standard
Lifestyle, Travel

Paris, solo.

Day 4. Monday. 12th December.

It has been awesome so far, I am kept in awe of a lot of things here. Just walking around the streets is entertaining by itself. I have finally mastered the art and science of taking the metro (and dodging suspicious looking characters). I have mastered where to safekeep my wallet in my backpack so that the smartest of pickpockets cannot even reach and find its way to it. I am so thankful to the app – Citymapper and Google maps – they have been literally taking me by the hand and walking me through the streets of Paris.

I am no longer afraid to travel the city alone. I have unlimited wi-fi thanks to Hippo WiFi and the connection is the same as fiber line back in Singapore – it is my lifeline, my go-to to literally go from point to point. It gives me the freedom not to worry and the need not to carry a ton of maps or travel guide books, there’s no stopping me from going where I want to go, no matter how far – I can literally walk everywhere (as long as it is in the day) or take the metro. No problem at all.

15380502_236787896743496_79981318501232345_n.jpg

What I’ve done so far in the past few days? Climb up the Eiffel Tower which is as touristy as it could get, but a must see. Hang around and stare at the bright blue sky at Place des Vosges. Visit museum after museum with no care if I leave half an hour after getting in because it just doesn’t interest me at all. Dine at the places I have earmarked for this trip – the must eats and must devour. Drank glass after glass of wine.

15380528_236787800076839_6631823168276304598_n.jpg

Here’s my cup of espresso at the cafe I have been wanting to visit for the longest time – Le Pure Cafe – where Before Sunset was shot with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.

I have also been waking up at ungodly hours – 1am, 2am and this morning with an improvement at 4am. I cannot help but sleep as early as 8pm – I can’t help it, I’m as Asian woman who refuses to leave +8 timezone. I have also been eating at weird hours, breakfast at 11am, lunch at 3pm and nothing at all for dinner. I hope tonight will be better, but I can’t stay up so late as well because I am off to Strasbourg tomorrow!

With my travel plans being flexible and my itinerary totally within my control – I can skip plans as and when I like. I just decided to ditch Sacre Coeur today just because it has been freezing out and I am totally tired from moving out of the airbnb and to the hostel, plus my long walk to Canal Saint Martin for my boulangerie hunt and late lunch at Le Verre Vole.

atm – I am at the most happening hostel lounge and bar with a spiked iced tea while waiting for my laundry to finish up. It is 5.30pm in the afternoon, it is already dark outside and I am at the mercy of my sleepy head, hoping I don’t knock off so early and wake up at God-knows what time.

Off to Strasbourg tomorrow!

Standard