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.

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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.

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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’

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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.

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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!

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Lifestyle

How yoga saved my life

I have been on and off the mat – mainly hoping to lose weight, but this time, hoping for it to save me, and it did.

After a devastating event in my life early this year, I have searched for a place that will serve as my sanctuary – somewhere I can be safe even when I am alone. Somewhere I can be alone, but don’t feel alone. I found that sanctuary in a 64 inches x 24 inches space – in the comfort of my yoga mat.

I am no yogi, nor am I a pretzel who can do all the asanas perfectly – I try my very best though, bending and stretching every muscle to at least try to honor the pose. I go as often as I can, sometimes twice or thrice a week – I intersperse it with my circuit training and all the other intensive workout I do.

The mat and each yoga session – has helped me, at first, escape my troubles and run away for an hour from my crazy imagination and emotions that I myself don’t trust. After a while, when I have achieved some kind of tranquility within me and I have learned how to control my thoughts, yoga has helped to ground me – pull me close to Earth that I may learn how to embrace my body, and myself. It has allowed me to love being with myself and just live with my insecurities, limitations and all my imperfections.

It may sound cliché to some but it really did provide a dwelling for me – and every other day, I just yearn to get on that mat once more and just be.

Here are my favorite yoga studios in Singapore (not in order of priority):

  1. Yoga Movement
  2. Yoga+
  3. Hom Yoga
  4. Ziva Yoga
  5. Level Yoga
  6. AlphaBalance @ Tanderra
  7. Bych
  8. Como Shambhala
  9. Outta Hatha (outdoor yoga)
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Lifestyle, Travel

Yoga Retreat : Hariharalaya (Part II)

I was going through a very difficult time in my life and was searching for another yoga retreat after my eat, pray, love stint in Bali. With the help of Google, I was able to scour hundreds of sites and eventually found a retreat center in Cambodia that seemed authentic and affordable. I have found the Hariharalaya Yoga and Meditation Retreat, and this started my journey.

I immediately bought a ticket to Siem Reap, applied my leave and left Singapore. I thought I had it all figured out. After my very lavish, very expensive 3-day retreat in Bali, I really did not know what to expect in Siem Reap – a place I have never been, a country that was never really on top of my bucket list.

I arrived at the center with an open heart, an open mind. It is located in a sleepy village deep in the rural area of Siem Reap where life was simple and you live among the locals. I was shown to our shared dorm which is basically a big hut with six beds with a huge mosquito net and thankfully, a nicely tiled floor. The toilets and showers were shared which was not really a problem. The center itself is big with its own yoga and meditation pavilion, a small dipping pool, pockets of green areas, a massage and spa area, the common dining area, a small book corner and lots and lots of hammocks.

The schedule itself was stringent in the sense that you will be summoned through the ringing of the gong for yoga practice which was about twice to thrice a day, all the meal times and the meditation sessions in between. Everyone is required to be on digital detox – which was life changing. It just sets you free. There are also optional activities and programs to participate in during your free time. I went for the Yoga Massage workshop and the Hidden Temple Yoga Tour which were both awesome.

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The Hidden Temple Yoga tour brought us to a clearing by the jungle which was right beside the oldest temple ruins in Cambodia, not the Angkor Wat by the way. After the practice, we had an amazing picnic lunch with the best home cooked food I have ever tasted. It was just unbelievable.

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The yoga practice are not like the ones in the city which was more of an exercise than what actual yoga really is. There are no mirrors around to add up to your anxiety – just yourself and the rest of the people whose only focus is self-awareness and being in the now. The teachers are really friendly and approachable – everyone was just real and unpretentious.

The meditation sessions with Joel are just so unbelievable – it takes a while to really settle in and be at the present moment. But just the thought of you giving yourself this time to just be and meditate, is a reward on its own.

Don’t even get me started with the food. We were all on vegetarian diet that entire week. I am a carnivore, I love my steak – but that week was just amazing. It was the best cooking I have ever had. I have travelled to a lot of places and dined at a lot of fine dining restaurants – but those meals I had there  were just so real and heartwarming. I would go back to that place if only for the food.

The part I love the most was just being there. Although I was very troubled with all my personal problems, at that moment – during that week, I was at the most peaceful place and at my most peaceful state. It was life-changing just being able to have idle time to yourself, lounging by the pool and falling asleep in the hammock with a book on your lap. I wrote a lot during my stay there – I had all my emotions going and all my creativity flowing. It was as if it unblocked a part of my mind that wanted to let go, and so, I just let go.

I encourage all of you – and it doesn’t matter whether you do yoga or not at all, whether you are in search of something or you’ve found it all – make a trip to Siem Reap and go for this yoga retreat, I guarantee you that you will not regret it, at all. Do it for yourself.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a message and I would be happy to help. Meanwhile, if you want to find out more – read about Hariharalaya here.

Photo credits : Hariharalaya Yoga and Meditation Center

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Lifestyle, Travel

Yoga Retreat : Eat, pray, love at Hariharalaya | Cambodia

(a page from my journal during my yoga retreat at Hariharalaya Retreat in Cambodia)

28th May 2016

I have been sleeping like a baby. I skipped two evening activities, first because I’ve already seen the film they featured during the movie night and second, I didn’t really want to play the game last night – my body is still aching right now from all the yoga we have been doing.

Yesterday was amazing, we took our old rickety bikes for a ride to the village. The markets were closed in the afternoon – but who cares, we went anyway. We cycled along pathways lined with red, sandy earth. It was beautiful. The houses were simple and far apart from its neighbors – and you can tell straightaway that the way of life here is slow and simple. They waved their hands and say hello to us when we passed by. Young children, adults (and stray dogs) alike greeted us with their warm smiles. We continued on, passing by grazing and boney cows on the fields, men working on their homes and women gathering around their hammocks to chat and just be.

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It’s renewing being here – if life can be this slow and peaceful – then what are we rushing for in the city? I have no idea – but surely, this is the only way to live in here, at least in this part of the world. We made a stop at a small coffee / coconut stall that also sells traditional Khmer outfits  (for the tourists) which was just opposite the temple. We had fresh coconuts that cost us a dollar each. And just when we were enjoying our coconuts, the rain poured – it was beautiful. The sound of the rain was soothing – the last time I heard one was through my ‘spa’ playlist on Spotify. It was just pouring evenly on the red earth and I can smell the ground – a pleasant earthy smell.

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We continued to cycle back to the yoga center and cycled past a challenging muddy trail with several potholes – I was treading on and on and in some spots – I could feel the heat of the ground rising. My heart galloping like crazy – I am not at all confident in a bike – and I was praying, dear God – please don’t let me embarrass myself today and fall off a puddle of mud. And by all graces – we reached back into the center again (after getting lost for an hour and getting burned under the hot sun!)

It’s beautiful in here, I am sitting outside waiting for the gong to ring to call for morning practice. I have several hammocks around me and lots of trees surrounding me. And now it has rung – time for yoga!

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