This place is one of the most visited sites in Sri Lanka and has an amazing and important story in the history of the country. Have you ever heard about this place?
It is also known as a UNESCO World Heritage site because of it’s “unique exposition of an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries” as said on the official site. This truly is an interesting place with a lot of different religions and ethnicity’s along with some pretty non-Asian architecture, and next, you are going to find out why!
The fort stands today next to the city of Galle which is on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. The earliest recorded history of Galle is from the 2nd century AD and it’s said that it has been a busy port from the beginning.
This was when Sri Lanka was called Ceylon. We are not going into that any further so we jump straight to 1505 when the Portuguese landed here. They had an alliance with the king at the time so they started making some changes around the area, including the initial fort construction called “Santa Cruz” which was built of mud and palm trees. Later it was extended with some watchtowers and bastions.
The Portuguese also moved to Colombo but they had to return to Galle in 1588 after the King (Raja Singha I 1581-1593) attacked them. The story of the Portuguese ended in 1640 when 2500 Dutchmen attacked the fort and captured it, this was made in an agreement with the King (Raja Singha II).
When the Dutch settled down they started to improve the fort and also build a lot of the buildings that still are there today. This included a Protestant church, the Commander’s residence, public administration buildings, a gun house and arsenal, residential quarters, warehouses and buildings for trade and defense.
The British invaded Colombo in 1796 and a week later they conquered The Galle fort also. They used Colombo as their main base and did not pay much attention to the importance of the fort. It was used as the Southern headquarters and they did build some landmarks that are there still today. The lighthouse that is on the southern tip and probably the most recognizable of all builds by the British. They also made a lot of reinforcements to the fort during the Second World War.
THE FORT TODAY
Galle Fort is today in very good condition and it is a peaceful place to spend a day, or a few. There are two main gates from where you can enter the fort and once inside you are free to explore and investigate the place as much as you like. All the old Dutch and British architecture is still in place and it kind of feels like entering an old European town when you get in.
There are some museums and a lot of cafe’s to spend your time in. Quite a lot of art is also found when walking the streets. An interesting thing is that some of the street names are still in the original Colonial Era names; such as Lighthouse street, Hospital street and more like this.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE
The best way to explore the site is by walking, it is fairly small and one day will be enough to see most of it. When you enter the fort you will right away get the feeling of what it’s like with the small narrow streets and the European vibe around it.
One of the best views open up on the west side, the coast side where you can walk on top of the wall and hang out on the grass and enjoy the views. This is also where the lighthouse is. Another interesting spot is the north part of the fort whit massive stone walls and a clock tower rising to the sky.
When you enter the streets you can find the National Maritime Museum which is built in the old Great Warehouse where the Dutch stored spices and ship equipment. Then there is the Dutch Reformed church, Meera Mosque, The Buddhist temple that is built on the site of the old Portuguese Roman Catholic Church and The Old Dutch hospital.
There are also more government buildings to see but most interesting is the fusion of the Asian and European way of living. Go visit the art shops and small galleries and cafe’s, it is also possible to take a Sri Lankan cooking class!
There are several nice restaurants also varying from Dutch, Portuguese, Indian and Sri Lankan food. And if you are interested in staying for the night that is also possible. The sunset from the fort is very amazing and might be a reason you want to stay.
WHERE TO STAY
If you are interested in sleeping inside the fort it is possible. The fort gets quiet during the evening when most of the tourists are gone and you get to feel the real Galle fort magic.
Here are some places you might want to consider:
*Beatrice Houseis located right next to the ocean wall so it’s easy to get to the best views.
All you have to do is get to Galle and from there you can walk for 5 minutes or take a tuk-tuk. The best and cheapest way to get to Galle is by train or bus. All the trains going south from Colombo stops at Galle. And if you come from the south you can hop on the train in Matara. There are several different routes of buses also going to Galle many times a day and this is for sure the cheapest way.
You can also rent a scooter and drive there yourself, but remember to be careful because the Sri Lankan traffic can be very hectic (watch out for buses driving fast). The other easy way to get there is by tuk-tuk, you can rent the tuk-tuk for the whole day and the driver may even be willing to show you around the place.
Lotta: I love routines, I’ve always loved. The most important routines for me are wellbeing & health routines. For me, taking care of my own health is one of the most important pillars in life. I want to keep my body and mind alive all year round and I also want to live a long and healthy life.
If I don’t take care of my health regularly, I feel really tired, powerless and I can’t focus on my work etc. I have also never understood the phrase “summer condition” or “bikini body” when people start to live healthy just two months before the summer. Why not be in a shape and live healthy all year round?
When traveling, routines are not the same as when you live in one place and build your everyday life in a particular schedule. In my present life situation, my home is all over the world and I don’t have a specific place to schedule and live my life, so my routines are a little bit different than what they are normally back home.
For example, I can’t go to the gym because there are none here. I have built my health routines on the basis that they can be easily practiced also while I’m traveling from place to place. I would go crazy if I wouldn’t take care of my physics or endurance because they’ve always been important to me – I’m used to doing sports and exercise every day, even a little. So it doesn’t matter if I’m traveling or not, I still want to take care of those things.
Nutrition is definitely one of the most important keys to healthy living. You are what you eat is not a bullshit phrase! When traveling, we don’t have our own kitchen to cook in, so we mostly eat in restaurants. There are lots of warungs here (where you can assemble your own meal) and I usually pick my meal from vegetables, proteins and good fats. It’s not always possible or easy to find the cleanest food, but still, you don’t have to choose the biggest hamburger dish on the menu – there is certainly something healthier than that!
Many people say that it’s too hard to keep a healthy lifestyle while traveling. Yeah, it might be a little bit harder but I would say that it’s not impossible if you really want to do it. Why would you let the new environment affect you? If you want to live healthily, you can definitely do it. I never order French fries when I’m in Finland, so why would I order them when I’m traveling? If I care about my physical condition when I’m at home, why not care about it while traveling also? It doesn’t matter where you are, you just have to find the right ways to maintain your healthy lifestyle. When it’s a lifestyle and not just a few weeks of “get in shape for summer”, it’s way much easier to stay on track!
My workout philosophy then and now
I used to train pretty hard and goal-oriented for years but my problem was that I couldn’t really listen to my body what it really needed. I should have done way much more body care and less hard gym sessions and hill runs. Fortunately, I have grown wiser and developed from those days and I listen to my body so much more nowadays. It’s not how you look or what your coach says you have to do, it’s how you feel inside and what your body and mind really need!
I think that it’s important to find the connection between the body and the mind and listen to what they need. Nowadays, I’m no longer able to do hard exercises in the mornings, like a hard morning surf or gym session, because my body needs calming and light exercise after I wake up. In my past, I would always do some hill runs or jogging straight when I woke up, even if I was super tired and my body was sore from the previous day’s exercise. That’s NOT listening to YOUR body!
Now I’ll start every morning with some mobility/body care exercise. I do some opening movements, stretching, focusing on breathing, listening to what my body and mind have to say. I’m really aware of how my body feels and I give it exactly what it needs. I don’t have to make a hard exercise right in the morning if it doesn’t feel right. We are all different individuals, and we all have different needs. Some of us are immediately receptive to heavy exercise in the morning, while others need calm exercises like yoga. Both are totally okay! I think the most important thing is to do what feels best for YOU!
My habits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle while I’m traveling:
–Eat clean food! Or at least try to find as clean food as possible. I do that when I’m not traveling, so I also maintain this when I am traveling. Sometimes it’s a little bit hard to find healthy things, but I always try to choose the best ones!
–Drink lots of water every day! Drinking water boosts metabolism and helps the body properly break down food. My all-time favorite drink for hydration is definitely fresh coconut water – I drink it every day if possible! Keeping the body hydrated is very important especially when traveling in the tropics.
–Find your own way to exercise! Nowadays I work out listening to my body and I’m totally hooked on mobility exercise – it’s so good for my body because it keeps me flexible, helps with my muscle tensions, strengths the deep muscles, improve my position and also gets me sweaty in this tropical heat! There are lots of different home workouts on Youtube that you can do where ever you are. Surfing is also super good for fitness. It’s totally not the easiest sport at all and you really need some muscle endurance to do that!
When people say “I can’t exercise when I’m on a trip” or “I can’t eat clean while I’m traveling”, I think it’s just an excuse. You can do it if you really want to (and if you don’t, that’s also okay if you want it that way, I don’t judge! But then it’s useless to complain about it!) Just use a little bit more time to think about what you order in a restaurant and use your imagination for different variations of doing your exercises! I always bring my yoga mat with me because it’s super light and I can easily put it on my backpack and bring it everywhere I’m going.
And hell yes, sometimes I want to party three days in a row and eat fast food and ENJOY it because BALANCE is also the key for the (mental) health! Life is too awesome to be too hard on yourself. The reason why I support a healthy lifestyle most of the time is that I really love it, it makes me happier and gives me lots of positive energy that I can give to other people around me!
It’s time for the weekly update again. These have been our most read posts – it’s nice to see that people are interested to see more real life stuff instead of super edited pictures and posts – what the internet is mostly about these days. We flag for authenticity!
The week has been pretty basic including our daily basics like work, surfing, yoga etc. except that we both have suffered some flu and headache symptoms the whole week. It’s such a different strain of bacteria here so it’s pretty normal to have some kind of flu or virus once in a while. We have tried to fight against the flu with vitamins and hydrating the body as much as possible. And of course, rest when needed!
I haven’t even been in the water for a week so I’m starting to get a bit bored and I really need some activities. Michael has been in the water almost every day even if he’s a little bit sick because he can’t stay out!
One good thing about being sick is that you have so much time to plan the future and the things you want to develop. And we definitely have plenty of ideas and plans for the future!
It seems like even Michael is starting to get messed up of the flu because he just cleaned our entire room. He changed the sheets, cleaned the air-conditioning machine (that’s probably what caused the flu, the AC was dirty as fuck!!!), washed the floor… I’m such a lucky girl! 😀
One day we went to a Banda Aceh center which is about 10 kilometers away from here. We stopped at the grocery shop and pharmacy. The center is a bit strange, this time there was a lot of weirdos and because there are no other tourists, we got a lot of attention. It’s a bit annoying sometimes.
Life is super easy here because you don’t have to cook yourself. There are a few places where you can eat, so we eat almost every day pretty much the same food which gets a little bit boring.
I’m used to doing my own cooking because I like to eat healthy and nutritious food – It’s quite difficult to eat clean here because they put MSG and another kind of unhealthy stuff in everything.
Michael has suddenly developed some food allergies (hand eczema) so he needs to put some effort into what to eat and what to avoid. Pretty difficult at times because of the limited supply of diversity. But the food is really tasty here (probably because of the MSG, haha), so I don’t complain!
Next week we are planning to go to the Tsunami Museum which is one of the most famous sights of Banda Aceh. This place suffered the most when the 2004 tsunami hit. There is also a ship on top of some houses that is left to sit there as a reminder of the tsunami power. You’ll see more about this next week!
Now I need to go get some food because I’m starving! Hope you have a nice Sunday!
Ko Lanta, Thailand – a paradise island located on Thailands Andaman coast. It is actually not just an island, but an island district that belongs to the Krabi province. This place is packed with natural beauty like white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, mangrove forests, limestone rocks, and some tropical rainforests. And not to forget what’s under the ocean surface, a lot of fish and colorful coral reefs! What more can you ask for?
Short history: The Island district was founded in 1901 and it consists of 4 different island groups: Mu Ko Lanta, Mu Ko Klang, Mu Ko Rok and Mu Ko Ngai. The name was officially changed to “Lanta” in 1917 and has since been called that. The main island for tourism is Ko Lanta Yai which always and still is the most populated island in the area.
The first people who settled down on Lanta was the ChaoLay (Sea Gypsies) who mostly spend their time on the sea. Then came the Thai-Muslim people and finally the Thai-Chinese. All these groups still live on the island and have developed their own cultural ways. There are over 500 years of recorded history of all the groups living in peace and harmony and that’s why Lanta today is a charming multi-ethnic community.
All the people here share a common warmth and welcoming vibe and that’s locally known as “the Ko Lanta charm”.
Next, we are going to tell you all the different activities and things you can enjoy while visiting this amazing island.
1. Rent a scooter and explore the island
This is probably the best way to see a lot of the island beauty in just a few days. There are scooter rentals in almost every corner (even some restaurants rent out their own scooters) so finding one should not be difficult. The price is usually around 200 baht (about 5,50€) per day but if you want it for an extended period you should always try to bargain a better price, as with everything in Thailand.
Make sure you get a proper agreement of the deal you make and check the condition of the scooter before you put your name on the paper. If there are some scratches or marks on the scooter, you better take pictures of them so when you return the scooter you can show that it is in the same condition as when you took it out. Remember to bring your passport or a deposit for the time of rental, this is just a guarantee for the owner that you are going to bring the scooter back. Drive safely, on the LEFT side, and wear a helmet!
2. Visit Koh Lanta Old Town
This small town is located on the east side of the island, while most of the “happening” is on the west coast, this is a relaxed traditional small town. The sea-gypsies were the first to settle in this town and later on, when the Thai-Chinese arrived it became a port of trade. This was the main town back in the days but after more and more people arrived in the north and west of the island and Saladan (main town nowadays) was born, the Old town got its name. Before it was just called Lanta town.
When you visit the place now it feels like going back in time, it’s mainly built of wooden houses. It is very relaxed with some shops and restaurants for tourists but there are no big crowds here. It is actually one of few remaining traditional Thai towns in the country. There are still some remaining Sea-gypsies on the south side of the island but it is highly suggested to leave these people alone and don’t take any photographs.
The best things to do in the town is just walking around and admire the magical old feeling, do some shopping and have some good food at a restaurant on top of the water build on wooden stilts and just enjoy!
3. Go on a snorkeling day trip
There are many different tours to choose from and every one of them has a little bit different schedule and program. The most popular is the 4 island trip and the day trip to Ko Rok. If none of them is interesting to you, you can always rent a longtail-boat for yourself and visit the islands and beaches you like. The second option is more expensive but with a lot more freedom to choose when or where to go (this might be a better idea because of the massive tourism on the organized tours).
With the organized and scheduled tours, you don’t have a choice but to go with the flow and do what the tour guide says, and there are many other people doing the same thing. Either way, you will see some really impressive limestone islands rising up from the sea and some very beautiful beaches. The snorkeling is also very impressive with a lot of fish and different corals. Highly recommended to do a trip, one way or the other!
4. Party and enjoy the nightlife
Ko Lanta is not really famous for its parties, like the neighbors Phi Phi and Phuket, but there are still some pretty good party possibilities on a smaller scale. You can find a party every day if you like, but it is also very easy to not go out. In general, Lanta is a pretty silent place during the night with a few exceptions. The places are, to name a few:
Funky monkey – A karaoke bar that is open every day and there is always something happening, they also serve good food here. Pangea beach bar – Party on Tuesdays and sunset party on Sunday, located right on the beach with no other bars around so it’s a quite good place for parties. Ozone beach bar – Party/disco on Thursdays, some laser light and techno music for the more “fast people”.
There are several other bars on almost every beach but these are the main attractions that are located on Long Beach. Check out street signs or flyers that are handed out on the beach for more specific parties. The famous “Thai bucket” is included in every single party if you like to have some more alcohol at once. It’s cheaper to buy drinks this way but beware that you will get very drunk very fast when drinking these so be careful. Enjoy!
5. Eat delicious Thai food
Thai food is some of the best this planet earth has to offer, and it’s affordable too! Rice is the main ingredient in almost every dish, plain white rice as a side to many dishes or then there are several different types of fried rice too.
There are several different curries to try like Green curry or Panang curry. Pad Thai is one of Thailands national dishes, fried rice noodles with egg and shrimp and is a must try if you visit Thailand. There is also a big variety of fresh seafood that the many restaurants cook in their own brilliant way, often barbequed with some delicious sauce added after.
Soup is another specialty of Thailand and there are two soups that rise above the other, Tom Yam (spicy and sour) and Tom Kha (smooth coconut milk soup) to which you can add the protein of your liking: chicken, beef, seafood or shrimp. As a dessert, you should definitely try Mango sticky rice or the traditional Banana pancake.
Whatever you eat, you will love it! Be brave and try some new things and you will find some amazing flavors!
6. Visit a viewpoint spot
There are several viewpoint spots and restaurants around the island, some are located inland and others on the coastline. If you are a sunrise lover you could visit some on the east coast and if you are more the sunset person, just choose one on the west side. The east side has more island and coastline views when the west offers a faded view of the Phi Phi islands and the wide open Andaman sea.
7. Try some Thai massage
Thai massage is famous for being one of the best massages in the world. The quality is really good with the experienced older ladies and the price is more than okay, 300 baht (about 8€) for an hour and they will twist you in so many different positions that you will feel like reborn after. The best massage places are usually located close to the beach where you can hear the ocean breeze, so comforting!
8. Visit Mu Koh Lanta National Park
This park is located on the southern tip of the island and extends out to the nearby islands where the 4 islands day trip also takes place. This is a place with unspoiled nature and a lot of wildlife. There are a lot of monkeys, lizards and other small animals native to Thailand. You have to pay a park entrance fee, 200 baht (5.50€) per person and an additional 20 baht (0,60€) if you bring a scooter.
There is a nature trail that is about 2km long that lingers through the jungle and has some breathtaking views. It is pretty exhausting and a lot of steps so remember to bring a lot of water with you. Then there are also two beaches, one that is very rocky and another sandy. In between these beaches are some big rocks with an old lighthouse on it with again some really nice views. You can spend a whole day here or just visit it quickly, up to you but worth it anyways.
9. Go to a Thai boxing event
This is another thing Thailand is famous for and it can get pretty brutal on a “fight night”. Many foreigners also go to Thailand just to train and fight the locals so there might be some interesting fights. They usually arrange it one or two days a week and tickets are sold in advance or at the “arena”. It’s usually around 800 baht (about 22,30€) for a normal ticket and even more for VIP tickets. If you are a fan of fighting then this will for sure be entertaining. There is a lot of advertising prior to events so you better check the surroundings or ask a travel agency to hook you up with tickets.
10. Enjoy a fire show at the beach
After the sun has set and the beachgoers has left for the day it is time for the local “firemen” to step in. Almost every beach has some restaurant or party where there will be fire performances performing with different equipment. These guys are really talented at what they do! It’s a really nice extra when dining next to the dark beach and a perfect situation for some long shutter photography. After the show the “firemen” will go around the restaurants and ask for a tip from people who liked what the did, this is how they get paid.
11. Relax at the beach and enjoy the calm waters
There are about 20 different beaches on Ko Lanta so finding one that suits you and your needs should not be that hard. The most popular and most developed are Klong Dao Beach and Phra Ae Beach (Long Beach). Here you can find a lot of restaurants and beach bars, but also some pretty quiet places along them because of the size of the beaches.
Klong Nin is another fairly long beach that’s not overly developed yet. For more private and undeveloped beaches you should head more south and visit Nui Bay beach, Klong Chak beach or Bamboo beach. Remember to bring water and some sunscreen because it’s hard to find some shade on many of these beaches.
12. Go scuba diving
Scuba diving is very popular at Ko Lanta and there are very many spots you can go diving on. There are scuba diving shops on nearly every beach and they all have PADIor SSIcertification so they are safe for everyone. Best way to find the scuba shop you like is to just walk into one and ask around, where they are going to dive in the next few days and different requirement criteria they might have.
If you are a beginner, this is also a good place to start because of the price level in Thailand is one of the lowest in the world and the sea currents are pretty nonexistent in the area. Many dive shops also have a swimming pool for beginners where you train to know all your equipment before you enter the ocean.
13. Take a tuk-tuk ride
This is the second best option to get around the island, after the motorbike. These motorbike modifications are a specialty to Asia and this part of Thailand. They are very convenient, you can find them almost anywhere and they are fairly cheap. Especially if you go out partying this is the best option for you to get around. Drunk driving (if you have rented a scooter) is just stupid and should not be done in any circumstance! The tuk-tuk rides are also a good way of supporting locals directly because they work for themselves.
14. Try horse riding on the beach
On the more popular beaches, there are also some horse riding possibilities. The price is about 1000-1200 baht (about 30-35€) for 1-2 hours. This tho is a little bit controversial because of the hot climate when they do the riding during the daytime. If you still want to experience this thing it is best to do during sunrise or sunset to ease out the stress on the animals. It is also possible to take a jungle route instead of the beach if this seems more interesting.
15. Mangrove kayaking
There is a lot of mangrove forest on the North side of the island and again there are many companies doing day trips there. You get to see the inside of the mangrove forest and how this ecosystem works. The tours are working with the ocean tide – the best time to go is when it is high tide and the ocean fills up the floor of the forest. The price is about 1000 baht (about 30€) for a half day trip. If you are not interested in kayaking there is also the possibility of taking a long tail boat tour thru the mangrove but these don’t go that deep into the forest because of the size of the boat.
16. Visit Khlong Chak Waterfall (if it rains)
This waterfall is also a part of the Mu Ko Lanta National Park but is a little bit apart from where the park entrance is. To get to this waterfall you need to hike about 25 minutes through the lush jungle. The path is not so good and you might find a bit difficult to find without a guide.
Luckily there are a lot of tours made to this waterfall but you should only go there if it has been raining. The tour has been disappointing for many who hike there in the dry season only to come up to an almost dried up waterfall. The waterfall itself is only about 7 meters high so it’s not that spectacular. On the way back there is also a possibility to hike to the Klong Chak cave which is a small cave with massive roots growing through the rocks.
Where to stay on Ko Lanta?
Are you going to backpack or maybe spend your honeymoon here, no problem, we got you covered! Here are some of the best places to stay on Ko Lanta in every price range!
Dreamy Casa offers nice air-conditioned rooms right next to the main street on Long Beach for a reasonable price.
Lanta Happy Hill is surrounded by greenery and lush gardens and the walk to the beach takes only 5 minutes.
Lazy Days is a beach bungalow style resort right next to the beach. Location is perfect with everything you need for a vacation.
SER-EN-DIP-I-TY offers air-conditioned rooms in a quiet area just next to Long Beach.
Siam Lanta is a bestseller in Ko Lanta, the resort has a swimming pool and is surrounded by jungle.
The Houben – ADULTS ONLY offer some villa-style accommodation with stunning views.
Alanta Villa offers spacious villas built with natural materials and every villa has a private pool. The natural choice!
Lanta Casa Blanca has one of the best location ratings on the island and the resort has it’s own private beach area.
5 -Star travel:
Rawi Warin Resort and Spalocated on the west side about half way the island. This is a quiet place with all the luxury you could possibly need!
Layana Resort & Spa – ADULTS ONLY is on Long Beach and is still surrounded by tropical greenery with a view over the sea, with world-class service of course.
Pimalai Resort & Spa which is rated no.1 on trip advisor as travelers choice. It is located more south than most resorts and has complete privacy and excellent service!
That’s it from us at BEMBALYFE! Hope you enjoyed the article and found it somewhat helpful. Have you ever been to Ko Lanta and done something we didn’t cover here, please let us know in the comment section below.
*This post contains affiliate links. More info here.
Have you ever wondered about why there is a fortress on top of a 200-meter high rock in the middle of Sri Lanka? And what about the rock right next to it?
There is a lot of history and mythology around this whole area which is located in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. This place is famous for the UNESCO World Heritage site called Ancient city of Sigiriya or Lion rock. I will tell you some more about it in a bit.
There is also another rock there, called Pidurangala Vihara, that’s not so famous but still very interesting and mind-blowing. This is where we went! Both rocks are located just a few kilometers from each other so you can enjoy both sites on the same trip if you like.
In this post:
-The ancient city of Sigiriya, Lion Rock
-Pidurangala Vihara, Pidurangala Rock
-What to know before you go
-How to get there -Where to stay
The Lion Rock history
The Ancient city of Sigiriya, that’s the official name, is an ancient rock fortress with a lot of history. The rock itself is the result of ancient volcanic activity and it rises about 200 meters above the ground where it’s located. The rock has played a big part in the ancient civilization and is believed to have been inhabited almost five thousand years because of its shelters and caves.
The fortress, that today still stands there, is built around 477 CE to 495 CE. This was the reign of King Kashyapa, who moved the capital from Anuradhapura, which was the capital at the time, to this location because of some insecurities of his own wellbeing. He built his palace and fortress on top of this rock. The fortress was occupied for 18 years and after the King died the fortress was left to stand there alone.
Later the Buddhist monks started using it as a monastery until the 14th century. Not until 1831, the site was rediscovered and some archaeological work started.In 1982 UNESCO made it a world heritage site.This is considered one of the best preserved ancient urban planning sites and also called the 8th wonder of the world.
This rock is a bit taller and larger than Sigiriya. This site has also been used for shelter for about the same time as the more famous Lion Rock. This site became more important when King Kashyapa (477-495 CE) moved the monks, living in the area, here to live in a newly built temple and monastery. There is a “Stupa” where King Kasyanapa were cremated.
Then there is a temple just at the entrance of the hike whit a “modern” house from where you can enter the old cave temple. The hike to the rock can be divided into two stages. The first one is easy with built steps and the second one is more like climbing a natural rock formation.
When you reach the first stage there is a massive Buddha statue lying in a small cave. This statue was once the biggest brick statue of Buddha in the world and is measured 12,5 meters. The second part, where you get on top of the rock, is also the best and most demanding part of the climb. It may take some time and effort to get yourself up there but it’s well worth it.
What to know before you go
Book a tuk tuk the day before to pick you up in the morning as early as possible. If you rather go in the afternoon then just have the people at the place you stay get a tuk tuk for you.
Both rocks are temples so you need to wear appropriate clothes. This means you should have your knees and shoulders covered and no hats allowed. Some loose breathable clothes are suggestible. Wear good shoes, some people go there in flip-flops and it is possible but for more comfortable use sneakers or hiking shoes.
The Lion rock is quite easy to climb, with stairs and plateaus all the way up, and that is why it’s also very crowded. The Pidurangala rock, on the other hand, is more demanding to reach the top. Even if you can make it to the first stage, which has stairs all the way, the views are spectacular. The hike up both rocks takes about the same time, around 20-45 minutes depending on how fast you are. The way back down is about twice as fast.
Bring water and some snacks, when you finally get up there you will want to stay there for a while and enjoy the views. If you go during the day you should bring a hat and some sunscreen because it gets really hot up there. The best time to climb is early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Our experience of Sigiriya
We came to Sigiriya from Kandy by bus and tuk tuk and the climate was very likeable, even when we visited during the rainy season in December. The thing with the fortress today is that it’s very expensive to go there for a foreigner, 5000rps! That’s a bit much and they have constantly kept increasing the price because there are more and more visitors all the time. Kind of stupid I think?
So we decided that we will climb the other rock next to it, Pidularangala rock and temple, which is about the same height and from there you get the amazing view of the fortress itself. And the best thing is that it’s not so crowded and the price is only 500rps. You need to wear proper covering clothes because of the temple site but that’s what it’s like on every religious site.
The hike up is best to do during the early hours to see the amazing sunrise from the top, or the other thing would be to go there in the late afternoon to see the sunset. The second option is more dangerous because if you enjoy the view too long it will be pretty dark to get down a semi-tricky path. For us, this was the better option because we were only staying one day. If you have more time (and/or money) you should definitely go visit both of the sites.
The area itself around the sites is very calm, a small village with some restaurants for westerns. We stayed at a homestay called Blue Water Villa* and we got to meet this very kind family who was willing to help with anything even if their English skill was not the best. A true Sri Lankan homestay! This is a place you want to visit at least once in your life, there is some magic in the air there…
How to get there
The closest city is called Dambulla and you can get there by bus, taxi or hired van. From there you need to take a tuk tuk or local bus to get to the Sigiriya village. Of course, you can also drive a scooter if you want to get the most freedom in your traveling. It is also possible to take a train from Colombo to Habarana, and from there you need to take a tuk tuk or bus to get closer. Habarana is about 16 kilometers from Sigiriya.
Where to stay
We stayed at a small homestay called Blue Water Villawhich was right next to the village.
Hope you have a nice Sunday and greetings from Sumatra, we both are here again! Michael came here on Friday and I came yesterday from Kuala Lumpur, where I spent two days by myself.
It really wasn’t the plan, but I broke my laptop so I had to stay there until I got it to a repair shop. Sometimes there are situations that can’t be expected in life! I’ll tell you more about this Kuala Lumpur trip towards the end of this post. However, here’s a small weekly review of the past week!
So last week we were at Krabi, Ao Nang Beach, from Monday to Thursday. We stayed at Ao Nang Bamboo resort* which was a nice and peaceful place with bamboo bungalows and a pool area.
One day we visited the Tha Pom Klong Song Nam nature trail, which is in the middle of a mangrove forest. The route was 1.2 km and it was a really beautiful place! We were there in the afternoon and we saw how the mangrove roots were filled up with water from low tide to high tide.
The next day we woke up early in the morning and went to the Tiger Cave Temple which is one of Krabi’s most famous attractions. Climbing to the top was pretty tough, but well worth it.1237 steps later my legs were shaking and they were sore for a few days after!
From the top, you can see the beautiful landscape of Krabi and the Buddha statue that stands at the top of the mountain. The entrance is free and you should dress according to the religion – the knees and shoulders should be covered. You can borrow clothes or sharongs there if you don’t have any yourself.
I recommend climbing there very early in the morning to avoid the heat and crowd. We started at 7 am and it was a really good time because there were no people besides us and a few others and the heat wasn’t too bad yet. Climbing there took us about 20 minutes.
On Thursday morning we left for the Krabi airport and flew to Kuala Lumpur. All in all, Krabi was a very nice experience, but still a little bit too touristic for us. The Thai culture cannot be properly seen when the place is made really tourist friendly. Overall, our 2,5 week Thailand trip was still full of happening and new experiences.
So the original plan was to fly straight from Kuala Lumpur to Banda Aceh, Sumatra, but I managed to break my brand new laptop so I had to stay in Kuala Lumpur and find out how I could get my laptop repaired.
The two days were full of blood, sweat and tears, and I was so fucking frustrated because a good repair shop wasn’t so easy to find as I imagined. There is still a warranty on my laptop and getting it to the warranty repair was really difficult, which was super weird in a city that big.
I was ready to give up so many times! I wandered around the city and visited many different repair shops. Thank god I finally found a good place and they sent my laptop to Apple for a warranty repair. I almost cried after that because I was so happy!
I stayed at Hotel Check-In which was nearby NU Sentral. The hotel was 40 euros for 2 nights but totally not worth the money, at least not my super tiny single room. In KL you can stay at 4-star hotels for that price but this one wasn’t like that at all. My room was so small that I couldn’t even spread my yoga mat on the floor and there were cockroaches in the toilet.
Normally I’m not that demanding at all about where I sleep but this time I was too tired (I had insomnia and slept only 6 hours for 2 days) and frustrated from the laptop thing so everything seemed so shit, hah. But all good in the end and the frustration turned into joy.
After all, I finally arrived at Banda Aceh yesterday and it’s so nice and stressless to be here again. Feels almost like being home and it’s also so nice to finally be in one place for a little longer after been traveling around in many places.
I have to go back to KL in one or two weeks to get my repaired laptop but before that, we enjoy our stay here by working and surfing. Oh, and I bought a new book (Unlimited power by Tony Robbins) at KL airport so I’m gonna read A LOT also! I’m so hooked on this book!
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. – Steve Jobs
Huh, it has been quite a week! Although for outsiders, our life may look like a relaxed travel life but it’s not like that all the time. We are not just lying by the pool and enjoying some beer or cocktails. We are working and trying to develop our things all the time and it’s really stressful a lot of times.
Today I woke up in the morning before seven, did some yoga and the rest of the day I sat in a restaurant with my laptop and tried to figure out how the hell I could make some things work properly. My patience and electronics are not the best combination!
Regardless of that, the week has been rewarding. I have lots of pictures from the week so this post is more about pictures and less text.
Our office changes daily. Sometimes it is a beautiful place with a sea view and sometimes MC Donald’s! We were at Koh Lanta National Park which is the most southern point of the island. It costs 200 baht (5,60 euros) per person for foreigners and another 20 baht (0,60 euros) if you’re bringing a motorbike.
We also visit Koh Lanta Old town! There were cute little shops.
One other day we went on a (pretty horrible!) snorkeling trip with other tourists. Horrible because we are not huge fans of tourist trips… The trip was “4 island trip” which included 2 snorkeling stops, a “cave swim” where we swam 80 meters with life jackets (Michael was like I don’t need it but the guide forced him to put it on haha! It was a funny situation) through the dark cave. With a hundred other tourist! Last stop was a lunch break on a peaceful beach, Koh Kradan which was very beautiful and peaceful.
After Koh Lanta we took a tourist boat and went to a Koh Jum where we spent one day. We didn’t know that there was no ATM on the island, and we had not much cash, so we were forced to leave after one night.
Koh Jum was so nice and a really calm island. We were pretty sad that we had to leave only after one night. We stayed at Coral Bay resort which was very nice with clean bungalows and friendly stuff. Michael turned 32 when we were there, what would be a better place to be on a birthday?
If you’re wondering where to stay at Koh Jum, we highly recommend this. You can book your stay here*
We didn’t want to go on a tourist boat anymore, so we took a local boat which was 4 times cheaper than a tourist boat and the trip was very nice. Locals are super friendly and things work easily with them without any confusion!
From Koh Jum we went to Krabi town for one night. We stayed at Sleep Easy which was clean and nice hostel owned by an Aussie dude. One night costs only 16 euros which is not bad in that area. We had a private room because we don’t want to stay in dorms with all our electronics.
In the evening we went to the night market. I love night markets! We ate grilled seafood and of course – banana pancakes! Huh, it was super sugary for me cause I don’t eat desserts very often. Okay, I think it’s super sugary for everyone!
From Krabi Town, we took a local bus, or more like a pickup truck with seats in the back, to Ao Nang where we are currently. We stay atAo Nang Bamboo resort and we stay here for 6 days. We have a cute little bungalow and this place is overall nice and quiet with a pool! This place is a couple of kilometers away from the beach, away from all the tourist hassle, so we rented a scooter so we can drive around easily.
Okay, so many people have never heard about Moyo Island, Never did I before I stumbled upon it by accident when searching the web. I instantly knew that this place is going to be a paradise, and it was!
-Explore the nature, bat cave -Visit multiple waterfalls -Snorkeling in crystal clear water -Diving in some of the best conditions on planet earth -Little to none tourism
We went to Moyo Island in May and there were no other Western people around. You can visit the Island any time a year but December to February might be a bit more rainy, On the other side, the waterfalls will be even more spectacular if this happens.
The place we stayed at was as amazing as it gets (book your stay: Maleo Moyo Hotel & Dive resort*). The couple who owns it is one of the best-hearted people I ever met! Evert, originally from the Netherlands, is the man at the resort – and also the scuba instructor! Click for more: DJI Moyo.
He is very professional and has a lot of experience. He and his wife who is local runs the place and they are willing to help you with anything you need.
There is also a 5-star resort, Amanwana*, where it’s luxury but that is for the wealthier people because it’s very expensive and did not suit us.
Where is it and how to get there?
The island is situated on the North side of Sumbawa, East of Lombok. The easiest way is to fly in with a seaplane but that will cost you a lot of money. More info here.
The second option, which is way cheaper, is to first get yourself to Bali and then fly via Lombok to Sumbawa Besar.
Book your flights here:
From there you need to take a taxi to a peer and from there with a boat. Luckily for you, Evert has this all figured out at a reasonable price, he picks you up from the airport and then you jump on his boat and will take you straight to Maleo Moyo.
What to do on Moyo?
Scuba diving and snorkeling is for sure the best reason to visit the island, Secondly comes nature and waterfalls it beholds.
There is also a bat cave which is very exciting. Here you can watch how we spent our time on the Island:
Thambili Cabanas and Thambili Cafe are both located in Hikkaduwa on the west coast of Sri Lanka.
They have a really cool spot for relaxing and really enjoying the best parts of a Sri Lankan beach stay! The water is warm and the weather is tropical. What more do you wish for? The food at Thambili Cafe is organic and fresh and there’s something for everyone – very delicious!
The Cabanas are brand new with a really great garden and swimming pool area. The staff is always friendly and smiling, always willing to help with anything you need to know about their homeland!
Location: 920/1 Galle Road | Thiranagama, Hikkaduwa 80240, Sri Lanka
Lotta: Greetings from Thailand! Here’s our weekly update with pics taken with the phone during the past week. We are currently at Koh Lanta, which is an island in Krabi. We’ve been here for six days now and just been relaxing and enjoying the beach life. My father is also here, with his girlfriend and friends, and it makes me extremely happy that I can spend quality time with them because most of the time I’m traveling and can’t spend time with my fam. We’ve had so fun together here!
We flew here through Kuala Lumpur which is the best waypoint when flying from place to place in Southeast Asia because getting there is so cheap (from Banda Aceh to Kuala Lumpur only 20 euros!) and there you can buy all the necessary stuff if needed and best of all, enjoy the super delicious food (which is always an important thing when traveling haha). We stayed at My Hotel*which is nearby the bus station. It is a good basic hotel which cost 12 euros a night.
In Kuala Lumpur, we just chilled and ate good food and went to bed early because we were pretty exhausted from traveling. The next morning we woke up at 4 am, packed the baggage, drank some coffees and took the bus to the airport. Our flight to Krabi was at 7 am and the flight took only 1.5 hours, we both slept almost the whole flight.
Read our older Kuala Lumpur post (in Finnish) here.
I’ve never been to Thailand before, so I was really excited to get to experience a new place and see the culture. The other big reason I was so excited was that I could wear bikinis and get tanned because in Sumatra I couldn’t do that because of religious reasons.
We are staying at Lanta Smile Resort*which is located at Long Beach. Koh Lanta is a peaceful island, not like a big party island. During the day it is really peaceful, no loud music at the bars etc. Here you can relax, enjoy delicious local food, go to Thai massage and in the evenings watch the sunset while sipping cocktails. There are also bars so if you want to party it’s possible of course.
I tried Thai massage for the first time in my life and to be honest it was the best massage I’ve ever had! It lasted almost one hour and cost 7 euros. The Thai woman threw and turned me in different positions and got all the muscle and joint tensions open and I felt like a newborn after that.
Something on my mind right now:
– There’s so many Swedish here, huh. And Finns also. Pretty much like a basic tourist place. – Locals are so friendly here. Everyone is smiling! – The weather is amazing. +33-37 celsius and cloudless sky! – Coconuts are not as good as in Indonesia or Sri Lanka. Why the hell do they taste like cornflakes here? 😀 – Why does every breakfast include egg or dairy? – To see my family members happy and loved is the thing that makes me the happiest in life.
Today is my dad’s last day here so I think there will be some party tonight! Now I shut down my laptop and head to the beach, laters!
When I travel I never use any makeup on my skin because I want to give it some breath and fresh air. Anyway, in the tropics, it’s also so hot that the makeup will melt away immediately.
I have had very good skin all my youth, but now, for several years I have had pimples especially in my cheeks and sometimes also in my jawline (I guess it’s for hormonal reasons). Actually, all of them are not even pimples but red scars from old pimples.
I strongly believe that diet affects the condition of the skin and therefore I, for example, don’t use dairy products anymore. I currently only use two natural productions on my skin: coconut oil and sandalwood oil which is the topic of today. These combined with a non-dairy diet have made my skin much better.
I’ve never used sandalwood oil (the REAL one!) before, but when we were in Sri Lanka, we went to the spice garden tour and the guide told us all the health benefits the oil has. One thing was that it can remove acne scars so when I heard that I was like “okay I need that!” and we bought one bottle that was a bit expensive but totally worth it.
When I first started using it I put 2- 3 drops of the oil on my face every night and washed it off the next morning. I repeated it daily. Every morning I woke up, the first thing I did was checked my skin condition and I was really convinced because it was cleaner and brighter every time! What a magical oil, I thought!
I know that many people suffer from bad skin so I want to share this and tell you about this amazing oil made from the Sandalwood tree. It helps me so it may also help you!
Sandalwood oil comes from the wood and roots of Santalum album, or the East Indian sandalwood tree. This is one of the most valuable trees in the world.
Sandalwood and its oil are prized in the field of alternative medicine. It’s traditionally used to treat a variety of conditions. Most of its traditional uses haven’t been scientifically tested, but some research suggests sandalwood may help treat certain health problems.
In order to get the most benefit from this essential oil, the sandalwood tree must grow for at least 40–80 years before the roots can be harvested. Sandalwood oil is one of the most expensive essential oils available on the market today.
BENEFITS AND USES
Soothe blemishes and scars
Sandalwood oil can be an effective remedy for skin blemishes and be able to soothe skin inflammations. Massage the oil to your face gently and leave the mask overnight and then wash it off in the morning. You can also mix it with coconut oil if you want more moisturizing result!
Prevent the skin from aging Sandalwood essential oil is rich in antioxidants that can help to soothe free-radicals in our body. These free-radicals are major offenders and promote aging.
Relax the body
Sandalwood oil is a natural relaxant. It has relaxing properties that can soothe your nerves and calm you down instantly. This combined with its sedative properties and peaceful aroma works wonders to alleviate your stress and anxiety.
Soothes dry and weak hair
Sandalwood oil restores the shine in hair by moisturizing it deeply. Just add a few drops of sandalwood oil in your shampoo or conditioner. My hair has dried up in the sun a lot so I have to make this more often!
In addition to these, sandalwood oil has lots of other benefits also but these are my own favorites.
PS. If you buy sandalwood, make sure it’s 100% pure to get the best benefits! For example, iHerb is an online shop where you can buy 100% pure essential oils:
Michael: So, this is my first blog text EVER. Nevertheless, life is about doing things you don’t know because that’s the way you learn and progress. I’ll do my best!
We got to Kandy by train in the late afternoon. We had booked a place to stay in advance just to make it easier for us to get a room and relax after a long trip. So first we took a tuk tuk and told the driver the name of the place. He said that it was about 15 min drive away, okay we thought it would have been in the city but it was actually quite nice to have a small trip thru the city to the next suburb called Lewella.
The place we stayed at in Lewella is called Nook Rest* and it was a really nice place with super friendly staff and amazing views from the balcony.
The only thing we realized the first evening was that we needed to take a tuk tuk back to town to get something decent to eat, so we did. That trip with the tuk tuk was hilarious! The driver was very interested in where we are from and what we are doing.
He told us some good advices for our next stop Sigiriya and also told us about the best things to do in Kandy. He suggested that the Temple of the Tooth Relic and the Botanical Gardens were the best things to see in Kandy. In my opinion, the tuk tuk drivers are some of the best tour guides in Sri Lanka, and they don’t charge much!
The funniest thing occurred when he asked me if I speak any Sinhalese, and I told him “bebadda” and the man started laughing hysterically. The word basically means “alcoholic” or “one who is drunk all the time” and the driver thought it was the funniest thing he ever heard that a foreigner knew that word.
“Naturally there is a dress code to get in so we had to buy some pants for Lotta from a street vendor”
The next day we woke up pretty early and packed our stuff and once again, took a tuk tuk and headed to the city center to explore what it had to offer at daytime. We had breakfast and after that decided to go explore the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Also called “Sri Dalada Maligawa”.
Naturally, there is a dress code to get in so we had to buy some pants for Lotta from a street vendor and after that, we managed to get into the temple area where the tickets are sold. The price for foreigners is 1500rps (7,20€) and for locals it’s free. Even after we bought the ticket there was an additional security check to get inside the actual temple.
The inside of the temples are very beautiful and there are a lot of different rooms to explore. You can either take a tour guide that shows you all the different parts or you can just go on your own which we did. It takes about 2 hours to go around all the different places but it’s well worth the time.
The ones we think were the coolest: The Main Temple, Sri Lankan History Museum, The Elephant Museum, and The Old World Museum. If you like to read more about the place, go visit the official website here.
There is also The world Buddhist Museum that is right next to the sight and is also included in the price. This place was really interesting. A big building with two floors that tell the stories of how and where the Buddha has walked and the Buddhist teachings have spread. We highly recommend you visit this place also.
After we finished our tour in the temples we were exhausted because it was super hot during the day (we went from 11am-1pm). If you are smart and want a more comfortable tour you should visit the temples in the morning or afternoon, not like we did!
At this point, we needed some food so we started walking the streets of Kandy and we pretty quickly found a local restaurant that seemed pretty good. There are a lot of restaurants that have a kind of a bakery or snack bar downstairs and the actual restaurant is on the second floor. These are usually very cheap and good.
Then we headed to the bus station. The station in Kandy is pretty big and the easiest way to find the bus you need is to ask the locals or a bus driver, they will tell you where to go. We were going to Dambulla, a city next to the famous Sigiriya Rock, and when we found our bus that was already moving we basically jumped in on a moving bus. Things happens fast in Sri Lanka!
The bus took 1,5 hours and cost 120rps (0,60€) per person, super cheap! When we got to Dambulla our exit from the bus was even quicker than the entry and suddenly we were standing on the side of the road probably looking like easy target tourists.
That’s when an older local guy started talking to us and we told him we need to go to Sigiriya that we have a room booked at a place called Blue Water Villa*. He told us that we have two options, we could take the local bus (50rps, 0,25€) that takes about 30min and after that a tuk tuk to the homestay, or we could take a tuk tuk from him at 500rps (2,40€) and on the way we visit a spice garden for free. So we decided to take the tuk tuk because it was the easier way.
Soon it became clear that the old man was just the guy who sells these rides because there was soon a tuk tuk with a young driver that was our ride, that was okay. So we got to the spice garden and there was a tour guide waiting for us. We started walking around the garden, there was a lot of different spices and plants and the guide told us some info about almost all of them. We got to test some chocolate vanilla tea and also a small massage with some herbal oil. Free of charge but suggested to pay if you like it, so we paid some realized money.
After this, they took us to the shop where you can buy all kinds of oils and products that they make on the sight. All the products were super expensive but we ended up buying some pure sandalwood oil because of its quality. 2500rps (12€) for 100ml.
Then it was finally time for us to go to our guest-house and relax. The driver took us all the way to the house and was really nice to us. The guest house was pretty new and comfortable. It was close to sunset time when we arrived and we were pretty tired after a long day. They offered some local Kottu Roti food for us and we just sat and enjoyed the evening with the family talking about life.