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Michael: This is our story about our trip to the world’s oldest jungle, Taman Negara. It is located in Malaysia, only about 240 km from Kuala Lumpur.

Short History – Taman Negara

The jungle is now a National Park that was established in 1938 by the English Kingdom and was originally named “King George V National Park”. After Malaysia got its independence in 1957, the park was renamed to National Park (Taman Negara) of Peninsular Malaysia.

This place is a hotspot for biodiversity. There are more than 3000 species of plants and about 150 species of mammals, including the very rare Malayan Tiger and Clouded Leopard. In addition, there are 80 species of bats and 30 species of rodents, not to forget about the countless species of insects.

The area itself is estimated to be about 130 million years old and is one of the oldest tropical jungles still standing today. It is also listed on UNESCO as an unconfirmed World Heritage site.

Aerial view of taman negara

Our Story

We started early morning from Kuala Lumpur and jumped on a bus that took us to the closest town. This place is called Jerantut and from there, we took a van to the Kuala Tembeling jetty from where the riverboat leaves.

We did not actually plan to go with a tour agency, but when we arrived at Jerantut bus station, there was a guide, who told us it is our best option and it was only about 10 ringgit more to go with him. So we made a choice to go with him to make it easier for us. He took us to their office where we made all the park fee payments and the boat payments and then they took us to the jetty.

Kuala Lumpur Bus Station

So we get in the boat and start the 3-hour journey. At this moment it is good to notice that you should use the toilet at the jetty before you enter the boat because it is a journey with no stops, some of us might have had a few problems because we did not go to the toilet before…

We finally arrived at Kuala Tahan which is the village on the other side of the river from the Jungle. This is where we stayed for 3 nights. We chose a budget room in Taman Negara Travellers Lodge*  which cost about 13€/night.

The village is quite small and has developed through tourism, you will mostly find restaurants that sell burgers and other Western foods. Luckily there are also some local restaurants who offer more affordable and local food. We preferred these.

Shop in kuala tahun

Jungle Time

The first morning we got up early. We headed to the Jungle to find out what there is to be found. The first feeling and sound of the place were breathtaking and you could really feel the old energy of the trees. Our first mission was to get to the Canopy Walkway, which has been the most famous tourist attraction. We hiked for an hour only to figure out that the thing has been closed for almost a year. This was due to some irresponsible human behavior and bad condition of the structure.

So we decide to hike to Teresek Hill instead, the closest and easiest climb in the area. This was a quite long hike uphill and the place itself was only an opening in the canopy where you could see the jungle from above.

We did not want to get back the same route so we decided to go with the trail that went down on the other side. This was a much more adventurous trail than the one we came up with. There were no stairs and it was pretty steep at places but luckily there were some ropes that we could grab when the terrain got more difficult.

When we finally got out of the jungle and back to the village we were pretty exhausted but really satisfied, what a magical and wonderful place this jungle is!

The following days

We did the same thing the next morning as the day before and headed out to explore the unknown, only in the other direction. This time we also found a nice beach where it was possible to swim in the river. There were signs that you should not enter the river if you have any open wounds because of the bacteria in the water. I went for a swim and it was really refreshing after a hot and sweaty day in the jungle. No bacteria for me! We repeated this for the next few days.

The best thing I found out was that hiking in this ancient forest really made me feel good, physically and mentally! To trek the uneven terrain, not knowing what the next bend or hill would reveal was the best feeling ever. And there is some magical feeling about old trees that I just can’t explain. I suggest everybody should visit any forest as a regular thing to keep up your overall health!

And yeah, I almost forgot! Filming wild animals in the jungle is really, really difficult! You see them and hear them, but there is no time to set up the camera before they are gone. All the respect for animal photographers, it’s nearly impossible!

Transport Prices & How To Get There

The bus ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Jerantut cost us about 18RM (about 3,90€) and
the van + boat to Kuala Tahan (including National Park fees + photo license) was 55RM (11.80€).

You need to pay 5RM (1,10€) for a camera license for taking photos in the jungle, even if it’s just your phone. You also need to bring this permit with you all the time when entering the National Park because there are rangers who might check for this.

It’s also possible to get to the jungle by bus but the river scenery is well worth the price and the extra time. The bus cost only 6RM (1,20€) and takes about 2 hours. We took this trip when we got back to Kuala Lumpur.

There are also many tour operators in Kuala Lumpur that make all-inclusive trips there. Starting from a day trip that cost about 200RM (43€) to several days in the jungle that cost about 150RM (32€) per day.

Aerial view of Kuala Tahun

Where To Stay

Taman Negara Travellers Lodge* – This is where we stayed and I think it has the best price/quality ratio.

Greenland Guesthouse* – Another great semi-budget accommodation, this is just outside of the village. Silent and green refugee.

Danz Eco Resort* – the cheapest on in the area, the accommodation is a tent.

Naura Roomstay* – New building a little bit outside of the village and here you will have complete privacy and it is right next to the river.

Mutiara Taman Negara Resort* – The only 4-star resort in the area and the only one that is actually in the National Park area. This is the place if your budget can handle it!

My Thoughts

For me, this jungle was quite special. This was the first location where I really decided to try my best in making videos. And in my opinion, it really paid off. The reason we even went to this jungle was that our Indonesian visa was ending so we flew to Kuala Lumpur and we had 5 days before we were going to Thailand.

We did not want to spend this in the city so I started to look for other options. And this is what I found. I think you really should visit Taman Negara if you have a few extra days to spend when traveling via Kuala Lumpur. This is a place you are going to remember forever.

Oh, and we actually did a night walk in the jungle also but the footage was not that good… Let’s just say that it was more than just interesting to get the feeling of a totally dark jungle. Go find out for yourself!

Thanks for reading!

Michael

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Hello from Kuala Lumpur!

Michael: This has been a pretty interesting week because we have spent it with my mom. It has been very nice to spend some time with her, but when you try to work and the other tries to be on a holiday it’s not that easy all the time. Anyway, we have done a lot of things and seen a lot!

Vietnam

As I told you in the last weekly update, we were most of the week in Phu Quoc, Vietnam which was a really good experience and also a little bit bad. More about the whole island in future posts. One thing I have to say that the people there were not as nice as elsewhere in Asia. The food was definitely the best thing tho! We even ate some frog and it was really delicious.

Phu Quoc, in general, is a really tourist-oriented island and they are building new resorts everywhere. They don’t seem to take that good care of nature and it’s really sad.

sao beach phu quoc

Malaysia

On Friday we flew to Kuala Lumpur. We have basically just eaten good food and walked around the city. We also visited the famous Batu Caves and today we tried the “Hop on, Hop off” bus which drives around in the city to all the main attractions. I’ve never experienced a thing like that before but it was actually pretty nice, a new perspective to the city!

We stay at Bukit Bintang in Fairlane Residence Suite* that comes with a swimming pool on top of the building and a gym that Lotta has been using every morning, and she loves it!

I have been flying the drone from the roof and it’s pretty scary when there are so many buildings and a lot of people on the street that I don’t want to hit with a falling drone! So far so good. Now we are about to head out to China town to do some cheap shopping and tomorrow my mom is flying back to Finland. I will fly to Sumatra and Lotta is going to Bali to enjoy herself for a week!

Hope you have a nice week!

Peace out.

-Michael

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Hello there! We haven’t been posting anything because we are making some new adjustments for our content and work. We figured out that we want to do more story driven footage and with that, we came up with a travel “show” for YouTube instead of just videos. We are also going to make a few posts about the topic that is in the show at the time. I’m not going to tell you all about how and what we are going to do because we are still in the process of developing the final concept. What I can tell you is that it’s going to be one part travel and one part health, both with visual importance.

We are probably going to publish a schedule for the upcoming show/posts in a few weeks and the weekly update is also going to be a bit on hold so that we are doing it every other week. The thing is that we are both very excited about the upcoming thing and we want to really put our time and mind into it to really make something great. What YOU can do now already is SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel already so you get the notice right away when we launch our first episode. Thanks for that! So now I’m going to do a recap of the past few weeks for you to get a small insight on what might be expected in the future posts.

Taman Negara, Malaysia

We told you a little bit in the last Weekly update about this jungle that is the oldest in the world. This was a very interesting place and the jungle had a pretty magical feeling to it. We stayed there for 3 days and most of the time we were hiking and producing footage. There is a village called Kuala Tahan right next to the jungle, only a river that divides them, and we stayed in a place called Taman Negara Travellers Lodge* which was a simple room for about 13€/night. There are also small local shops and some restaurants so this is a pretty easy travel destination. I’m not going to go into more of this because we are doing a full travel guide on this one in the future. After the jungle trip, we went back to Kuala Lumpur for one night only to get to the airport the next morning.

Ko Lanta & Krabi, Thailand

Next, we flew to Krabi and then again to Ko Lanta. This was because some of our really good friends had come there to celebrate ones 30th birthday. And yeah, we did celebrate a lot! Thailand did not disappoint this time either and we had a really good time eating great food and hanging out with friends, and of course, we did some work also. This time we stayed at Lanta School Beach Resort* where we had our own small kitchen where we could make breakfast and save some money that way.

The last night we had to get ourselves to Krabi town because we had a really early flight the next day. The best place to stay in Krabi town and the one that we have used a few times is Sleep Easy Krabi*. It has the perfect location and is really clean and the staff is very friendly. So the next morning we flew back to Kuala Lumpur and only a few hours layover and then we took the plane to Vietnam.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam

This island is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam and the main reason we came here was that my (Michael) mom came here for a vacation. It’s nice to see friends and relatives when traveling a long time away from home. We have been here for a few days now and the place is really nice, the only downside is that there is construction work done almost everywhere and it’s clear that this is going to be a BIG holiday destination in the next few years.

We are staying in a more relaxed area a bit on the northern side of the main town in a resort called Camellia Resort & Spa* and this location is really good and not so touristic yet. Now we are gonna go out and explore more of this island so we can produce the best possible footage and info for our future posts.

Hope you have a nice Sunday and remember to enjoy life!

Peace out, Michael

Greeting from Malaysia, Taman Negara National Park! There is a very limited internet connection here so that’s why this post is one day late. Sorry about that! We arrived here yesterday from Kuala Lumpur, where we were one night. The trip here was quite long but rewarding.

We left Kuala Lumpur early in the morning at 7:30 am. First, we took the train from KL central to Jerantut and then we took a bus, which took 3.5 hours to Kuala Tahan which is the village next to the National Park. The bus was fortunately equipped with air conditioning and comfortable seats, so the trip went quite easily. After the bus trip, we took a boat along the river to Taman Negara. It was long (3 hours) but hilarious because we get stuck two times so we had to push the boat forward.

Taman Negara is the world’s oldest rain forest, which is why we came here. The rain forest is by the river, and this small village is across the river. This is a really small place with mostly small eateries and hostels. This is ideal for backpackers, and you can see a lot of them here.

taman negara, malaysia

This morning we jump out of bed early because we had a plan: explore the jungle. So we woke up at 7:45 am, ate breakfast and then went on a mission. We had all the cameras with us and we walked around the jungle for 5 hours. It was really hard at times, the humidity and temperature are very high here!

After trekking, we were both really exhausted, but still happy because we finally arrived and got ourselves some food! And we also got good shots so it was totally worth it. We did not see many wild animals which were sad but we heard a lot of monkeys screaming and we also saw a few special birds and lizards. Now the legs are pretty sore, but still, tomorrow is a new day of filming and the jungle will call us again!

This place has been really rewarding after a long time in Sumatra doing the same things every day. From here we are traveling back to Kuala Lumpur and then fly to Krabi and our final destination for next week will be Koh Lanta again. Our good friend is coming from Finland to celebrate his 30th birthday so there will be some partying going on. Can’t wait for that!

Now we still have one more mission here in the jungle and that is to go explore the jungle when it gets dark! That should be excited and there should be more animals moving around also.

Hope you had a great week, now we need to go! Bye!

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Mirissa, you might have heard of it when people talk about Sri Lanka. This little town is located in the Matara district of the Southern province. It’s about 55km from Hikkaduwa and it’s also a very famous beach for tourists. This place is fairly new to tourism though, about 10 years ago there was nothing but an empty beach with a few homestays but today it has developed into an important holiday destination for many people. Next, I’m going to tell you what you can do in Mirissa but before that check out this video we made when we were there!

Things to do in Mirissa

1. Whale watching outside of Mirissa

This is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Mirissa and one of the best places in the world to spot Blue Whales, the biggest animal on Earth. Some companies also offer a money back guarantee if you don’t spot any whales or a free tour the next day in hope for better luck. The price range is around 30-35€ and it’s a half day trip. Definitely worth it!

2. Surfing

There are a number of surf spots in the area and the easiest and usually consistent break is in the north end of the Marissa beach. This is an intermediate surf break and is often surfed by longboarders rather than shortboards. If you want to get more punchy waves you better head south a few hundred meters and there will be more advanced surf spots.
Mirissa suring beach

3. Chill at Secret beach

This is a fairly new addition to the Mirissa area. Actually, the beach has been there for a long time but in recent years more and more tourists have found this peaceful “secret beach” and now there is also a restaurant and bar to make it even more comfortable for people. This is a place where you can easily spend a day from morning to sunset just hanging out on the beach and maybe go snorkeling a bit in the clear water.

4. Visit the Parrot rock

This is a very iconic rock formation just outside the Mirissa beach and when it’s low tide you can walk there and climb the rock. This is where most tourists visit once and take a picture to Instagram. I don’t blame them, it’s a beautiful place!
Mirissa parrot rock

5. Go to Coconut Hill and take pictures

Okay, this one is probably the most shared place from Sri Lanka on social media. This hill is facing west and the sunset is in a perfect angle with the coconut palm trees that grow on this slopy hill. If you go there, beware of falling coconuts, they can kill you instantly so better check out the area before entering.

6. Snorkeling and Scuba diving

This is another great place for snorkeling or scuba diving. It is very likely to see sea turtles here because of some turtle hatcheries nearby. The water is warm and crystal clear and there are many different tours to choose from depending on what you want. You can also go snorkeling straight from the beach but it’s not gonna be that rewarding so a boat tour is your best bet.

7. Party at the beach

Mirissa is also famous for various beach parties. The beach is packed with different bars and the easiest way to find a party is to just go out in the night and see where there are lights and loud music. There are no clubs or such bigger bars so all the parties are pretty laid back Sri Lankan style parties. It’s fun for sure!

"Traditional

Own thoughts of Mirissa

For me, Mirissa has always been a nice place to hang out in for a day and one night but I have never stayed there for a longer time. I have many times called this “the little Phuket” as referring to the popular Thai island whit massive tourism. It’s not a bad thing, I just like to stay in another place and just visit this kind of places. This place is probably the best beach for a family holiday because everything is close by and you have everything you need here. This is for sure one of the villages and beaches in Sri Lanka that you want to stay at least one day at, probably you want to stay for another too.

Where to stay

There are many places to stay at and the number is growing all the time but I’ll tell you the ones that I would stay in to have the best value.

Budget Stay: 

Calidan* is a very great choice if you are planning on surfing the Mirissa break as it’s right in front of it.

Mirissa Beach Inn* is another great place to stay, just 50 meters from the beach and all the rooms have a private balcony

Normal Stay:

Sea World* is located on the southern end of the beach and has a more private beach area for those who really want to relax. There are also surf spots just in front of the boutique hotel.

Ballena Regency* is your choice if you need a swimming pool. All rooms are equipped with A/C and a flat-screen TV.

Luxury Stay:

Triple O Six* is the best hotel in the area and is located a bit South of the village to keep it private.

Sri Sharavi Beach Villas & Spa* is even more South and here you can have your own private villa on the beach with world class service.

 

That’s it from BEMBALYFE! If you like our videos, please SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for weekly travel videos. Thanks for reading and hope you have a nice day!

-Michael

This is one of the most common topics that many women are wondering about when traveling to a Muslim country – how to dress properly? This topic was also very much on my mind when we planned a trip here, to North Sumatra. They live by the Sharia Law here, which is the most strict of Muslim regulations. I have repeatedly wondered if I even want to come here at all because I have had read and heard things about this place and religion.  But it was definitely a good choice to come because now I have much more experiences and new perspectives.

Therefore I think it’s important to travel to places like this to really understand what it is like. All the locals are very friendly and even when the religion is what it is, I have never felt unsafe (but I have never gone out alone when it’s dark). We’ve been here for 2 months now, so I can tell you a little about this place and culture, and share my experiences about what to wear as a foreign female. 

The dress code must be respectful of this religion. Local women must wear veils here but the western woman should cover their shoulders and knees, it is not allowed to wear a veil as a non-muslim foreigner. At first, I found myself a little bit uncomfortable when I left my room and had to wear covering clothes in this +30 degrees Celcius heat. Clothes, in general, don’t feel that nice on the sweaty skin here, but loose clothing is more comfortable in the heat. 

Luckily, at this homestay where we are staying it’s more free with what you wear. But when I leave this yard, I have to put some clothing on. Sometimes it feels frustrating when you just want to go to the restaurant close by, eat and enjoy the sun and get some tan, but you still have to put your clothes on. At first, this was annoying but I got used to it quickly. A sharong is really convenient because it’s light and it can easily put over the shoulders. 

Women must also wear clothes while surfing or swimming. Or at least it’s very recommended. For the first time, I went surfing just with a one-piece swimsuit but I didn’t like the gaze I got so after that I always wore my capri-length leggings and t-shirt. Most of the girls wear leggings/t-shorts while they surf. Shorts are also okay when you are in the water but as soon as you get up you better cover yourself.

Tips for females who travel to a Muslim country:

-Pack up breathable tunics or dresses (above the knee/maxidresses) which are made of lightweight fabrics. They’re nice to wear especially in the heat and they’re also nice looking!

-Surfing is best done with leggings (capri or full length) or sports shorts and t-shirt / long sleeve (also prevents sunburn!). 

-Lightweight long pants are a comfortable and good choice, preferably loose ones. The yoga pants are NOT good because they’re tight – people (local men) are staring and it doesn’t feel comfortable at all. Loose clothing is a better choice!

-A sharong is really convenient for its versatility. It can be used on the shoulders or as a skirt to cover your knees.

 

-Lotta

Lotta: Hello! It’s Sunday and the time is 1:09 pm. This has been a nice, peaceful morning. I woke up refreshed after a long night’s sleep, got myself some green tea (I quit drinking coffee almost one week ago because I want to know how I feel without it), then I did some yoga and listened to an audiobook.

After that, I went to the vegetable/fruit shop where I bought some lunch items and fruit. I just love these long and peaceful morning’s here! Because one thing I don’t like at all is hectic mornings.

north sumatra

miz surfboard

The week has been full of work and studying. I have read a lot about health, nutrition, the mind, and life. I also downloaded the BookBeat -app, where they have audiobooks to listen to. I have been listening to a lot of different books and learned new things or rather new perspectives. It feels so good to evolve and to understand things in new ways. In the future, I will definitely write more about these, especially health and mind things.

It feels like it was only a couple of days from last Sunday. Time goes so fast! We have only a few days left here in Sumatra and then we head to Malaysia. So next week I will be writing in the jungle!

One evening we went to a beach close by and the sunset was AMAZING as you can see:

sunset north . sumatra

miz sunset

sunset

selfies, north sumatra

One thing that is impossible to avoid here is SELFIES with locals. Whenever we go out, to surf or just to the shop, there might be some locals asking to take a picture with them. The craziest place is the beach, as you can see on the pictures, there were once again some locals wanting to take a selfie. It’s totally fine but usually, if you take a picture with one of them, all the rest will follow and they want a picture too! It’s pretty funny for a normal western to be treated like some celebrity just because of skin color and foreign look. On the other hand, it’s really respectful that they want to do it and it is pretty much impossible to say no!

sand

bembalyfe

i love you

That’s all for now. Next week there will certainly be more things to write about because we’re moving forward.

Hope you had a great week and enjoy your Sunday!

-Lotta

 

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Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

This place is one of my personal favorites in the world and I have visited Hikkaduwa for the past six years. This is where you can really sit back, relax and enjoy life. This relatively small stretch of coast is loaded with a lot of stuff to do, or if you don’t feel like doing anything that’s totally fine.

With many resorts and homestays located right on the beach, you wake up to the sound of the ocean and you can right away feel the laid back feeling of the place. The food is delicious and cheap, the climate is tropical perfection and the sea is warm. This is also one of the oldest tourist spots in Sri Lanka so they are used to tourist and it’s a very safe environment for everybody. Here are some things to do in Hikkaduwa!

 

1. Visit a turtle hatchery or find some turtles near the beach

If you want to see turtles in the wild and also go swim with them, this is the place. There are some turtle hatcheries and one turtle rescue center if you feel like knowing more about these dinosaur-like creatures. In the hatchery, you can see baby turtles that are later set free into the ocean. The rescue center might be a bit of a sad sight with turtles that are missing limbs and such but they are also the reason the turtles are still alive.

The other option is to visit the outer point of Hikkaduwa beach, where Hikkaduwa National Park begins, to go feed and swim with adult turtles. The turtles come here every day to feed on seaweed that locals have been feeding them for a long time. It is a very exciting feeling to see these animals so close up and they are very friendly. Keep one thing in mind, they are wild animals and they should be respected so DON’T TOUCH them.

turtle hikkaduwa

2. Eat some Sri Lankan rice & curry

This is the main food that Sri Lankan people eat and you can find it pretty much everywhere. Many different varieties of curry and spices used, usually, you get four to five different kind on one lunch or dinner serving. This is for sure one of the best dishes in Sri Lanka and my advice is that you should try it in many different places for a real experience with the flavors. I have a few favorites and they are Ranjith’s Beach hut and The Book Worm. The Book worm only have one serving every night at 18.00 but it is as close as you can get to the authentic Sri Lankan Rice & Curry.

3. Go shopping in the street and find some amazing things

Street shops are where most of the things are sold in Hikkaduwa. Most of the shops are located on the one main road that goes through the village and you can find anything from clothes, jewelry, paintings and souvenirs here. Most of the shops are open from morning to evening so choose the best time for you, to go explore. Remember to bargain and do it with a smile, it works a lot better this way. Be careful of buses and other vehicles driving by on the road because sometimes they drive really fast.

4. Custom order tailor maid beachwear, bikinis or shorts

Sri Lankans are very good at handicrafts and there is a very talented man working in a shop called APSARA TAILOR. He makes custom swimwear (actually he can make whatever you wish, but swimwear is his thing) in a few days for only about 20-40€, depending on material and design that, of course, you can choose yourself. The quality is really good and the man himself is very lovable.

custom bikini

5. Go for a sunrise walk or run at the beach

There are two beaches in Hikkaduwa; The Hikkaduwa beach which is smaller and more of a “big hotels” beach with a lot of tourists. Then there is Narigama beach that is a lot longer (5km) and less developed, this is the beach where you want to go or stay at if you want a more relaxed feeling to the place. It is perfect for morning runs or walks. The northern part of the beach is where most of the resorts and homestays are located and if you start here, you will run or walk straight towards the rising sun and the further you get the less there are people or houses.

sunset hikkaduwa sri lanka

6. Rent a boogie board or bodyboard for the beach waves

The Narigama beach also offers some beach activities and this is a very good beach to start your ocean hobbies. Most of the shoreline is just sand and is perfect for boogie boarding or bodyboarding. There are several surfboard rental places where they also have boogie boards for them who don’t want to surf. If you don’t like to have a board, the waves are super fun to play in just by swimming into them and “surf” with just your body. You should be a little bit cautious about this if the waves get bigger because then it gets dangerous so look at the ocean for a while before you decide to enter or just ask some locals what the situation is that day.

7. Take a surf lesson or go surf Main Point

A lot of people start their surfing life at this beach, there are many small rental shops for surfboards and they all offer surf lessons too. This is a very good place to learn and progress in surfing. One great surf school is YULA Surf School that has the perfect location and have very friendly staff. If you are a little bit more experienced surfer there are also some reef spots to surf on that are more demanding. One of the most consistent surf spots on the west coast is the Main point or Main break and this is where it can get really heavy if there is a big swell, then it’s only for experienced surfers.

8. Go snorkeling or scuba diving in Hikkaduwa National Park

Right outside of Hikkaduwa beach there is a rock formation and a healthy coral reef that make up for the Hikkaduwa National Park. You can choose to rent the snorkeling gear and swim there yourself (beware that sometimes the current might be strong) or go on a boat tour and they will take you to the best parts, snorkel gear included. You can spot a lot of different fish there and some colorful soft and hard corals. If you are into diving there are also many dive shops that offer different dives around the area. One great local shop is Barracuda Diving center that I use when I go diving there.

9. Relax in a beach chair and drink king coconut

This is probably the most common thing why people want to get to the tropics and Hikkaduwa is perfect for that. You don’t need to pay for the chair and you can stay there the whole day if you like and there will be local salesmen walking the beach and offering all kinds of stuff. The best drink for sure is Thambili, also called King Coconut, that is a yellow coconut that tastes delicious and is very good for hydration. You can also choose the chair by a restaurant and have them bring you food and drinks to you. Just relax and enjoy!

king cocout sri lanka

10. Visit an Ayurveda spa and get a treatment

Ayurveda is originally from India and is one of the oldest medicinal treatments in the world and has a history of almost 8000 years. In these spa treatment facilities, they first talk to you to learn about you to be able to give the right treatment. Then you get to decide what kind of treatment you need. Mostly they do aroma massages and herbal treatments but also offers manicure, pedicure and such things.

11. Go on a river safari day trip

There are vast networks of rivers just behind Hikkaduwa, and you can choose from several different tour operators and tour packages but the main thing is that you get to see some unspoiled nature from a boat on the river. You can spot a lot of different tropical animals here and really feel the “jungle” vibe.

12. Visit a moonstone mine and shop for gems

Moonstones are gems that are white, grey and purple in color. They are believed to have energetic properties like calm sleep and clearing of the mind. Not sure how it is but these stones are beautiful and near Hikkaduwa, there are a few mines that you can visit and see how the process works. It is an interesting thing to see how the mining works. There are also many jewelry stores in Hikkaduwa where you can find special stones and have them custom made to jewelry if you like, and the price range is very cheap compared to other parts of the world.

13. Enjoy the amazing sunset at the beach

This is one thing you definitely want to do, go to a restaurant or sit in a bar and have a cold drink an watch how the “big boss” drops below the horizon for a very beautiful sunset. Words can’t describe the feeling and the sight of this so you better experience it for yourself.

14. Party all night long!

Last but not least. Hikkaduwa is pretty famous for some of its parties and for a good reason. Every weekend people from other beaches, even Colombo, come to party at some of the best nightclubs on the west coast. When I say nightclub it has a slightly different meaning here, all the parties are usually open-air events and 90% of them are on the beach. The bars are most of the time open as long as there are customers and it’s not rare that there still might be a party going on when the sun rises at Saturday or Sunday morning.

Some parties you don’t want to miss are Vibration on Fridays and Chill space or Mambos on Saturdays. There are more parties if you really feel like going out, usually, every day of the week at some bar. Just check out your surrounding when you are in the area. Oh yeah and remember to ENJOY and take it easy on the arrack (local coconut rum)!

Where to stay in Hikkaduwa?

There are many options where to stay and I have personally stayed in a lot of different places. I will try to help you out with the best places I know of, for you to have an awesome time in Hikkaduwa.

Budget stay:

*Hansa Surf is where I usually stay. The location is perfect, right on the beach and it’s cheap and they have good food.

*Thiranagama Beach Hotel is another great cheap place to stay in and it’s located on the beach but a small distance away from all the nightlife so it’s calm and quiet.

*Curry Bowl Restaurant & Turtles Rest is near the Hikkaduwa National park and is also located on the beach for a very reasonable price.

3-star stay:

*Royal Beach Hotel & Restaurant is a bit more classy but still on the beach.

*Thambili Cabanas is for you who want to relax on the quiet side of Hikkaduwa. There is a swimming pool and a private beach area just 300m away and they have also one of the best organic restaurants in the area.

*Funky Hotel is the place to stay if you like to party. This is the place where they have a party downstairs if all the other places are closed.

4-star stay:

*Avenra Beach Hikkaduwa – when you want a new and stylish hotel with a swimming pool area right on the beach.

*Coral Sands Hotel is the place when you want to enjoy a large pool area next to the beach where the turtles are swimming.

*Hotel Suite Lanka with a private beachfront area and castle-like building this is one very beautiful place.

5-star stay:

*Villa 46 is a high-class service mansion in an area where no other tourists usually go. They also have a spa and wellness center for your maximum relaxation.

*Riff Hikkaduwa is the best hotel in the tourist area. You will get celebrity treatment with world class service here and it’s right on the beach.

*33 Lake Terrace is for those who like to stay out of the noisy streets and enjoy more of nature. Located a few kilometers from the town this hotel is right next to a lake and they offer a luxurious experience unlike any other in the area.

beach hikkaduwa sri lanka

Have you ever been to Hikkaduwa? What did you like and not like about it? Comment below! I hope this article was helpful and wish you a nice experience in this beautiful place called Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka!

-Michael

 

*This post contains affiliate links.

Lotta: Good morning from a sunny Sumatra! At the moment I’m sipping a coconut outside of our room and wondering about life. The days repeat each other pretty much and the time goes by. I’m starting to get a little bit bored here and I feel that I really need some new activities.
This small village with the same faces, the same food, and the same activities every damn day, ugh, drives me almost crazy! 😀 

One good thing about this is that there is a lot of time to work and THINK about everything. Thinking is good, people! Your brain is your most important muscle and you need to use it as much as possible to develop! And the most important thing in life is to develop yourself.

We have 12 nights left here and then we leave to Malaysia for a jungle trip – can’t wait for a new adventure! We found out that the oldest rainforest in the world is located about 8 hours from Kuala Lumpur and that’s where we’re going.  After that we head to Thailand to celebrate our friend’s 30th birthday – it’s gonna be EPIC! So now I just have to try to enjoy this calm before the storm, hah.

This week’s Valentine’s Day got me thinking a lot about friendship and made me miss my friends back in Finland so much. When getting older, it gets a lot harder to find good trustful friends – I’m pretty careful about who I trust and let in close to me. I’m not interested in small talks and superficial relationships, I need something deeper. I just don’t have any interest to speak about the weather or some other superficial things and waste my time in relationships that don’t give me anything.

When I was younger, I was really different about this, I had a lot of friends and I spent my time just hanging out even with people who gave me shitty energy or took all my good energy from me. I’m pretty sensitive and I just can’t be surrounded by that kind of people anymore because they exhaust me.

The past few days I’ve missed my besties and nights when we just sip wine, laugh and talk about everything, even the deepest and most sensitive things. That is absolutely the worst part of traveling.

As I wrote last week, we went to the Tsunami Museum this week. It wasn’t that special as a museum, but the subject was really appealing. I still remember vividly when I looked at the news on the TV of what happened in December 2004. It was such a frightening thing for a 14-year-old girl and I got so upset.

North Sumatra was the place that took the biggest hit in the tsunami and there were over 200.000 casualties. Not so many people know this thing because of so little tourism here so all the headlines were about Thailand and other big tourist spots. 

There was a tsunami short film at the museum, and I was wondering if I  even want to see it at all. But it’s not every day you get the chance to do this so I decided to go for it. The film reminded me of how fucking powerful nature really can be and how small and vulnerable we, the human beings are!

The entrance to the museum was only 10.000 IDR (0,70 euros) so it was definitely worth it.

tsunami museum

On Friday, I went back to Kuala Lumpur by myself to pick up my laptop which was finally repaired. It takes only 1.5 hours to fly from Banda Aceh to Kuala Lumpur. It felt good to get out of here for a while, back to civilization for one day.

The Apple repair service, where my laptop where, also worked out really well in the end. Now my laptop works like a brand new one! Thanks to Apple for a great service (even if I had to search for the place for two days when I brought it in)! If you have to repair your Apple products in Kuala Lumpur, I can highly recommend this place: Thunder @Avenue K Shopping Mall.

I was in Kuala Lumpur only for one night and I stayed at Zen Rooms KL Sentral* which cost only 14 euros. It is very close to the bus station where the bus to the airport leaves. It is also nearby the NU Sentral which is a big shopping mall where I went to buy some necessary stuff like vitamins and supplements from a pharmacy. Here in Sumatra, there is a pretty poor selection of those and people don’t really speak that much English, so I bought everything we need in KL.  

Michael just came back from the water and we’re going to eat some lunch now!

Until next time,

Lotta

*This post contains affiliate links. 

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!

SHORT HISTORY

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).

galle fort, sri lanka

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.

locals, galle fort

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.

orange juice

galle fort, cafeteria

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.

galle lighthouse, sri lanka

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.

galle fort

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:

Budget stay:

*Beatrice House is located right next to the ocean wall so it’s easy to get to the best views.

*Samaya Fort Hotel – every room is equipped with a balcony, private bathroom, and bath!

*Millennium Rest & Gems are one of the cheapest in the area and all rooms have air conditioning and private bathroom.

In between stay:

*Parawa House built in a European style with some artistic features.

*Deco On 44 has a swimming pool and is an Art Deco building restored in the 1930s.

*LE JARDIN DU FORT is set on the south side right next to the beach. All rooms have a patio with garden view.

Luxury stay:

*The Bartizan Galle Fort is one of the only places to stay with a Seaview and the hotel is built in a Dutch colonial building.

*Taru Villas – Rampart Street – this is the world-class standard hotel with celebrity treatment.

*Fort Square Boutique Villa* is another “superstar” stay. This is luxury!

galle, sri lanka

galle fort, sri lanka

HOW TO GET THERE

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.

-Michael

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.

breakfast

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!

Photo 07-01-2019, 9.05.13

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!

fresh coconut water

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!

What are your favorite health routines?

-Lotta

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!

home office

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! 😀

north sumatra

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.

north sumatra

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!

local food, sumatra

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!

north sumatra

Now I need to go get some food because I’m starving! Hope you have a nice Sunday!

-Lotta