Weligama Surf Yoga Retreat – South Sri Lanka Paradise

While spending time in south Sri Lanka, we were fortunate to come across Weligama Surf Yoga Retreat.  They run monthly week-long getaways in the Bandara Watte Villa, a beautiful colonial escape surrounded by many local animals including wild peacocks.  Located in the jungle nearby Weligama, Sri Lanka, their adventures are equally focused on surfing and yoga, using experienced local surf guides and certified yoga instructors.  They also feature a “give back” volunteering day where participants visit a local school, teaching the children yoga and donating school supplies.

Weligama surf yoga retreat sri lankaUnlike a lot of the yoga camps in the area, Weligama Surf Yoga Retreat takes you surfing almost every day.  Weligama Bay near the villa is the perfect spot for beginner surfers.  For more experienced surfers there are many opportunities for close by beach and reef breaks in Unawatuna, Galle, Ahangama, Midigama, and Mirissa.  We loved how they used only local surf instructors; the guys were super nice and helpful especially for the newbies.Weligama Surf Yoga Retreat also features a “give back” day when you get the opportunity to check out a local school and lead activities for some children.  The kids really love it and it’s a great opportunity to see into the lives of little Sri Lankans.  They have so much energy, and by the end of the hour all the adults are dripping sweat, the kids still running circles.

Giving back to local schools.

The morning and sunset yoga practice is at the Bandara Watte Villa.  You listen to the sounds of the jungle while peacefully drifting into a meditative state.  If you get lucky a peacock will show its feathers.

One of the highlights of the retreat was the food!  The chef, Mahendra, creates local dishes with a twist of western fusion.  The curries he makes are some of the best we’ve had, the spices deep and complex, but comforting and familiar at the same time.

A cooking class with the chef, Mahendra.

Whether in Sri Lanka for a short time or a long trip, Weligama Surf Yoga Retreat is a great way to see and do a lot, without worrying about anything.  The staff is top-notch and the venue is classic, you’ll quickly feel at home and not want to leave!

Website: www.weligamasurfyogaretreat.com

Instagram: @weligamasurfyogaretreat

Facebook.com/weligamasurfyogaretreat

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Songkran Thai New Year Water Gun Battle in Chiang Mai, Thailand!

We had a very wet, exhilarating blast of a time during our first Songkran Thai New Year celebration!  In Chiang Mai, people converge around the Old City‘s moat with water guns, hoses, buckets, and refill barrels!  Our friends from the USA picked Songkran week to visit us in Thailand so they could join in on the madness!  We had tons of fun acting like kids, dueling with Thai families, dodging water gun fire all around us and sneak-attacking unsuspecting tourists!  Who’s coming to Thailand for Songkran next year?

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Enjoy this post about Songkran Chiang Mai? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

Tuk Tuk Safari – Exploring Galle on the Sri Lanka Coast

The amazing Tuk Tuk Safari offers tours around Colombo, Galle, and Kandy.  The tours are not just in any tuk tuks, these babies have roll-back tops, coolers of beer, custom music playlists, cool drivers, and classic paint jobs!  Our driver, Donald Duck (yes, that was literally what his nametag said), picked us up in downtown Galle and welcomed us to his safari!  He wore a fun colonial safari outfit, and kept a great smile on his face as he showed us our sweet ride.

 

We hadn’t really researched the places Tuk Tuk Safari would take us around Galle, which led us to an afternoon full of surprises.  At first we drove a little ways, ending up in Kabalana where we bounced up a dirt road to a little house in the palms.  By a beautiful outdoor kitchen we were served an incredible spread of curries: jackfruit, dhal, sweet onions, cucumber, potato… plus rice and of course papadam.  The curries were super special, and we both agreed it was one of our top three favorite meals in our two months of traveling Sri Lanka.  For dessert we had some very nice pineapple, jackfruit, and soursop, along with fresh curd and treackle (coconut sap, Sri Lankan maple syrup).  So yum!

Sri Lankan curry
Homemade Sri Lankan curry!

Our second stop was to the famous stilt fishermen of Ahangama.  The Sri Lankans erect sticks into the reef areas where there are many fish.  They climb up the sticks and sit on little shelves for hours at a time.  The spot we stopped was made for tourists so you can go experience it like the locals.  I climbed up there, getting super wet in the process, so Carrie could snap this classic shot!

Stilt fishermen Ahangama
Stilt Fishermen of Ahangama

Tukkin’ down the road, we veered off after an airport and headed inland.  Down a few skinny local streets, we came to a sign: “Spice Garden”.  They had a nice garden of all the local things out back, along with boat tours around Koggala Lake.  We took a quick tour around the garden then found ourselves in their showroom where they sell amazing Ayurvedic products along with homegrown spices.  We had a lot of fun learning about everything that could be cured by natural products.  We try to not use any chemical products so we bought a few things to take on our travels.

spice garden koggalaThe next stop on Tuk Tuk Safari was the Turtle Conservation Center in Koggala, Sri Lanka.  They take in sea turtles injured by boats and nets and try to heal them or give them a comfortable place to live their disabled lives.  There is also a turtle hatchery behind the building on the beach.  One of their turtle tanks was packed full of hundreds of baby turtles!!!  Cute little tiny things.  We love turtles and we really appreciated what this place is doing to help.

sea turtles sri lanka

baby sea turtles
Babies!!!

Donald Duck now drove us to our final stop, the Japanese Peace Pagoda in Unawatuna.  Built in 2005 in an effort by a Japanese Buddhist sect to build temples in conflict zones (Sri Lanka was in civil war until 2009), the temple offers incredible views from a hilltop overlooking the bay.  The sunset was turning fantastic and the whole scene was super magical.  When the sun was nearing the horizon, we hurried down the hill and caught the last glimpse of the red ball falling into the ocean.  With a lot of light still, we walked down a path to Jungle Beach, a secluded spot with a nice beach and calm water.

Japanese peace pagoda unawatuna
The view from Jungle Beach

Dark now, we headed home.  Donald dropped us off at our hotel and we said goodbye.  Tuk Tuk Safari far exceeded our expectations, taking us to all new spots even though we’d already been traveling in that area for weeks.  Everything was organized perfectly and Donald Duck was an outstanding tour guide!  We really hope to do their other tours of Colombo and Kandy at some point.  Tuk Tuk Safari just offers such a cool and unique experience!

To book a tour go to the Tuk Tuk Safari Facebook Page.

Sri Lanka Whitewater Rafting in Kitulgala!

Sri Lanka whitewater rafting was one of our must-do adventures when we got to the island! Kitulgala was the place to do it, the river flowing down from the mountains of Adam’s Peak all the way to Colombo.  We found the company Kitulgala Adventures, who had really good ratings and also a nice place to stay.  After a little windy road, nausea-inducing bus riding from the mountains to the east, we found Kitulgala Adventures’ camp and soon were hiking through the jungle to the room where we would spend the night before our rafting trip.

The room was HUGE, with a nice balcony overlooking the river.  Some white buffalo were grazing in the grass across the water.  We ran around and made a silly video, which you’ll see below.

Everyone at Kitulgala Adventures was extremely friendly and helpful.  They made a special vegetarian dinner for us that was delicious, then we went to bed early among the jungle sounds.  It was a great sleep and we woke super refreshed.

After a yummy breakfast we walked back up to the main road where we boarded a small truck with our raft and our guide.  We were told how Sri Lanka whitewater rafting would soon, unfortunately, be a thing of the past.  A massive hydro-electric plant is being built up the river, and all of the water which forms the rapids will be diverted in 2020 to create power.  All of the rafting companies will be put out of business, the guides willbe forced to find other work, and the river eco-system will be destroyed.  But hey, at least there will be power.

We were to raft the middle section of the river, the upper being declared “too dangerous” by the government.  After hiking down to the river, our guide followed with the boat and gave us a quick lesson.  We had whitewater rafted a few times before, but you know, safety first.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR3178.
With our awesome guide!

Finally in the water, we were pumped to be whitewater rafting in Sri Lanka.  The route took us through four small rapids and three big rapids, with a lot of good scenery along the way.  The water was a little lower than our guide would have liked, but a few of the runs were pretty thrilling and we had a great time.

At the end there was a nice peaceful section where we swam for a ways.  We got out when we saw a big monitor lizard in the water near us!  They only eat “garbage and dead bodies” as our guide explained but they are still scary to us.

Enjoy this post about Sri Lanka whitewater rafting in with Ceylon Adventures in Kitulgala? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

Also, if you like to travel yourself, follow our brand new adventure retreat company Bigger Life Adventures!  We we will hosting retreats that give back to local nonprofits this year in California, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania!  Hope to see you there!

Tensions in Kandy – Why You Shouldn’t Cancel Your Trip to Sri Lanka

While having a peaceful dinner near Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka the other night, we were surprised to have our phones start buzzing and ringing. “Are you ok?” and “What’s happening there?” were some common questions. We did a quick Google search and found that Sri Lanka was in a “state of emergency” because Muslim/Buddhist tensions had led to riots in the city of Kandy. There were many sensational news articles from all the big players, such as “Sri Lanka on the brink” from Al-Jazeera and scary words about “mob violence” from the BBC. We were sitting less than 90km away from the “riots” but somehow knew less than our friends on the other side of the planet. Our intuition is telling us these events have a deeper meaning, and we are still trying to figure out what exactly what that is. Regardless, here are some thoughts from a less politically-slanted mindset on why you shouldn’t cancel your trip to Sri Lanka.

1 – With reports of rioters ranging in number from 200-500, is this really the start of some new civil war? With three casualties so far, these numbers are small in comparison to tensions in places like the United States where riots are increasingly common. Throughout 2017 there were many civil disturbances in the States far larger than this current Sri Lankan problem.

2 – These incidents were only in several neighborhoods of one city. There was also no violence directed at tourists or anywhere near where any tourists are. The curfew that was set up to keep the peace has now ended and all areas have returned to normal.

3 – A majority of Sri Lankans have no interest in returning to civil conflict. With the war only over since 2009, violence is still in the recent memory of most of the populace. But now tourism is booming and foreign investment is driving a huge wave of new travelers to the island. While corruption is still a major issue, things are looking up for the average citizen and no one wants to stop the recent flow of new money.

Yes, watch the news to keep up to date, but take it with a grain of salt. There is a possibility that this is all part of a bigger play by one of the political parties in Sri Lanka or other foreign powers. If that’s not the case, then I believe this to be nothing more than an over-dramatization by the news media. Whatever the answer, all tourist attractions remain open and safe and things are carrying on as normal in most of the country. Social media is still being throttled, so download a VPN if you have to keep the ‘gram running.

Buses have resumed running to Kandy so we will go there today to check it out.  Stay tuned for updates if there are any.

***UPDATE 3/11/18*** We are in Kandy and the curfew is still in effect until 8pm, although people are starting to open their businesses back up now (6:30pm).  There are lots of soldiers on the street corners with AK-47s and I saw a few camouflage Land Rovers backed full of guys in fatigues.  There were a few foreigners in the grocery store and a couple at the hostel.  All the locals say that the trouble is over, so we plan to go do some touring around town tomorrow.

***UPDATE 3/12/18*** We spent the last two nights in Kandy.  The first night was very quiet around, with soldiers on nearly every corner.  Large military presence in the city.  However, by the morning everything was returning to normal, with less and less soldiers visible throughout the day.  We went to the Tooth Relic Temple and all was well.  I believe that there are less tourists than normal, but still some groups and large buses.

When we left the city the next day we bused though the north end of town.  There were more military in these neighborhoods and we saw a few of the buildings that were burnt down.  Definitely still tensions there.  Saw a few news reporters interviewing the locals, surrounded by armed guards.  Mostly they are guarding the schools and religious sites.  We would recommend going to Kandy still, it’s a nice city and seemed very safe.

Still no social media in the country.  We have a VPN which works great and connects us to all the sites.  There are many free versions if you search online.  We use Windscribe which gives you a 10GB free trial.

The Doctor’s House in Madiha, Sri Lanka

The Doctor’s House in Madiha is a funky and fun hostel, bar, and restaurant on the shores of south Sri Lanka. The rooms retain the original aesthetics of the crumbling colonial architecture, creating a fascinating look into the past, while maintaining a comfortable space to kick it for a few days (or a week).

Doctor's house mediha

Dorms at The Doctor's House
Dorms at The Doctor’s House

The dorm rooms are located in the quiet back of the property.  They have some cool antique furniture with new comfortable beds.  Our favorite part was the showers, which are open air with gardens inside and utilize spaghetti strainers to create waterfall style shower heads.

The bar features a variety of tasty cocktails and smoothies, and the restaurant utilizes a clay wood burning oven. They push out the best pizzas on the south coast and other western-style dishes, but with a Sri Lankan flair.

The Doctor's House Bar
The Doctor’s House Bar

The Doctor’s House also contains a newly-opened surf shop, The Box, selling boards, surf gear, and zinc sunscreen.  You can find them on Instagram at @_thebox_

The best day to check out The Doctor’s House is for their bi-weekly Saturday market. Many vendors set up in the courtyard and the beers flow along with the music from several live artists.

The Doctor's House Saturday Market in Mediha
The Doctor’s House Saturday Market
Mediha Beach Sri lanka from the sky
Madiha Beach, Sri Lanka from the sky

The Doctor’s House in Madiha, south Sri Lanka, was one of the straight up coolest places we have ever crashed.  Everything is so artfully created, so perfectly unperfect.  Actually, its really hard to explain how cool it is, so just go there!

Services Included:

Storage lockers

Wifi

Transport booking

Restaurant on-site

Bar on site

Ayurvedic spa on site

Surf shop on site

Free water refill

Websitethedoctorshouse.lk

Email: goodtimes@thedoctorshouse.lk

Dorm Prices: $14 USD (Book on their website as they sell out fast)

Address:

87 PUJITHA NEVASA, BEACH ROAD
MADIHA, MATARA 81000
SRI LANKA

tDH is located about 500 meters from 156km mark on the Galle-Matara road.  Follow the signs for Madiha Beach or take a tuk tuk from the highway.

 

 

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Bunkyard Hostel in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Bunkyard Hostel in Colombo, Sri Lanka is a place that is doing things right. With its “junkyard” up-cycled decor, the hostel is a photographer’s dream with Instagramable objects in nearly every room.  The owners and managers are extremely friendly and you can tell that they really want you to have a good time!  Trying to find the best word to describe Bunkyard was hard, but eventually I chose “FUN!” because it’s true!

Bunkyard Hostel Colombo

Bunkyard-29
Murals everywhere!

The rooms are super clean, and we really enjoyed the thick, soft mattresses. Many hostels unfortunately skimp on the beds, leaving you tossing and turning. Bunkyard remembered that the main reason you are at their hostel is to sleep, and stocked the ‘yard with cozy beds.  There is A/C in all the rooms and the dorm beds also have reading lights and USB charging hubs.

Bunkyard-3
Night night!

The top floor’s dorms have an awesome, big patio overlooking the street.  The bottom floor features the reception area and a nice hangout space. As you walk farther into the building you walk past a small shop that sells cool board shorts, hats, yoga pants, and our favorite super-colorful, traditional Sri Lankan shirts made by Gitano (Instagram @gitanoshirts). The back of the first floor has two kitchens, one for the restaurant and a shared one for guests. There is also a refrigerator for your leftovers and hot water with free tea and coffee!!!!

Also included in your stay at Bunkyard Hostel in Colombo is free breakfast.  Free is a word you almost never hear in Sri Lanka, so this added huge value to our stay.  You get the choice of omelette or fruit + yogurt.  They have a few more options as well if you want to add on for a small price.

Bunkyard Hostel ColomboBunkyard Hostel was a breath of fresh air in the busy city of Colombo.  It was refreshing to stay someplace so funky but clean, and well managed.  The owners treated us super kindly and we wish them lots of success on their future projects.  Definitely check this place out whenever you’re headed in or out of Colombo!

Services Included:

Free breakfast

WiFi

Air conditioning

Games and books

Kombucha and soda for sale

Special breakfasts and smoothies

Homemade lunch for sale every day, occasional dinner specials

Address: 20A Guildford Cres, Colombo 00700

Website: www.bunkyardhostels.com

Prices:

6 Bed to 12 Bed Dorms (Mixed and Female Only) – 1700 Rupees – 2100 Rupees

4 Bed Family Room  – from 9300 Rupees

Double Bed Private Rooms – from 8500 Rupees