Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara near Tangalle, in south Sri Lanka is a unique Buddhist temple built ascending a 205 meter (673 foot) natural rock formation. The temple consists of many caves containing reclining Buddhas and painted ceilings, along with a Stupa at the summit. From the top you can hike around the back to a gigantic rock cliff with fantastic views of the lush surrounding area.
We rode a tuk tuk from Hiriketiya for about 40 min to reach the Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara rock temple. The entrance fee is 500 rupees for foreigners. There are many monkeys to greet you and encourage you, hooting and hollering at you as you are sweating your way up the long staircases.
The temple was constructed in the 3rd century and contains a tree germinated from the Bodhi tree in which Buddha supposedly gain enlightenment under. We didn’t see the tree, unfortunately, because we only read about it after. So take a picture for us when you go! 😉 We did make a video though. The video shows our journey starting in Hiriketiya and ending at this temple. Check it out!
On the way up to Mulkirigala’s highest stupa there are four or five caves, each containing a reclining Buddha statue and beautifully painted ceilings. Don’t forget to buy some flowers at the bottom to leave as an offering for Buddha in one of the caves!
Along the way there are several guys who will give you a blessing and put a bracelet on you. You can recognize which people go to temple because of the string around their wrists. They give the blessing mostly in Sinhalese but do their best to translate a bit to English. We know it means something like “Buddha and the monks bless you. Have a long and happy life!”
The highlight of Mulkirigala Raja Maha Vihara rock temple for us is the overlook at the top. Sitting on top of a giant rock, it feels like you can see all of Sri Lanka. It’s a great place to meditate for a minute or two.
When in Sri Lanka don’t miss Mulkirigala Rock Temple. It was our favorite temple in Sri Lanka and one of the most unique we’ve been to anywhere.
This has been the summer of road trips. We take every spare moment and pack in some camping or hiking, no excuses or exceptions. Driving into the Sierra Nevada Mountains in central California is always a treat. Either by entering from the eastern desert or the western grasslands, the drive up always brings a sense of excitement into my heart. Carrie had spent time there last year, but this would be my first time camping and hiking in Sequoia National Park – land of the world’s biggest trees.
Entering Sequoia National Park we finally escaped the lingering smoke of the Central Valley. It had been a hard summer for California wildfires, and we were thankful that the smoke was not in the park at the moment. The trees got bigger and bigger and soon we were driving through the Giant Forest, feeling quite small in our Prius, but comforted by the calming energy of the amazing nature.
We camped at Lodgepole Campground, at a beautiful spot near a stream at the end of the road. There was a little waterfall which created a constant calming flow and the sites were well spread out with friendly people occupying them. The first night we went to bed early, ready to do some morning exploring.
Day two was all about trees. Giant sequoia trees, that is. We drove all the way in to bordering Kings Canyon National Park and entered the General Grant Grove. Grant Tree was in the grove, the second largest tree in the world by volume. There was also a cool tree you could slide down, and a few trees with big holes at the base where you could enter and hang out inside of the tree. The sequoia trees don’t rot like normal trees, so when they die they remain standing for many hundreds of years. We walked through some tunnel-like fallen trees that were used as shelter by the first people to stumble upon the forest.
Driving back into Sequoia towards camp, we made one more stop at the Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world (by volume) and one of the most popular attractions in Sequoia National Park. This tree was MASSIVE and the energy put off by the world’s biggest trees was hard to ignore. We got a buzz just by walking around, it was a really special experience.
Our last day was a hiking day. We wanted to see some high altitude lakes in Sequoia National Park and maybe do a little swimming, so we asked the rangers for the best way to do that. We don’t like to disclose locations of our most amazing and less-crowded excursions, so if you’d like to do this hike yourself you can probably figure out which one it was.
Our hike ended up being nearly 13 miles, as we rightly chose to venture to the end of the trail and what was suppose to be the most beautiful lake. It was well worth it, our favorite trail of the 2018 summer and one of the most fun in our lives. The finish was this incredible lake. We walked around to where no one could see us and took our clothes off for a nice swim in the clear and not-too-freezing lake, then got some mountain sun laying out on a rock. It was the perfect way to relax before heading down the trail.
Sequoia National Park ended up being more beautiful than we could have hoped. We can’t wait to check out more trails in the future and the world’s biggest trees do not disappoint. Make sure to check out our quick video of us playing with sequoia trees!
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This August, we again found ourselves waiting in a dusty line, inching onto the Playa. Burning Man 2018 was about to begin and we felt calm and ready to view and take part in the madness that is BURNING. Unlike Burners of the past, we wouldn’t be setting off explosives that leave massive craters, or eating piles of LSD and firing machine guns off of cars driving nearly 100mph. Burning Man was different now, still a deadly beast but a beast that was maybe, could you say manageable? This year, our 4th and 5th burns, respectively, Care Bear and I (Scattered Showers) planned to have a completely sober, and spiritual adventure in the desert. What took place was far greater than we could have ever imagined.
The first night of Burning Man 2018 we were greeted with a gloriously giant and red full moon. It was a great chance to let go of the last month of struggles and usher in the new month of possibilities. I saw my first glimpse of one of my favorite art pieces, a large helium balloon floated anchored from a bicycle. Half painted black and half illuminated, the balloon spun through the moon cycles beneath the real thing creating a trippy dual moon effect that was stunning simplistic perfection among the larger and more complicate attractions.
Here is a video of our adventure. We tried to be respectful and only film with consent. We did film inside the Temple which I have mixed feelings about. However, I tried to keep the camera focused on the beauty of the Temple itself, and not on the people or what they left in the temple. We only filmed on a couple excursions, as I feel it violates one of the 10 Principles of Burning Man – Immediacy.
We Burned, we Burned hard. Skipping the bar scene, skipping the raves, skipping the hours wasted staring at shiny things (mostly), we found ourselves with an abundance of time for self care and personal growth. We attended cacao ceremonies with ecstatic dancing. It was so very refreshing to dance with so many beautiful souls who were not smacking their lips on molly or shoveling cocaine up their noses. The connection was so much stronger, deeper, the energy in the space feeling more intoxicating than adrenaline pumping straight to the heart.
We attended gong baths, 1.5 hours long but they felt like they were over in the blink of the eye. We stretched in dusty yoga classes, embarked on shamanic drumming meditations, breathwork meditations, manifestation trainings, and even a workshop on sensually manipulating the energy of your partners’ chakras. After packing into the geodome with around 100 people, we were told that we could take off our clothes and play with each others “chakras” any way we pleased. We laughed and left, not feeling like having such intimate chakra play in front of so many strangers. We are weirdos and usually say “yes” to new experiences, but we found where our boundaries lie and are happy to keep the line drawn.
After a good night of sleep, we woke before Thursday’s sunrise to catch the yearly Tycho sunrise set on the Dusty Rhino art car in deep Playa at the Trash Fence. Tycho makes some of the least pretentious and most beautiful electronic music that exists, bringing in the new day in a way only a master could. As the sun popped over the horizon, new life filled the tired crowd, the loving smiles so infectious. Check out the set on Soundcloud through this link to relive the beautiful moment in time.
This was the first year that I felt that I accomplished all of my goals. I never (almost) felt FOMO as in other Burns, and slept enough to stay happy and healthy throughout the week. We ate well every day, showered several times, had time to give each other love and were able to give of ourselves to help others who had less fortunate experiences than us. Abundance and gratitude continued with us throughout the week as we lived lifetimes quickly and expanded our thinking to higher and higher levels, once thought unimaginable. We truly are boundless souls, only limited by our own thoughts and desires.
While Black Rock City is the closest thing to a utopia we have experienced, it isn’t perfect and we experienced several dark and unkind moments in Burning Man 2018. We had a sober campmate who was dosed with LSD, ruining several days of their Burn. They ended up recovering fine, but giving anyone mind altering substances without their consent is sick and cowardly, no matter how much you enjoy the substances yourself. Having been roofied ourselves in a different environment, finding yourself under that spell is a hell that I wish for no one to ever endure.
I have some other gripes to submit to the complaint department. MOOP (Matter Out Of Place) AKA litter was everywhere. This is becoming more of an issue every year and I believe that this is because of the overall rise of infamous “PLUG-n-PLAY” camps (sherpas that get paid to set up luxury accommodations for the wealthy) which litter Black Rock City like the moochers that stay with them. This different crowd of people don’t care about the principles of the city and their camps don’t explain to their guests about the importance of leaving no trace on the Playa (or the 10 Principles in general). These plug-n-play camps also eliminate another of the 10 Principals– Radical Self Reliance– which is an essential part of the Burning experience. When you lose the need to take care of yourself, it pulls energy from other parts of the city and collectively lowers the vibration of the entire infrastructure.
These MOOPing, radically RELIANT “sparkle ponies” (Burner lingo for people who show up with nothing but their pretty smiles and a bag of shiny clothes) are NOT Burners in my book and for all I care they can take their glitter, feathers, Segways, and douche-ey DJs straight back to Coachella where they belong. This would free up A LOT of tickets for the good Burners who belong in the city and contribute to our glorious dusty way of life.
Rant over. Besides those points, you can still have the classic Burning Man experience in 2018. Just don’t trust anyone who looks like they’ve had a few too many showers, combs their hair, or wears glitter or feathers (super MOOPy and culturally inappropriate unless you are in fact a Native American). This isn’t to say that all of the people who look like this have bad intentions, they just haven’t been ridiculed into submission yet by real Burners who abide by the rules. I just follow this simple to remember rule: DUSTY = TRUSTY. This rule along with some well-timed mockery which can go a long way 😉
The Playa is a place where you can rediscover an intense connection with your self. This can be frightening in its own sense but, if you can get through it, can be one of the most rewarding experiences that radical environments like Burning Man can offer. The default world (what we Burners call real life) can separate even the strongest spiritual souls from the magic the human experience, and coming back into balance has deeply altered more than a few destinies.
Some other highlights of Burning Man 2018:
Being chased by a man on 5 foot stilts. He was stamping passer-bys with his camp logo. I pulled away on my bike at top speed, the chase lasting longer and growing faster than I could have imagined. It was a great race but I won by an arms length, stilts man missing me by an arms distance as I reached full biking speed.
Finding all you can eat ice cream (3 flavors) about a kilometer out into the deepest part of the Playa under a giant statue of a chameleon.
Finding a tribe of people who don’t drink but have more fun than all the wasted people combined.
Getting magically gifted an In-n-Out burger on Friday night.
Leaving with a clear mind and easily reintegrating with the default world, hopefully bringing what I’ve learned back with me and leaving my negativities in the dust.
Controlling the giant Sextant Tesla Coils with a piano keyboard. I played some deep scary bass and received an unexpected applause at the end (it’s in our video above).
I’m not here to tell you to go to Burning Man, in fact quite the opposite. Its hot, long, dirty, and loud, with lots of unruly individuals. You shouldn’t go unless you have time to research how to Burn properly, being respectful to the city and those who have giving so much of their love to create it. There are already far too many people out there who don’t belong or deserve to be there, so if you have any doubts then stick to your local music festival. Burning Man is NOT a music festival, hint hint.
If you think you have what it takes to be a real Burner, consider checking out a regional Burn first. These events are numerous and take place all over the world. They are easy to get tickets to, less environmentally challenging (sometimes), and can have much more intimate atmospheres. Many Burners much prefers these smaller events to the BIG Burn, as they are usually shorter and as said, much more accessible. A Google search will help you find them, figure it out yourself.
To all those wild-eyed weirdos out there who made Burning Man 2018, my 5th Burn, my best Burn, I thank you. Although we have a different kind of strange and epic adventure planned for 2019, we will see you in 2020. As our camp neighbor Fermat liked to flirt, “Wanna get dusty with me?”
Carrie recently wrote an article for The Fix about how to have an awesome time at Burning Man without drugs and alcohol. Check it out here!
Hi lovely readers! You may be wondering what we have been doing in the months since we posted! It’s been so long! Our digital nomad lives have brought us home to the USA for a summer of roadtrip camping adventures, visiting friends and family, and running some workshops and retreats for our yoga retreat company Bigger Life Adventures. It’s been fun to live “Dirtbag Life” with our Prius and our tent again and explore the beautiful nature of our own country. It’s almost VanLife, right? Here’s a video we made to show you our road trip through Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.
The highlight of the trip was definitely the Via Ferrata in Telluride, Colorado, which you watched at the end of the video above. This amazing adventure course is bolted into a rock wall hundreds of feet above the stunning Telluride Valley. It’s super thrilling and LONG, with sections of hiking and sections of scary iron steps and a sheer dropoff below! It took us about four hours. So worth it for the views and the adventure though!
The other huge highlight of our summer so far was hosting our Mid-Summer Reset at Laguna Mountain retreat campout! We had 13 guests and it went super well! I got to teach yoga in the beautiful mountain meadows of east San Diego County and Zach cooked amazing plant-based meals for everyone! We can’t wait to host our next retreat in Sri Lanka!
The south of Sri Lanka is a perfect tourism destination, especially if you like surfing and yoga. Sri Lanka surf and yoga retreats are a great option, especially if you enjoy all-inclusive, no-worries travel. With many different surf and yoga retreat options, it can be hard to decide which retreat to book. Here is our guide comparing the 5 best Sri Lanka surf and yoga retreats!
Offering all-inclusive week-long surf and yoga retreats based in Weligama, these retreats are held at an amazing colonial villa in the jungle near the town. Included are four surf lessons, eight yoga practices, breathwork meditation sessions, two daily meals with private chefs, a cooking class, and charity give-back days. They also take you on a safari through Udawalawe National Park which is packed full of wild elephants and other beautiful creatures. A great value for seeing a lot without needing to plan anything. We also like how everyone starts and finishes the experience together, allowing you to make deep, lasting friendships.
Weeklong packages include six surf sessions, six yoga classes, one massage, and daily breakfast. A bonus is the friendly local owners and delicious Ahimsa Vegan Cafe (extra cost but worth it) located on the property. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, quietly nestled away from the main road. Other packages and longer stays are available on their website. Less all-inclusive but better for more independent travelers.
For a more luxury option, enjoy Soul & Surf’s new and modern rooms and beautiful swimming pool. Included in a one-week stay are three meals per day, seven yoga sessions, ten surf outings, two meditation sessions, a guided SUP adventure and more. Great if you want to spend your time relaxing in one place; the downside is that it’s a little off the main drag. Oh, and the swimming pool is a nice bonus.
Weeklong price: ~ $1,500 USD for a shared room – $2,500 for a luxury private room. Check their website for options and availability. Prices lower in off season (May-November).
Made for the more serious surfer crowd, Sunshine Stories retreats include many different types of training to take your surf to another level. Included in their packages are seven breakfasts, five lunches and dinners, ten yoga sessions, five surf lessons, a variety of surf classes and video feedback, a temple visit, and your own surf video.
Weeklong package price: $899 USD for a shared room in their villa.
Located in Ahangama, Camp Poe is a boutique oasis which offers luxury safari tents or bungalows for accommodation. They also have a swimming pool and honestly some of the best yoga teachers on the island. Their packages include seven breakfasts, five dinners, five surf lessons, surf theory, five yoga classes, and included tea and unlimited water.
Weeklong package price: from $699 USD for private tent. Cheaper shared tents also available. More action-packed deals are also available with twice the surfing, more yoga, and included photo & videos. Check their website for other price options.
All of the best Sri Lanka surf and yoga retreats include transport to the surf spots and surfboard rentals. Check their website for more exact itineraries and lists of optional add-ons. Keep in mind that the weather is best in the south of Sri Lanka between November and April, and prices are higher during this season. If you are looking for the best budget Sri Lanka surf and yoga retreats, consider coming in the off season to save and enjoy less crowds.
If you know us, you know we love dogs! Sri Lanka, like many developing nations, is covered in street dogs. While spending the last three months in Sri Lanka, we kept looking for ways to help the street dogs. Those little mutts were always nice to us, following along on hikes and keeping us safe late at night. After being in Sri Lanka for a while, we kind of became immune to the site of the mangy friends. Then, while researching charities for our September Sri Lanka Surf & Yoga Retreat we stumbled across WECare Worldwide. WECare provides veterinary care for less fortunate animals across Sri Lanka, providing free care for street dogs, and inexpensive care for household pets.
We visited WECare’s facility outside of Talalla, Sri Lanka to find out more about the amazing things they are up to! WECare’s main focus is on reducing the number of street dogs in Sri Lanka, by neutering and spaying as many as possible. This way, with veterinary medicines limited, more care can be given to the already enormous numbers of dogs that exist on the island.
Another of the main goals of WECare Worldwide is educating the local people about street dogs and how to better love them. WECare goes into school and shows young children that street dogs are cute and loving creatures, breaking the stereotypes that many Sri Lankans have against dogs.
One other stereotype that WECare likes to break is that of the veterinarian. Traditionally in Sri Lanka, vets are people who have not succeeded in medical school. Not wanting to be seen in a career connoting “failure” discourages Sri Lankan youth from pursuing schooling in veterinary medicine. But WECare’s super-smart and passionate veterinarians are changing the image of the veterinary career in Sri Lanka. It’s also awesome that many of the vets in WECare are women, providing a great example of female education and empowerment!
Recently WECare was featured on the BBC which helped them to secure a lot of new funding. Check out their segment by clicking here!
We cannot wait to raise money for WECare Worldwide though our 10% Giveback Program on our Bigger Life Adventures yoga and surf retreat! Every dollar helps, and even if you don’t make it to our Sri Lanka Surf & Yoga Retreat, please consider donating a small amount to their cause. Not only are the helping the street dogs, but they are employing many local people and educating young children on the proper way to interact with animals. Please check out their website www.WECareWorldwide.org.uk for more information about the organization and details on how to donate to the cause!
Traveling to Sri Lanka? Landing in Colombo can be overwhelming but doesn’t have to be. Travel in Sri Lanka can be stress free if you know how to get around. Whether you are headed for your next big surf trip or just to soak up the beach sun, study our ultimate Sri Lanka transportation guide to best enjoy this Indian Ocean island paradise.
Sri Lanka transportation – a guide to how to travel the island
The Sri Lanka train system is old-school and can range from dreamy rides through the mountains with a whole car to yourself, to being packed in like sweaty sardines, unable to sit for hours. The most iconic ride is between Ella and Kandy, which takes you through incredible mountain and tea plantations views and Horton Plains National Park. It is perhaps the most beautiful train ride in the world. You can start east of Ella if you want to ride over the Nine Arch Bridge, or just hike there from Ella town to get your picture. Trains are separated into first, second, and third classes. First class tickets can be bought online and you get a guaranteed seat. Second and third class are similar and you can purchase them at the ticket office no more than 15 minutes before the train arrives. You might get a seat, you might not. Once on a packed train we sat in the doorway with our legs out the side of the train the whole journey. Despite sore butts from sitting on the floor the whole way, it was a great way to enjoy the scenery!
Local buses go everywhere in Sri Lanka. If you are traveling for a long time and/or on a budget, this is your best bet. Find the blue signs along the road which signify stopping points; they are every few hundred meters. Be prepared to jump on while the bus is still moving! The ticket sellers will sometimes try to over-charge you. Once inside hold on for dear life, as the drivers are notoriously psychotic and get paid by the trip, not by the hour. Bus fare in Sri Lanka are around 20 LKR (Sri Lankan Rupees) for a short trip or near 200 LKR from Colombo to the south coast (~5hrs). For busing to/from Colombo, check out the special section in the bottom of the page. Throw your backpacks in front by the driver or in the storage space in the rear, depending on how helpful/hurried the ticket guys are at the moment. Buses are by far the most popular form of Sri Lanka transportation with the locals, so ride them at least once for the experience.
These three-wheeled motorized rickshaws are a Sri Lankan transportation staple and you will find them all over the island. They are fun to zoom around in, but the drivers are pushy and you always have to ask the price up front and negotiate; just please don’t be a dick because the price is 50 LKR higher than you’d like. A good tourist’s tuk tuk fare is 75 LKR per kilometer, but expect to pay more late at night. They have room for three people but will sometimes let you take more (for a tip) and generally have room for your luggage. Check out the Tuk Tuk Safari that we did, which featured the nicest tuk tuk we’ve ever seen! In Colombo there is a great app called Pick Me that you can use to summon your tuk tuk rides.
Buses and tuk tuks get old fast, and sometimes you just want t stop and get a coconut (or an ice cream). Renting a motorbike is a nice change of pace and lets you explore more remote and off-the-beaten-path destinations. Prices range from 800-1200 LKR per day. In our opinion, this is the most fun type of Sri Lanka transportation. Technically you need an international drivers license, along with your home country’s ID, and a special permit only obtainable in Colombo. Most tourists who rent motorbikes do not have all or any of these documents, so just expect to pay a fine if you are stopped by the police. Watch out for police roadblocks in every town. We generally see them coming and hide behind the car in front of us. The police aren’t trying to work too hard, and won’t chase you.
Taxis are useful in Colombo, or if you are on a quick trip/higher budget. A trip from Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport to the south can cost between 7,000 and 12,000 LKR so be sure to do some negotiating. If you have a hotel reserved, have them arrange a taxi for you, as they will get a better price and your ride will be waiting on your arrival. If you need a ride to/from specific places, post sometime on one of the Sri Lanka traveler Facebook groups and many taxis will message you with deals. Uber is a good option, but only works in Colombo. Taxis don’t normally have signs in Sri Lanka, because they are usually are just some dude with a Prius.
Getting to/from Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport:
Keep in mind that Sri Lanka only has one international airport, located in Colombo. Most travelers choose to skip Colombo or leave it until the end of their trip, after getting more comfortable with the country. Leaving the airport is one of the most expensive parts of travel in Sri Lanka. There are several options to get you where you need to be:
Bus – When walking out the main exit during daytime hours, you will see a blue bus directly in front of the exit. This takes you to the main bus station (150 LKR – 1hr) near the Colombo Fort and train station. This main bus station is for local buses which depart to all parts of the island for a very cheap price. However, if you’re headed to the south we’d recommend taking the highway bus to Matara (500 LKR – 2hrs) which is air conditioned and gets you there in half the time of the local bus. These nicer buses leave from a different bus station called Maharagama in south Colombo. They depart every 15 min or so when full. There are also highway buses directly to Galle, although they leave less often than the Matara buses. To get to Maharagama either take a bus from the local bus station, or taxi/Uber straight from the airport (45 min, recommended).
Taxi – If you are only in Sri Lanka for a short time and your first stop is outside Colombo, we recommend just taking a taxi straight from the airport to your destination. Set it up with your hotel in advance to save money and have someone waiting for you. Keep in mind that if you are arriving late at night or early in the morning, taxi or Uber might be your only option for getting anywhere.
Tuk tuk – if you are spending the night in nearby Negombo, you can take a tuk tuk to your destination. The tuk tuks are not allowed into the airport pickup area but you just need to walk across the street to flag one down.
Sri Lanka transportation is easy, however sometimes it can be crowded and hot. We call it “character building” as my favorite athlete Alex Honnold would say. Just keep your cool and everything will be fine! What’s to worry, if all else fails while traveling Sri Lanka, you’ve still got your Chevrolegs and your thumb!
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