What happened to Mirissa, Sri Lanka? The party is over.

What happened to Mirissa, Sri Lanka?  The party is over.  After the infamous assault of Dutch tourists on Mirissa Beach in April, 13 locals were arrested and parties and party places were closed across the south coast of Sri Lanka.  Several bars tried to organize events but were shut down by the police.  However, travelers were still coming and expected something to do, being surprised at the lack of party scene and moving on quickly once they realized it was not what they had read about.  Soon the situation escalated even more, as most of the Mirissa beach bars have been destroyed by government bulldozers.

***Don’t forget to read to the bottom for a more recent update***

 

The newest development happened quickly.  On May 11th, 2018 government bulldozers rolled into Mirissa town, along with more than 100 police officers, heavily armed soldiers, and a water cannon to fight back riots.  The government proceeded to knock down 21 structures deemed “illegal”.  This included nearly all the bars and restaurants leaving a big mess of mental, concrete, and other industrial waste along the beach.  Check out this article to read more from a local news report.

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All that’s left of the popular beach bars

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This might be another case of a story which goes a little deeper.  Only a few bars in Mirissa actually had a license to sell alcohol.  These places are still standing after the bulldozing.  Most beach bars in Sri Lanka choose to operate illegally, paying bribes over the obnoxiously priced and hard to get liquor licenses.   These licenses have a price tag of near one million Sri Lankan Rupees and take years of dedication through the proper channels to obtain.

There is also the factor that several large hotel chains have recently been “banging on the doors” of Mirissa.  It will be interesting to see if these large corporate companies are awarded the licensing that the local people were so long denied.

The government’s official reasons for the deconstruction was that A) the structures are illegal, and B) they are causing an environmental impact along the coast.  After the buildings were knocked down, there was no plan in place to clean up the destroyed structures.  These are still lining the beach, slowly getting picked though by the locals, hazardous asbestos roofing sheets thrown about in the sand.  Was this really the most environmentally safe solution, or did the authorities start a plan without a real finish in mind?

HOW TO GET AROUND SRI LANKA: TRANSPORT OPTIONS EXPLAINED

With the beach party scene being the reason most people came to Mirissa, Sri Lanka, we suspect it will take years for the town to recover.  Many honest and hardworking locals will be without work, not to mention the tremendous economic loss to the hundreds of local hotels and tourism businesses.

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This is why you should still visit Mirissa!

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We still recommend people go to Mirissa for the surf and awesome beachfront.  And don’t forget the sunsets!  Whatever ends up happening with all of this, hopefully in a few years Mirissa Beach will be in a better place because of the changes, however drastic that they were.  What do you think?  Did the government make the right decision?  Will you help us to have a clean up day, making the beach beautiful again?  Comment below!

Check out our archives for other guides and helpful advice for travelers all over the world!  And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our Youtube Channel!

UPDATE October 2018:

We recently went to Mirissa to see if anything has changed.  The season is starting and tourists are beginning to flood to the area.  The beach is still a mess, lots of the debris has never been cleaned up.  Also, several of the bars/restaurants have reopened in the structures that were not eliminated.  All the rubble just makes the beach not seem as nice as it used to be.  The parties are apparently up and running again and we are curious to see if any of this destruction will change anything in the long run.

 

What we are doing now?  We’re in the Tuk Tuk Tournament in Sri Lanka!  Check out our Youtube series about the adventure!

Want to take your own Tuk Tuk around the island?  Go to Tuktukrental.com and enter AVENTURA at checkout for 5% off!

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Bigger Life Adventures – Yoga & travel that gives back!

Bigger Life Adventures is our new yoga and adventure retreat company featuring us, Zach and Carrie, leading you on adventures in incredible countries around the world!  This is our newest video, showing you a little more about what a trip with Bigger Life Adventures looks like!

A few of the things we want to share with Bigger Life Adventures are yoga, meditation, clean living, amazing destinations, vegan food, and giving back to the local communities.  10% of all participation fees are donated directly to charities working in countries where our retreats are located.   This year we will be hosting retreats in Southern California, Sri Lanka, and TanzaniaCheck out the dates and maybe we’ll see you there?

Burning Man 2017 – Demons Exist in Nirvana

BURNING MAN 2017 – The dust, oh the dust.  I can still smell it if I think hard enough.  The Playa sticks to everything that’s ever been there.  Like a tattoo, it never comes off.  Whenever Burners are feeling sad or nostalgic, they can open up their dusty costumes bin and give their dinosaur print tights a shake, Playa poofing out.  The memories we make out at Black Rock City stick to us the same way.  They change who we are, and who we were at the same time.  The person you are when you are waiting to get into the city will never return to the default world.  Accepting this fact and letting it happen is one of the most important things you can accomplish at Burning Man.  The ego must die for us to truly be alive.

This is not a guide like “How to go to Burning Man” or “My Favorite Photos of Burning Man 2017″and this is not a memoir, but merely a reflection. Not everything is rainbows and unicorns in Black Rock City.  Things get hard and there are hourly challenges.  However, it’s these moments of struggle that make it all worth it.  If easy is your thing then go to Coachella, because I don’t want to hear you whining when I’m having a good time.

“Welcome Home,” oh how nice it was to see those words! Burning Man 2017 started with a bang and took off at the speed of light.  We somehow missed the gate line, getting in in under two hours.  We set up in the night, a windless night perfect for assembling our shade structure.  Before dawn we were all up and running, so we went for a bike ride to give our virgin Burners a sense of direction.  The stars were clear and you could see the Milky Way, letting us know things were good, beacons of normality in a city of the unimaginable.

The first few days we had perfect weather, then a huge windstorm came out of nowhere.  The normal dust blows in a shade of grey, but this was a deep orange tan.  Our shade structure was strong, but I yelled for everyone to grab a corner.  For what seemed like eternity we held onto that tent as I couldn’t see my hands that were holding the poles in front of my face.  I crouched down, fearful of less stable shade tents flying through the air like deadly weapons.  The storm left as soon as it came, leaving us to make some quick repairs.  My hand was bleeding but I didn’t feel it, the adrenaline pumping hard and WE WERE ALIVE!

We sure had some crazy nights.  A particularly memorable night went something like this:  rode our bikes to the center, left them near Pink Heart then wandered by foot.  Found a black light camp with a fish theme, they gave you 3D glasses than made you walk though a sort of 3D maze.  Upon exiting, we noticed the Charlie The Unicorn art car not far away.  We walked out towards the light and had a really good dance party; Charlie was a great host.  From there were heard the “crack clack tak tak tak ztaaa cap” of the giant Tesla coils.  I stared at them for what seemed like hours, unable to convince myself that they weren’t shooting electricity to the sounds of Charlie’s beats.  Eventually we went back to camp for a water refill or something, then stayed up all night laughing with our campmates.  Around 4am we went searching for the Dusty Rhino art car.  After about an hour we found it and followed it off into the desert where Tycho played his annual sunrise set.  The music was chill and when the sun peaked over the horizon, shining though the dusty haze, it was one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen.

By the time the man burned things had already gotten out of hand.  Everyone was strung out (Carrie interjection — not everyone!  Sober burners do exist!) and the weekend warriors had arrived the night before with their RVs, and drugs, and moopyness.  MOOP, (Mater Out Of Place) is one of the most important words on the Playa.  Not one piece of anything should ever hit the ground and one must always be watching for moop.  Some people are born moopers, leaving an ugly trail of trash through their entire lives.  Once you are mindful of mooping, it’s easy to avoid.  The Playa is generally spotless until the weekend warriors arrive.  Not really Burners, they just come for the party and fail to notice the details, the point of the whole thing.

Saturday night, everyone is sitting around the Man for the big burn.  Firemen made a circle at a safe distance to keep back the crazies.  The whole ritual is very pagan feeling, with masked fire baring dragons who light the fuse.  There were fireworks and, as always, a huge explosion that you can feel from the edges of the city.  Fortunately for us we watched from the 6 o’clock side as viewers on the 12 o’clock end had to witness a man break through the perimeter and end his life in the flames.

We didn’t hear about this until the morning.  The man didn’t make it to the fire, but collapsed from the heat far away from the flames.  When the structure had fallen, a team of volunteer firemen risked their own lives to drag the man out of the heat.  He was still clinging to life but died soon after rescue.  Many people had seen it, and it had affected them greatly.  Sunday is always a day for tears, but this time was different.  There was pity and grief, but lots of anger as well.  Suicide can be viewed as selfish, but it touches too closely to home for us.  Carrie and I have both had loved ones take their own lives and we have helped friends though times that they felt were the end.  There is always hope, never give up, never give up.

In the United States our health care is terrible.  Our mental health care is worse.  There are no cheap ways to get help and most sufferers of depression keep the feeling locked up inside for years, embarrassed or their weaknesses. It’s our society as a whole that creates this feeling, this lack of spirituality, empty living without purpose.  We are always striving for the next material thing, next vacation, next promotion, because then we will be happy! But the truth is, these rat races are fueling the sadness, perpetuating the emptiness that our lives have become.  Only through turning off, tuning out, and releasing ourselves from the chains of modern desires can we truly be free to be free from pain and suffering.

The Temple burn on Sunday is always a somber event.  The art cars mute their beats and its the first silence you’ve heard it weeks.  The fire burns slowly, the structure strong.  One soul in the middle of the crowd let out a howl of the wolf.  This howling spread organically through the masses until we were all howling at the moon, upset at ourselves and our inability to control the world around us.  Tears flowed from many of our fellow Burners that night; it was one of the hardest days I can remember in Black Rock City.

The experience ended in a rough way.  There were always mixed feelings when leaving, but this was not the way it was suppose to go.  We were supposed to be happy, high on life and our experiences, excited for next year and sharing our ideas for it.  But we were left far more questions than answers, the uncertainty of the whole things growing deeper.  What were we even doing out here, where life shouldn’t exist?  The idea of a shower and the comforts of home kept us going as we used our last bits of mental fuel to navigate the dusty exit road and reenter the hard pavement of the default realm.

We arrived at Burning Man 2017 as seven friends, and left as one.  The experiences you share create a bond that can’t be broken.  Once you truly see and you look into someone else’s eyes and you just know that they see it too, there is no turning back.

Like this post about Burning Man 2017? Check out my article on Burning Man 2014 and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject.

 

Full Moon SUP Yoga Experience in Sri Lanka!

In Sri Lanka, every full moon is an official holiday!  We really love the connection between nature and spirituality that every celebrates here.  A couple weeks ago the full moon was extra special, because it was also Vesak Day, a holiday celebrating major milestones in the life of Buddha – basically his birth, enlightenment, and death are all celebrated on Vesak Day.

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These kids gave us free ice cream for Vesak Day!

We also got to have a special experience for Vesak and the Full Moon, by going out to on the water with SUP Yoga Sri Lanka at Duwa Villas!  They had organized a special full moon ceremony experience including meditation, pranayama, some gentle yin SUP yoga, and a letting-go ceremony out on the water.  We captured a little bit of video before it got too dark to share the experience!

 

It started to rain a little bit while we were out on the water meditating, but the rain felt cool and nice, like the baptism of a new moon cycle!  It was so peaceful to just lie on our backs on the boards, feeling the gentle motion of the water and the refreshing touch of the raindrops.  What an amazing experience!  We can’t wait to try more SUP Yoga in Sri Lanka!

Auntie Orn’s Organic Cooking Class – Chiang Mai, Thailand

While in Chiang Mai, Thailand, we had the opportunity to attend Auntie Orn’s Organic Family Cooking class.  The class takes place on a organic farm just outside of the city, giving participants the opportunity to see a working organic farm in action.  Auntie Orn’s family and helpers are all some of the nicest people you will ever meet, and the whole experience makes you feel good on many levels.  We learned how to cook three classic northern Thai dishes: Khow soi, tom yam, and panang curry!

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We were picked up a little before 9am and driven to a very local market in the countryside outside of Chiang Mai city.  We were very excited about learning to cook Thai food, as taking a class had been on our list since our first days in Thailand.  At the market Autie Orn met us and showed us around.  We sampled a few of the local items and we picked up a few things for the class.  We were the only farang (foreigners) in the market and the locals got a kick out of me sampling some ant larvae which was in season and harvested in the jungle.  It had a real interesting flavor and texture, even better with hot sauce.

After the market we drove a few minutes away to the farm owned by Auntie Orn.  In the front was a cute kitchen and tables and the land behind it was planted with all types of fruits and veggies.  There were three couples in the class, and the first thing each of us did was to plant a tree on the farm.  It was a great way to contribute something to the land!  After planting our banana and mango trees, Auntie Orn invited us back anytime to check on our babies.  You could tell she really meant it and we hope to make it back in a year or so to check on our baby banana tree!

Next we started preparing the food.  We used large a mortar and pestle to crush up lots of different stuff into a Thai curry paste which was the base of the khow soi and panang curry.  We pounded and pounded to extract the flavors of the ingredients and produce an amazing spicy aroma.  Our hunger grew as we saw how delicious everything was getting, and we couldn’t wait to try the final product!

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Auntie Orn’s Cooking class was about to get HOT!  She heated up three woks, helping us work our curries into shape.  The final product was a HUGE feast and we were all very proud of our labors! We ate until we couldn’t eat anymore, and maybe it was because we had made it ourselves, but we all thought it was by far the best food we have had in Thailand.

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While our food digested we went on a tour of the farm, learning about permaculture farming methods and how the farm would progress in the future.

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After the tour we learned how to make the ever-delicious mango sticky rice!  It was very easy and so so good, a great way to finish the meal.

The final part of the day was extra memorable.  We all received a very special New Years blessing along with bracelets for good luck!  The blessing was given with holy water and everything.  We felt special to be part of such an amazing ceremony.

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Auntie Orn’s classes are by appointment only and you can contact Auntie Orn to make a booking via her website!

Enjoy this post about Auntie Orns Organic Thai Cooking Class in Chiang Mai Thailand?  Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

Surf & Yoga Mirissa and Ahimsa Vegan Cafe

We discovered the amazing Surf & Yoga Mirissa during our second visit to Sri Lanka when we were looking for a place on the south coast to chill, get some work done, and live close to nature.  Surf & Yoga Mirissa’s property is right in the jungle just 1km down the road from Mirissa’s main beach.  The retreat features clean spacious rooms with super-comfy beds, hammocks to lounge around in all over the property, a surf shop and yoga studio, all the activities you could possibly want to do in south Sri Lanka, and the amazing Ahimsa Vegan Cafe!

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Huge room with a jungle view

There’s also breakfast and dinner available (vegan and non-vegan options) for guests, three yoga classes per day, and surf lessons available for all levels with awesome, experienced instructors.

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Surf’s up!

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The yoga instruction is also top-notch, with a variety of styles being taught and teachers who can cater to all levels!  Honestly, it’s the perfect place to jump headfirst into the yoga+surf life!

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Ahimsa Vegan Cafe, the super-cool shipping container restaurant on site, has amazing healthy plant-based offerings!  It’s open every day except Sunday from 11-3:30!  Be sure to try the signature Ahimsa Bowl – a mix of roasted veggies, salad, veggie protein, and delicious homemade peanut sauce!

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Delicious, seasonal, Ahimsa Bowl
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Tofu chickpea scramble with homemade hummus and toast!

Mirissa Surf & Yoga also strives to be as eco-friendly as possible, with composting, recycling, and regular “karma yoga” beach cleanups!  The owner, Priyal, and staff of Surf & Yoga Mirissa can guide you to all the best sites and activities in the area!  They’re a super-friendly crew of surfers who will be sure to make you feel at home in Sri Lanka!  There’s also no less than FOUR cute, friendly doggies who call this place home.  So there are lots of furry friends for those of you who miss your pets so much, like us!

 

Check out their awesome video for more of a taste of this amazing place!

Services Included:

All meals available

Fast WiFi

Air conditioning in select rooms

Fans

Book library and games

Hammocks and a slack line

Surf lessons and tours available

Yoga classes available

Laundry available

Tours available

Surf shop on-site

Massages available

 

Address: Ulugedara Villa, Galle road, Bandaramulla,, Mirissa 81740

Website: www.surfnyogamirissa.com/

Prices:  Various packages available depending on the time of year and what services you want to include.  See the packages here.

 

 

 

Grasshopper Adventures Chiang Mai Night Bike Tour – Into The Old City

While in Chiang Mai we were fortunate enough to go on our second tour by Grasshopper Adventures – Chiang Mai Night Bike Tour.  This was again a night time biking tour which took us though the old city highlighting some incredible temples and history.  Our guide was absolutely fantastic and his knowledge of the city was scholarly.  Here is a video showcasing our experience!!!

After meeting up at the Grasshopper Adventures Chiang Mai headquarters, we mounted our bicycles and headed off into the city.  Again, we were very impressed with the quality of the bikes offered by Grasshopper — so comfortable and with front and back lights!

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Our first stop was at Chiang Mai Pae Gate.  It was built as the main entrance to the walled city, easily accessible to traders coming though on the nearby river.  We learned that the city had several ways in, each for specific types of people, historically.  One exit was reserved only for the dead on their funeral marches.

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There were tons of Chinese tourists taking selfies with pigeons here for some reason?
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The Three Kings Monument

Next we rode to several amazing temples, each with Buddha relics and lots of good energy.  We used a kind of rope and pulley at Wat Lok Molee to send holy water which automatically dropped over the temple.  Apparently doing this together would guide our spirits back to each other in the next life.  “I don’t know, one life with you might be enough…” said Carrie, maybe joking but probably serious.  I am a piece of work sometimes.

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Near the end of the tour we walked through the grounds of Wat Chedi Luang, located right in the middle of Chiang Mai Old City.  The temple is partially collapsed on top and reminded us a lot of places we visited in Cambodia.

Our final stop was at the Chiang Mai Gate Night Food Market  We were treated to some amazing coconut pancakes, mango sticky rice, and some smoothies.  Food always makes me quite happy, and even though we had taken a feast of a cooking class earlier in the day, I was happy to eat again.

Grasshopper Adventures Chiang Mai Night Bike Tour was a great look into the history of the northern Thailand city.  We learned much about the Lanna empire which existed independently before they were absorbed into the Siam empire (Later Thailand) and how the younger generations are trying to bring back their historical culture.

Additional information:

Address: 87, Bumrung Buri Rd, Prasing, Muang, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

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Website:  www.grasshopperadventures.com

Also check out our review of Grasshoppper Adventures Bangkok Night Bike Tour