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Ayubowan!

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Ayubowan! ( A form of greeting, much closer to ‘Hello’ or ‘Namastey’).

There’s a land blessed with aquamarine beaches, excellent ancient history, centuries old architectural marvels, immense natural beauty of the hills, amazing hospitality, culture and sumptuous food. On the first look this land looks puny, located in the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent. But it give us more as we dive in! Yes, I am talking about Sri Lanka; the special land where ancient history blends so well with modernity without a crease!

The day began with a walk into the largest fish market in Lanka; the Negombo fish market. As the day dawned, shop owners were prepping up their little shops, displaying their catch from the early morning, cats waking up from their slumbers and a tub of live crabs being cranky, cackling to get out!

Eeek! live crabs

Eeek! live crabs

 

A bunch of big fishes are transfected to be sold

A bunch of big fishes are transferred to be sold

 

Fishing it out!

Some customers have come earlier bargaining a good price for the fishes displayed. A fisherman chops up the large tuna and packs it up into black polythene bags. Just behind him, the sea is calm, occasionally waves roaring big.

 

A find vendor sits in front of his catch

A find vendor sits in front of his catch

Moving into the town of Negombo, I stop for a light breakfast; fish dumpings, onion buns, aaloo stuff buns and fish+ egg bun downed over a pack of Milo drink, from Perera and Sons, a snackery that has a number of branches all over Sri Lanka.

light breakfast – Fish dumping and fish+egg rolls

From Negombo, we move towards one of the prime attractions of this country, that always shows up in tourism blogs and photos of Lanka; The Pinnawala Elephant orphanage. This orphanage caters to elephants who have been mistreated, injured and aims at the wellbeing of these gentle giants as they show up generously in the cultural fabric of Lanka. Spread over a vast land, this centre offers elephants a lovely loving home, with proper food, medication, the Oya river for bathing and fun, and enormous funds from well-wishers. As I look on, smaller elephants play with onlookers, seeking attention with trunks and their gimmicks! Some smaller elephants roll over in the muddy river, and defecate directly on. A few chew on palm leaves as baby elephants attract attention of every animal lover around! Just being cute as they are!

The Oya River and the elephants

 

Attention seeker

Attention seeker

Elephant galore

Elephant galore

A tiny fellow

A tiny fellow

A tourist gets up close with a tusker

 

A good one and half hours spent with these beautiful creatures gave me an opportunity to understand why Srilankan culture has such high values of this animals. And yet, we see them being rides to the tourists, being paraded for the fancy of the foreigners on many occasions. However, I hope that the condition of these animals improve everywhere in the world.

Off Pinnawala, the ancient Rock temple of Dambulla was not so far away. The rock temple is very interesting as it is said to have been built in the first century BC. With beautiful architecture, statues and paintings inside, the cave temple is a place of worship, pilgrimage, and tourist interest. A huge golden Buddha statue sits high just at the entrance. Owing to the extreme ancient art inside, photography is not allowed inside the temple.

The Golden stupa of Dambulla

The Golden stupa of Dambulla

From in front of the Dambulla Temple

From in front of the Dambulla Temple

However, the cave temple is beautifully lit with lamps, surrounded by a number of ancient paintings on the walls, apart from centuries old statues of Buddha and his disciples.

Off Dambulla, as we move towards Sigriya town, the sun lends its last few rays of the day; leaving back the twilight. Sigriya comes in, as a smaller town, with winding roads between lush green landscape and a fortress in the far, my destination for tomorrow.

Sigriya fort is a rock fort and a finest example of ancient art and architecture. This is a UNESCO heritage site as of now and the maintenance of this art is well done! The fort is built on a huge rock with grooves and cuts that serve as steps, and a treasure of ancient paintings on the inside walls. A flight of over 300 steps serve to take one to the top of the fort. Young kids to senior citizens, everyone shows equal enthusiasm to climb up the fort. The fort is surrounded by shrines amidst lust green trees and shrubs. Macaque monkeys jump on the trees and shrines, with little ones tightly hugging their bellies.

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Climbing atop Sigriya

Climbing atop Sigriya

Paintings in Sigriya fort – dating back to 1st BC

 

 

Paintings in Sigriya fort – dating back to 1st BC

 

Ancient fountains and great baths just like the Harappan ones are constructed on the front garden of Sigriya fortress. From atop the fortress, at a height of 660 feet from the ground, a major part of Sigriya town and Dambulla statue can be seen.  It’s a beautiful view and that’s the highlight of this enormous climb.

During the fortress climb

During the fortress climb

After Sigriya being hungry was beyond doubt. So, I head over to a cozy lunch shack for an authentic Srilankan lunch. For a meagre amount of 250/- Srilankan rupee, I get a good mount of white rice, sided by fresh vegetable curries including dal, spinach, bottle gourd and a fine slice of fish. It’s sumptuous and so nutritious, all made on a coconut base.  The food so has similar flavours as that of Malayali food, that I just feel right at home!

The yummy lunch of rice, fresh dal, bottle gourd curry, spicy fish! Mmm

The yummy lunch of rice, fresh dal, bottle gourd curry, spicy fish! Mmm

Polonnurawa ancient city was my destination after the fabulous meal as the city of the Polunnaru kingdom is much talked about for its art and architectural beauty. As a world heritage site, this city is constituted by architectural relics over an area of 10 kilometres in periphery. Stupas, minarets, palaces, halls, temples, statues and mini-fortresses make this site as impressive as it claims. Neatly manicured shrubs adorn the gardens in front of these buildings.  Monkeys thrive alongside komodo dragons who bask in the sun on the lawns.

Palace - Polonnaruwa

Palace – Polonnaruwa

Ruins- polonnaruwa

Ruins- polonnaruwa

Ancient Polonnaruwa city and its ruins

 

 

Stupa ruins- Polonnaruwa

Stupa ruins- Polonnaruwa

Ancient Polonnaruwa city and its ruins

Ancient Polonnaruwa city and its ruins

Some tourists can access cycles to roam around the ancient city, thereby reducing their carbon footprints. Hawkers and shop keepers sell SriLankan masks, stone statues and fresh king coconuts. I bargain for an exquisite art piece made of clay, make my purchase and carefully toss it into my bag.

Curios on display

Curios on display

Kandy is located amidst the hills of the Kandy plateu located in the central region of SriLanka. As the second largest town, this city boasts of lakes and gardens topped with a great hill view. Slightly cold the city is, during mornings, but by the evenings, its charm just doubles. Neat roads and shopping malls, hemmed by tradition, temples and restaurants are the main attractions of this city for a foreigner.

Kandy Lake  in the evenings

Kandy Lake in the evenings

 

City of Kandy

City of Kandy

 

 

The Temple of the Tooth Relic

The Temple of the Tooth Relic

 

Kandy City

Kandy City

 

The sumptuous meal at Kandy Muslim Hotel

The sumptuous meal at Kandy Muslim Hotel

From Kandy, Nuwara eliya is a couple of miles away. Called the tea-garden and Little England of SriLanka, this hill town was a much coveted town for the British rulers, after they were tired of the hot climate, throughout the rest of the country. With a picturesque landscape and chilly climate, Nuwara Eliya is a sought after destination for the honeymooners in Lanka.

The hills of Nuwara Eliya

The hills of Nuwara Eliya

Lake Gregory Park with Swan Boats for a short ride in the waters

Lake Gregory Park with Swan Boats for a short ride in the waters

The well kept Nuwara Eliya Gregory Park

The well kept Nuwara Eliya Gregory Park

A dad takes the photo of his princess on a horse

A dad takes the photo of his princess on a horse

 

Lake Gregory park is a great place to sip up the essence and beauty of the place during evenings. Small restaurants serve the tourists on the sides of this park. Horses trot around with customers on its back, through the green lawns. A bunch of people play golf not so far away. As the sun sets, the weather becomes cooler, the lake less bustling with swan boats and Nuwara Eliya’s mountains go to sleep.

Nuwara Eliya’s famous tea plantations have been making tea ever since the British set foot on this town. The tea from Nuwara Eliya is branded as Ceylon tea, to be exported and consumed all over the world. The very expensive white tea is also cultivated on these hills. I have a cuppa fresh brew from the Blue field tea factory with a wedge of squeezed lemon, to indulge myself in some shopping of exquisite tea produce.

The Blue Field Tea factory

The Blue Field Tea factory

Hot Cuppa!

Hot Cuppa!

White water rafting at Kitugala is a not to miss adventure at Srilanka. The Kelani river is a fast moving river with frequent gush of water through wedges of huge rocks here there on the fast riverbed. A trivial fact learnt here: the movie, ‘The Bridge on the river Kwai’ was shot from over this river, the highlight being the wooden bridge over this river, Kelani!

 

After the extremely engaging and fun White water rafting

After the extremely engaging and fun White water rafting

Winding down the hairpin curves of Nuwara Eliya, moving down to the plains of Tissamaharama which hosts the huge lake of Tissa was a pleasant change. After the Tissa river comes the towns of Akuressa and the seaport of Galle. Galle calls itself the Dutch town after the colonization by the Dutch.  The famous fort of Galle is situated here from atop which one could see the panorama of the town of Galle.

Galle - Fort

Galle – Fort

The Tissa Lake

The Tissa Lake

At Hummanaya

At Hummanaya

Drying the fish

Drying the fish

... and it's fried!

… and it’s fried!

From the town of Galle, the beach town of Hikkaduwa is not so far away. Hikkaduwa is one of the most famous beaches of the world, for its surf scene, after Arugam Bay. Hikkaduwa is a clean, blue beach, much like any other beach in SriLanka. Hemmed with coconut trees, the shallow beach is a great place for enthusiasts to surf. Little kids play in the gushing waves. A few youngsters play volleyball on the beach sand.

Bentota Beach

Bentota Beach

 

The calm beach front of Hikkaduwa

The calm beach front of Hikkaduwa

 

A kid runs to fetch his treasure

A kid runs to fetch his treasure

 

Boats wades lazily as the evening closes

Boats wades lazily as the evening closes

 

The Orange of the skies

The Orange of the skies

Boats are latched to the beach by anchors. As the sun sets, the rays lend an orange color to the sky, the water, the sands silhouetting the people and boats. The aquamarine water turns into a steady red, and the wind blows harder. The beach tide rises, as though to close the day.

The boats are waiting…

During nights the same wind rushes into the beach street, lightly swaying the colourful beach- clothes on sale in the shops dotted along the beach road. Music rises with flavorful aromas of great food in the making.

Yummy tasty date lunch

Windchimes cling and drums play, welcoming the night. I swoon, looking at the moon, rising over the dark cold beach. The waves are welcoming me, I know.

The beachside shacks of Hikkaduwa

 

Oh, SriLanka! What Magic you have in your hands!

 

highly expressive, roaring appetite for books, food and design; have occasional bouts of flippancy to all things needed. Always hungry for Biryani. Nomad. Binger. Lover.

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Start planning the best holidays of this year

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Traveling is one of the most fulfilling life experiences. And today more than ever, there are accessible travel options accessible to all family situations.

Before choosing a destination for your next holiday you will need to consider some important decisions:

– Number of people and budget for each one: travel agencies as centraldevacaciones.pt offers different holiday packages that includes flight and good quality hotels with a final price per person (this price usually excludes children under certain age)

– Flight hours and holiday duration: If the destination is far away and flight hours are long, that can be uncomfortable for small children. You have to think if you’re going to have enough time to enjoy your holiday time away.

– What is the weather like at that time of the year?: Some of the best places in the world can only be visited in some seasons. Many Europeans choose winter time to travel to the southern hemisphere to escape the cold and wet weather of the northern hemisphere.

There are other factors to consider depending on your personal situation, but once you have decide where to spend your next holiday is time to enjoy looking for maps, viewing documentaries, deciding accommodation and plotting to the route to follow.

Places to visit this winter and spring 2018

In general terms, there is not a bad time to get on a plane and explore the world, and Peru is one of those magical destinations that always make it a good plan.

The region where the city of Cusco is located, has 2 very marked seasons: the dry season when it is cold and clear (end of april until october) and the rainy season (end of november until april) when it’s lush and green. It is compressible that rainy season term, confuse many people who are planning to travel to Machu Picchu during these months. “Summer” is also the rainy season in Cusco and Machu Picchu, when the weather is slightly warmer compared to the dry season.

Less people, lower prices and warmer weather

A typical summer day in Cusco and Machu Picchu means a clear sky in the morning, a possible rain in the afternoon (can be very strong or lasts a couple of hours), then it will be cleared again. It is a great time to visit one of the world’s seven wonders and join the choquequirao trek, an expedition that will take you to two of the major archaeological sites in the Cusco-area: Choquequirao and Machu Picchu.

When preparing your luggage keep in mind that you will have sunny, cloudy, rainy and cold days and finally get ready to enjoy one of the biggest adventures of your life.

Lovely Spain all year round

Spain is one of the most popular destinations in Europe for its warm weather, friendly people and good food. A report by the Expedia travel agency ensures that Spain is the most popular beach destination in the world, followed by Australia and Italy. 13% of international tourists traveled to Spain for holidays last year, which increases the demand for Holiday rentals on Tenerife, all over the peninsular and Balearic Islands.

During the summer months, urban tourism has it difficult to compete with beach and sunny destinations, yet Madrid is one of the most popular destinations in Europe. Visitors greatest interest include but not limited to culture, artistic-patrimonial, gastronomy and trade tourism, identifies Madrid outside the spanish borders.

One of the most popular activities to get to know the city are bike tours. The bicycle rental for individuals and groups includes alternative routes to get to know the city from a closer and real perspective. A great variety of destinations and routes and a good opportunity to remove yourself from the beaten path and get closer to nature, or visiting monumental tours and Madrid most emblematic places.

Now it is time to start planning your next holidays and enjoy every step, from deciding, planning and traveling!

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The Main Safety Concerns For Frequent Travellers

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Air travel

If you are someone who tends to enjoy travelling as much as you possibly can, you might well be keen on ensuring that you also remain perfectly safe. This can sometimes be hard to do, but the main thing is that you know what to expect, what to look out for, and what you can do to remain as safe as possible. As it turns out, there are a number of the most common safety concerns, and as long as you pay attention to those in particular, you should find that you are able to remain perfectly safe on your travels. Let’s take a look at what they are, and what you should be doing to keep safe.

Flying

For many people, flying can be a particularly scary part of travelling. This can even be a concern, sometimes, for those who fly all the time. After all, there is little you can do in a flying emergency, besides following the received wisdom of the airlines, and it can be worrying when you hear horror stories of flights going awry. However, the statistics do show that you are safer in the air than on the ground, so the main thing to be concerned with here is trying to keep your own sense of concern and worry down. Above all, try not to panic, and enjoy the flying experience for what it is. If something happens which you feel could have been prevented, or you are not sure about, consider contacting aviation lawyers like Slack & Davis. They will be able to inform you of whether what happened was up to standard, or if you might even have a legal case against the airline in the works. Above all, do what you need to to keep calm during the flight, and you should be fine.

Pickpocketing

If you have ever been mugged, you will know that it is a truly terrifying experience. However, it’s not just muggings to watch out for when you are travelling, but the much harder to detect act of pickpocketing. This is when someone takes your belongings without you knowing, and it is obviously hard to protect against in most circumstances. However, you can ensure that you are a much less likely target simply by making sure that you are not displaying your valuables while you are travelling. This is generally good advice when you are travelling anyway, so it’s something that you should ensure you are doing at all times. As long as you do that, you are a less likely target, and you will also be much more likely to minimize your losses if you do still get targeted. Nobody wants to be stolen from, so be sure to think about this when you are going travelling in the future.

Illness

Depending on where you are thinking about travelling, there might or might not be certain illnesses you need to be wary of. In some cases, the advice of your government will be to get certain immunizations, and in those cases you must ensure that you pay attention to that advice. Not getting them could result in serious illness or even death, so it’s not a gamble that you want to take. But keeping safe from illnesses does not stop there either – you also need to make sure that you are practising basic hygiene while you are travelling too. As long as you do that, you will find that you are much less likely to get ill, and as well as being generally better for you this will also mean that you are much more likely to enjoy your travels as well. It is a win-win situation when you take care of your health.

Diet & Water Changes

Going to certain countries means that you should be careful about the water, as in many cases it can lead to illness or worse. This is generally true in Asian countries and African countries, but you should always check before you go even in more trusted places. The same kind of approach should also always be taken towards food, as you never know what kind of a reaction you are going to have to foreign foods. The general rule of thumb is to try a little before you dive right in with new and exotic foods. That way, you hopefully won’t be too ill if you do get ill at all. Paying attention to your diet and water consumption is hugely important if you plan on travelling extensively, so take care.

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The Down-Low on Keeping Safe on a Winter Vacation

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The travel industry is huge, with millions and millions of people go abroad each year. While summer does tend to be the season of choice for more people to go away, there are still plenty of people that embrace a winter vacation in the cold and the snow. But due to the weather conditions and risk for things like skiing and snowboarding, it is important that you are looking after yourself and your loved ones when you go away on a winter vacation. Accidents can and do happen. So here are some of the best ways to protect yourself. Do you have a winter vacation planned?

Protect Your Health

Medical care can be expensive when you’re abroad. Even if you’re just in another part of the country, it can add up to more than you were hoping for. Cost aside, it can be difficult if there is a language barrier, as well as of questionable quality in less developed countries. So if you can avoid going to a hospital, then all the better. So to start with check if there are any recommended vaccinations for the country that you’re visiting. Take any medication that you have if you need to take them. Eat well and keep hydrated when you’re away too.

Get Travel Insurance

You should also get insurance for travel in winter (well, at all times really). A travel insurance premium can be higher if you’re going to participate in winter sports, but it is better to be safe than sorry. There are more risks in winter, due to the extreme nature of the sports and the risky conditions with ice and snow. So you may also end up in an accident that isn’t your fault. If something like that does happen, then speaking to a firm like Derrick Law Firm could be worth your time. You shouldn’t be out of pocket or health, for something that wasn’t your fault.

Protect Your Valuables

One of the simplest ways to protect your valuables is to simply not take them with you on your trip. It can be easier said than done, but do think carefully about what you are taking with you and if you really need to. If you are going to have things like expensive jewelry or cameras, then it is better to have them with you in hand luggage, rather than checked in baggage, for instance. Use a safe if your accommodation has one to ensure they are kept safe when you’re out and about. You don’t want to run the risk of losing your valuables as it can be tricky (and expensive to arrange) when you’re abroad.

Protect Your Money

It can depend on where you go, but people will know that you are tourists. And to locals, what do they expect tourists to have? Cash, and plenty of it. So to make yourself less of a target, don’t carry around cash. It can make paying for things simpler, and it doesn’t mean getting a wad of cash out when you’re buying something small. Instead, get traveler’s checks from your bank before you go, or get a credit card that enables use abroad. They usually don’t charge when it is a specific travel credit card.

Check the News

Before you travel, it can be a really good idea to check the news and any other travel advice from embassies or the government. In this day and age, anywhere can quickly become a place that you don’t want to be. So to avoid any potentially dangerous or difficult situations, just keep yourself out of the situation in the first place. Natural disasters and civil unrest can happen at any time too. So be vigilant and keep yourself in safe places, with a list of emergency numbers to call.

Do you have a winter vacation planned? I think the only other thing to suggest is to hire your winter sports equipment if that is what you are wanting to do. Though it costs you money, it does stop the chance of damage to your already expensive equipment. So unless it can go in the hand luggage, then hiring might be the best option when you get there. Just plan it in advance to figure out the costs.

Hopefully, though, these tips can help you as you travel to keep yourself safe, those around you safe, as well as your belongings and valuable things. Are there any other tips that you would add to the list here? Have fun on vacation!

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