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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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Yacht charter in Barcelona, the comfort and privacy you can’t get on land

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Traveling the coast of Barcelona in a luxury yacht is an unforgettable experience that everyone should experience sometime in their lives. It is the perfect trip for those who want to get away from the city and its noises, to relax in a peaceful atmosphere that can only be reached at sea.

Barcelona, located on the northeast coast of the Mediterranean Sea, is one of the most visited cities in Spain, even in Europe. It is the perfect place to enjoy the architectural, artistic, cultural and gastronomic diversity of the country, making it one of the favorite tourist destinations for millions of people around the world.

Among all the many attributes that the city of Barcelona has, one of the most outstanding is its beaches. Years ago the American magazine National Geographic named Barcelona as the best coastal city in the world.

There are 4 kilometers of sand in the Catalan capital available for the fans of maritime landscapes, finding beaches for any activity you could wish for during your holidays, either to relax, practice water sports and more. 

Among all the activities that have been on the rise in this paradise is the rental of luxury yachts. And nothing can compare to sailing along the beautiful coasts of Barcelona in one of these majestic vessels, which are at your disposal to discover the most beautiful landscapes.

Undoubtedly, touring these paradisiacal landscapes aboard Barcelona charters is the best way to get away from the noise of the city and just enjoy the feeling of freedom and calm that can only be achieved on the high seas.

Imagine living the pleasure of riding on a modern motor yacht with capacity for a dozen people traveling at speeds up to 25 knots; it would be, without a doubt, a unique experience! 

In the city of Barcelona there are prestigious agencies that rent these fast and elegant luxury boats for periods ranging from one hour to the whole day and even the weekend. 

These services are aimed at VIP clients and can be used for all kinds of events, such as corporate events, meetings and romantic dinners, including unforgettable tours along the coast of Barcelona and the Maresme. There is also the option of buying drinks on the boat and catering service. There are a lot of possibilities, and companies will always provide alternatives to suit the client’s needs.

Learn a little more about these boats

Luxury yachts fascinate those who seek privacy and comfort in its maximum expression, which is sometimes difficult to achieve on land. It is a pleasant way to get away from the world.

These boats can be quite amazing in terms of all the luxury features they offer. Specialized blogs have even made rankings of the 10 most expensive yachts in the world, which are a privilege that is only reserved for a very exclusive elite.

These yachts are considered by many as titans of floating vehicles. They are jewels of engineering equipped with the latest technology and elements for maximum comfort. 

The top 10 most expensive yachts are as follows: 

1.- History Supreme ($4.8 billion).

2.- Eclipse ($1.5 billion).

3.- Streets of Monaco (1.1 billion dollars).

4.- Topaz (527 million dollars).

5.- Motor Yacht A ($440 million).

6.- Dubai (350 million dollars).

Sailing Yacht A (US$323 million).

8.- Al Said (300 million dollars).

9.- Dilbar (256 million dollars).

10.- Lady Moura (210 million dollars).

We encourage you to review the features of these amazing vessels in specialized portals, among which we can mention, heated swimming pools, heliports, basketball courts, concert halls and more. The wealthy owners of these “mega yachts” spare no expenses to make these vehicles with all the comforts that anyone could imagine.

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Planning to Travel? Here Are the Do’s to Observe

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Air travel

Traveling abroad isn’t just a matter of packing and leaving; there several significant aspects of your journey that you need to be on top of before you embark on your journey. For a safe, peaceful, and enjoyable stay at your travel destination, your health should top the list from your travel plans.

It would be best to consider a thorough health checkup for vital health concerns like vaccination, blood test, malaria, urine test, and dental checkup.

Why Is a Dental Checkup Important?

If you plan to have an extended stay, you should tend to broken fillings, decayed teeth, or any dental issues to minimize dental emergencies. It’s prudent to also have the necessary treatment before leaving.

The standards of dental care worldwide vary widely and the certainty of getting dental supplies from a trusted and certified dental supplier isn’t assured. The cost may also become cumbersome given that your destination of choice may not have dental care coverage for kids.

Depending on where you’re traveling, either in developing, developed, or remote areas, leaving your dental health to chance can be uncomfortable if not dangerous. Your chosen destination may lack the resources, dental supplies, and equipment to cater to your dental needs.

Air travel causes specific pressure changes, affecting your root canal, causing pain and potential infections. Therefore, it’s advisable to ensure that you complete all your treatment before traveling or consider paste filling to minimize the risks.

Pericoronitis is an infection caused by food trapped through the flesh covering your teeth. The condition can spread to parts of your neck and head; to avoid this outcome, consider removing lower wisdom teeth that are partially exposed.

The other thing you should look out for is if you have gum (periodontal) disease, it’s essential to have your teeth cleaned by a hygienist or a dentist.

Checklist Before Travel

As stated earlier, the most vital thing is you and your health, so here are some things you should consider.

Travel Insurance

Probably, the health care insurance coverage that you have at the moment will not cover the scope of international travel. After you’ve assessed the situation keenly, consider opting for emergency medical insurance and medical evacuation.

The majority of options and plans offered by travel insurance providers occasionally cover trip cancellation, lost luggage, plus medical emergency and evacuation.

Get the Right Visa

Do thorough research on the kind of visa you need. This is a critical but overlooked aspect by many travelers. Any mixup can turn your trip into a disaster, as this little mistake could mean you’ll get turned away from the said country.

To make matters worse, you won’t even be allowed to leave the airport, which should serve as a motivation to be extra keen. Find out the visa you qualify for and apply early in advance.

Pre-Book Accommodations

You wouldn’t want to deal with the stressors involved in getting an instant spot without prior arrangements. Start on the right foot by booking a one-night accommodation in advance, ensuring you aren’t anxious through your journey.

You can have a fun-filled day exploring the area after a comfortable night’s sleep. To prepare for any eventualities, ensure that you also have a hard copy of your accommodation reservation besides having a soft copy.

Travel Advisory

Before you decide your destination, it’s vital to cross-reference through the government state department website to see if the country you wish to travel to poses a threat (short or long term) to travelers. You’ll find a list of countries with a travel warning. This is critical because travel insurance does not cover countries under a travel warning.

Vaccination

Scour through to find the health information of the country you’ll be traveling to and whether you’ll need to be vaccinated. Finding out nations that pose a risk to your health are highlighted on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

This mainly applies if you’re traveling to third-world countries and the vaccination may vary, including yellow fever, Zika virus, malaria, cholera, etc. Also, get enough supplements to last you the entire trip if you aren’t sure you’ll be able to supplement your fill abroad.

To avoid security hiccups, find out which drug prescriptions are not illegal in your destination or countries you’ll pass through. It’s essential to bring along photocopies of your prescription and always carry the medicine in its prescribed bottle.

Suppose your medical condition requires you to have syringes, relay the information before security checks. Take your vaccination six weeks before departure, as vaccines take a couple of weeks before they can kick in.

Enjoy Your Stay

We didn’t delve deeper into aspects including culture shock, travel deals, packaging, payment methods, etc., adhering to those mentioned above essential will keep your mind at ease. What remains is to enjoy your exploration.

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Staying Safe While You’re Abroad

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Travelling family memories

Going on holiday is a thrilling experience, there’s so much to see, discover, and feel, but you need to make sure that you’re safe while you’re away. Being so far from home can leave you vulnerable to a lot of different dangers, and you’re not going to be able to resolve them in the way that you usually would. You need to know how to look after yourself in the event that something should happen, and that way you can ensure that your time away ends as a positive experience. There’s a lot to explore, but new experiences can sometimes bring about a risk to your health and safety.

Keep your important belongings close to you

No matter where you’re going, if it’s somewhere that requires you to have important documents and money with you at all times, you should make sure you have a way to prevent that from getting lost or stolen. There are many ways you can do it, but finding a way to keep those important belongings close to you, without the chance of them going missing is very important. Some people even go the extra distance to bring extras of those documents, and it can ensure that it doesn’t hinder their ability to have a good time while they’re away. The last thing you want is to lose your passport when you need to get home.

Make sure to take medication

If you’re going somewhere where you’re at risk of getting a disease, you must find out about it before you get there. Being able to prepare the proper medication and prevent those diseases can be a real life-saver. Going to another country means exposing yourself to new elements, making you much more vulnerable to health risks. Knowing how to do things like preventing Malaria, or warding off bugs is important! You never know what might happen while you’re out there, but if you’re prepared you at least know that you’re safe.

Know how to avoid getting lost

If you’re going somewhere far from home, it’s only expected that you’re not going to know where you are at all times, especially if you’re not going with a group. If you are out and about exploring, you’re going to want to know how you can make sure finding your way home is possible. Being able to communicate with the locals can be very helpful when you need to ask for directions. Now, learning a whole other language for a vacation isn’t realistic, but there are words and phrases you can learn to take you that little bit further.

You should also consider buying a map of the area that you go to before you set out. It’s great to explore, but a map can mean that you avoid getting lost. You’re likely going to have to rely on yourself whenever you get into trouble, so knowing how to read a map and navigate is going to make all the difference. It’s an adventure, but your safety should be your top priority.

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