Bottoms Up!


Who doesn’t love scrolling through the oh-so arty images uploaded by lifestyle and travel bloggers on Instagram? Personally, I cannot resist doing this a couple of times a day. It was by chance that I can across the account of Arrack Junkies. As catchy as the name is, their social media feed is full of colour and quite unique. Whilst Shanela Anthony is an optimistic digital marketer, Dilshan Rabbie is a self taught digital designer who pursues perfection.

In conversation:

Why “Arrack Junkies”?

The short answer would be, its our favorite beverage. (probably in par with water). We are the couple who would check-out to the newest bar or restaurant in town and request for Arrack while they held their elegant wood-carved cocktail menus at us and stared in confusion.

Given that we are way past the judgements and public opinions of society, we wanted to create a unique profile that represents us in the most authentic way possible. So, “why not Arrack Junkies?”

What made you both decide to become Instagram Bloggers/Influencers?

Our friends and followers on our personal profiles are mainly to thank for this. We generally travel around the country at every opportunity we get and share most of our trips online via stories and insta-snappery posts. This would result in countless messages and comments requesting more details or of how gorgeous the place was. We were surprised as to how many undiscovered locations there were in this tiny island, hence during a conversation over a bottle of Arrack we thought it would make sense to combine our powers in design, photography and social media management to produce something new.
However a blogger/influencer would not be the term we’d use to describe ourselves. Rather collaborators to the massive ocean of content we all like to take a dive in. 


What are the challenges you’ve experienced over the years?

To be quite frank we just started this profile a couple of weeks back and we haven’t really faced any challenges per se but surely our fair share of obstacles are on the way and hopefully we’ll be well equipped to handle it all. But for now it would be that we are quite particular in the images we choose as they may look out of place in the long run since unlike most profiles they aren’t individual posts. So our biggest challenge at the moment is making sure we don’t post the wrong image that may mess with the flow or overall aesthetic.

What are your strengths, that helped you with blogging?

We would like to think of ourselves as pretty decent photographers (Shanela more than Dilshan) which has definitely helped in creating the base content whereas Dilshan would add the spice into it and combine it into the grid. Our strengths in social media are mainly derived off our daytime jobs. Actively engaging in social media strategies and speaking to clients give us a comprehensive idea of the industry allowing us to capitalize on it and include it on to Arrack Junkies. Shanela is mainly in-charge of follower growth and audience management therefore I (Dilshan) tend to take a step back when it comes to the management side of things.
We haven’t taken on blogging as yet but hope to start something up in the near future. 

What is your ideal working environment?

An open space with a shot of arrack on the side.


How do your build relationships with your audience?

We absolutely love the people who get in touch with us and share their views on what we’ve trying to do. It’s amazing to see how many are willing to support you in what you’re trying to achieve. We make sure to keep constant contact with the ones who reach out to us and hope to grow our audience in a more personal level.

What is your greatest weakness and what are you doing to improve it?

Shanela – Dilshan getting the posts done in time. His attention span is as good as a goldfish and getting him to complete posts is by far our biggest weakness and actually a challenge as well.

Dilshan – (No comment regarding this)

How do you want to improve yourselves on social media?

‘Influencer Marketing’ is a term you’d most likely hear a couple of times a day. Chances are you’d turn a corner off a street and run into an influencer; the term itself has been increased by 325% in Google searches over 2017. There is no doubt the trend is likely to grow and more and more marketers are willing to invest in the efforts. Not only would Arrack Junkies like to be a credible peer endorser but also have a direct sales impact to the brands we associate with. At the moment it’s a long journey ahead of us, but we’re quite certain we will be able to use our skills to set us apart from the rest.

Where would you like to be in five years and why?

We would like to have someone pay for our trip to Santorini and be asked to taste their amazing cocktails for free.


What motivates you to keep doing what you do, and why?

More than the positive comments and messages that we get which for certain motivate us with doing what we do, this has been something that we are quite passionate about. The goal is to someday launch an online platform that speaks to our market niche and allows us to distribute quality content amongst them. We see ourselves nearing this goal each day as our humble little Instagram page grows and that truly motivates us. It’s also a challenge to keep finding ways to continue the post style and that definitely keeps us going.

How do you keep your Instagram posts and feed as authentic as possible, when there are hundreds of others trying to do the same?

If you’ve seen our profile, you’d agree that it’s not the most common Instagram layout. With 800 million users on the platform it’s hard to say our feed is the only of its kind, however we are certain its not amongst the most commonly practiced and would definitely be a factor of differentiation.

We believe authenticity on social media is not based on photography or editing skills but much rather in being able to call it your own. Something we decided at the inception was that we would not feature third party posts on our page. Well aware that this has a direct impact on the quantity of posts and frequency but we’re willing to make that sacrifice for quality.

Is it important to you to have a feed that is original and stands out from the rest?

Although many may disagree, social media doesn’t always work the same way your bullpen does at your corporate office. Competing in a numbers game can probably make your page look impressive at first glance, but long-term success is defined on how relatable you are to your audience and how engaging you can be with that niche following.
Digital media as a whole has matured significantly and its highly unlikely the secret in becoming the next social media maverick is to follow the one before you. With the multitude of content being created every second, we believe it’s absolutely crucial to be original and distinct. 

Any advice to others who wish to follow your footsteps?

This is a tough one! We can hardly be qualified as people who could pass on advice. However something we strongly believe in is to be as unique and authentic to who you really are. As surprising as it may be people are drawn to those who are more relatable than to those who portray unrealistic lifestyles.

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Surf’s Up!


I’m back in Colombo as I write this and the reality of circumstances saddens me. As much as I love rainy weather, its cold, gloomy and wet outside and all I can think of is the sunny tropical weather in Pottuvil from a few weeks ago.  For someone who has never been to the east coast of the island, I kept my expectations pretty basic when plans were made. I looked up images of the area of course like any sane curious individual and deemed the region laid-back and simple. I wasn’t wrong.

Pottuvil is quite a small town but a bustling, busy one during this time of the year. It’s surf season on the east. The little town therefore is alive with energy and people.

On the day of (to save time), we decided it was best to leave Colombo by 3.30am. As much as the idea isn’t so thrilling, I’d recommend this time of the wee morning if you’re traveling a long distance simply because the roads are nearly empty and the journey wouldn’t therefore take as long. I’d nodded off during the first two hours but it was also too dark outside to notice anything at the time. The rest of the way, the drive took us pass the Udawalawe National Park and dam by 6am, and saying that the view across the dam is breathtaking is an understatement. With just one stop for a warm cup of tea along the way in Wellawaya, and the last hour passing through the Lahugala National Park, we reached Jetwing Surf by about 10am.

Design and eco-sustainability

Built on an exclusive stretch of untouched land, overlooking the eastern Indian Ocean, the hotel boasts a property catering to an eco luxury lifestyle. It is home to 20 cabanas – four of which are twin rooms, 16 of which are double rooms – built entirely with sustainable and reusable materials such as rope, repurposed wood, thatched roofing made of woven coconut palm leaves and dried illuk grass, to ensure a minimum carbon footprint. Shaped to resemble seashells, each cabana is however equipped with the usual room amenities except for air conditioning. Three wall mounted fans and a high ceiling ensures there’s plenty of air and natural ventilation throughout the day.  

As their website says, its all coastal comfort with sustainable modernity and I cannot argue with that statement. Upon my arrival, I was greeted by the Resident Manager, Dilip Kumar who gave me a mini tour of the property and also explained a few things regarding the hotel’s sustainable efforts. With being on the road nearly six and a half hours, I excuse myself a few minutes later and am guided towards my room.

Entering my room, my eyes immediately fall upon the double poster bed that sits at the centre, with its headboard facing the deep blue sea outside. The circular shaped cabana includes two sofa like features, shelving space for personal belongings and of course a bathroom that has both an indoor and outdoor space. The large glass doors in the room open out to a deck which includes two summer beds on either side and wicker chairs and a table to sit back, relax and enjoy the eastern horizon and sun.

I’m slightly obsessive compulsive so instead of crashing onto the bed for a quick wink before noon, I take a few minutes to unpack all my belongings. After all, I’ve got a full two days in Pottuvil and I might as well settle in right. Needless to say it doesn’t take me much long, but I’m also tempted to try out the instant coffee machine and take my cuppa outside. I do so, and immediately begin to nod off. No joke, I head back inside and settle beneath the luxurious bedding and doze until lunchtime.

Things to do and see

A quick shower to refreshen up, a change of clothes and I head off to the main restaurant. I also grab one of the excursions notebooks so I can catch up on things to do and see in the area.

For those culturally inclined, there are plenty of viharas that can be visited, including the Muhudu Maha Viharaya and the Magul Maha Viharaya. If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, there are three natural reserves that can also be explored; them being the Gal Oya, Kumana and Lahugala National Park. Kumana is famous for bird watching whereas Lahugala and Gal Oya are home to herds of the gentle giants.

Stating the obvious, the east coast is known for surf spots including Peanut Farm, Crocodile Rock and Pottuvil Point. There’s the Pottuvil Lagoon a mere minutes away as, is the world renown surf spot Arugam Bay. I’m not a fan of surfing (having tried it twice and almost had the wind knocked out of me) so I decide to go on a boat safari the next morning.


Lunch is a set menu guide (quite extensive in my opinion) and after placing my order, I turn towards the infinity pool beside it, dotted with two lily pads for relaxing, sun beds and a pool bar. A light breeze tickles the air and I only just realize there’s natural cooling and ventilation even here. They’ve kept an open architectural design throughout the property ensuring co-existence with the environment. I quite like it.

The main dining restaurant has a high thatched roof as well, and one can opt to dine indoors or outdoors amidst the light breeze of the eastern seas. My order arrives, one after the other; first a tuna based appetizer, a creamy seafood bisque, a mint refresher (sorbet), tandoor marinated grilled chicken with a spicy biriyani and lastly a delicious warm chocolate lava cake. Perhaps I went a bit overboard with my order. Self note – do not order as many choices the next time. Presentation as well as taste is on point; the in-house executive chef certainly knows his craft and also has quite the creative streak.

To spend the rest of the quiet afternoon, I head back to my room, grab my current read and enjoy a few relaxed hours with yet another cuppa beside the pool. An hour in the pool by sunset afterwards, and I’ve regained an appetite that has me ordering off like I did at noon. Cue, roll the eyes, simply because I regretted it immediately after the soup. I heartily enjoy my main though which was a combination of grilled seafood and long grain white rice.

The meals are simple although the a la carte menu is extensive. For the next and last morning of my stay, I opted for a Lankan and continental spread respectively. You can’t quite go wrong with pol roti but I must mention the lunumiris that accompanied it which was to die for. The continental surfer’s choice breakfast the next day was quite the spread too. For my last dinner, I chose the cream of carrot soup, garlic chili sea crab, and caramel pudding for dessert.

Final thoughts

One thing I’d also noticed is that the staff are ever-willing to come over and strike up a light conversation with the guests, including myself. They always had answers to my gazillion questions about East and were friendly and kind. I like this; it makes the entire experience more personalized and welcoming. The same goes for the Jetwing Travels driver who accompanied me, played tour guide and showed me the area.

To say that my weekend stay at Jetwing Surf was a pleasant and enjoyable one is an understatement. It was much more. My notion regarding the brand has always been that no one is as hospitable as they are. And it rings true even on the eastern coast of the island. Can’t wait to go back!