Communal Dining 


Ever heard of communal dining? As a fairly novel concept in Sri Lanka, communal dining involves a public or private establishment that encourages the concept of sharing a table with unknown faces and people.  

One might wonder why or how a concept like this would and could be encouraged. It’s simple really; a communal table proves not only to be an economical bonus solution to a dining space, but is also a way of encouraging conversations with people you’ve never met before, while enjoying a meal.  

Café Kumbuk down Horton Place was one of the first spaces to have a communal dining table. Their reasons also being utilizing the centre space is a more economical manner, and also a way of connecting people unknown to one another. Whilst some might not love or appreciate the idea, it has proven to be a successful and a fun way of striking up a conversation with a stranger.  


Overseas, the concept has proven to also pave the way and create a trendy platform for chefs to curate unique menus for particular dining events in public and private establishments. Some dining spaces have taken it a step further and have specific themes on certain days of the week, which encourage chefs to showcase their creativity and skills.

The same ideology is catching up however in some parts of Sri Lanka as well. Ceylon Sliders in Weligama hosts monthly yoga mornings and in turn the entire yoga participants sit down to a hearty breakfast at their restaurant, with all their dining tables lined up together, to create one large communal space, where conversation and food are shared.  

Communal dining is not for those who dislike sitting next to someone unknown. It is certainly not for those who are looking for some quiet or intimate dining time. Communal dining is for those who have a deeper appreciation for a meal and do not mind an unknown face next to one another, and who loves to strike up random conversations (even if its not about food!). Families stepping out for a dining experience together would also find this to be an ideal and likable setting.  

Black Cat Colombo is home to a repurposed door that now serves as a communal dining table, at the centre of their homey interior. Sustainable pieces as such as conversation starters which could also lead to new friendships and opportunities. It’s easy to criticize something that is unknown and unusual, but if you take the time to actually invest and be a part of it, you’d learn to appreciate the benefits of it.  

 

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Jungle Shakti 


If you’re a yoga enthusiast and also a vegan, love to stroll on Instagram, you’d have definitely come across Nancy Chalmers aka Jungle Shakti. Her feed is not just colourful, but her posts are meaningful and generates a lot of positivity. Although her day job is as a graphic designer for Acalia Digital (she does branding, photography, and social media content creation) her “passion” is, of course, the healing arts – yoga, plant-based cuisine and transformational health retreats.  

After over a decade working in a 9-5 office job in the Melbourne city, Nancy spent some time at a Raw Vegan Healing Retreat in Bali which completely transformed her health and inspired her to study Holistic Nutrition. She then became a health coach, and a vegan, and published a series of cookbooks and launched her personal blog under the name Jungle Shakti. 

When she met her husband, a photographer and hospitality consultant from Kandy – Nancy admits she knew it was time to move to paradise. “As soon as we arrived in Sri Lanka, I knew I was ‘home, – and it has been magical and serendipitous ever since! I studied my 200 hr yoga teacher training and now run retreats at Rukgala, nestled in the hillside near Victoria Lake”. 

In conversation: 

Why Jungle Shakti? 

Shakti is the primordial cosmic energy that flows through the entire universe – sometimes referred to as ‘The Great Divine Mother’. I feel that it is present in the plant foods and medicines that we eat, in sunlight, in the fresh clean air, in waterfalls, in butterflies dancing past, in the light of the full moon – all around us! And we can tap into this energy whenever we connect with mother nature. My goal is to help people connect with this energy, transform their lives and their health.  
What made you decide to become a yoga instructor and also a vegan? 

Yoga and meditation really helps me tap into this ‘Shakti’ magic I mentioned above. For me, it is a form of daily devotion to the ‘source’. A way of thanking it for another precious day on the planet, in this miracle, in this physical form. It is incredibly powerful for transforming body, mind and spirit and – keeping you youthful and full of energy and creativity! It’s a way of creating and attracting deep magic into your life – not just touching your toes.  

My reasons for becoming a vegan are so many, but first of all it was for my health. Meat has been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a stage 1 carcinogen; the same category as cigarettes. For many years I was unexplainably ill – I had the worst immune system, I couldn’t control my weight or my moods. Plants are medicine. As soon as I turned vegan I noticed major improvements, my skin was glowing, my eyes were bright, I never got sick anymore and I had an abundance of energy. Every year, it keeps getting better. I’m about to turn 37 and I have never felt better!  

Also, I am vegan for the animals and for the planet. As a Bhakti Yogi, I follow ‘Ahimsa’ which means, “do no harm”. Meat and dairy are extremely cruel industries that I cannot support with a clear conscience. I feel it is out of respect to Shakti, our mother earth, to protect these innocent animals.


What are the challenges you’ve experienced as an instructor? 

No real challenges actually – I have had an amazing time teaching so far and every class is different… perhaps only the challenge of taking it slow on my own body and not expecting progress too quickly or pushing myself beyond my limits. Need to remember I am 37 and not attempt handstands without warming up properly, for example! It is in my nature to fly and jump and be free, so I just need to learn to slow it down sometimes and stay grounded and patient. 
How do you build relationships with students? 

Each student is unique and has their own set of needs – I guess I have a nurturing/loving nature and I just want to see my students smiling blissfully during and after class. My favourite part is seeing the “A-Ha” moment and knowing I have played a small part in changing their lives! In the Bhakti tradition, yoga is a way of connecting to the divine and “feeling the love”. It is a very nurturing, accepting form of yoga and sees us all as brothers and sisters – one big family. So I guess I build a relationship with my students by making them feel like family! 
What is your greatest weakness and what are you doing to improve it? 

Ahh… As a business-woman too, I need to balance my time on social media and marketing with taking time out to connect with myself. It’s hard to find a balance between the real world and the virtual one in this day and age. In the morning, instead of reaching for my phone to check emails and messages, I need to meditate and sit quietly with the sunrise – that doesn’t happen enough! I am trying to set aside time for these daily rituals wherever possible – must practice what I preach! 
What made you decide to come to Sri Lanka? 

I grew up in a tropical part of Australia – far north Queensland. The climate and plants and animals and way of life is very similar to Sri Lanka. I moved to the big, cold city for university and to start my career but left a piece of my heart in the tropics. I had dreamed of island life for many years but had never managed to leave the city… and then I met my husband, what luck that he was Sri Lankan! Haha! A few months later we moved and have never looked back. Although, I do miss Australia and my family! 


You host retreats; what is a retreat all about and why do you do it? 

Retreats are really the best way to create lasting transformation and begin an energy shift that can carry with you back to your every day life. It’s great to get students away from their day-to-day experience to meet other like-minded spirits and really immerse themselves in the experience. On retreats we learn so much “off the mat” – meditation, beauty rituals, connecting with nature, creative visualisation, healthy cooking classes and have time to relax in the pool and get to know each other. Also, blissful sleep without thinking about work for a few days is so important! 
How important is meditation in yoga? 

Yoga IS meditation! Moving your body and focusing the ‘monkey mind’ is a form of meditation in itself. No matter how you access it, or how little you practice – even just a short guided meditation or those 10 minutes in Savasana at the end of practice – if you can just practice calming the mind once a day, you will see big changes in your world and in your body. 
You also create vegan dishes. How did you get into this and why?

As I mentioned above, it all started at the raw vegan healing retreat in Bali where I learned about this incredible way of cooking. So nutritious and full of enzymes and hydration to keep you youthful and radiant. Veganism really is the fountain of youth! I learnt to make ‘compassionate cuisine’ through several workshops in Bali and my holistic nutrition training. 
Whats your favourite dish to make? 

Raw vegan cakes! Vegan cheese! Smoothie bowls! Zoodles! Guacamole and anything with Mexican flavours! Oh, and nowadays… super hot Sri Lankan curries with gotu kola mallum! 
What is the most positive result of being a vegan? 

I am so much happier. Plants have a profound effect on your brain chemicals and prevents depression and anxiety. And I hardly ever get sick! Oh, and knowing that I am not contributing to the harm of sweet, innocent baby animals like chicks, lambs and calves means I can sleep peacefully at night with a clear conscience! 

Traveling on a budget in Sri Lanka


We’ve all been there, we’ve dreamed of picture perfect vacations around the hotspots of the island and being able to experience the beauty of Sri Lanka like a visitor. And then the dream ends as you look at your bank balance and realize, some holidays just aren’t worth it. Hold on! It doesn’t have to be that way. If you can travel on a budget overseas, you can definitely travel on a budget in your own country too. Travelers coming in from other parts of the world do it, and so can you. Here’s how: 

The budget – start with the nitty gritty details of planning a vacation. How much money are you willing to spend and how many days are you planning on traveling? Budgets can vary depending on each individual and unless you’re doing a solo trip, you’re going to have to discuss the ins and outs of budgeting with the friends or family that’s tagging along with you. Not everyone’s budgets or preferences will tally, but everyone will have to compromise somewhere. If you’re really struggling, be firm in your set budget and plan around it.Picking accommodation – one of the first and most important rules of budget traveling is that you need to be flexible and less fussy. It’s going to be a bumpy ride and you know it so have an open mind and be willing to rough it out if you have to. Remember, this isn’t about getting the perfect Instagram worthy photograph or staying at the most luxurious holiday home. Budget traveling is about making memories and having experiences without breaking the bank. So, when it comes to picking out your one or many accommodation stops, be opened minded. Pick out a hostel if you must because it costs a fraction of what you could be paying for a single room at a hotel. You’re set with the basic amenities and most often, also a community kitchen, dining are and if you’re lucky, an outdoor pool. Check out Airbnb for some great places that could work for you.

Mode of transportation – if you don’t have a car, take a look at public modes of transportation. Bus or train are both great ways of having a somewhat different experience altogether and depending on where you’re heading, the scenic view can be quite rewarding too. Take the train ride to Ella for example or even the bus ride to Weligama. Both completely different zones but provide breathtaking views of our beautiful island home. Be mindful of using Tuks in certain areas however and also at times, you might not find any at all. Avoid having to bargain rates as most out of town don’t have meters on them and use the bus to get around, or simply walk if it’s safe to do so.

Packing your essentials – if you’re in a backpacking kind of vacation, be mindful of what you need and what you end up packing. Fancy clothing and gadgets can take a hike. Pack only your essentials and a few extra items of clothing. Remember, you’re traveling on a budget. You may even have to do a bit of walking, so everything you pack should fit into a backpack if that’s what you’re using. Do not go overboard on what you end up taking. If you’re carrying cash on you, have it in a zip case around your waist. Have as much loose change which will come in handy.

Things to do – work around your budget even with some one, or splurge on the excursions if you want to. Some excursions and experiences could come at no cost, like taking a dip in a river or the ocean. Before heading on your vacation, make a list of what do to in the specific area and the cost. If you’re willing to splurge on water kayaking or a hot air balloon ride, go for it!

Where to eat – this could go two ways; if you’re staying at a hostel, you could buy your own groceries and prepare your own meals in the community kitchen. Or you could be the typical local and try out local food joints, or splurge on food during your vacation.
Budget accommodation around the island

Colombo – Bunkyard Hostels

Down south – Lime & Co Midigama, Hangover Hostels (Mirissa), Beetroot Hostels (Weligama)

On the east coast – Arugam Bay Beach Cabanas, Wild Panthera (Yala)

In the highlands – Ella Eco Lodge, Ella Green Cottages, Kandy Cabana, Polwaththa Eco Lodge (Digana)

On the west – Sri Lanka Kite (Kalpitiya), Sanctuary Cove Guesthouse (Batticaloa)

In the dry zone – The Green Village (Dambulla), Kutumbaya Resort (Anuradhapura)

In the north – The Thinnai, Allen’s Guesthouse

Tuk Tuk Safari!


Some experiences are best when they happen to be spontaneous decisions. This was one of them. I got in touch for one reason and suddenly was about to experience a tour of the city of Colombo simply thanks to the warm hospitality of the men who run this business. I’d picked a poya holiday purely because there would be less traffic on the road and I didn’t necessarily have plans for the day.

Our driver was prompt, friendly and had a wide smile. His name was Tin Tin. Having greeted my friend and I with a flower lei and an introduction to everything that was within our mode of transportation, we were off on our first Tuk Tuk Safari!

I’d always wondered what it was like going on an excursion, experiencing the heritage, history, culture, food and natural beauty of Colombo in a tuk and here was my first time doing so. Prior to booking the ride, I’d explained I did not need a full-on guide to the tours that are organized but I wanted to have somewhat of an idea of what the safaris were like. I’m told there are morning safaris that start at 9am, a sunset safari that is aimed towards the late afternoon (leaning towards the evening) and a delicious food safari as part of the different tours offered.


Touring Colombo

The best part? These tours can be custom planned according to some of the sites you may or may not want to see, also the hours you’r willing to be out and about. A typical tour takes up to four hours and costs $49USD per individual, which I honestly believe is a pretty sweet deal considering the excellent service, the guide information at every stop and also the food you get to enjoyed along the way.

I’ve forgotten to mention the tuk itself. Custom painted, sleek and retro in every aspect, these aren’t your typical rundown every day tuks of Colombo. There’s a small garbage bin placed in the front, a tray that is fixed and built to hold water bottles or beer cans, a hand sanitizer, a facial tissue back and along the back storage a cooler with multiple cans of beer, an awesome speaker set for music of your own choice and a roofing mechanism that can be opened up.

Personally, I’d recommend keeping the top open as the breeze throughout the tour is too lush to miss. If you’re not a fan of getting a slight tan and burnt however, have it closed. Tin Tin took off towards some of the oldest religious sites in parts of the city including one Hindu kovil, a church and then made way to Pettah, the business hub. Thankfully as it were a public holiday, traffic along the small streets were not a problem and my friend and I were also prompted to experience the ride standing from our end of the tuk.


Our first snack stop was beside the Khan Clock Tower for some juicy achcharu. Nibbling, we continued to drive towards Galle Face Green and couldn’t resist getting ourselves some isso wadey like typical locals. The tour also incorporated a stop along Marine Drive, sitting down to a tea presentation and also having a cuppa while watching the sun set for the day.

As much as us as locals tend to overlook the beauty of the city, we also don’t often recognize how culturally and historically blessed we are. There’s a rich sense of being as you walk along the temple ground of Gangaramaya, drive pass the monumental Colombo Municipal Council and the lush Viharamaha Devi Park and even Independence Square that rings with history. For dinner, we stopped at Taste of Asia and dug into freshly made steaming hot egg, plain and milk hoppers paired with accompaniments like gravy and katta sambol. I’d never had a milk hopper before and surprisingly, I loved every bite of it.

As dusk turned into darkness, it was time to head back home. Now I’d like to mention again that this was not the typical sunset tour and that mine was simply a cut down version of the regular experience. For the most part, my friend and I did not stop at many of the places and we also skipped a few snack spots. As said before, if you think a four hour tour is too much to handle, let the driver know or inform the team beforehand, and they’d create a personal tour suitable just for you.

Do I think the experience was worth it? Most definitely; and I’d encourage even locals to give it a go and see the city through the eyes of a foreigner

“Majestic Colombo has endless off the beaten track pearls, and we wanted everyone to be able to experience the city in an authentic Sri Lankan way; on a tuk tuk, the cornerstone of every local adventure! It’s ideal for people who have limited time, access and local knowledge. You can definitely see so much when you do it right; just like a local!” – Tim, Tuk Tuk Safari

You can also experience the UNESCO World Heritage City of Galle with Tuk Tuk Safari. They have a morning, beach and sunset safari. You can log into http://www.tuktuksafarisrilanka.com for additional information.

Pictures courtesy Tuk Tuk Safari

Muslims Breaking Barriers


What do you know about Muslim women and the hijab? Do you understand what the hijab denotes or rather represents? Do you have misconceptions about it – and believe that it is rather a piece of fabric that takes away a woman’s confidence instead of enhancing it, or it is a symbol of culture? Many questions surround the hijab and the women around the world who either choose to or are forced to wear it.  It has become quite the hot topic in the western world where Muslim women – models, bloggers and entrepreneurs – are making a mark for themselves and changing the impression of what the headgear represents. It is about time we recognized a culture that has for many years been under-represented and misunderstood.

Firstly, the hijab is more than just sophisticated or a mere simple headwear; it is a symbol of modesty, and has religious and cultural significance in the Islamic world. Let’s be honest, the fashion and beauty industry have certainly not been known for modesty or diversity until quite recently. If you haven’t been a part of what’s going on in the western world at the moment, this article will give you a mini update.

Discussing diversity in the fashion and beauty industry was non existent, until a few years ago. Women of colour, age, race, ethnicity and even human preferences and behavior were not included in campaigns and even addressed in the least. Inclusivity certainly took its time to show up. But it here to stay and is now also enveloping women of Islamic, especially those who cover their heads.

The hijab appeared on the fashion runways for the very first time in the fall of 2018 (2017). Unfortunately however, the models were not Muslim themselves, which takes away from the honest representation of the culture. This brought upon little outrage but certainly made waves of attention and spiked the rise of Muslim models in the industry to take a stand for themselves. And a stand they certainly took. Halima Aiden is the first Muslim to have landed a Nike campaign. Kadija Diawara is a stunning model for many high end fashion brands. Mariah Idrissi was featured on the cover of Teen Vogue, Elle and Marie Clare. Ikram Abdi Omar walked the London Fashion Week runway.


In order to accept these diverse advances, it must be understood that beauty comes in all ages, sizes, skin tones, genders and religious preferences. Once that’s an accepted norm, the rest is pretty simple. Anyone from anywhere can personify beauty and fashion; and that is exactly how it should be. There’s no denying negativity that is encountered every today, but it is important to soldier on in this path in order to have a positive impact and make a change. Negativity and stereotypes exist because of lack of knowledge and understanding. Therefore it is vital to create awareness of the importance of inclusivity in all aspects of fashion and beauty.

Here also lies the opportunity to educate the world about what the hijab symbolizes. It isn’t an item to be sexualized. It is a part of the Muslim faith. The women who choose to wear it often feel strong, and beautiful and confident. They take pride in their sophisticated and stylish headwear, and instead of feeling demeaned, feel rather powerful.


Stand apart from the crowd

Aden once said that we are all born to stand out; that nobody is born to blend in at an interview and this certainly rings true. Her Nike campaign is set to hit shelves this year and has paved the way of other Muslim women who are in the modeling industry, to land great fashion and beauty campaigns. The world’s first Muslim modeling agency – Underwraps, was a recent addition amongst the thousands of others that do no represent women in hijab. For its founder, the journey hasn’t been easy but hard work definitely pays off. She understands that it is important to receive attention, dismiss and break barriers and any type or kind of negative association along with it.

Amena Khan was the first hijab wearing model to have been casted in a L’Oreal hair care campaign. Now, many might raise their eyebrows at this notion or even find it ridiculous but in interviews conducted with Khan, she admitted that even though she does cover her hair when outdoors, her hair is just as important to her as someone who does not. Like everyone else, she shampoos and conditions it, nourishes it with oils and hair masks and the campaign was meant to highlight diversity as well as inclusivity even if it were someone who covered her head in public. The campaign received plenty of attention and also got the ball rolling on other brands like CoverGirl, H&M, DKNY and Dolce & Gabbana giving women in hijab the opportunity to be featured and also creating collections meant for them.  


This goes to prove that there is a definite demand in terms of fashion and beauty for the Muslim fashionista. Collections by the mentioned designers and fashion labels above included modern looks with rules of modesty, and this is just the beginning. Hama Tajima is a British Japanese blogger and now fashion designer who is redefining the hijab with her workmanship. Her stylish lifestyle and take on modest fashion has thousands of others following in on her footsteps and recreating the same in their own way.

Question is, is it a passing trend or a powerful sense of style that is here to stay? Much like inclusivity in the makeup industry, this isn’t just a trend. This is a powerful representation that is becoming more and more recognized as we speak, and also proving to be an inspiration to others around the world, including Sri Lanka. The ideology is thought provoking and opens conversations about the stigma that surrounds the hijab and hopefully will break such misconceptions in time to come.

Nomad

Nomadic, minimalistic vibes are the rave and yes, even in a tropical country like Sri Lanka, you’d find homes, hotels and even restaurants picking up on the trend and following the simplicity in their individual concepts.  Nomad is no different – well, maybe slightly. It’s a restaurant/cafe located on the surfer hotspot down south outskirts of Weligama. Even before it had properly opened doors, the food nook was creating great content on social media and attracting the attention of everyone in the southern coast all the way up to Hikkaduwa. Yep, that’s the power of social media and yep, their photos definitely hit the right spots.

Traveling down south on work or even for a mini weekend getaway means I also get to visit many of the new food spots that are popping up on the southern coast, including this one. Nomad opens doors every day from 8am to 3pm, except on Tuesday when the team takes a day off. It isn’t too hard to find either, and the place is a familiar sound on the tongues of the people in the area so you won’t have a tough time finding it.

Stepping inside is like walking into a homey and cozy atmosphere. The vibe, like their name, is minimalistic. There are no fancy tables and chairs, décor on the wall and expensive looking bits and bobs to decorate the space. Everything is kept in theme with the name.

There’s plenty of seating right at the front, which includes a small verandah as well, and further at the back garden. It’s a hot and sunny day so it’s the back garden with low crate tables, large flat cushions and a tent over our heads for my first visit. The prints on the cushions give off a moroccan vibe but it blends well with the basic beige and white cotton cloths over the head. Unfortunately there are a couple of flies that hover around, but one member of the team rushes over and lights a few incense sticks to ward them off. It doesn’t necessarily do the trick but I overlook it and give the menu a glance.

It’s a brunch menu that includes smoothie bowls, wholesome food and also teas, coffee and cakes. I wouldn’t call it a simple menu because the items on the pages are making my mouth water as I read. No complaints whatsoever though. As hungry as can be, my friend and I order our brunch beverages first. He picked out the Kickstarter which includes an espresso shot, cacao, dates, cashews, coconut milk, vanilla and cinnamon for Rs. 550 and I chose an iced tea with lemongrass and ginger for Rs. 450.

As our mains we decided to get items that could be shared, so he picked out the avocado on toast with two additional poached eggs for Rs. 1,250 and I opted for the shakshuka on toast for Rs. 1,000. The prices are non-inclusive of a 10% service charge; just to note. Personally, I’d have to admit the prices do seem quite steep.

The beverages arrived first, and unfortunately I did not like my iced tea very much. It lacked a bit of flavour in both parts of the lemongrass and ginger. The Kickstarter however was a surprising super hit. It was a somewhat thick blend, not too sweet and had excellent taste. I’m not quite sure how long the food took to be served, but it wasn’t too long for us to notice. Presentation is certainly on point – both brunch meals looks absolutely divine by appearance. There was a great deal of colour that was very appealing and I couldn’t wait to dig in after taking a couple of hurried photos.

I’m not sure how they got a hold of fresh avocado (because it was supposedly out of season) but it tasted yummy atop the toasted bread, together with the poached eggs (which were well done, runny in the centre) topped with cucumber, pickled onions, cilantro and pomegranate. The shakshuka did not disappoint either and was served quite differently; atop two slices of toast. I didn’t mind the change because every bite was full of flavour. As much as I’d have liked to try either the chia pudding or the zoodles (zucchini noodles), we were too full to even opt for a sweet treat. I’ve plenty of reasons to head back there for more.

PS – Nomad is run by two lovely ladies from Barcelona, Spain.

The café interior section is also home to a little boutique that houses artisan craft and clothing items.

An Idyllic Hideaway


It’s a personal observance when I say people tend to travel more to the south or to the east, than they do the west (more towards Negambo and Kalpitiya). It’s a shame though. Each and every part of our island is blessed with beauty. The bestie and I make plans to travel together every two-three months and on our last vacay of 2017, we decided to head to Jetwing Lagoon in Thalahena, Negambo. Somehow, we’d always pick a place that’s close to the ocean or water of some sort. It’s an island living thing I suppose.  As impromptu as the decision was to go to Negambo, I had made our booking from Friday till Sunday. As someone who works part-time, I suggested we leave around noon so that we’d get there just in time to check in. Of course, it’s hard to stick with time being Sri Lankans and with a few quick errands to run with an infant on board, we finally left Colombo around 3pm amidst a crazy traffic jam.

Feeling ever so grateful for the Katunayake Expressway, I missed the closer exit to the lagoon and instead wasted a further 20 minutes taking the longer route to the hotel. Google Maps to the rescue! We did stop by a grocery store to stock up on a few munchies – being typical locals here – and finally got to the hotel close to 5pm.


Historical significance

The Jetwing Lagoon is an Ayurvedic and spa resort and located just beside the lagoon. A newly acquired section of their pool and lounge area faces the deep blue Indian Ocean on the opposite side of the property. The design and architecture has great significance and are undeniably very striking. The resort is known to have been the first ever to have originally been built by the renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa in the year 1965.

If you happened to think the property has an aging look to it, think otherwise. As per other properties run by the famous hotel chain, this one is well maintained and up to standard.

The style and design of every space includes a great deal of white washed walls and textures of brown in the use of wood, wicker and even linen around the rooms and property. Lush foliage surrounding the rooms and also the dining areas add a look of serenity and simple wildness. One of the most prominent features is the pool, which happens to be the longest on the island – a whopping 1,100 meters in length!

It took a few minutes to get check-in and in the meantime, bestie and I had already racked up a couple of photos of our surrounding and also sneaked in a few selfies with the little one. And then it was a quick buggy ride to our Bawa room. We happened to pick one of the larger room purely because of her infant – we’d requested for a baby cot as well and didn’t want to crowd the room with additional furniture. The room was decorated quite aesthetically pleasing to the eye with simple yet polished furnishings, added amenities like mosquito repellants, an umbrella and notes on the brand’s belief in sustainability.

The bathroom was expansive to the say the least and open on one part to the foliage and sky. This unfortunately was a bit problematic as come evening, there were too many mosquitos to count and handle. The repellants did not do justice and the two of us went on a killing rampage for a good while. The resort is also home to plenty of other types of rooms including deluxe rooms, family rooms, and suites.

Without much of a meal for lunch, we decided to head over to the restaurant for an early dinner. Light rain was a bit of a struggle to get through with an infant on board but luckily, the umbrella came in handy and we picked a nice spot next to the gardena and lagoon. Our dinner was a set menu without a few selections of choices for an appetizer, main and dessert. This is something the resort offers when occupancy in somewhat low. The next night’s dinner was buffet style due to an increase in occupancy. The food is quite commendable although there were a few hits and misses during our two night stay. I have to admit, the crab curry was to die for and breakfast is a must have.


Plenty to offer

The town and city of Negambo has a long history of being a fishing hub and therefore a cultural beauty. There are a multitude of attractions in the area from cultural excursions to water sports to keep one entertained for a couple of days. The town is a mere 15 minutes away and there’s plenty of famous spots to explore, including the Dutch Colonial Fortress. The bestie and I did not venture out but I hear unfortunately that the fortress is not being protected and conserved well. Definitely something to look into. The fish market and little shopping areas by the beach are bursting with life and colour; something a lot of bloggers tend to highlight and photograph.

The second day of our stay was a pretty relaxed one. The thought of a dip in the pool was however interrupted by light rain and overcast skies throughout the day. Guests can spend a few hours in that case at the dedicated Ayurvedic spa on the property, located just beside the pool. The rates seemed pretty decent and the resort also offers a few package rates which includes a few hours of a massage and then an Ayurvedic lunch, as well as a tour relation to the work of Bawa.

We had a few issues with dealing with the mosquitos once again but unfortunately, it wasn’t completely addressed. The repellent wasn’t much help the first night and all three of us kept waking up multiple times to the annoying buzzing and biting. We decided to not open out the windows and always keep the bathroom door locked just to keep the insects out and this somewhat eased the annoyance on the second night.

If you’re someone who happens to be interested in the brand’s sustainability efforts, there’s information available in the form of a brochure as well as a video on the room television. From recycling rainwater to water their plants and lush garden to their reduce use of energy and growing their own produce, Jetwing certainly strikes me as a hotel chain that goes an extra mile to ensure their impact on the environment and wilderness is a positive one.

Come Sunday, it was breakfast, half an hour in the pool, a quick lunch and then check-out for us. The staff at the reception were extremely accommodating and a brief moment, I was truly sad to leave. But there’s always the promise of coming back in the air.