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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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

Maniumpathy

It’s a rather gloomy and rainy Wednesday. I’d thoughts about canceling my scheduled visit, but on a whim, decided against it and stepped out of the house anyways. I’ve a fascination with old houses – properties that have been home to generations of families, and that are over 100 years of age. There’s something about houses that have history attached to it; there’s an inclination of charm and character unlike any other and there’s plenty of stories behind every crevice and brick.  

I explored Maniumpathy that day. The name alone intrigued me. I’m told it is derived from the city that the current owners’ family of this house came from – Manipay (Manipai), Jaffna. It was known to have been the Colombo 7 of the North, although the area had plenty of greenery and fields of paddy. The people were known to have been a dedicated and hard-working lot, which says a lot to be honest as many of them were health practitioners and doctors who came to Colombo on work.  

  


Dr. Savaranamuttu Hallock was one of them. He passed out as a doctor from the University of Aberdeen, after which he joined the Ceylon Medical Service. Since he had to move to Colombo to practice medicine, the property was bought over from its original owner and renovated to suit his family. The house was said to have been built in the year 1868. Technically therefore, the house is over 150 years of age. The front edifice has the year 1906 stamped across it and I’m guessing that was year the Dr. Hallock took over and it became the beautiful homey abode to him and his wife Annapuranie, and their nine children.

It was a stately house, as were plenty of others along the same street, originally known as Harley Street (currently Kynsey Road) and home to many health practitioners much like Dr. Hallock. Colonial attributes were a common feature – the well balanced structure and design of the house, the lush garden around it along with a back terrace, the wide and open front porch leading to the central living space, dining area and of course the personal living areas. Open ventilation and space was a prominent feature, as were minimalistic decorative motifs around the home; pillars that supported the back veranda area, antique furniture with fleur de lis motifs, and the beautifully carved eaves on the edges of the roof.

The house has turned over five generations and has been passed over to the next generation through the hands of the females. I’m quite surprised that this is so but in the most pleasant way possible. Currently, Adrian and Chrysanthie Basnayake are the home owners and eventually it will be passed over to their daughter, Annapuranie Anithra Basnayake.

Today, the home and has once again been painstakingly renovated to its original form with the aid of Architect Chamika de Alwis. It took over five years to complete, as attention to detail was key and it was important to retain much of its original charm and features. It has humbly since been open to visitors and guests alike as a boutique hotel in the heart of the city; Maniumpathy – the name paying homage to Manipay and the word ‘pathy’ means ‘home’ in Tamil.

The rooms at Maniumpathy pays homage to the strong and beautiful women of the family. The grand Master Suite has been named after Annapuranie, the first lady of the house. The other seven rooms are named after Soundhari, Poornam, Cynthia, Ranee, Vasanthi, Chrysanthie and Anithra. The room named after Chrysanthie was in fact originally Dr. Hallock’s clinic at one time.

Apart from the name concocting a connection to the family’s northern origins, there are strong resemblances and other characteristic features throughout Maniumpathy. Open space and ventilation is still a common feature and adds to the cosy and homey aspect of this colonial home. The garden has obviously been narrowed down as the left section gave rise to a new wing with an upper level to house more rooms.

The terrace opens out to a smaller garden space, flanked by the right and left wings, furnished with chairs and table suitable for enjoying a warm cup of coffee and perhaps even breakfast or an evening snack. Dusk, I’m told, brings about a soft and relaxed ambience. Lamps are lit in keeping with the calm and peaceful atmosphere. This area also overlooks a pool and a statue of the deity Nandi. The name stems from the Tamil word that means ‘ to grow’ or ‘to flourish’ and in Sanskrit means joy or happiness. His statue, I believe, therefore has been strategically placed, overlooking the entire edifice in the hopes of bringing about growth and happiness in the best way.

Decorative motifs are very much a prominent and common feature; apart from the additional northern trinkets that have been placed around the house – there’s also the grand ebony dining table that sits magnificently on the right wing, vintage lamps and Bakelite telephones, the bookshelves are well stocked with an array of best reads, and the classic furnishing combined with the white and grey washed walls add much character to this stately home. The Chrysanthie room includes an old stairway which has been restored finely, the two deluxe rooms named after Soundhari and Poornam include Jaffna style open courtyard bathrooms, and there are plenty of old photographs of the entire family placed in antique frames and scattered about Maniumpathy that give it a very homey effect.

I find Maniumpathy to be an oasis in the heart of Colombo; as although it is located on one of the most congested streets of the city, it somehow manages to retain an air of softness and charm. There’s something about it, from the moment you walk in; there’s that telltale aura of simplicity although there’s plenty of history and heritage. There’s comfort in sinking into one of the large couches or even sitting outside overlooking the grass and the pool. Nandi silently watches over.

I’m told that many European painters have stayed at the boutique hotel and chosen to find inspiration in its peaceful atmosphere. Older guests have been known to relate tales of how they used to play in this very house as children.

And the charm of generations that have lived before and Manipay lives on.
–Pictures courtesy Manor House Concepts– 

 

Ceylon Tea Ylang hand cream review 

  
Hi everyone! 

I received this during CFW last week as a gift. I love the Ceylon Tea Ylang fragrance so I was super thrilled to try this out. 

I squeezed a nut size amount and rubbed it onto my hands. I love the creamy yet not greasy texture and consistency of the cream. The fragrance of course is a star in my opinion; love, love, love it! 

I’ve had it on for over five hours and I can still smell it on my hands. Lasting power seems to be really great. My hands also do feel soft. 

Overall I think it would be something I’d repeatedly use and love to have. 

Xoxo