Kurulubedda 


The common ideology about traveling to the sunny south is that everyone wants a beachfront hotel or villa. I don’t deny that the south is home to some beautiful beach spots, but I am at fault when it comes to not exploring the internal areas all too much. Whenever I visit Galle, it’s always to the same places – the UNESCO World Heritage fort and no wherever else. On my last visit however, I wanted it to be different; I wanted to head a bit away from the hustle and bustle and somewhere inland. Somewhere quiet and peaceful. And I came across Jetwing Kurulubedda.

The choice was certainly very much different to my usual vacation getaways but there’s also a sense of adventure when you make a spontaneous decision like I did. Once I had got myself to the Galle Fort I hopped into a tuk tuk who seemed to know the way and it only took us a mere ten to fifteen minutes to get to my destination. The road leading up to the property was a tad bumpy but it’s part of the experience and not something that bothers me. It’s all forgotten once you step inside – for the lush foliage and calling of the birds envelops you.

I stop and take a deep breath of the fresh, clean air and cool blue pool in front of me. Beyond the pool lies more foliage, forestry and paddy fields. The Head Butler, Prabath greets me and as I’ve already made my booking online, it’s only a matter of signing the reservation form and waiting to be led to my room. I’m a tad early though so I am asked to wait a few minutes; I don’t mind at all and instead, decide to explore Kurulubedda.

Complete seclusion

A wooden bridge and walkway lead to a private dining area, and further towards a treehouse and river edge clearing. It’s quiet and secluded and doesn’t seem like a part of the south at all. I’m told that guests can take a boat from here on towards Jetwing Lighthouse for breakfast. Maybe another time. For now, being amongst nature would do. I picked out one of the private dwellings that includes a plunge pool and as I am led towards my room, I take in the simple aesthetics and easy way of how guests share the natural habitat with nature. The setting from the dwelling verandah is picturesque and serene. The room is minimally furnished yet includes necessary amenities and has a very rustic comfort feel to it. There’s a television set along with a DVD player and a couple of movie options laid out, and I make a mental note to watch one while in bed later that night.

The property is home to a jungle of exotic bird species, monkeys and six luxury villas; that offer complete privacy in an eco boutique flair. Four of the villas are deluxe rooms with open air showers overlooking the pool and paddy fields. Two of them are dwellings with their own plunge pools and overlook the jungle canopy. Although the skies were looking a tad overcast, I want to make use of the pool; my private plunge pool however was a tad too chilly for my liking and since there was no one else on the property, I took the liberty of a couple of easy laps in the main pool. Drinks and snacks can be ordered by the poolside but I have to admit, the service was slow.

As the afternoon turned to dusk, I retreated back to my cosy room for a warm shower and propped my feet up on one of the lounge chairs on the verandah. I could do this for hours, I thought to myself. Feet propped up, no care in the world and a beautiful serene setting right before my eyes. Although complete isolation is not everyone’s cup of tea, I would recommend it at least for a day; it helps clear the mind and relax the body. One can dine either on the verandah, beside the pool or at the rooftop I came across earlier but I thought it’ll be nice to enjoy a good meal by the pool for the night and perhaps have breakfast up in my room the next day.

Like I said, if the isolation and quiet life isn’t for you, there are plenty of excursions that can be arranged by the staff. There’s a cinnamon farm nearby and guests can experience the peeling and drying process for themselves, along with also visiting the Handunugoda Tea Estate which is a couple of kilometres away. This farm also produces virgin white tea which is known to be the world’s most expensive type of brew. As said earlier, Galle is only a mere 3kms away and easily accessible too. River side safaris and a visit to a nearby conservation forest can also be arranged. If you’ve got the urge to go for a sea swim or beach walk, that’s accessible too – whether it’s Galle or Unawatuna; only a couple of minutes away.  

At dinner, once again, the service could have been a tad robust because it took some time to bring out my salad, main and dessert but it’s not like I had other plans for the night so I didn’t mind. The menu isn’t too limiting, but I did think it could have done with a few tweaks. I opted for a gotukola and grilled prawn salad, a tomato and parmasan pasta for my mail and a delicious mousse for dessert. I’m told the food is prepared with the use of home grown produce, by Prabath who has also offered information of what to do in the area. I wasn’t here for the excursions, I craved and enjoyed my alone time.

I had a pretty restful night and woke up to the sounds of rustling leaves and more chirping birds. I may not know one bird from another but it doesn’t mean I don’t bask in the calling of nature when I am surrounded by it. Breakfast arrived promptly at the time I had mentioned the night before and was a complete Sri Lankan fare of stringhoppers, plain and egg hoppers, chicken curry, fish curry, pol sambol and seeni sambol. I took my own cool time enjoying every bit of it and grudgingly headed back to the room to pack. Yes, I’d only booked a single night stay. It wasn’t enough for me. I make a mental note to come back and stay for two nights.


If you’re someone whose looking for a refreshing escape from the mundane and usual getaways, Jetwing Kurulubedda rates high on my list of places to go to.

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Lost in Ceylon 

In a world where blogging and online presence is everything, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanderlust breezing through travel accounts on Instagram. It’s not often however that you’d find a personality (or rather a travel blog) that also highlights current environmental issues and gives its viewers a different perspective on travel. Lost in Ceylon is all that and more to be frank. Owned by Tashiya de Mel, the account visually portrays stories and issues encountered during her travels all over Sri Lanka.

She is a psychology graduate living in Colombo, and has spent the last five years dabbling in different industries; working for start-ups, non-profits and the United Nations, where she has specialized in communications, advocacy, and social media.

A sense of adventure

“My friends and I are very used to getting lost on a lot of our travels. We’ve always enjoyed the sense of adventure and exhilaration that comes with it – so the name seemed fitting at the time!” she said regarding the reason behind her blog being titled ‘Lost in Ceylon’.

Truth be told, it isn’t easy to have a following or get recognition for having a blog on Instagram. And not everyone has the knack to create such a profile either, but de Mel seems to have done just that quite seamlessly. “All of it happened quite spontaneously. I had many friends who would regularly ask me for travel tips and recommendations on places to explore in Sri Lanka. Since I do travel quite extensively, I decided to share some of my adventures with people who wanted to explore unique and off-the-grid locations in Sri Lanka. I don’t really consider myself an ‘influencer’ or ‘blogger’. I began sharing my adventures with the hopes of inspiring other women, and curious individuals to get outside, travel more and discover lesser known parts of the country,” she added.

Having worked as a communications strategist she admits allowed her to gain experience in writing, social media and photography. In return, that experience has helped with bringing ‘Lost in Ceylon’ to life.

Diverse outlook

While there are plenty of websites and blogs relating to travel in Sri Lanka, most of them (except for a few like Lakdasun.org) focus on the popular tourist locations like Galle, Kandy, Sigiirya etc. Instagram is home to plenty of such travel blogs and profiles too. For the most part, many of these accounts simply repost photos taken by other ‘influencers’ and bloggers. The captions beneath these photos are often trivial in comparison to what it could be used for – to spread and create awareness on the beauty of the island, to promote conscious and mindful travels, and of course useful tips to traveling.

Lost in Ceylon highlights ‘pro tips’ on Instagram in an effort to share useful tips about lesser known as well as famous locations in Sri Lanka as well as de Mel’s personal experiences. The entire outlook is certainly refreshing and its quite true when she says she has a way with storytelling, because she does. Her instastories are quite a hit when it comes to sharing images as and when they are captured, wherever she is at the time. There aren’t any pretty stickers, flourishes or filters when it comes to her online feed. It’s real, its raw and it’s a fresh perspective on just how blessed this little island is with all its natural resources and varying sights.

Conscious travels

“I feel that sustainability and sustainable travels are terms that are often misused in Sri Lanka. If done right, sustainable travel can allow us to preserve our natural landscapes and still enjoy them. However, people are only interested in sustainability if they are educated about it, and if its overall importance is effectively communicated. We wont be able to sustain the levels of tourism that the country is promoting if we only keep taking from our environment without giving back — this is why more people need to learn and be educated in ways that they can be more sustainable and mindful when traveling” added de Mel, speaking on the importance of protecting the island’s natural resources and environment.

To her, sustainability is any type of development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It therefore follows that environmental sustainability is about ensuring we don’t cause damage to our environment or deplete resources that we can’t renew.

She had taken a series of small steps to either eliminate or reduce my consumption of harmful products, such as:

– Plastic water bottles/soda (she carries her own refillable water bottle with her and opt for filter water if she’s eating out).

– Plastic straws

– Plastic/polythene food packaging and plastic bags – having reusable bags with you all the time can really help.

It’s important to remember that you can’t eliminate all single-use plastics out of your life immediately. However, it is important to be aware that taking SMALL, ACTIONABLE steps is a start, and understanding WHERE and HOW you can reduce or eliminate these items, and find sustainable alternatives.

The first step is always EDUCATION. Creating awareness. Once you understand why something is harmful, its always easier to take action. It does not have to be a multitude of things all at the same time. Each person embraces sustainability in different ways, and it’s important to remember that there isn’t one right way of achieving this.

 

Lost in Ceylon’s top five experiences in Sri Lanka

1. Trekking through the Knuckles mountain range – the rugged peaks and forests of the knuckles mountains are probably my favourite place in Sri Lanka (and maybe even in the world). The multitude of hiking trails, epic views and hidden waterfalls are nothing like anything else on the island.

2. Camping at Bambarakanda falls, Sri Lanka’s highest waterfall – the top of the falls has a smaller cascade that is sheltered by pine forests and overlook a valley of rolling green hills and mountains. Unfortunately, camping here is not permitted anymore for safety reasons.

3. Talaimannar – home to vast expanses of blue, salty lagoons and mangrove islands. Way out here, the island still feels like a world apart, with desert-like landscapes, dunes, soft, white sand and pristine beaches that stretch out for miles.

4. Aberdeen Falls, Ginigathhena – no matter how many times I visit this waterfall, I cant seem to get enough of it! The base pool here is unlike any other waterfall in Sri Lanka as it has a shallow sand bank that rises from the middle. The upper cascades of Aberdeen falls is a rocky outcrop of large boulders and carved cliff faces with emerald rock pools and a series of smaller waterfalls.

5. Jaffna – the sun baked landscapes of the Northern peninsula has a distinct charm. From the culture to the food, landscapes, and people – everything about Jaffna is a cultural and historical explosion of diversity.

The Sacred Lotus


Each day the act of rising, basking and sinking is continued. As a manifestation of natural beauty, the lotus flower (also referred to as the sacred lotus) has a deep connection with the journey of life and this act is one of the most prominent aspects of the plant that has provided so many religions and cultures with deep meaning.

From the roots immersed deep in water, grow a long stem or stalk that remains in the murky water. From the top of the stalk grows the lotus’s leaves and bud. The leaves contain air pockets that help them float on the water’s surface. However, the amount of buoyancy is not guaranteed, and the leaves occasionally stay buried underwater. As for the ones that float atop, water does not hold on its surface; it usually drips off. The bud is constantly above the water’s surface. As the bud opens, its petals are exposed. This is when the various colours of the lotus familia become apparent.

The petals open one by one, slowly welcoming the sunlight and warmth. Once fully opened, the flower is in full bloom. It’s centre is very visible too and this is where its homes its seeds. The flower enjoys warm sunlight and is intolerable of cold weather, which is why you typically won’t find it in the upper highlands of the island. As the sun sets, the flower will begin to close its petals until it is completely in ‘bud’ formation, and bloom once more at dawn and the first rays of light. And this act is repeated every single day.

Symbolism

Cultures many parts of China believe that the stalk of the lotus flower resembles the strength of one’s family and their unbreakable bond. Therefore, you are the blossoming flower above the water’s surface that the stalk supports from beneath.

In Hinduism it is believed that the flower is responsible for removing unwanted energies and other unpleasant things. It is also believed that it symbolizes the concept that humans should be free of desires and material things (much like what practices are encouraged via Buddhism). Hindus associate the flower with the Gods Vishnu and Brahma, and the Goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati. To them in terms of faith, it denotes purity and divine beauty. The unfolding leaves represents the expanding of the soul and spiritual awakening.

In Buddhism it primarily signifies purity, of the mind, body and speech. As the flower seemingly floating above murky waters, it symbolizes attachment and desire. Also, the fact that the leaves of the flower dos not hold a single drop of water denotes detachment.

In general however, the cultures in the eastern part of the world and its religions believe the lotus to be a symbol of enlightenment, regeneration and faith.

Egyptians used the flower to represent the creation and rising of the sun. They believe in the legend of the Sun God who birthed from the golden heart of a lotus flower. The flower represented fertility, childbirth, death and everything in between. It is also believed that they used the plant recreationally to provide them with a psychedelic experience, but this is just as highly a speculated notion.

The symbolism of the lotus also varies depending on the stage of the flower. The initial bud represents a person in the early stages of their journey into enlightenment. It shows their potential for what they can achieve. Their strength, courage and determination. The blooming of the flower symbolizes an individual who has fully come of age, or is enlightened; a knowledgeable and wise person.

Facts about the lotus

  • The characteristics of a lotus flower is an ideal analogy for the human condition and life. It’s roots rooted in murky dirty waters depict the hardships and difficulties faced during the life of a human, while its long stem signifies long life. The beautiful ever blooming flower signifies strength, honour as well as good fortune, the ability to face and overcome challenges in the journey of life.  
  • The lotus is that it will not grow in a water source that is properly filtered, clean and mud free. It has a necessity for muddy and murky waters, for its roots to be properly buried and secure. 
  • The lotus is not only admired for its beauty but also for its appealing aroma. 
  • The flowers come in various colorations including yellow, pink, red, blue, purple, and white and each colour symbolizes different aspect. For example, the white lotus denotes purity, the red denotes passion and the yellow denotes compassion. 
  • The petals of the lotus flower can also be used as decoration. In internal parts of the island as well as in many villages close to lakes and rivers, the leaves are used to make temporary hats and the flower and its buds to make garlands.  
  • Traditional Asian cuisine uses the seeds, small leaves, flower (with petals), and roots as ingredients to create meals. The roots are also used to make curries and pickles. The much larger lotus leaves are more commonly used to wrap food. 
  • It’s seeds are used to make rosaries in such parts of Asia.  
  • The lotus simply defies logic; for a seed can withstand thousands of years without water and bloom once immersed even over two centuries later.  
  • Most often the lotus and water lily and confused to be the same flower, but in reality they are not. The most definitive difference is that the lotus stem lifts upward and out of the water, whereas the water lily sits atop water.  
  • In Sri Lanka, the most ancient depiction of the lotus in a painting dates as far back as the Third Century BC, and has been repeated over the centuries in temple paintings and as motifs on traditional moonstones.