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!

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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

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.