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.
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.
“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.