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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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!

TacoCat Colombo


Are you a taco or burrito lover? If yes, then you need to head over to TacoCat!  

TacoCat is a pop up space operating out of Black Cat Colombo, for those who have ben wondering as to where they operate. They serve Mexican food, the basics really – tacos, burritos and nude bowls. If you think you love the food served at fast food joints like Taco Bell or Let’s Taco, you’ll need to revise your Mexican food palette as TacoCat is as authentic as it gets in Colombo.  Stepping inside, your eyes would gravitate towards the colourful pink walls. It’s got a quirky vibe to it and comes across as a more funked up space than a chilled out café or diner. Priced at Rs. 999 for three tacos, or one burrito or a nudie bowl, I think they’ve hit the nail right on the head. And oh, if you happen to go by on Taco Tuesdays, you’ll get each item for just Rs. 299! Having decided to go there on an impulse, my friend and I realized it was unfortunately a Wednesday, ha!

As said, the menu is pretty basic but who wants a complicated menu any way? Customers can pick between three fillings for each items; beed, chicken or beans. My friend opted to have the three tacos with three different fillings and I opted for the burrito.


Each taco got filled with purple slaw, tomato salsa, coriander, cheese and pineapple. The beef taco got the garlic aioli sauce, the chicken taco got the snake chili sauce and the beef taco got the tomato salsa sauce. My burrito was filled with lettuce, purple slaw, tomato salsa, coriander, cheese, red rice, and topped with tomato salsa sauce.

Now, if you’re going to pin point a couple of authenticity details let me be frank with you and inform you that the tortillas are not made of corn but of wheat. Still, I’d say it’s a pretty decent alternative. The tacos nor the burrito were heated prior to serving but this isn’t something that bothers me. I do realize however that some customers might want it that way though.


They do serve up vegan and vegetarian alternatives to the meaty tacos and burritos but unfortunately there isn’t something for seafood lovers. Perhaps it could be something to add to the menu later on.  

There are a couple of picnic benches under lofty summer umbrellas so we both decided to enjoy our lunch over there. The bean filled tacos wasn’t exactly something I’d prefer but I did like the garlic aioli sauce which added a nice flavour to it. The beef and chicken tacos however were super delicious. A change of sauces added a good punch to each bite. My burrito on the other hand was another hit and I greedily munched into it in a matter of minutes. Can’t really explain how good it tasted so I’d just recommend you go try it out yourself.

There aren’t any beverages or desserts on the menu but Black Cat is literally a door away so no qualms there to be honest.

TacoCat is located at No. 11 Wijerama Road and closed on Mondays.

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.  

 

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