Wednesday, 29 June 2016

PARADISE DIARIES: SRI LANKA #4

BENTOTA BEACH - VIVANTA BY TAJ
BENTOTA BEACH - VIVANTA BY TAJ
BENTOTA BEACH - VIVANTA BY TAJ
BENTOTA BEACH - VIVANTA BY TAJ
BEACH SCENES
Another day, another start at the beach. Waking up to another beautiful morning in Sri Lanka, I threw off my duvet, grabbed my favourite Triangl bikini and ran down to the beach. If there's one aspect of staying at the Vivanta By Taj that I loved more than anything else, it's their private beach. Their King Coconut water coming in close second. 
THE GALLERY CAFE, COLOMBO 
LUNCH - MOUNT LAVINIA HOTEL
On our last day we decided to head to the city. If you're coming into Colombo from Bentota, I'd highly recommend stopping here for lunch. Another architectural dream. The views onto the sea from the dining terrace were really vast, you'd never guess you were so close to the rich culture and hustle and bustle of Bentota. 
COLOMBO MARKET
TUK-TUK RIDES
COLOMBO MARKET
COLOMBO MARKET // TUK-TUK RIDES
Colombo market was a total multi-sense adventure. The sights, smells and feeling that overwhelmed me walking the streets there was unlike anything I had experienced. The shops and stalls had everything from vintage watches to fine handmade lace and giant mangoes. To really embrace Sri Lankan life we hopped in Tuk-Tuks back to the hotel for the final night. So, much, fun.
THIS. THE GALLERY CAFE, COLOMBO
UNTIL NEXT TIME 
We had a tour guide - Richard. He was by far one of the most incredible humans I've ever met (along with our driver) who made the entire week beyond memorable. It was invaluable to have someone with us on the journey who was immersed in the history of Sri Lanka to discover the areas we visited. Our road trips took us to many destinations and opened my eyes to the mesmorising culture there. Words can't sum up the beauty that the country has to offer. 

I'm already planning my next trip there. 

In the week that I spent living in the dream-world that is Sri Lanka, I truly fell in love with a place more than I could ever have imagined. 

Take a trip to paradise with Thomson, just like I did from 7th Nov here

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

PARADISE DIARIES: SRI LANKA #3

VIVANTA BY TAJ - BREAKFAST WITH A VIEW
VIVANTA BY TAJ - BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST - VIVANTA BY TAJ
 I've never seen such huge passionfruit in my life. Each post-beach wander I'd load up my plate with watermelon, guava, papaya (all of the fruits) and drench it in passion fruit. In Sri Lanka they also have their very own variety of coconut water called King Coconut. You MUST try it - it's so much sweeter and comes in a bright orange nut. Island life never tasted so good.
They also serve mini donuts, a million varieties of juice (watermelon was my favourite), curries, cakes, pastries and cooked options. 
VIVANTA BY TAJ
VIVANTA BY TAJ - THE SPA
 EXPLORING VIVANTA BY TAJ
EXPLORING VIVANTA BY TAJ
THE SPA VIVANTA BY TAJ
Within the grounds of the hotel is the spa. Tucked away and surrounded by sun-dappled palm trees, it's a haven of zen. I nearly fell asleep during my massage there, which if I'm being 100% honest only ever happens when it's a REALLY good massage. They used essential oils which made my skin feel incredible after the salty dip in the ocean that I had in the morning. After the treatment we crashed out in the outdoor relaxation area and were brought herbal teas. Bliss.
BABY TURTLES (!!)
TURTLE RELEASING
One thing to know about me: I adore animals. Baby animals. Give me a baby animal to hold or play with and I'm all yours. When I found out we would get to release baby turtles into the ocean I genuinely couldn't wait.  When dusk came, we visited the Kosgoda Turtle Sanctuary where we released 3 day old baby turtles. In that moment I felt so close to the people there, releasing the turtles into the ocean was unlike anything I've experienced before. Bucket list - tick. 
DOWN BY THE OCEAN, SRI LANKA 
YOUNG, WILD, FREE
The sunset that evening was something special... 
Hope my baby turtle is doing okay. 

Take a trip to paradise with Thomson, just like I did from 7th Nov here

PARADISE DIARIES: SRI LANKA #2

ROOM WITH A VIEW - VIVANTA BY TAJ
GOOD MORNING, WORLD.
Whenever I stay in a hotel anywhere in the world (if I haven't got severe jet lag) the first thing I do is explore. My good intention is to unpack, but I tend to avoid my suitcase until I have to actually change outfits... I've ALWAYS been this way. Exploring the Vivanta By Taj lead me to find this terrace, a couple of flights up from the pool/breakfast level. What more could you want to wake up to?...
BENTOTA BEACH - VIVANTA BY TAJ
BENTOTA BEACH - VIVANTA BY TAJ
BENTOTA BEACH - VIVANTA BY TAJ
BENTOTA BEACH - VIVANTA BY TAJ
I had seen a little path (it's about 100m) leading from the ground level of the hotel and could see the ocean. I had been so impatient about going to see this little spot. Before breakfast we headed down and I couldn't believe what we found. Before arriving in Sri Lanka I knew the hotel was located by the beach but this was literal paradise. My favourite movie is Dr No, and THIS CLIP is exactly the vibe this beach had. One word: heaven. 

BENTOTA BEACH - VIVANTA BY TAJ
TEA PLANTATION RAYIGAM ESTATE 
We visited the Rayigam Estate, a traditional tea plantation in Ingiriya. We watched each process, from the picking of the leaves, the drying process, and the tea's journey through the factory. We also got to taste the pure Ceylon tea, which was so fresh. It really opened my eyes to their world. To see how fair-trade tea workers live, earn their living and also create such a globally respected export.
THIS, AKA THE DREAM - ARGRO VILLAGE
JEEP LIFE - ARGRO VILLAGE
THOSE COLOURS... ARGRO VILLAGE
AS FRESH AS IT GETS - ARGRO VILLAGE
ARGRO VILLAGE 
From the tea plantation we travelled to Argro Village, not too far from Ingiriya. The journey there was pretty fun - the terrain was a little rocky so we hopped in a Jeep. We were hosted by a small Sri Lankan community who served us an authentic lunch in banana leaves with a tropical fruit platter. And fresh coconuts, because - FRESH COCONUT WATER. I can't get enough of coconut water fresh out of the shell. Everything they had made for us had been grown on their farm, which we had a tour of. Let's note that I now officially know what a pineapple plant looks like...

Take a trip to paradise with Thomson, just like I did from 7th Nov here

PARADISE DIARIES: SRI LANKA #1

Tropical destinations are my favourite. If there's palm trees, fresh coconuts and morning walks on the beach involved then I'm down. Asia is a part of the world I can't wait to explore more of, with Sri Lanka at the forefront. 

Unlike The Maldives, Bali and other more "right now" places, Sri Lanka is slightly more undiscovered. But not for long. You'll soon see why...

THE FLIGHT:
Only 11.5 hours on a plane to paradise. Direct. No changing flights, waiting around in airports for hours. Hop on a Thomson (packages available from Nov 7th flying from Gatwick) Boeing 787 Dreamliner and within hours you'll arrive into Colombo airport ready to start your adventure.
BENTOTA BEACH - VIVANTA BY TAJ

On arrival we had orchid flower garlands draped around our necks and greeted into the hotel by Sri Lankan dancers which was such a special touch. 

We stayed at Vivanta By Taj (5*), the most beautiful hotel located right next to the beach. Every morning I'd be up and out before breakfast soaking up the rays by the ocean. There's nothing like running along the sand and just listening to the waves... 
WASHED UP - STILT FISHERMAN TOUR (NEAR GALLE)
STILT FISHERMAN TOUR (NEAR GALLE)
 STILT FISHERMAN TOUR (NEAR GALLE)
STILT FISHERMAN TOUR (NEAR GALLE)
STILT FISHERMAN TOUR - NEAR GALLE, SRI LANKA
Located on the most untouched, panoramic beach near Galle was our first excursion of the day. We watched as the stilt fisherman showed us how to clamber onto the beams of wood to catch the fish.  It was incredible to see such an authentic way of fishing for the Sri Lankan people.
GALLE FORT HOTEL
LUNCH SPOT - GALLE FORT HOTEL
GALLE FORT HOTEL
Back on the road again and we ventured to Galle, a pretty little quaint town where our lunch spot was - the Galle Fort Hotel. This was a seriously boutique hotel, and incredibly well designed - we sat in their garden to dine for lunch. Everything I had experienced from arrival in Sri Lanka was so surreal, the hospitality and warmth we received from the local people really did amaze me.
SHACK - VIVANTA BY TAJ 

For the first night of the trip, we ventured down to the Shack which is located within the grounds of the hotel. Steps away from the ocean we sat and dined under the stars whilst a brass band played to us. This had to be one of the highlights of the trip by a long way. The food was incredible and surpassed all expectation - they even served grilled avocado with our mains. 

Take a trip to paradise with Thomson, just like I did from 7th Nov here
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