Sri Lanka Part 5 – Hambantota Salt Flats, Southern Coast

May 30, 2013 at 11:50 pm

The post and summary of the trip can be found here.

This was what we covered on this post. (Credit : Map taken from google map)

♥27th March 2013♥
Of all the hotels that we’d stayed in during our Sri Lanka trip (actually in all the hotels we’d stayed in), Saraii Village was the stingiest with their breakfast. Breakfast was just an egg each (yes, only ONE), and some toast. Another big family who occupied the 2 mud houses and the tree house had to cook instant noodle to feed their group.
(They even charged us for the water!)

This was the resident dog in Saraii Village which ‘guarded’ our tree house, and followed us almost everywhere we went within the compound.

We checked out after breakfast and then started our journey along the southern coast.

Tissa is famous for curds, a staple in Sri Lanka, so many curd stalls line the road at Tissa. I was tempted to get myself a pot just for the pot…

I remember seeing salt pans around Tissa area on google map when I was doing the Sri Lanka research. So when we left Tissa, we kept a look out and then spotted them, i.e. big squarish lakes, at Hambantota. These are the salt flats (flat expanse of salt left by the total evaporation of a body of water), which Hambatota is famous for.

We walked around the area, and then an extremely friendly salt miner came over to talk to us. Upon knowing we were from Malaysia, he asked we could send him post cards from Malaysia, so I passed him my phone.

Thuwan, the salt miner, then showed us around. He told us that in March, the salt crystals were still not fully formed yet, there was just a thin layer of salt in the salt pans. In April, when the salt crystals were ready for harvest, they could be as thick as 3 feet. Salt miners will then have to shovel and break the crystals to harvest them. He went into the salt pan, and then tried to shovel out some crystals for us.

Shovel of salt, not much, because the it wasn’t time for harvest yet.

Salt crystallization happened at the banks too.

The girls, wanted to try to mine some salt.

Thuwan brought us to the salt factory, where he worked, for a visit as well, however no photos were allowed. Apparently, Hambantota produces 30% of the salt in the whole country, and is the major industrial activity in the District and also one of the oldest in the land. The girls now have first hand knowledge of how salt were mined (crystals), then processed into the table salt that we see.

Bidding farewell to Thuwan (and giving him a small tip for his time), we moved on. We saw lots of greyish white balls being sold, and asked Asanka what they were. He stopped at one of the stalls to show us, and let us have a taste.

The fruit, wood apple in English, or Divul in Singalese, is mushy and sour, with a strange custurdy-saw-dusty texture, and a quint smell.

Divul tasting turned to a fruit feast.

We had more king coconut. The girls have some fist size watermelon (but very juicy and sweet).

The stall owner was kept busy cutting this fruit and that for us.

We spent so much time at the stall, 2 school boys came by and tried to befriend the girls (but the girls seeing these were boys, didn’t want to entertain them).

Driving along the coast, we soon came to Dondra Head Lighthouse at Dondra Point or Dondra Head, the southern tip of Sri Lanka, near Matara.

Paying a fee, we got to climb all the way up to the light house. The view from the top was quite nice.

After a climb up the stuffy lighthouse, the girls didn’t mind the glaring sun and heat at all, and wanted to explore the beach at Dondra Head, I just hid under the shade.

Lunch that day was a local cafe near Matara. Besides pastries and buns (which were quite delicious), they made very good Chinese fried rice too. It seems Sri Lankans love Chinese fried rice. So it was a satisfying (and cheap) lunch.

Going to the beach was one of the things we promised the girls. None of the hotels we stayed were next to the beach, hence taking the opportunity of being at the Southern coast, we asked Asanka to stop at a beach for the girls to spend some time at. Asanka brought us to Mirissa beach.

Along the coast near Weligama, we saw fishermen selling their catch. As fish is one of our daily staple, we just have to take a look what is available.

Love how these fishes were displayed.. on a leave with sand sprinkled on it.

And this is the guy who was managing that stall.

Everything looked so fresh. If we were staying at a place with cooking facilities, I would have definitely bought some to try.

The fishermen’s boats were just docked nearby.

And across the street, there were some interesting sights too.

At a big junction (Habaraduwa) just before Galle, we turned in land to get to our hotel, Apa Vila Illuketia.

Oh My!! Of all the hotels we’d stayed in Sri Lanka, this was the best and most luxurious. We took the smallest room due to budget, and requested for extra bed. This is our bed.

And the extra bed we got was queen size, so the girls were very happy to share that.

The girls, after ooo-ying and ahhhh-ying, seeing the beautiful layout, and inspecting the room, wanted a dip in the pool.

Just to show you the courtyard where our room is.

We decided to eat in that night. Siting at the patio, listening to insect chirping and frog croaking, it was quite lovely.

The main house where our room was located (4 rooms in this house, and another 2 further away in another house), and where the dining area is at the patio.

The girls have hot dog and burger, and we had Sri Lankan set dinner. It was great stuff!

Sri Lanka 2013 Part 4 – Saraii Village,Tissa Wewa, Kirinda, Yala Safari

May 22, 2013 at 11:20 pm

The post and summary of the trip can be found here.


This was what we covered on this post. (Credit : Map taken from google map)

♥26th March 2013♥

Looking at their website, we were so taken by what Saraii Village has to offer. Staying on a tree house! That would be nice.

Look beyond the novelty and there’s nothing else. We took the bigger of the tree house, i.e. The Nest. We were told there were 2 floors, one for the children and one for us. The 1st floor was only good for putting our luggage, as it was moldy and dirty with tree brunches sticking out from the middle of the ‘floor’. So we were all sleeping on the 2nd floor, which was fine, it’s just that I believe we were mislead in some ways.

The ‘siting’ area consist of cushion laid on branches. While Zaria was siting there soon after arrival, one of the cushion fell right through the big gap of the railing down to the ground. It could have been her! We banned the girls from going to the corner for the rest of our stay.

Getting up and down the tree house took a bit of effort, and it’s an adventure itself. From the room, climb down to the 1st floor.

Then from the 1st floor, to the ground.

The ladders are sturdy, no doubt, I just didn’t like the idea of having to do this middle of the night to go to the toilet, which is shared between the 2 tree houses.

We stayed 2 nights there, and throughout our stay, no one made our rooms, cleaned the toilet, cleared the rubbish bins. The 2nd night, it was raining in the afternoon when we were out, and we came back to find 2 of our mattresses were soaked wet. We were given dry mattresses but had to change our own bed sheets. A bummer, because after a long day out and all you wanted to do was to rest.

If this is all fine for you, it is then the place for you. We got loud peacocks calling in the night and in the morning lots of birds were seen around the village. A truly back to nature place.

Now back to the day. The plan we had was to go for a half day safari in the afternoon, and spend the morning at Kirinda. We got Asanka to pick us up after breakfast, and headed to Kirinda, which is 25km away from our hotel.

On our way there, we passed by Tissa Wewa, a huge man made lake near Tissa town. It’s such a beautiful place, even when it wasn’t on our agenda, we asked Asanka to stop, and spent some time there.

The hubs was having a great time taking photographs of every thing.

There were many local (colourful) transport bringing locals there.

And many Vendors doing their business from their bicycles or motorbikes, selling fried fish and prawns from the lake (no photos), drinks and decorative items.

It’s a place locals like to hang out, not just to sit around and have a picnic, but also to bath!

When I went near the banks, these guys didn’t even shy away, but instead, came closer to me and started soaping themselves! Such good sports!

They seemed to be having fun attracting an audience, and the girls and I have fun just watching them.

Kirinda is a beautiful beach with rocky outcrop with a Buddhist shrine built on a big round rock.

There were quite a lot of people going to the shrine for prayers, probably because it’s Poya Day (full moon prayers day).

The girls who like adventures, turned the rocky outcrop to their play ground.

Kirinda Beach looks nice from afar, but because it was late morning, and extremely hot, even with the girls’ begging, we didn’t go out to the beach, we spent all the time at the shrine. It definitely looked like a very good day to have a cool dip, and again we saw some locals washing themselves at the river outside the shrine.

Asanka suggested we have lunch at Serene Park, a place his clients usually stay. It’s located next to Tissa Wewa, we were back there again. The midday sun was getting hot, so no one was bathing when we got there.

Guess who came out to bath instead? The buffaloes!

Local lunch at Serene Park was pretty good.

Zara who never used to like eggplants, couldn’t stop eating the ones prepared at Serene Park.

The dessert was a plate of papaya and a bowl of refreshing local curd (Tissa is famous for curds, i.e. buffalo milk yogurt).

However, for these, plus a pasta for the girls and drinks, it came up to almost RM180, a steep price to pay!

We booked our afternoon safari with Saraii, so we went back there after lunch to wait for our guide and the safari jeep. We are very glad, we got this very knowledgeable, sharp eye safari guide, Dinesh.

There are a couple of national parks in Sri Lanaka to go on a safari, we chose Yala National Park just because it is renowned for the variety of its Wildlife, and it’s the best park to spot a leopard. The cost of going on this Safari is not cheap, for a 5hr half day safari, the price is USD43/head (children are counted as 1/2 head). It was quite an experience though, so again, it’s something you shouldn’t miss when you go to Sri Lanka.

We had to go on a safari jeep, get entrance tickets and get registered (and go to the toilet if need to). Once we entered the park, we are supposed to stay in the jeep all the time, so going to the bushes to release yourself is not possible. There are only certain areas dedicated for a pit stop, for a half day safari, there won’t be time to stop.

Once we entered the park, Dinesh started pointing to different bushes, different directions to show us the animals his sharp eyes spotted. We were intrigued by peacocks which were every where, and wanted him to stop for us to photograph them. After a few stop, he told us that we did not have much time especially for peacocks as they are every where. He told us to focus on animals which are more rare, but he’ll stop if we saw something we really want to photograph. We went with his suggestion, and here are some of the things we saw.

(don’t know how Dinesh could even spot this among the bushes while navigating the bumpy road)

(Ok, biology isn’t one of my best subject, I don’t know what are the names of these birds we saw even though Dinesh mentioned their names when he pointed them out).

Things got excited when we started seeing mammals! Like wild boars (no photos though as they were really fast), and elephants!

One got really near. These are wild elephants, no chain marks on the legs, not trained, just wild and free to roam.

I think a Safari is considered successful/complete when a leopard is spotted. Dinesh was eager to let us see one, but by evening, there was still no leopards spotted.

We saw more things, but still no sign of the leopard.

Another lone elephant spotted.

As dusk fell, we were giving up hope, as all safari jeeps have to leave the park by 6:30pm, we were running out of time.

Good thing was Dinesh WANTED us to see the leopard, so he used whatever time that’s left to drive through the park again and again (although most other safari jeeps have started to leave the park). We honestly didn’t think we’ll see one and then there it was.

Resting on a rock.

Only 3 safari trucks (including ours) saw it. What an achievement! Even though it was a bumpy ride (literally), we left Yala National Park happy.

On our way back, Dinesh in good spirit, asked if we wanted to stop at a supermarket to buy snacks or drinks. We didn’t want to, instead, hubs wanted a stop at the temple to see people praying during Poya.

It was an exceptionally long day, we were all tired and dirty (from the dust at Yala) when we got back to Saraii Village. So imagine how annoyed we were to find our mattresses at our tree house all wet AND to know we have to change the bed sheets ourselves?

Glimpses of Our March Holiday

April 1, 2013 at 10:38 pm

How did your March holiday go? We went on a holiday and here are sketches done by Zaria on the places we stayed and the things she saw during the holidays.

Fresco Water Villa

Sigiriya

Melhem Resort

Saraii Village

Apa Villa

Elephant

Peacock

Know where we went? Wait for posts which I’ll put up later.

Lombok Part 2 – Jeeva Beloam, Pink Beach, Tanjung Ringgit

January 4, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Continues from here.

♥November 26th♥

We woke up when it got bright and the aircon was turned off (~6am). This was the view from our bed.
Jeeva Beloam Morning View

After breakfast, April and another Camp Host, Irwan, brought us to Pink Beach or Pantai Pink for snorkeling. The beach is called Pink Beach due to its pink colored sand which is formed by dead red corals, the sea calm and clear with corals near to the shore, so it’s suitable for swimming and snorkeling.

Pink Beach

There were a couple of fishermen there making breakfast of grilled fish.

Fisherman Grilling Fresh MackerelsGrilling mackerels at Pink Beach

No special BBQ equipment required to grill these mackerels. They were just propped up by the fire using twigs.Grilling mackerels at Pink Beach

Friendly fishermenFriendly fishermen at Pink Beach

Small fishing boats docking at the beach.Pink Beach

Pink Beach

Fishermen at Pink Beach

Check out the crystal clear waterCrystal Clear Sea at Pink Beach

We wanted to bring the girls out snorkeling, but they complained the snorkels were very uncomfortable (pinching their noses). So instead, they played at the beach and swam at the shallow part of the sea. April brought me and Daddy out to snorkel, while Irwan accompanied and took care of the girls.
Clear water at Pink Beach

I was all geared to snorkel the whole morning. Was excited to see bright colored star fishes in the sea bed not far from the shore. After about 15mins and when we went out further, I started feeling nauseous. The goggles affected my vision, and made me feel sick. We haven’t even reached the nice corals yet and I requested to turn back.

So I nursed my sea sick siting down under a shaded tree, while the girls got entertained by Irwan and April, and Daddy went around taking photos.
Pink Beach

Thank goodness by lunch time, I got better, and managed to enjoy the sumptuous lunch served at Jeeva Beloam. Except breakfast, lunch and dinner were 3 courses (Zara got fattened by the end of the trip due to this). The chef, even though just cooking for 4 of us (and maybe the staff too), gave us 2~3 items to choose for each course.

This is our lunch for the day.

Bread for allJeeva Beloam lunch - bread

For starters :

My chicken soupJeeva Beloam lunch - chicken soup

Daddy’s squid saladJeeva Beloam lunch - Squid Salad

Girls didn’t like the starter so they went straight to main courses.

Zaria’s fish and chipsJeeva Beloam lunch - fish and chips

Zara’s Hawaian pizzaJeeva Beloam lunch - pizza

Our chicken satayJeeva Beloam lunch - satay

The dessert, Cream CaramelJeeva Beloam lunch - caramel

As it was too hot in the afternoon to do anything, we just went back to our room to laze about. I got the girls to do writing, and the coolest place to be is at the verandah (Remember no electricity supply? So we have to depend on the sea breeze to cool us down).
Jeeva Beloam verandah

Zara doing writing at Jeeva Beloam verandah to earn her time on iPad.Jeeva Beloam verandah

In the evening, April brought us out around Tanjung Ringgit.

The closest ‘commercialisation’ we got near Jeeva Beloam is this warung right next to the Jeeva Beloam guard house at the entrance of the property. The people who lived around Tanjung Ringgit depended on the land for livelihood. They farm and also rear cows on this piece on land. They are poor (in monetary sense but may be richer than us city folks in other things) but warmth. They invited Daddy for coffee when he went out walking alone.Tanjung Ringgit Warong

Tanjung Ringgit, used to be the base of Japanese armed force during World War II period, there is a Japanese hiding cave (which we didn’t explore, as April told us it’s not safe to do so) and some cannons left behind by the Japanese soldiers, although most of them have been taken away. The bumpy semi-paved roads where laid by the Japanese back then. The attraction around here is the beautiful beaches, the spectacular cliffs, and because of its remoteness, there’s no crowds, building, just nature.

As it was dry season when we were there, all trees have shed leaves and gone barren.Tanjung Ringgit forest

There was a simple lighthouse on Tanjung Riggit.Tanjung Ringgit Lighthouse

The sole Japanese WWII cannon left behind and still standingTanjung Ringgit Japanese WW2 cannon

This strange flower was blooming everywhere, even though it was the dry seasonTanjung Ringgit flower

We were glad that the Camp Hosts in Jeeva Beloam helped us with our girls especially during the excursion nearby. Here, April holding on to Zaria as she got a bit excited running around the bumpy hill.Zaria with April at Tanjung Ringgit

Enjoying the view at Tanjung Ringgit Tanjung Ringgit

We were told that the salt content in the sea water around Tanjung Ringgit is higher, making the seafood and fish more delicious, so locals like going cliff fishing here.

Cliff fishermanCliff Fisherman at Tanjung Ringgit

Another cliff fishermanCliff Fisherman at Tanjung Ringgit

The view here is stunning.
Tanjung Ringgit View

Tanjung Ringgit Cliff

Tanjung Ringgit

This is the car that we used during our stay in Jeeva Beloam. Now Zaria is saying we should get one of these so that we have more space to carry things.
Jeeva Beloam transport

About 5:30pm, it started to get dark. The barren trees looked pretty creepy (although pretty) at dusk.
Dusk at Tanjung Ringgit

Back at Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp, the girls wanted to play at the beach even when it’s dark. Just when we hit the beach, a staff sent a lamp over. He told us he would be standing close by should we need any assistance and then he went and stood 50 meters away. That’s how it is in Jeeva Beloam, the Camp Hosts are nearby to help and assist you, but at the same time giving you space and privacy.

Continues here.

Lombok Part 1 – Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp

December 29, 2012 at 6:36 pm

My memory of Lombok when I went on a company trip more than 10years ago was : beautiful beaches and clear sea, uncommercialised, laid back. So when I learnt about Air Asia’s plan to fly there, I immediately convinced Daddy to go there for a holiday. We planned to break our holidays into 2 parts, touristy Senggigi and a quiet part of Lombok.

After much research, and trying to pick between the 2 famous Lombok hotels Jeeva Klui and Qunci Villas (both highly rated in Tripadvisor) as our Senggigi base, we found out that the Jeeva Klui management have another camp like property, Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp, just opened, in a very remote part of Lombok.

We contacted a few properties South of Lombok and Jeeva Beloam, we were attracted by Jeeva Beloam’s offer (all inclusive, camp like, remote) and decided to go there as the first part of our holiday.

Jeeva Beloam initially did not want to accept the 2 girls since the property does not have facilities for children and being far from everything (nearest public health facilities an hours away); but after a few email exchanges with them, we managed to persuade them and agreed to take full responsibility of the girls’ well being while there.

The plan was set. We would spend the first part of our holiday in Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp then to Jeeva Klui.

♥November 25th♥

We arrived late morning in Lombok, and easily spotted April, our Jeeva Beloam camp host, who came to pick us up.

Jeeva Beloam is located at Tanjung Ringgit, the remote South Eastern tip of Lombok (so remote that roads are not paved, and there’s no electricity supply). The 90 minutes drive from the airport took us on small country roads going through rice and tobacco farms. April was obliging and stopped upon our request whenever we saw something interesting.

A warung spotted along the way

Lombok Warung

Most tobacco farmers have already harvested their tobacco, leaving the fields pretty barren.

Tobacco Plant

We even managed to make a pit stop at a salt farm using salt pans or salt evaporation ponds.

(From Wikipedia : Salt evaporation ponds, also called salterns or salt pans, are shallow artificial ponds designed to extract salts from sea water or other brines. The seawater or brine is fed into large ponds and water is drawn out through natural evaporation which allows the salt to be subsequently harvested.)

Salt farmer drying sea water

Lombok Saltpan

Pools of seawater, which will dry up and turn into salt

Lombok Salt Farming

Salt farmer ready for work

Salt Farmer

Zaria picking up salt crystals found along the salt pans

Salt from Salt Farm

After passing the last village where electricity services terminate, the rest of the 11km car journey was on a semi paved road built by the Japanese during WW2, hence it was very bumpy (but the girls had fun rocking around in the car).

Arriving Jeeva Beloam

Upon arrival at Jeeva Beloam, we were greeted by other warm Camp Hosts, AND a spectacular view.

We were told we were the only guests there during our stay, so we have this whole luxurious camp all to ourselves!

The five available Berugas, i.e. rooms

Jeeva Beloam Berugas

The key to our Beruga

Jeeva Beloam - The key

The view from the restaurant.

Jeeva Beloam - The view

The view from our balcony.

Jeeva Beloam - The view from the room

There’s no electricity supplied to Jeeva Beloam, lights were powered by solar panels, and power from generator was only turned on from 6pm to 6am daily. Hence during the day, we only got sea breeze instead of fan; but after 6pm, we can have the aircon turned on, and all power sockets working (to charge our phone, camera batteries, laptops).

Our room.

Jeeva Beloam - The room

Tea and Coffee making facilities (fresh supplies of hot water was provided in flask instead of using electrical kettle)

Jeeva Beloam - The room

The shower

Jeeva Beloam - The shower

As this is an all inclusive stay, all activities like cycling, soft tracking, snorkeling were included and we got 3 meals from the camp. A set menu was provided for each meal, but the chef will accommodate any special requests, if the ingredients were available.

The lunch menu on the day we arrived

Jeeva Beloam - The Menu

The dadar gulung we had which consisted of shredded coconuts with palm sugar wrapped with pancakes

Jeeva Beloam - Dadar Gulung

It rained while we were having lunch, cooling the place down. (As Jeeva Beloam wasn’t set up for children, children who visit the place need to be sensible to avoid accident.)
Jeeva Beloam - Rain

We spent the hot afternoon napping in the room, with sea breeze cooling us. And after the girls woke up, they wanted to play at the beach. The girls claimed it’s one of the most beautiful places they have been to. The sand powdery soft, and the sea crystal blue, and the beach is just few meters away from our room. The waves were very strong and not suitable for swimming but there are other places which April would bring us in the next few days for swimming.
Jeeva Beloam - The beach

Jeeva Beloam - The beach

Jeeva Beloam - The beach

In the evening, April brought us to one of the nearby beaches to view sunset. (In Tanjung Ringgit, both sun rise and sun set can be viewed from different beaches).
Tanjung Ringgit Beach

It got dark around 6:30pm in Lombok. We had a nice long dinner, and then have an early night.

Girls waiting for dinner.

Jeeva Beloam - Restaurant

The building that houses the Reception, Library and Game Room

Jeeva Beloam Reception

The Restaurant

Jeeva Beloam Tenda Restaurant

Our Beruga

Jeeva Beloam Berugas

Continues here.

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