What are the things that you always bring to your travel? Even on a short weekend getaway? Here’s mine!
1. A small satchel (to carry everything)
2. My Canon G16 Cam
3. My Travel Journal (Surat Journals — of course)
4. Other things that I usually carry are: a light scarf (pashmina), a good book, and my Samsung Note 8.
Before writing a more detailed blog/s about my trip to Sri Lanka, I thought of sharing first my impression of this beautiful country.
I came to Sri Lanka as a complete stranger, I don’t know anyone in this country or even from this country (who is in Dubai). Well you might be wondering why I decided to visit this country? Why not? I have been reading how beautiful the beaches and how rich the culture of Sri Lanka are and this two elements combined together creates a perfect get away ( and yes, I need to get a way for a little while ^^).
As I searched several blogs, trip reviews and travel agencies, I went to Sri Lanka along with a friend of mine expecting a wonderful adventure a head of us.
With our short trip (meaning we only got a portion of this country can offer), these are the things that I got from it!
Sri Lanka is indeed a GREEN PARADISE.
From the airport until our final location, all we saw were never ending green landscapes; valleys, trees, mountains and more trees. This was really a different view from all the skyscrapers in Dubai.
Thick green mountains, water falls, lakes and beautiful beaches, you can all find it here.
Sri Lanka is a small island nation, so you can go from coast to coast easily. You can hop on a train (mostly recommended) or rent car (which we did due to the short time we have —but I will try that train ride soon). You will be in a mountain area now and after just 5 hours on the road you will find yourself standing on a sandy beach.
If you are thinking of booking a private tour, with a private car to roam around Sri Lanka, you can check out http://www.travel-srilanka.eu and choose from their wide selection of tour packages.
The city of Kandy, where we stayed overnight was no different as well. Even though this is one of the biggest cities in Sri Lanka, the town is very clean and as you can see in photos below, the natural landscape is picturesque.
I even saw my first cherry blossom tree here. ^^
We were so lucky that our driver was very helpful and when we mentioned about wanting to see the beaches, even though it was not part of our tour package, he went out of his way and brought us in this magnificent sunset view.
More than the green forests and terrains, Sri Lanka is famous for its beaches. After seeing this, I am not wondering why any more.
Another thing that I love about Sri Lanka is their diverse and amazing wildlife. Being a tropical country, Sri Lanka is a haven for different types of animals (and insects). Even though bugs can become annoying, instead of complaining, just appreciate that you are one with nature. (if you will just complain about bugs, just stay inside your hotel room—-sometimes I am guilty of this).
Speaking of being one with nature, it was a privileged having a close encounter with these beauties. This was the closest I’ve been with an elephant. I got to ride on its back and even scrubbed and bathe it. Although, what I felt, before, during and after was pretty much a roller coaster of opinions and emotions, I must say that this is one of the highlights of my trip. More of what I think about the Elephant Orphanage in another blog soon.
Aside from the rich natural beauty, Sri Lanka is also rich in culture. Everywhere you look, you can see traces of what Sri Lankan believes and also bits of its history.
Being a Buddhist nation, temples and different statues of Buddha can be seen everywhere. Although we didn’t visit a lot of temples, our trip to the Tooth Temple in Kandy gave us a glimpse of the Sri Lankan devotion to Buddha.
Sri Lanka is a location for 8 Unesco Heritage Sites, this speaks well about the Sri Lankan culture and heritage.
Sri Lanka is also a nation rich in festivities and arts. We saw a full length show of different Kandy Traditional Dance gracefully performed by the local artists.
I also saw how PASSIONATE the locals are with their crafts. I’ve seen Sri Lankan laborers in Dubai and I know for a fact that they are one of the most industrious people in the world.
On our way to the tea factory, I saw these women plucking tea leaves under th scorching sun. I actually tried it and it was really hard. What I loved about this is that these beautiful ladies with their surely aching back still has a smile in their face ready to greet us.
One sad thing though, tourism really took its effect in some of the areas in Sri Lanka. I can say that I was a little shocked (but understood why) that a lot of people who helped us expected a tip right away. Tipping became a norm and can range from 500-1500 Sri Lankan Rupees. That is why whenever someone took their time to help us without actually expecting anything in return I was really happy and we appreciate it very much —-there are still a lot of them out there ^^.
Everyone offered us a big warm smile wherever we go! (that kid at the center smiled after I took this photo :P)
I really am not that familiar with Sri Lankan food, that is why before going here, I consulted blogs (and youtube videos) in order to know what to expect. After having a taste, I can say that Sri Lankan food has this interestingly flavorful. Somewhere in between Indian and Thai food, most of their cuisines are spicy and blended with curry and coconut milk.
I will not pretend that everyone will like it, but it can be an interesting adventure for your taste buds.
If you have planning for a trip where you can just unwind, be embraced by nature and immersed in culture, you should consider visiting Sri Lanka. Either for a short or long trip, I am sure you will love this place the way that I loved it (even more).
No one can argue that a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge will be the highlight of every San Francisco trip! The bay area will not be complete without this iconic architectural piece.
For our main tour of the city, before heading to Napa Valley, we planned to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and walk from one end to another.
On our way to the bridge, we first passed by a famous ice cream parlor called Mitchells.
"Established in 1953, Mitchell’s is a family-owned business located in San Francisco’s Mission District", they are famous for their handmade ice creams which they are producing daily.
My friend was really excited to show us some of their flavors which includes Filipino favorites like Halo-Halo, Ube and Macapuno.
According to their website: http://mitchellsicecream.com/
"They continued to add flavors as their store became more popular and in the early 1960’s they were the first to introduce Mango ice cream to the Bay Area. Mango quickly became (and remains to this day) their number one seller. As the neighborhood changed and became more diverse, they increased the number of tropical flavors that they manufactured by importing a variety of exotic fruit from the Philippines. ”
this is the reason why people in the bay area can enjoy these delicious flavors.
I ordered ube and macapuno scoops
On our way to the bridge, we realized that the fog was starting to creep in, so in order to get a full view of the bridge from the Ridge Battery (trust me you want to see it from this view), we need to be there quickly.
Instead of walking/biking, we all decided that driving will be our best option. We drove our way towards the Ridge Battery.
It is a (not so) secret viewing point. It’s not so crowded because normally tour buses do not go here. Mostly those who are being toured by local friends and also bike trekkers go to this place.
It was very cold and windy. I think all year round it’s like this (just assuming—don’t trust my word on this one). But aside from the wind and weather, it looks amazing. You can see the whole bay area and the massive stretch of the Golden Gate bridge is just overwhelming.
After a few minutes, the bridge was slowly being covered by the fog, when we left you can only see half of it. It would have been nice to have walked along the bridge but it was better to have seen it in its full glory.
If you have time, do try to rent a bike. A Norwegian and German traveler ( now my friends) I met in Los Angeles did it and they said it was a great experience.
I was so happy that along with my fellow Filipino bloggers in Dubai, we have decided to meet up in a little Indonesian Restaurant called Betawi.
It is located along a (semi) hidden street in Karama. Just at the back of Park Regis Hotel. If you are not familiar around Karama, better get hold of a map ( yey for google map!).
I have tried Betawi once after reading a lot of great reviews about it. To be honest, the first time I tried it, it didn’t catch my taste so I was excited to give it a second go.
It is a small and humble restaurant but boasting on its reputation as one of the best South East Asian Restaurants in Dubai. In fact, it was honored last 2011 by Time Out Dubai as a “Highly Recommended South East Asian Restaurant”.
With its authentic Indonesian menu selections, it attracts not only Indonesian expats but also a lot of different nationalities (including Filipinos like us).
With my renewed hope, I asked the one million dollar question—-what is you specialty? The waitress, a Filipina, immediately recommended the Nasi Padang. A plain rice based meal topped with vegetable curry and sided with egg bolado (hard boiled egg with chilli sauce)and with your choice of either grilled chicken or beef rendang (caramelized beef curry).
Aside from this, other specialties include the famous Nasi Goreng (no brainer, we ordered this of course!) and the beautifully presented Pecel Timbel.
Nasi Padang with Beef Randang - 28 dhs
I ordered this. As mentioned, it was highly recommended by our waitress. It’s full of flavor but blended together by a strong curry taste. If you like flavors and spices, this is the dish for you.
Nasi Padang with Grilled Chicken - 28 dhs
Siomay - 25 dhs
I love siomai (dumplings) but this particular Indonesian version is very different. This tangy appetizer is a set of steamed fish dumplings topped with unsweetened peanut sauce.
Sate Ayam with Rice - 25 dhs
This is a marinated chicken satay topped with peanut sauce (the love curry and peanut sauce — don’t you think?)
Nasi Goreng - 25 dhs
This famous rice based meal (Nasi - means rice) has been a popular choice for many in any South East Asian Restaurant — well, why won’t you? It is a very heavy meal packed with spices, meat and perfectly crisped sunny side up egg.
Pecel Timbel - 30 dhs
When I saw this, I told myself..ooh I should have ordered this one! Aside from its presentation, it is a full packed meal. You have soup, garlic rice, sticky rice cake, fish crackers, grilled chicken —- and of course PEANUT SAUCE!
For drinks, aside from the usual iced tea and soft drinks, they have specialty drinks such as Es Teller (fruit cocktail, coconut, milk and grass jelly mix - 15 dhs) and the Es Campur (fruit cocktail, jackfruit, avocado, coconut, grass jelly and Indonesian syrup mix - 15 dhs). These are sweet drinks but totally refreshing.
All in all, I really liked it! Very affordable and flavorful. This is not a posh place which is very much ideal if you are looking for comfort food or just a place to satisfy those Asian food cravings.
South East Asian food are known for being spicy, full of flavors and at times very sweet, so if you are salivating for this kind of meals, Betawi is highly recommendable.