A Beautiful Home in Hikkaduwa

Sri Lanka

I spent the first few days of 2018 on the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, otherwise known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. It really is one of my favourite destinations for a number of reasons, the beautiful scenery, the wildlife, the food, and the wonderful hospitality of the Sri Lankan people.

After 7 years, my friend Mark has left Thailand and is currently living in the coastal town of Hikkaduwa on Sri Lanka’s south west coast, and I was lucky enough to stay in the house he has rented.

Dahana Holiday House

And what a house it was! Dahana Holiday House is something else. A gorgeous villa with an exquisite garden with green grass, vibrant flowers, many species of trees and plants, and daily visits from colourful birds and butterflies. There’s even a mongoose that roots around in the undergrowth every day which I, sadly, never got to see. And let’s not forget the fish pond with koi carp, statues, and interesting wall hangings inside. It’s not your average place to stay that’s for sure.

Dahana Holiday House is located in Seenigama, a small Sri Lankan village, around 2 kilometres from the main town of Hikkaduwa. It’s a sleepy neighbourhood where the locals go about their day to day business. As you walk along the small lane to the main Colombo-Galle road, men on bicycles cycle by, women in brightly coloured saris pass you by, with just a hint of curiosity in their eyes, and couples walking along hand in hand, sheltered from the sun by their umbrellas. Dare to say hello and you’ll get a wonderfully warm smile in return. Crossing over the main railway line makes for some fabulous photo opportunities, and if you’re there at the right time you can marvel at the train as it trundles past with its passengers hanging out of the doors.

The Guys

The house is looked after by manager, Sanjaya Indrajith, and housekeeper, Lasitha Pathum, or just Pathum. Pathum is also a fantastic cook and he’ll rustle up just about anything you desire for breakfast from typical Sri Lankan fare to European food. His eggs, sausages and tomatoes served with toast is delicious and just what you need for the day ahead.

Accommodation in Sri Lanka
Sanjaya Indrajith
Accommodation in Sri Lanka
Lasitha Pathum

Healthy Living

It’s not only Dahana Holiday House that will lift your spirits while staying here. There is also the, aptly named, Villa Spice Forest, a second villa, just as gorgeous and just as calm as the first. Pathum took me on a tour of the grounds and he explained that the resort uses herbs and spices from the garden to produce Ayurveda medicines for health purposes. These same herbs and spices are also used in the food that he cooks. You’ll love the platter of fruits, like pineapple and guava, that is served straight from the trees. All of the food produced is organic without any fertilisers being added, so if you’re looking to stay healthy while enjoying your holiday, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll be as amazed as I was, when Pathum gives you a handful of leaves to smell and you recognise the smells of cinnamon, allspice, vanilla and ginger, or he points out turmeric and aloe vera plants.  It’s simply wonderful.

Meditation and Buddhism

Sanjaya told me that if visitors want to learn about Buddhism during their stay he will be only too happy to share the Buddhist philosophy and a little of the Sri Lankan history and culture. If mediation is on your mind, he can teach you why it’s important and how to use it properly. Believe me, the quiet and stillness of the garden is the perfect place for morning meditation or maybe a spot of yoga.

River Safari

Both Sanjaya and Pathum speak English and are on hand to help with anything from organising trips to pickups and drop offs at the airport. My friend and I wanted to go on a river safari, so we talked to the guys and they suggested we visit the Madu River or Madu Ganga. They told us there was a lake 10 minutes from Hikkaduwa, but they suggested we travel the 8 kilometres to the Madu River because this was the better place to visit. We weren’t disappointed. Sanjaya and Pathum drove us there in their tuk-tuk and even came on the safari with us. The river is huge and has some 64 islands and is home to over 300 species of plants and over 248 species of animals. It is said to be one of the last remaining areas of untouched mangrove forests in Sri Lanka. As we travelled along the river we saw brightly coloured kingfishers, water monitors, snoozing in the mangroves, sea eagles, herons and cormorants. We got off the boat onto Cinnamon Island and we learned how cinnamon sticks are made. The guy who lives there stripped the bark of the tree, this alone smelled heavenly, then he carved strips off the bark with his knife and laid them on a rack to dry out. My friend and I were intrigued because you don’t often think about where things come from when you’re shopping in the supermarket. I’m a cinnamon lover, it’s so healthy for you, so we bought some cinnamon powder for tea and a small jar of cinnamon oil which is good for fighting viruses and helps to decrease inflammations, among other things.

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Around Hikkaduwa

Dahana Holiday House and Spice Forest is just 400m from the sea, in fact, when the waves are high, you can just about hear them crashing onto the beach on a still night. The town is not far away and there are tuk-tuks available if you want to spend the evening in any number of Hikkaduwa’s bars or restaurants. It’s also ideally located for onward travel as the train and bus stations are close by.

There’s plenty of stuff to see in Hikkaduwa. Hikkaduwa beach is a stunning stretch of golden sand perfect for relaxing or surfing in the huge waves. Seenigama Muhudu Vihara is a small temple located on a tiny island just offshore, just a 3 minute boat ride away. The Tsunami Honganji Vihara is a temple erected to commemorate those that lost their lives in the 2004 tsunami. A statue of the Buddha, with its hands facing the sea for protection, was donated by the Japanese for good luck. There is another tsunami museum further along the road with hundreds of photos which brings home just how devastating this natural disaster was. The woman who runs the museum will give you a little insight into what happened. It’s very sad and shocking, but it’s a beautiful memorial to visit.

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Just a 15 minute walk from the house, in the small town of Peraliya, is the sea turtle hatchery. A fantastic place to learn of the conservation work they are doing to protect these beautiful sea creatures, and the programs in place for recovering turtles before they are released back into the sea. If you’re lucky enough to be around when the baby turtles are released into the sea for the first time, it’s an experience not to be missed.

The Details

During the high season between October and March Dahana Holiday House costs $55 per night and can sleep up to 6 people. For over 4 guests there is a charge of $10 per person, per night.

Villa Spice Forest has two parts, 2 rooms on the ground floor and 3 rooms upstairs. The cost for upstairs is $55 per night and can sleep up to 6 people. For over 4 guests there is a charge of $10 per person, per night. The ground floor also costs $55 per night and can sleep up to 4 people.

Low season between March and October the cost is $40 per night for both houses. Additional guests will be charged $10 per person per night.

If guests plan to stay more than 1 month they will receive a 30% discount.

$30 will be charged for cleaning for 2 week stay.

For bookings and prices for your chosen dates you can find Dahana Holiday House and Villa Spice Resort on www.booking.com and www.airbnb.com or contact Sanjaya at sanjayaindrajith@gmail.com/tel: +94 775787279.

Dahana Holiday House
Seenigama-Aluthwala Road
Hikkaduwa
Southern Province
Sri Lanka
80240

See morrisophotography.co.uk for more photos of Sri Lanka

 

Photo Walks Around the City; November and December 2017

On the last round up of what’s happening on the streets of Bangkok, I took relatively few photographs. But here they are. We’ve already said goodbye to 2017 and welcomed 2018 in with open arms!

Happy New Year to you!!

I hope 2018 brings joy and good fortune with everything we do!

Much love 🙂

House of Lucie

The House of Lucie is an art gallery that I have wanted to visit for a while and last year I went to see “Unseen Lithuania” by Marius Jovaisa, a world famous photographer known for his aerial photography.

The House of Lucie aims to honor master photographers like Steve McCurry, Sebastiao Salgado, David Bailey and Lord Snowdon. It also aims to discover and cultivate emerging talent and to promote the appreciation of photography worldwide.

Here are some of my favourite photographs by these masters photographers

And some familiar faces from across the world

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Audrey Hepburn by Douglas Kirkland

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Cassius Clay by Marvin E Newman

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Micheal Jackson by Gene Trindl

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Bob Dylan by David Bailey

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Bob Marley by David Burnett

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Muhammad Ali by Howard Bingham

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Ornette Coleman by William Claxton

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Salvador Dali by Arnold Newman

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Pablo Picasso by Arnold Newman

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
Grace Jones by Jean-Paul Goude

 

Art Galleries in Bangkok
David Bowie by Antonin Kratochvil

I loved looking at these photographs. I recognised most of the celebs but not others. Now, most of these people are no longer with us, so it’s lovely that these photographs remain to serve as a kind of memorial.

For more art galleries in Bangkok, check out one of my previous posts.

 

French Ambassador’s Residence, Bangkok

The French Embassy is located in the Bang Rak district of Bangkok, on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and in the grounds of the embassy is the residence of the French ambassador, Gérard Araud. Usually, I only get a glimpse of this charming colonial-style building from the river as the boat surges on by but once a year, in September, the ambassador open his doors to the public as part of the European Heritage Days initiative. This initiative was started in 1984 so everyone could enjoy free visits to various sites in order to appreciate and learn about cultural heritage. It also raises awareness of citizens to the richness and cultural diversity of Europe, in particular.

Art and Culture in Bangkok
The ambassador’s home from the outside

The house was built around 1830, and in 1856 it was rented by the customs department to the French trading mission, before being awarded to France by King Rama V in 1875.

Art and Culture in Bangkok
Photograph of the original house

There are guided tours available in different languages but the number of people is limited. However, you are free to wander through the house and grounds between 10.00am and 4.00pm. The tour includes lunch which you can enjoy in a seating area on the ground floor of the house.

Art and Culture in Bangkok
The spacious back garden

On the day I visited, I just missed a tour and I didn’t want to hang around waiting for the next one, although the lady told me I could go back and join the next one, but I was happy just to mooch around on my own.

So, let’s see what’s inside.

Art and Culture in Bangkok
The seating area on the veranda

Art and Culture in Bangkok

The reception room

The living room with a few of the ambassador’s collectibles

The dining room

Art and Culture in Bangkok
The dining table ready for dinner
Art and Culture in Bangkok
The menu from 1913

Another dining room

The book collection

Art and Culture in Bangkok

Art and Culture in Bangkok
The Bangkok Times

My favourite, some old photos and newspaper clippings of meetings between two nations

For relaxing

Art and Culture in Bangkok
The swimming pool
Art and Culture in Bangkok
Some more snapshots and knick knacks
Art and Culture in Bangkok
Chill out zone at the back of the house

This garden is amazing and I can just imagine sitting by the river with a glass of wine. I wonder if the ambassador does that? 😉

Fantastic river views

Places like this in Bangkok just amaze me. I hope you enjoyed the tour 🙂

Guided tours:

French: 10.30am, 11.30am, 2.00pm, 3.00pm
Thai: 10.40am, 11.40am, 2.10pm, 3.10pm
English: 10.50am, 11.50am, 2.20pm, 3.20pm

Address:

Trees Glorious Trees

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I love trees! I love anything to do with nature, but trees are one of nature’s beauties. And what’s not to love about them?

They have many different colours

Nature Photography
Mount Lofty, Adelaide
Nature Photography
Mount Lofty, Adelaide

Some grow up from the forest floor, giving the forest diversity

Nature Photography
Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne

Some are weather beaten or their leaves eaten by insects and other animals, so they provide food, not just for the animals, but as they deteriorate they provide nutrients for the forest

Some may have died…

…but they still have their place where they once grew

Some grow together to create a forest of natural columns

Nature Photography
Mount Lofty, Adelaide

They create a leafy paradise in parks…

Nature Photography
Adelaide Botanic Gardens

.. and on river walks

Nature Photography
Along the River Torrens, Adelaide

They grow tall and colossal, like mythological titans

Nature Photography
Khao Kheow National Park, Thailand
Nature Photography
Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne

Some of them are ancient and have seen centuries and history unfold in front of them

Nature Photography
Adelaide Botanic Gardens

Their branches grow like lightening-forks or reaching arms

They provide shelter and shade to other living things

Nature Photography
Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne

They stand dignified as we pass by, engrossed in our own thoughts, walking under the arches they have created

There are those trees that grow out of water

Nature Photography
Chonburi Mangrove Reserve, Thailand

And those that grow in towns and cities

They are fruit bearing

Nature Photography
Khao Kheow National Park, Thailand

And they produce leaves of different colours, shapes, and patterns

Do you love nature? What are the things you love?

For more nature click here  and here 🙂

 

Photo Walks Around The City; October 2017

In October, I was in Phra Nakhon area, one of my favourite places to hang out.

I took a bike to the intersection where Lan Luang Road meets Ratchadamnoen Klang Road where King Prajadhipok Museum and Wat Saket are located.

I stood for what seemed like ages for a gap in the traffic.

Up the steps of Phanfa Bridge

Mahakan Fort, one of the two remaining forts that protected the city, the other being Phra Sumen Fort

Wat Ratchanatdaram (Loha Prasat or Iron Castle)

Architecture on Phra Sumen Road

Wat Bowonniwet Vihara where King Bhumibol resided when he was a monk

And my walk ended at Thanon Tinao. It doesn’t look busy at this time. Give it a few hours and it’s heaving

Photo Walks in Bangkok

Still plenty more to see in this city I call home. I hope you enjoyed my walkabout as much as I did walking about! 🙂

Visit morrisophotography for more photographs 🙂

The Paths in Life

 

Paths in Life
One of my favourite quotes by Khalil Gibran

“The one moment that changed my life and sent me on a path that would end up living in Thailand came twelve years ago in 2005.”

“Throughout life, everyone travels down certain paths and sometimes things happen that set you on a different path and although you may feel scared or unhappy, just know that you’ll be stronger for it. What doesn’t kill you…, right? Don’t think of the negatives, think positive and be excited at not knowing where your new path will lead you to.”

“I often think in life we all start to travel down one road, be that marriage or kids, and that’s our life. We get on with things and we make the most of what we have, and we’re happy, but then something happens, like divorce, which causes us to travel down a new path, an uncharted course that filled me with anxiety.”

“A path that seems so uncertain, very much the opposite of what we’ve experienced before.”

“….my life was taking a new path and I wasn’t anything but happy about that.”

“….the next trip I took was one that set me down a path that would eventually lead me to a life in Thailand.”

“Don’t be scared to go your own path…”

Above, are excerpts from my new book and I seem to mention paths quite a lot.

I am a great believer in going your own way, maybe that’s something that comes with getting older, but I believe that it’s the only way for people to really life their own lives.

I am not saying this is right for everyone, certainly not, I know everyone is different, but I remember when I was younger I would follow the crowd and it was great. But I have changed, I’m not like that anymore, I do what pleases me and go where I want to go and that’s great too.

Paths in Life
London

If I hadn’t done that I would probably still be living in my hometown. So instead, I branched out and began following a new path and I am so much happier for it.

Was it scary? Hell yes!

Am I stronger? Yes, I am!

Have a learned more about myself? Yes definitely!

Paths in Life
Paphos, Cyprus

These are all positive things that have happened, even the scary part, but I had to start with that one step along my new path.

And my path may yet change again in the not too distant future. Not because I am unhappy now, far from it, but I want some new challenges in my life and I want to start planning for my future (something I would never have said 3 years ago!) I guess it comes to us all.

So, who knows where this new road will lead me. It’s scary and uncertain, but it’s also challenging and exciting. And, for me,  that’s the beauty of following paths!

Paths in Life
Koh Tao

Visit morrisophotography for more photographs of The Paths of Life 🙂

Photo Walks Around the City; September 2017

My wanderings took me all over the place in September.

From my vantage point at the House of Lucie in Ekkamai. I was there for an art exhibition

Photos walks in Bangkok

The steps to the BTS station have some words to get you through the week

Photos walks in Bangkok

A stroll along Saen Saep Canal

Turning into Kasem San 2 Alley with flowers and trees making it feel like you’re not really in a big city

Photos walks in Bangkok

Back in the throng of things and Bangkok’s newest skywalk. It crosses over the busy Pathumwan intersection. It cost 300 million baht to construct

Phaya Thai Road with my favourite building, Mahanakhon, at the end of the road on the left.

Photos walks in Bangkok

One of Bangkok’s many canals, taken from Phanfa Bridge

Photos walks in Bangkok

Phra Sumen Fort on Phra Athit Road, taken at the blue hour

One of my favourite roads, Phra Athit Road

Another fun street to hang out, Soi Rambuttri

I hope you enjoyed September’s walkabout. Until the next time 🙂

Visit morrisophotography for more photography 🙂

The Ladies of Ta Khian

Here in Thailand, you’ll see colourful strips of material wrapped around trees all over the country. Legend has it that a female spirit, called Nang Ta Khian, or Lady of Ta Khian, lives in the trees and surrounding areas. The trees are also called Ta Khian  (Hopea odorata) and can grow up to 45 metres in height, so pretty big.

Thailand Folklore and Legends
Bangkok

The spirits, known collectively as Nang Mai (Ladies of the Tree) sometimes appear as beautiful women and people wrap the material around the trunks of the trees in order to keep the spirits happy. Also, Ta Khian trees are sometimes felled for their wood, but people believe that consent from the spirit must be given before the tree is cut down, so a special ceremony is usually carried out.

Thailand Folklore and Legends
Rayong

It’s not only Ta Khian trees that are used for this purpose. In February, I went to Koh Chang on holiday and there were two really tall fig trees, with huge roots, some of which were around 18 inches high, at the bottom of my friends garden, right next to the sea.

Thailand Folklore and Legends
Koh Chang

They were both ceremoniously wrapped. He suggested that I bring my own piece of protection and add to the collection around the tree.

Thailand Folklore and Legends
Koh Chang
Thailand Folklore and Legends
Koh Chang

I don’t really believe in spirits, but I think it’s a nice thing to do (maybe I do believe), but a little piece of me is still there on Koh Chang.

Thailand Folklore and Legends
Koh Chang