Parks and the City #2

My favourite park, and possibly my favourite place to go, in Bangkok is King Rama IX Park. It’s not far from where I live and I go there to run most weeks. Sometimes, I go there just with my camera because, around every corner, there is so much to photograph and I never get tired of taking photos of the same things, but I always manage to find something novel.

There is plenty of wildlife to encounter. Here are a few of the birds and animals that I regularly see there.

Parks in Bangkok
Little Egret
Parks in Bangkok
Water Monitor, looking at me, looking at him (or her)!
Parks in Bangkok
Chinese Pond Heron. I love the light on the water, it looks like it’s been painted using thin strokes
Parks in Bangkok
Green Bulbul

There are so many beautiful flowers in the park too.

Once a year, in December, there is a flower festival called The Magnificent Plants that Beautify the Suan Luang Rama IX Flowers Festival. Fantastic name, don’t you think? It really is a great time to visit because they make a special effort to plant new flowers, so there is an outburst of colour during the festival.

During the festival, many people have stalls where they create beautiful displays of flowers for people to buy.

There is more than just flowers and plants to buy, there’s also Thai food and handicrafts.

King Rama IX is a huge park, covering around 200 acres and there are 2,300 plant species and loads of trees for shade on a sunny day, which is usually everyday here.

There are 6 different areas to the park.

Parks in Bangkok
International Garden with a Roman temple
Parks in Bangkok
The Garden of the Great King with the Ratchamangkala Pavilion
Parks in Bangkok
The Romanee Garden with flowers and plants that have been taken from other parts of Thailand to recreate the different environments from across the country.

Parks in Bangkok

Parks in Bangkok
Mangrove Forest walkway

The trunk of this tree reminds me of a giraffe setting out on a walk! Can you see it?

Parks in Bangkok

Then, there are the people who, like me, enjoy this beautiful green space a great deal. It depends on the time of day I visit as to whether there are many people about. The park gets busier as the sun goes down.

Parks in Bangkok
Sleeping
Parks in Bangkok
Chatting
Parks in Bangkok
Catching up on social media
Parks in Bangkok
Playing
Parks in Bangkok
Taking photos

And last but not least.

Parks in Bangkok
Getting married!

I hope you enjoyed our little jaunt around King Rama IX Park. Just one of Bangkok’s parks in the city! 🙂

 

 

 

The Changing Seasons – March 2018

The Changing Seasons post, inspired by the lovely Sarah at Secret Art Expedition and hosted by Su at Zimmerbitch. Here is my round up of things I got up to during March.

As I hadn’t been out exploring much since I got back from Sri Lanka, I took myself off to Chulachomklao Fort in Phra Samut Chedi District, around 29 km south of Bangkok. Getting there was fun, I only knew that I had to take the 145 bus to Pak Nam Market, then take a boat across the river, and, finally, a truck to the fort. It always seems a bit of an adventure when you don’t really know the way. I had to ask a couple of people to find the market and once I had located the truck, it dropped me off, right at the fort.

First up, the gun park which tells you the history of the guns, although the information was all in Thai, so I just had to wander around and imagine.

Things to do in Bangkok
The Gun Park

This proud statue of King Rama V stands at the front of the fort.

Things to do in Bangkok
King Rama V Statue

The disappearing guns were used only once in 1893 when the fort protected the sovereignty of Thailand from French invasion. They were designed to be hauled up by their hydro-pneumatic system for firing and lowered again afterwards.

Things to do in Bangkok

Things to do in Bangkok

Things to do in Bangkok

H.T.M.S Maeklong was in service for 60 years and deployed during WWII. It was fun to scamper about on her decks!

Things to do in Bangkok
H.T.M.S Maeklong

There’s a mangrove forest there too.

Things to do in Bangkok

 

Things to do in Bangkok
Mangrove Forest

I forgot that I had heard about the resident monkeys that live there until this one started walking towards me! I was a little nervous!

Things to do in Bangkok
Just strolling!

But, thankfully, they didn’t pay me any attention and continued to play or groom each other, oblivious to my presence.

Things to do in Bangkok

Things to do in Bangkok

It was a great day out and, although the sea looked far from the usual images that you see in Thailand, it was good to get out and about.

Things to do in Bangkok
The Gulf of Thailand

I made a video of all the beautiful birds that I saw in Sri Lanka, and, the best bit, I didn’t even have to leave the confines of my friend’s garden to see them. They greeted us with their song in the morning and it was just fabulous to hear them and see all the different species that visited throughout the day.

 

I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Nilla at Image Earth Travel for the work I do here on Talkingthailand. It’s always a joy to receive these nominations and it makes me feel happy and honoured that someone takes time out of their day to acknowledge me. Thank you again Nilla, it was very much appreciated.

At last, I picked up my sketch pad and drew something. Whenever I do this, I mean to do it more regularly, but I never get round to it. I should do it more because I love sitting down and creating something. This drawing is a copy of a painting I saw in an art gallery, but it has my own twist on it! It’s a combination of pencil, charcoal, and pastel crayons.

Things to do in free time
My Art

As well as showcasing my photographs on morrisophotography, I also upload my best shots to Viewbug, and I sometimes enter their free photo challenges. In March, I found out that 2 of my photos had been ranked in the top 50 and 1 in the top 80! When you consider the amount of people that enter these challenges, I was thrilled with this result!

Photography challenges
Artistic Wildlife Photo Challenge-Ranked Top 50
Photography challenges
Animal Families Photo Challenge-Ranked Top 50
Photography challenges
Legs Photo Challenge-Ranked Top 80

I started watching Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson. His passion and knowledge of the universe, evolution, science and much more just oozes through his silky voice. Everytime I watch it, it (he) makes me want to learn all that he knows. It really is a fantastic and mind-blowing show. I thoroughly recommend watching it, if you haven’t already!

TV Recomendations
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Photo Credit: http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/tv/cosmos-a-spacetime-odyssey/

So, that’s my March done and dusted. I’m already having an awesome April, I hope you are too 🙂

If you would like to join me and the others in this challenge, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

 

 

Parks and the City

I love going on jaunts around Bangkok and, invariably, I’ll find myself in one of the parks in the city.  Sometimes, I plan to go there, but other times I’ll wander through on my way somewhere. It’s so lovely to see all that green hidden amongst the concrete, and, even though you can still see the buildings all around, it really feels like you’re miles away.

So, let’s take a wander through Lumphini Park…

Things to do in Bangkok

In 2016, park officials removed some of the 400 water monitors living in Lumphini Park because they have been damaging plants and scaring people, some of them are over 10 ft long!

Things to do in Bangkok

Jogging anyone? Lumphini Park, just like most others in Bangkok, is a popular place for people who wish to exercise once the sun starts to sink and it gets a little cooler! Although, these enthusiasts were out enjoying themselves at 3.40pm!

Things to do in Bangkok

Things to do in Bangkok

What a fabulous way to spend an afternoon, canoeing on the lake, right in the middle of the city!

Things to do in Bangkok

Things to do in Bangkok

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” Deepak Chopra

Things to do in Bangkok

There aren’t many people around, it’s far too hot yet, but this means I get the place, almost, to myself!

Things to do in Bangkok
Things to do in Bangkok
I hope you enjoyed today’s wanderings. Join me for the next one soon! 🙂 In the meantime, check out my Top 6 Parks in Bangkok!

The Liebster Award

It’s always an honour and a lovely surprise when I receive an award like this, and this time is no exception when I received The Liebster Award from Nilla at Image Earth Travel. Image Earth Travel is a wonderful blog full of Nilla’s adventures in the many countries she visits. I always look forward to reading about where she has been to, and I know you will too! Thank you so much Nilla for this, it’s very much appreciated! 🙂

The Liebster Award is given to bloggers by bloggers and it was first awarded way back in 2011. Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

Awards from WordPress

Questions from Image Earth Travel:

What are your blogging objectives for 2018?

My blogging objectives for 2018 are just to continue writing about the things I love to write about. My experiences that come from living abroad, especially in Bangkok, my home for the past three and a half years, there are always plenty of things to see and report back on. Not only in Bangkok, but I have many stories yet to tell from travels to other countries, in the past, and in the future.

How often to you post a blog and why (daily, weekly, monthly)?

I go through phases of posting once a week, to twice a day, then nothing for a few weeks. It really depends on what other personal projects I’m busy with and what my work schedule is like. At the moment, I am working almost full-time hours, so it’s difficult to find the time to write or do anything else for that matter.

What inspires you to write?

Pretty much anything! When I go out exploring, I usually have an idea in mind and that’s my inspiration for writing about it. But, sometimes, an idea will just pop into my head and I think it would be good to write a post about it. For example, I have been going through old photos and, instead of just posting them, I find inspiration to write about where I was, when I took the photos, and what I was doing.

Have you set any definite travel destinations for 2018 or is this an earning year?

It’s both! I am going to Rome in April for my birthday celebrations with my parents and I am planning to go to Chiang Rai, in Thailand, in June. Those trips are paid for, apart from spending money, and afterwards I am saving to travel to Australia, India, Sri Lanka, and Europe at the end of the year.

Where is your most desired travel destination?

I have wanted to go to Italy for years because I just love the history and architecture there, so my dream will be fulfilled next month when I go to Rome. I want to see other places in Italy too, but there are so many other places on my list that I want to see; India, Spain, Morocco, Croatia, Pakistan, South America, Turkey.

Do you get any exposure from award nominations?

Only from the beautiful people who follow my blog, who leave lovely comments and congratulations messages. It’s such a nice feeling when I read some of the things people say.

Have you considered advertising on your site? If so, does advertising help to give your blog site more exposure?

I have in the past, but I have never gotten round to doing anything about it, other than a couple of affiliates that I have on my site. To be honest, it’s not about getting exposure for me, I just love writing and blogging about my life.

My nominations for The Liebster Award are:

  1. Life With an Illness: Mackenzie’s blog which lives and breathes positivity and love, despite daily battles with illness.
  2. 100 Cobbled Roads: Punita’s travel stories about cities, everyday life, and natural wonders around the world.
  3. Seen Along The Trail: Join Carolyn as she ventures on walks in the great outdoors and captures images of the wonderful creatures she comes across.
  4. Chaotic Shapes: The talented Brandon’s art is amazing as he creates beautiful work via a series of colourful shapes.
  5. Ute Smile: A wonderfully positive blog as Ute spreads happiness and makes people smile with her uplifting quotes.
  6. Global Housesitters x 2: Join Suz and the Squire as they travel the world on their housesitting adventures.

My questions for you, if you wish to accept this nomination.

  1. Where is your favourite place on earth? Why do you love it?
  2. If you had £1m, what would you do with it?
  3. Do you prefer “roughing it” or do you want some level of comfort when you go anywhere?
  4. Which season do you like the most? Why?
  5. What is your favourite colour and why?
  6. Who are your heros in life?
  7. What’s the fondest memory you have from the past 10 years?

Award Rules

  1. Answer the questions that were left for you.
  2. Nominate your favourite new bloggers (not more than 15!)
  3. Write 7 questions for them to answer.
  4. Add all the rules and be honest with your answers!

The Changing Seasons – February 2018

I came across this challenge from my friend, Sarah, at Secret Art Exhibition and hosted by Su at Zimmerbitch. I was eager to do this, but, at first, I thought I hadn’t really done that much during February, but turns out I was wrong.

I started the month with an obligatory moon photo during a break at work. Not the best shot, but I liked the light that’s  emanating from it.

Moon Photography
Moon Over Bangkok

The next day was my day off, so I cooked myself a vegetarian chili, washed down with a bottle of red. Since coming home from the Uk and Sri Lanka, I vowed that I was going to try and become vegetarian, so I have been making an effort to find veggie recipes to cook. Years ago, I tried it, but I really wasn’t committed enough and got fed up with beans or eggs on toast. This time it’s different, and I’ve manged to find and cook a variety of recipes each week, some of which turn out as I expected, some don’t, but I think that’s the fun of it. I love cooking, but it’s so expensive to do in Bangkok. Most of the ingredients I need are imported, so that means they cost more, things like cheese, butter, fruit etc., my lasagne costs about 900 baht, which is around £20. If you compare that to a Thai dish on the street, which costs as little as 35 baht, around 80 pence, you see my point.

Home Made Dishes
Vegetarian Chili

The same day a proof of my book arrived, so I was feeling quite proud of myself. “Flying Solo-A Woman on the Wings of Life” is my second book and it’s full of my travel tales and life experiences over the past 13 years. I’ve already had it edited, but I am currently going through it again and, still, I am finding things to change. Self-publishing is hard, but it’s also very rewarding, knowing that you’ve had to undergo all the tasks associated with writing a book yourself. Writing it in the first place, then proofreading and editing. It really is a one-woman job! But, as I said, I find it so satisfying and I just love writing, so that’s all that matters to me.

Project Ideas
Flying Solo.. A Woman on The Wings of Life

Time was well spent with my friend, Chris, and usually we drink cocktails! To celebrate hump day (Wednesdays), Sundays, and any day we get together! If I’m not drinking wine, my second fav drink is G&T and Chris, a.k.a my personal mixologist, will add some wonderful fruits, fresh mint or rosemary with ice to go with my (our) double shots of alcohol! I think I’m becoming quite immune!

Homemade cocktails ideas
Cocktail Club
Photo Credit: Chris Wotton
Homemade cocktails ideas
Mojito Sundays
Photo Credit: Chris Wotton
Homemade Cocktail ideas
G&Ts
Photo Credit: Chris Wotton

This month also included my second photo exhibition. Actually, it was the same photo exhibition but a new venue. On The Trail of Bangkok’s European Heritage is an exhibition about a few unsung attractions in Bangkok that have European connections. I have been meaning to do an exhibition for ages, and after the first one at Dialogue Coffee and Gallery in November, I found a new venue willing to show my work. It was another proud moment to be able to display my work and for people to give me positive comments about it. I have yet to write a post about these exhibitions, so watch this space. Check out my book of the same name.

Photo Exhibitions in Bangkok
On The Trail of Bangkok’s European Heritage Photo Exhibition @ 23 Bar and Gallery

On the day we set up, we had an unexpected turn of events. Chris and I took everything over to the gallery, said hi to the manager, Mongkol, and started to put the photos up. Mongkol kindly brought a hammer and some nails in case we needed them and offered us a drink, water or beer. With a slight hesitation, thinking it was far to early in the day to start drinking (it wasn’t), we got a beer each. It didn’t take us long to finish setting up and we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sunshine and a few more cold beers.

Photo Exhibitions in Bangkok
On The Trail of Bangkok’s European Heritage Photo Exhibition @ 23 Bar and Gallery

5 or 6 beers later, Mongkol asked if we wanted pizza, and as we were having such a fabulous afternoon, we thought why the hell not, we really didn’t want the day to end. I love the fact that Mongkol ordered the food from a nearby restaurant and they delivered it to the bar.

Photo Exhibitions in Bangkok
On The Trail of Bangkok’s European Heritage Photo Exhibition @ 23 Bar and Gallery

I quite like these spontaneous days out, and just going with the flow. It doesn’t happen often in my life, I am usually a creature of habit, but when it does happen I love it. And we didn’t pay for a single thing! We went home very happy that evening.

Photo Exhibitions in Bangkok
On The Trail of Bangkok’s European Heritage Photo Exhibition @ 23 Bar and Gallery

The opening night went well, my friends and I had a few drinks and I networked and schmoozed with a few folks who came along. We ended the night down Soi 4, in Silom, a fun gay street with lots of colourful signs, and people partying the night away. It’s always the same, have a few drinks with the intention of going home, but ending up somewhere unintended. Another spontaneous night, although the hangover was not so great!

Things to do in Bangkok
Silom Soi 4, Bangkok

I spent another day off writing about my trip to Sri Lanka and when I’d finished I spent a relaxing evening with my book. I always make time to read a book everyday, even if it’s only an hour. I’ve usually got 2 or 3 books on the go at once and last month was no exception.

Ways to Relax
Relaxation

First of all, I finished Glue by Irvine Welsh. It’s a really fabulous story about 4 boys growing up in Edinburgh who are into the drug and club scene, and how their lives intertwine with other people and the experiences they have.

Good books to read
Glue by Irvine Welch

I started reading Salt Creek and I’m more than half-way through. It’s a story about a Australian family who fall on hard times and end up living in Salt Creek, in South Australia. That’s all I’m saying for now, apart from it’s a really good book and I can’t put it down. I acquired this book from a lovely lady from Australia, that I met in the dentist of all places, and she recommended it.

I’m also reading Jaya, an illustrated retelling of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. I bought it about 3 years ago, in Dehli airport, and it’s been collecting dust on my bookshelf since then, so I thought I would get round to reading it. I’m glad I did, although it’s quite hard going because there are so many characters and stories to it, but I’m enjoying it none the less.

Good books to read
Salt Creek and Jaya

I love being creative and last month I made a video of the animals I encountered in Hikkaduwa, Sri lanka. I didn’t have to go any further than my friend’s garden. I just love it in Sri Lanka, it’s so beautiful. I really look forward to my trips there. This first one is called “Beautiful Nature.”

 

The app I use for editing and enhancing my photos is fairly basic, but recently a new feature has been added and I am now able to make videos from my photos, so I hope to make more use of it in the future. I am sure there are more sophisticated tools out there, but this one serves my purposes just fine for now. The second one is called “Life on the Madu Ganga.”

 

February also saw me have a sleepover at Chris and Pond’s house, Pjs and all!  We had been planning to do this for a long time, but we weren’t able to fit it in for one reason or another, but, finally, we did it. The evening consisted of our mandatory cocktails, one of the best pizzas I’ve had in a long time, DVDS, chocolate, more cocktails, and more DVDs. It was such a fun night.

Weekend Ideas
Sleepover Mojitos
Weekend Ideas
Sleepover Pizza

Chris is not only my best friend, personal mixologist, go to person for venting and ranting (he does the same!), he’s also very hospitable and sociable, not to mention, a domestic goddess and an amazing cook. The following morning, feeling tired and a little hungover, he made this delicious full English breakfast, fried bread and all. I hadn’t had a full English brekkie for ages, so this was definitely a scrummy treat!

Weekends Ideas
Sleepover Breakfast
Photo Credit: Chris Wotton

So, that was my February! And, actually the 13th marked the 4 year anniversary I have been back in Thailand. Where does the time go? It’s positively scary and here we are racing towards April! Make the most of every day, life is so short!

If you would like to join me and the others in this challenge, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

 

 

One Of My Obsessions

I haven’t been out with my camera much recently, I haven’t felt that motivated, but, thankfully, I am over that lack of motivation and the last two weeks, I have been clicking merrily away, but more of what I’ve been getting up to will follow shortly. In the meantime, I was just sifting through my photos when I came across some photographs of my favourite building in Bangkok; MahaNakhon Tower. I love all kinds of architecture and over a period of 2 years I took loads of photos of the different stages of its construction.

These were taken in October 2015, it’s almost finished, but not quite. I love the pixelated effect.

This was 2016. If you’re ever in Silom or Sathorn, you can’t help but notice Bangkok’s tallest building looming up towards the sky.

MahaNakhon was completed late 2016, but, even now, I just can’t help myself taking photos of it, or pointing it out to whoever I’m with if I’m in the area. I love the bold structure against the blue of the sky and I love the way the clouds are reflected in the windows of the tower.

As a photographer, I love looking for interesting shapes, angles, and colours. It’s amazing what you can see when you train your eye to find things.

And there is just plain crazy!

Architecture in Bangkok

And to add to my little obsession, MahaNakhon are in the process of building an observatory which should be completed sometime this year. They say, “Unique architecture. Unrivalled experience. Offering dramatic 360 degree panoramic views across the city, the visitor observatory will open daily, providing soaring double height indoor spaces and a rooftop viewing platform from the highest point in Bangkok. Stand on the sky, with MahaNakhon’s skytray, a cantilevered glass balcony extending outside the building, enabling each guest to walk on air.”

And there’s gonna be a roof top bar!  Drink anyone?

What are your obsessions?

For more photography of this unique building, check out my previous posts! 🙂

A Rising Story

A Rising Story- Part 2

A Rising Story- Part 3

A Rising Story-Risen

Sea Turtle Hatchery at Peraliya

One of the most magical experiences I have ever done was to release baby turtles into the sea. In Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka, my friend, Mark, told me that he had been to the hatchery several times before I got there, and each time they told him that the turtles would be released very soon. Mark wanted me to be there when the babies were released, and he hoped that I wouldn’t miss it.

Things to do in Sri Lanka

During the week, we walked down to the hatchery from home, and the guy told us that they would be liberating the babies the following evening.

Things to do in Sri Lanka

So, the next day we returned, only to be met by a big group of people. Obviously, the news had spread and they too wanted to witness this spectacle. The guy who runs the hatchery told us about their charges. Some of the larger turtles had been injured by boats or had lost a flipper from being entangled in nets.

Things to do in Sri Lanka

The ones that had lost flippers aren’t able to swim straight in the sea and become easy prey, so they are rescued and kept at the hatchery until they are able to be released. The manager told us that he teaches them how to swim and catch food again. He does this by reducing the amount of water in the tank and when the turtle can swim and feed easily, he increases the water level. It continues like that until the turtle can swim and feed in deeper water. Once they have fully recuperated, they are released back into the wild.

Things to do in Sri Lanka

Things to do in Sri Lanka

I was amazed, not only at his knowledge of sea turtles, but his compassion for wanting to help these beautiful creatures was inspiring. I am never quite sure whether these establishments really do have the animals best interests at heart, or whether it’s just a money making scheme, but I felt differently about this place. They really seemed to want to be help the animals and be involved in the conservation of the species.

Things to do in Sri Lanka

Things to do in Sri Lanka

Things to do in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, people eat turtle eggs, however the hatchery takes on the task of collecting the eggs from the beach or paying the fisherman for them. They are then taken back to the hatchery and it’s here that the babies will begin their lives. The eggs are buried in sand and they incubate until they are ready to hatch. The people working at the hatchery are careful to replicate things as they would be in the wild, so after the eggs are buried, the sand is built up in a conical shape, so when the babies hatch, the sand collapses in on them and the turtles have to scrabble to make their way out into the world.

Things to do in Sri Lanka

Things to do in Sri Lanka

We made our way to the small beach where loads of others had congregated, waiting for this wonderful spectacle. We noticed a Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) flying overhead. We watched as the kite was attacked by three, considerly, smaller birds, maybe protecting their young perhaps, or trying to get rid of the competition for what was about to happen.

Things to do in Sri Lanka

We did think it odd that the kite was there at the exact same time as the turtles were being released. Although, I guess, this is what happens in the wild, predators know when events like this are happening and they congregrate. However, this is the unfortunate thing with human intervention. On one hand, the hatchery works tirelessly in their effort to protect the turtles, but the mere fact that they collect eggs from the beach and release the babies amidst a crowd of tourists must alert predators to what they are doing. Brahminy Kites are intelligent birds, and they use associative learning in the wild where visual and auditory cues help them to search for food.

The guys in charge told everyone that each person could come and take a baby to release. We weren’t expecting that! We thought it would be observing only! We were thrilled, although come to think of it now, the babies may have been a tad scared of these big human forms looming in over them. But, they seemed eager to get on their way, their flippers flapping vigorously. So with cute baby in between gentle fingers, we were told to line up and let them go all at once.

Things to do in Sri Lanka

And off they went! They were tiny, but they were so determined to reach the water. The waves had other ideas though, and swept the little ones back to where they had started. But they continued on and, eventually, after much encouragement from the humans, they made it to the sea, and there they began their journey into deeper water and through their long lives.

Things to do in Sri Lanka

Suddenly, the Brahminy Kite reappeared, flew overhead, took a swooping dive, and swiped one of the babies up into its beak. We all shouted at it, like that was going to do any good. We thought about what happens in the wild. Only 1 in 1,000 turtles survive to adulthood. There were 50 babies released, so we hoped that the other 49 made it! But, still, one has to wonder, are the humans to blame in this instance?

As our little turtle scampered towards the sea, both Mark and I had tears in our eyes, as did a few others I expect. We almost started full on crying. They were tears of joy though, it was a really emotional experience, setting that tiny creature off on its journey into the big wide expanse of the ocean. And to think, if those babies survive to adulthood, the female of the species, remarkably, returns to the same beach she was born, to lay her eggs. They truly are amazing animals and deserve to be protected. I can only hope that this hatchery really is making a difference.

Click here for more baby sea-turtles.

Sea Turtle Hatchery, Peraliya-Telwatta, Sri Lanka

Website: www.srilankanturtles.com

Email: bknimal@yahoo.com ruwan_5@yahoo.com

The Wilderness of Mount Tongariro

Back in 2008, I toured the north and south islands of New Zealand and one of the most amazing things I did was to hike across an active volcano, otherwise known as Mount Tongariro. Feeling a little hungover, as was the norm back then, I started on the hike across Mount Tongariro National Park. I had five layers of clothing on, it really was that cold, and it took about eight hours to cross from Whakapapa Village to Ketetahi. The scenery was dramatic with snow-covered mountains rearing up into the sky all around our little hiking party.

Things to do in New Zealand
Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

At ground level, there were mountain springs flowing with cold clear water, and the greens and browns of plants growing up out of the melted snow.

Things to do in New Zealand
Mountain spring, Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

About halfway through the hike, we passed Mount Ngauruhoe, otherwise known as Mount Doom, which, for me, was a real highlight. I’m a die-hard fan of The Lord of the Rings, and I couldn’t stop myself from climbing just a little way up and getting the guide to take my photo.

Things to do in New Zealand
Mount Doom, New Zealand

We hiked on through dove-white valleys, the wilderness that lay ahead unseen, concealed by the brilliant white all around. It was blissfully quiet, but I could hear my fellow hikers chatting in the distance. In fact, it was a good job they were there because I could easily have gone missing, never to be heard from again.

Things to do in New Zealand
Mount Tongariro, New Zealand
Things to do in New Zealand
Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

I trundled on and started to make my way upwards. It was such a struggle, the snow made it very slippy, so I had to wear crampons. It was incredibly cold and the higher I got, the windier it got. Eventually, I found myself at the summit of the mountain. The effort is always worth it!

Things to do in New Zealand
The summit of Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

At the top of Mount Tongariro, I got three hundred and sixty-degree views and it felt like I was on top of the world. The clouds were lower than the summit and it seemed otherworldly. It was peaceful, even though I wasn’t alone, and I took a moment to stand there, looking at that perfect scene in front of me and thought of all the things I had done up to that point.

Things to do in New Zealand
Mount Tongariro, New Zealand
Things to do in New Zealand
Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

On top of that mountain, I felt elated and overjoyed I was there. It was one of those moments that made me realise all the decisions I had made about my life were the right ones and I was definitely living my life to the fullest.

After a while, it was time to continue on my hike. The way down was bloody difficult because the slope was so steep and, instead of snow, I had hot rocks to contend with. Not just hot rocks but slippery hot rocks. The easiest way to do it was to inch my way down, much like when you’re on skis. I tried that, but any small movement would send a cascade of rocks down the mountain taking me with them. The next tactic was to slide down on my backside, but before I could even manage to get in a position to do this, I slid, fell on my arse, and ended up in a heap with five other people.

Things to do in New Zealand
The way down, Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

We started to laugh, every little movement sending a few more rocks downwards, and us another inch from where we sat. Eventually, we managed to pull ourselves together and made it to the bottom unscathed.

The whole hike was amazing, and the last part of the journey to Ketetahi Road was through a small forest which, compared to the strenuous hiking I had just tackled, was easy. But, I was so intoxicated with joy that I skipped and ran through that forest until I reached the end.

Things to do in New Zealand
Mount Tongariro, New Zealand

The hike had taken around eight hours through a wilderness which had stirred my heart at every turn. Mind you, my body was singing a different tune over the next few days because I ached all over, but it was one of the best days out I’ve ever had.

This is one of my tales from my new book which is on the way to being published 😉

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