Beaches

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

 

Beachcombing

I recently read a post about beachcombing by Global Housesitter X2 and it reminded me how much I love it. When I went travelling in 2008, wherever I went I would take time to stroll up and down the beach in search of things that had been washed ashore. Beautiful shells, interesting pieces of driftwood or coral, anything that would catch my eye. The only thing was I had to be careful how many things I collected as it was so easy to get carried away and have at least 1kg or more added to my already full case. Even before this, many years ago, I would beachcomb when I was on holiday and I collected hundreds of shells and small stones, all from different countries, all different colours and shapes, which were taken home and placed in a large glass jar.

Things to find on a beach
The beginnings of my new collection

I remember once, my girlfriends and I took a trip to Puerto Banus in Spain and we had spent the day on the beach where I went in search of more treasure, so I could add to my collection at home. I found this pebble, it was big, I’d say about 7-10 inches across, but it was so beautiful, smooth and black, I couldn’t resist it, so in my bag it went. At the end of the holiday we got ready to fly back to the UK and I put the pebble in my hand luggage, not really thinking about it. When my bags were scanned to board the plane, the woman at security asked me to unpack my bag and I remembered my lovely pebble was in there. She wanted me to hand it over. I looked at her, as if to say, “please can I keep it?” but, not saying anything, she gave me a look that said “really?!” Not wanting to be the person that got arrested for having a large, potentially deadly weapon (pebble) in my bag, I, sheepishly, parted with it.

So that particular find never made it home and, when I moved to Thailand, the glass jar, by this time brimming with my beach finds, was handed over to my parents who kept it in their conservatory. I thought it was still there until a few weeks ago when I casually asked my mum if they still had it. “Oh no,” she said, “we had to throw them away because the shells had started to smell.”  I couldn’t expect my parents to continuously wash the contents of the jar for me.

Things to find on a beach
The beginnings of my new collection

I know there are more important things in life, but, I have to say, I was a little disappointed. But, not to worry I have the beginnings of a new collection right here in Thailand. And, back home, even my mum and dad have indulged in my treasure finding hobby for themselves, but their little stash never leaves the garden.

Things to find on a beach
My mum and dad’s beach treasure

Best Beaches on Koh Chang

I visited Koh Chang earlier this year and I have to say it’s my favourite island in Thailand to date. The island is big and covers just over 420 sq km, and around 70% of it is unspoiled rainforest, steep hills and cliffs, waterfalls and long sandy beaches. I went to stay with my friend Mark and he was my tour guide for the few days I was there. We drove all over the island and spent time on a few of Koh Chang’s best beaches.

Klong Prao Beach
On the west coast, Klong Prao Beach is a long sweeping stretch of soft, golden sand lined with tall trees and gorgeous mountain views surrounding the bay. It wasn’t that busy when I visited, but it’s long enough to be able to find a private spot all to yourself. The water is warm, calm and shallow, so it’s perfect for swimming, and the blue colour is irresistible in the heat of the day. It’s a fabulous place to spend the day before you grab a beer and watch the stunning sunset disappear below the horizon; we did just that, and more than once!

Koh Chang Beaches/Klong Prao
Klong Prao Beach, Koh Chang

Kai Bae Beach
The next beach to the south on the west coast is Kai Bae, another long sandy beach, but smaller than Klong Prao and even less crowded. We parked the bike at one end and walked through a forested area, with charming wooden huts, before hitting the beach. The tide was out, so it was a few extra steps into the warm, blue water. But that didn’t matter we were there to relax under the swaying palms. In the distance, we spotted elephants wallowing in the water, so we went to investigate and sure enough, there were a few adorable little baby elephants splashing around in the water, but they were being burdened with humans on their backs. After one of the babies said hello with its trunk and wandered off into the waves with its load, I could only feel sorry for the poor things.

Koh Chang Beaches/Kai Bae
Kai Bae Beach, Koh Chang

Long Beach
On the locally named “dark side” of Koh Chang, because it is less developed than the west coast, is Long Beach. Right at the bottom of the southeastern tip of the island the beach doesn’t really live up to it’s name. It’s not very long at all, in fact, this beach should be called Lonely Beach because there are no crowds here. The road there turns from tarmac to dirt and there are some very steep hills and hairpin bends to contend with, and, once there, there is just one beach bar serving food and drinks. Apart from that, all you’ve got is a beautiful tree-lined sandy beach, calm blue water lapping its shores and a secluded bay with views of the mountains around. Totally unspoiled and wild, it’s worth the effort of getting there.

Koh Chang Beaches, Long Beach
Long Beach, Koh Chang

Chang Noi Beach
We didn’t go to Chang Noi Beach for the beach, we went to have a few drinks at Shambala Beach Resort, but that didn’t stop us admiring the views of Koh Chang’s widest beach with not a soul on it. The sandy expanse is protected from winds by a large horseshoe-shaped bay, tree-covered mountains and slopes on either side, and the water is calm and mesmerising. It’s a fabulous spot for sunset gazing and the beer is refreshing as well!

Koh Chang Beaches, Chang Noi
Chang Noi Beach, Koh Chang

Bang Bao Beach
On the southwest coast is Bang Bao Bay; two beaches with the same name and we visited both. One crowded, with people swimming in the warm water, relaxing on the sand with drinks in hand or asleep under the creaking palms. The other, a deserted strip of white sand that sits at the far end of a disused resort in the shadow of a 7-deck cruise liner called The Galaxy. We sat and gazed out to sea for a while contemplating the fate of this abandoned ghost liner.

Koh Chang Beaches, Bang Bao
Bang Bao Beach, Koh Chang

Lonely Beach
On the west coast, a little further than Kai Bae, is Lonely Beach, a golden sandy beach with a young crowd. This is Koh Chang’s equivalent to Ibiza’s sunset strip, just a little sleepier. Gorgeous guys and gals enjoying themselves on the beach, sunning themselves or drinking cocktails as they listen to funky tunes coming from the beach bars. This place is so cool, international DJs, like, my all time favourite, Danny Rampling, come here to play their sets every year. When we sat down to enjoy the atmosphere we were most put out when a young guy, who was handing out party flyers, bypassed us and didn’t give us one. He obviously thought we wouldn’t be interested in partying the night away, but, as my friend pointed out, we’ve done our fair share of partying in the past and could probably party that young whippersnapper into the ground! 😉 Ah, the joys of getting older! 😉

Koh Chang Beaches, Lonely Beach
Lonely Beach, Koh Chang

Have you been to Koh Chang before? What’s your favourite beach on the island? 🙂

For more photos of Thailand’s beaches click here