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 and or contact Sanjaya at +94 775787279.

Dahana Holiday House
Seenigama-Aluthwala Road
Southern Province
Sri Lanka

See for more photos of Sri Lanka


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


Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre

Bangkok is not a destination that you would normally associate with art and culture centres. But there are quite a few dotted over the city, so I decided to put my cultural hat on and visit the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre and I was happy I did, it is well worth a visit.


The centre is located at National Stadium BTS stop and opposite MBK centre, so you can’t really miss it. I got off the BTS at Ratchthwei and walked back towards the centre and was almost disappointed when I saw that there was scaffolding all over it and barriers surrounding it. I thought it was closed but I walked around and found the entrance and realised it was open.

There are five floors that circle around the main foyer, and on the ground floor there are a couple of coffee shops. The Art Café is a chic little place decorated with beautiful murals and there are easels, magazines to read, and funky jazz tunes playing.
On the first couple of floors there are more cafes. Most of them sell crafts or books, and some of them you can go to share ideas, read books, or just have a coffee. There are also little stalls selling homemade jewellery and handicrafts, and there were painters painting caricature portraits. There are ice cream cafes which sell a weird and wonderful range of flavours- cigarette (yuk), wasabi and global warming??!!


On the second floor there are a couple of rooms displaying different art and one of the exhibitions was the “Illusion of the Human Body”. Large painted canvases showing parts of the body stitched together. It was meant to represent how people turn to plastic surgery to achieve beauty when there is natural beauty in everyone.

Wandering up and around the floors there was more art- paintings, sculptures and hand-made jewellery displays. Floors seven, eight and nine are used for the main exhibitions with new ones each month. The day that I visited there was only one main exhibition. A collaboration of Thai and British artists called MD III- Monologue, Dialogue. The idea behind this exhibition was fragility and monumentality. The explanation was it illustrates nothing. It is a continuation of a conversation started eight years ago between the artists.
“ failure and nothingness are key words in art and ones that can be embraced resulting in fragility and a vision that is unexpected. Monumentality is about presence, and can be about the awkwardness of being”- quote from part of the exhibition.
Whether you understand the meaning behind this or not the pieces displayed in the exhibition are impressive. I had to guess at what “The Ghost of Jimmy the Nail” meant. It wasn’t until afterwards when doing some online research that I realised that the cotton sheets were hung in the shape of a nail and there were rusty spots on the sheets, which I think are meant to represent blood. I still haven’t fathomed the meaning, so if anyone knows please enlighten me.

The creativity and foresight these artists have is incredible. I am certainly no expert,  in fact I would say I know nothing about art , but I was definitely impressed, although a little bemused, at everything I saw there.

The centre is open Tuesday to Sunday 10.00am to 9.00pm. Admission is free.
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
939 Rama 1 Road, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330