A Travellerspoint blog

Kurulu Bedde

Great Eco Villa in Sri Lanka

Every now and again a property takes you complexly by surprise. I had been aware of Kurulu Bedde’s existence for quite some time and it had been on my ‘to see’ list for a while.

Even knowing the concept didn’t prepare me for the romantic and tranquil heaven that lay hidden between the riverside foliage. Just a ten minute boat ride from Galle and you arrive at the jetty to the property. Raised wooden walkways link a selection of immaculate huts through lush farmland to the two luxurious and modern villas where guests stay. The ground floor is set aside for your private plunge pool, whilst upstairs are large wooden balconies with views across the farmland. The rooms themselves are encased by glass and extremely stylish, with retractable blinds. All mod cons are provided including a sound system which I found particularly nice as we had the place to ourselves.

There was a torrential storm when I stayed which was probably the highlight of the stay – rain flowing off every leaf and branch and through the rice fields and gardens. Kurula Bedde is so romantic and peaceful – it’s difficult to believe you are just minutes away from Galle . This place has gone straight into my list of personal favourites in Sri Lanka!

Posted by exptravel 08:08 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged luxury_travel Comments (1)

4000 Islands - Southern Laos

Travel ideas for Laos

After flying to Pakse in southern Laos, we immediately got a local bus (a pick up truck with some benches in) to the 4000 islands. Our first stop was Don Khong the largest island. However the bus wasn’t as direct as we had hoped and simply stopped at the side of the highway and we were told to get out as the driver pointed to a dirt track. We couldn’t tell how long this was but we did know it was midday and VERY hot! As we strapped on our backpacks and headed down the track a little girl came running out of one of the farming houses, she took one look at us and ran off crying! We must have looked like aliens with our backpacks on coupled with the amount we were sweating! We finally found a pier about 1 mile down the track and got a long tail boat to the island.

After persuading a group of recently born chicks that I wasn’t their mother by escaping behind a fence we checked into our hotel and took some time to chill out. We found out that the island was a perfect place to do this and we could sit by the river-side and read our books while the Mekong waters passed closely by. While we looked into what we could do in the area we discovered that a lot of the attractions (waterfalls and dolphin watching) were further south so we decided to move to another island the next day.

We got another boat to Don Det and took a stroll round the island. Harriet had confidently informed me that we were looking for our hotel on this island but after 30mins searching it came to my attention that we were actually looking on the wrong Island! We got some loose directions from a local lady and hiked off to Don Khon which is linked by a sturdy bridge (the only built by the French during their rule). Our hotel was river-side and a great place to relax during the day. We had a villa close to the river with hammock and deck chair - again a perfect place to chill out. However one night it rained very heavily and the noise from the neighboring frogs and toads was deafening! Luckily although most nights we were treated to some amazing sunsets and neighboring electrical storms the rain held off!

One of the aims of the trip down to the islands was to try and spot the illusive and rare Irrawaddy Dolphins. They are a fresh water species of Dolphins that was once common to the Mekong delta throughout Cambodia and Laos. However due to the bombs and mines of the recent wars and indiscriminate fishing nets, they have become a species in serious threat of becoming extinct in this area. There are now only 12 dolphins left in this part of the Mekong delta and an estimated world wide population of 7000. The Dolphins are apparently easier to spot in the dry season with lower calmer water so we were worried we would return disappointed. We arranged a boat to take us to one of the locations these animals are often seen at and set off with nervous excitement. We arrived at the look out point and almost immediately I caught a glance of something not too far away disturbing the surface of the water. Could it be a dolphin?

After another 30seconds we both saw the undeniable fins and elegant movement of the pod of dolphins about 100m away. Their grace through the water made an impression on both Harriet and I although the locals were not bothered with them in the slightest! They seemed to rise to the surface in pairs and the whole pod kept surfacing in the same location while we stayed at the look out point. Harriet finally managed to persuade me we had seen enough and we departed to visit the Khone Phapheng waterfall. As we were in the rainy season these proved to be quite impressive but were more like a series of rapids (like the Zambezi) than a true waterfall. We clambered over the rocks to get some good views and then enjoyed a cool drink at one of the tourist cafes at the location.

The next day we set out to explore Don Khon by bike. Now after a few bike rides on our recent travels we thought we could tackle anything on bikes! Then we realized that we had been given bikes with mountain bike wheels for a reason. A number of the tracks were rocky and combined with our hard saddles we were both a little black and blue by the end of the day. We did however find some great view points around the island. The first of these was the Tat Sompamit waterfalls which were similar in nature to the ones described above and definitely worth a visit. We then found the only beach on the island and finally we found a look out point that gave you a different view of the previous days Dolphin spot. It was further away but within view of where the Dolphins had been the day before. Alas we didn’t see them again which made use realize how lucky we had been the day before! Throughout the ride however we were treated to the wonderful sights of rolling Paddy fields with working farmers and many working Buffalo. The Buffalo were often attached to wooden ploughs that looked like something found in agricultural history rather than present day farming! That evening we both managed to eat plenty of the local, very tasty curry!

After 4 days in the Islands it was alas time to leave and we boarded a boat to head off to the capital Vientiane.

‘Till next time

Ben & Harriet…
http://news.experiencesoutheastasia.com/2009/07/4000-island-southern-laos/

Posted by exptravel 08:02 Archived in Laos Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (0)

FCO Travel Advice For Sri Lanka revised

British High Council has revised guidelines for Sri Lanka.

The UK have eased their travel advisories for British nationals visiting Sri Lanka, though they have not lifted them. The High Commission in a statement quoted the British High Commissioner, Dr Peter Hayes as saying;

“I am pleased to announce that we have relaxed the restrictions on travel suggested in the advice we give to British visitors coming to Sri Lanka. We no longer discourage British holidaymakers from enjoying leopard-spotting at Yala National Park, surfing at Arugam Bay or admiring Trincomalee harbour, one of the world’s deepest natural ports. We’ve taken this decision based on our assessment of the improving security situation in these parts of Sri Lanka.

In light of the uncertain security situation in areas recently affected by conflict we continue to discourage British tourists from traveling to other parts of the Eastern Province and continue to advise against all travel to northern Sri Lanka. We encourage Britons planning to travel around Sri Lanka to read our full travel advice”

This move represents the start of what we believe will be a gradual decrease in travel restrictions throughout the country. The majestic Wilpattu National Park is also likely to re-open soon, great news for all Sri Lanka enthusiasts.

Posted by exptravel 07:53 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (0)

Tea Tasting in Colombo

Sri Lanka

Tea enthusiasts have plenty of opportunities to indulge their taste buds in Sri Lanka. Whether it be tasting fine teas in hotels and cafes across the country or visiting the plantations themselves and trying cups direct from the factories, Sri Lanka offers some of the finest teas and tea experiences in the world.

I recently visited John Keells Holdings in Colombo, the country’s largest and oldest tea auction house. Here I was fortunate to get a tour of the tea room by the MD of the company, who showed me the various types of tea that the company assess before sending to auction.

In the plantation factories you tend to see a narrow variety of teas that are produced on that individual estate. In the Colombo auction rooms you get to sample teas from every province and plantation in the country. The variety of teas and flavors was quite staggering, and I tried as many as I possibly could. The art of tasting is not to drink but to swirl the tea around the back of you taste glands and then spit it out again.

I was particularly impressed with the professional tasters and how they could identify extremely subtle differences in flavor and consistency. They use this knowledge to set a guide price before the stocks are sent to the auction floor. It was also interesting to learn which flavors appeal to different regional markets and buyers.

We can offer this trip to guests who are particularly interested in Tea, so if you’re in Colombo and fancy slurping your way around the tea room be sure to let us know in advance. http://www.experiencesrilanka.com/

Posted by exptravel 07:45 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (0)

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