Things I Learnt When Solo Traveling Sri Lanka

I wrote a post about my trip & what I saw (which was already super long because I was there for 9 days) so here’s another one on things you absolutely need to know when solo traveling Sri Lanka (from this brown girl’s point of view). 

  • Solo Traveling Doesn’t Mean Backpacking 

I’m here to break that myth that solo travel means traveling like a backpacker. I enjoy traveling in comfort (thank you very much) and that doesn’t make me spoilt.  

Of course, ultimately backpacking is a great way to meet new people and save up on accommodation, especially when you travel alone because most hotels and AirBnBs cater for two people so the price is for two.

I generally like my own personal space so my own room worked out best for me. With so many options to choose from, you can always find places to suit your budget.  

  • AirBnB Your Accommodations 

I love AirBnB for many reasons. I use it quite frequently to book my staycays and such, and they have this wonderful option where you can share your personal code to invite your friends. They get a certain amount off on their first stay and you get some money credited into your AirBnB account to use. 

My first 4 days of accommodations were free thanks to this (THANK YOU for those of you who used my code to sign up!).

You can customise the option to see what budget works best, and also I always opt to check out the SuperHosts, which is basically the ones that are frequently used and have wonderful reviews. Yes, I’m one of those people who read reviews just to be extra sure. I had such wonderful experiences with most of my AirBnB bookings.

  • Get A Driver 

 The fastest way to travel around Sri Lanka is to book a private car as most places are quite far off from each other. This was the most expensive option in terms of traveling but I wanted to make the most of my time there as opposed to traveling by public transport which is much cheaper but takes a lot longer. 

My driver was also a guide hence why I could stop anywhere along the way and was fed with really good stories and information about the country throughout the ride. 

  • Dress Modestly 

Sri Lanka is still relatively modest and people can immediately tell your a tourist based on how you dress. The place has lots of gorgeous temples and historical sites which require you to be dressed modesty (with your shoulders and legs covered) when you enter. I lived in mostly t-shirts and comfy pants while I was there which saves the hassle of having to wrap around fabric on your waist and shoulders to enter these places. 

On days you plan to visit temples, wearing slippers makes it so much easier.  

  • Get A Guide In Tourist Spots 

A lot of the temples and historical sites have some amazing stories and so much to learn from. Do get a guide because chances are if you don’t, you miss out on some great stories. They usually don’t charge much – the most I paid was RM35.  

  • Have A Realistic Budget Planned Out

I set aside a realistic amount taking into consideration that there will be unexpected costs as I go along. It helps planning your accommodation and travel first to see how much you need, and just add on for things like your visa, tourist attraction costs, food, things you need to buy, etc. I spent about 4K inclusive of shopping and my flight tickets for the trip.

Keep in mind that they have separate pricing for locals and tourists. 

  •  Languages Spoken 

The majority of people there speak Sinhala however they do have a basic command of English for the most of it, especially in the city. I did have trouble communicating in the more rural areas so there was a lot of smiling and hand signalling. Quite a lot of them do speak Tamil as well, so I got by with my minimal Tamil speaking skills.  

  • Be Alert Of Everything 

A lot of people told me traveling Sri Lanka is really safe. I think there’s always two sides to it. For me, looking like a local but dressed and speaking like a foreigner became a novelty to many of the people there, which in turn also got me a lot of unwanted attention as well. 

Being on your own means you need to take care of yourself, without being able to call for back up. Be mindful of places you go to, and always be careful of your belongings. There were several times through the trip that I did feel unsafe (beach areas with lots of beach boys) and was even followed around twice (in the city!) and one of those times I was with another female friend.

Always trust your instincts and if you ever feel like you’re in danger, ask for help or attempt to strike a conversation with someone who looks trustworthy. 

  • Be Prepared To Feel Lonely 

The first night, I remember having a meltdown wondering why I did this to myself and if I could handle all 9 days of being alone in a place I had no friends at. Safe to say, a friend told me he’d buy me my flight tickets back and I snapped back to reality. 

This was something I had to do for myself and I couldn’t be happier with this decision. It’s a great way to force you to be okay with your own thoughts and feelings and just do you. The loneliness comes and goes but the feeling of knowing you can handle a new adventure on your own is priceless. 

  • Make Friends 

It was so easy to make friends once I got past being shy. People respond to kindness and a smile, so that helped when I needed help with my pictures taken. I had the uncle selling coconut water, the tuk tuk driver, random tourist and people along the way help me take my picture. They found it very amusing and were also very obliging. It also became an easy way to start up a conversation.   

Here’s a tip – find the frame you want, and just tell them to keep pressing until you’re done posing. Chances are out of the 20 pictures, there’ll be 1 you like 🙂

  • Adapt To Local Customs 

Traveling should broaden your horizons and open your mind to customs and traditions of the place you’re visiting. Simple things like not facing your back towards Buddha statues as it is seen as a sign of disrespect should be followed. I’m basing this on some people who ignored these easy instructions because they needed to have their picture a specific way.  

  • Stay Connected 

I sent several people my itinerary (flight details, AirBnB stayed at, drivers contact details) and updates throughout the travel just to be safe. Better safe than sorry 🙂 

I think this pretty much covers all the important things that I’d recommend for anyone traveling by themselves. Most importantly, have fun and make the most out of your trip. If there’s a specific food you want to try, eat it. A specific place you want to see, visit it. A specific thing you want to buy, get it then and there. There’s always this idea that you can do it later and chances are you won’t be bothered to. Living in the now and getting things done as you go is ideal. 

Traveling solo was a fantastic experience and one I would recommend anyone and everyone to do atleast once in their lives. This is definitely my first of many to come! 

 

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Travel: Sri Lanka

Turning 30 had always been a big deal to me. I’m one of those people who loves birthday; the being spoilt rotten by family and friends, the cake, the celebrating ‘me’, the works. Safe to say, a lot of people (including myself!) were surprised by the fact that I wanted to be away and alone on my birthday.

With very high expectations of what I would experience on this trip, I thought to myself that there’d only be two outcomes. 1. I’d freak out and feel so lonely I’ll book the next flight back, or 2. I’d embrace all that this trip threw my way and become a completely changed woman. Safe to say I felt both things, but let me share with you the journey on this post before I dive into those detail in my next blog post.

Welcome onboard Sri Lanka through my eyes;

Day 1. Airport to Sigiriya.

I got a tour guide/driver for a few days in Sri Lanka. It was an expensive option but the most practical and logical thing to do, because I wanted to see and experience as much as I could take in. The 5 hours drive was a scenic one & I loved how it felt like something right out of the movies.
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The people were generally really friendly and I was a bit of a novelty to them because I looked like one of them but spoke like ‘a white girl’. At almost every stop, I was asked if I’m Sri Lankan.

My first stop was the Minneriya National Park in Sigiriya and I have zero regrets of picking that instead of the Pinnawale elephant sanctuary.

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It was so much magic! There’s something about elephants that I absolutely love and to be able to watch them in their natural surroundings was pretty fantastic. For those who’ve asked me, no, you can’t touch the elephants because these are wild elephants and not trained to be human friendly, which is another reason why I opted to go in this safari.

There were also some exotic  birds and a very nice view of nature but my focus was on the elephants, especially the little week old baby one (shows in the bottom picture).

Called it a day after the safari & headed back to my AirBnB. I had booked this place solely for the lake view & I have no regrets. The room itself was standard and clean. It’s right next to a big hotel that shares the same lake view. Totally winning on getting the view without the hefty price tag!
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The Lake House – Water Lily Room (on AirBnb).

Day 2: Sigiriya to Dambulla to Kandy.

Started the day early to hike up Sigiriya Rock, an ancient rock fortress that used to be a palace and later converted into a Buddhist monastery. There’s a long historical story behind it which you can pay a guide to tell you as you hike. As for me, the intention was to do two things I was terrified of together; be completely alone in a new place & to face my fear of heights.

Photo 18-07-2018, 12 27 15 PMPhoto 18-07-2018, 12 27 20 PMIt was all sorts of overwhelming but I made it to the top, and made a bunch of friends along the way;
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Let me just say I’m the least athletic person I know and exercise for me is walking from my room to the fridge so when I managed to accomplish this two hour hike, my legs were jelly and my heart was full of pride.

Once I was done, Nalaka drove towards Dambulla to the Golden Temple which was about 20 minutes away to see the gorgeous huge Buddha statue;
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The black blobs you see on Buddha’s chin is actually bees nests. It was insane how massive it was. I also learnt that you shouldn’t have your back turned towards the statue as it’s a sign of disrespect.

We then drove to the Golden Cave Temple. It was also a bit of a hike up, so with my jelly legs at this point, I took my time climbing up and taking in the gorgeous surroundings before I reached the temple;
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Five separate caves contain about 150 absolutely stunning Buddha statues and paintings, some of Sri Lanka’s most important and evocative religious art. Buddha images were first created here over 2000 years ago, and over the centuries subsequent kings added to and embellished the cave art.
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I asked a vendor which way to take to go back down fastest as there was the way I came from, and another path that a lot of tourists were taking & was told to follow the tourists. Big mistake – I had walked back to the Golden Temple (with the big Buddha statue) that I had originally drove from.

Safe to say my legs were no longer functional and I had to get to Kandy which was 2 and a half hours away, so we left. I then went to the Sacred Tooth Relic Temple. The golden-roofed Temple of the Sacred Tooth houses Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic – a tooth of the Buddha;
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My advice is, always get a guide for historical sites because the amount of information, stories and insights they can provide truly makes the entire experience.
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The next place I stayed at was a little out of the town area but so incredibly worth it;
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By far my most favourite place to stay on this entire trip. Riverview-Kandy on AirBnB.

I had a gorgeous room; big and clean and most importantly with the view of the Mahaweli river right outside my door – the longest river in Sri Lanka. The hosts Irean & Chris were absolutely lovely and made me feel right at home.

She cooked up an absolute storm for breakfast. Hands down best meal I had in Sri Lanka.

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Day 3: Nuwara Eliya – Ella. 

After breakfast, we were off to Nuwara Eliya, which is a 3 hour drive. Its a mountain area so the drive was very scenic – with lush plants and waterfalls;

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Stopped at the Shri Bhakta Hanuman Temple. It was a quite simple temple, with a huge  black Hanuman statue (unlike anything I’ve ever seen before). It is said that this is the place where Hanuman landed looking for Sita over 7000 years ago.
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I finally got to use some of my Tamil skills while talking to the guy selling the archanai, & he told me this story (in Tamil) which I found online to also share because I thought it was so interesting;

“One day Sita mata was wearing a red powder in the parting of her hair. Curiously Hanuman asked mata, what was the red powder that she was wearing. Sita mata replied “Hanuman! This is sindoor. Sindoor makes Lord Rama happy and would bless him with a long and prosperous life.” Listening to this Hanuman disappeared from the place. Hanuman came back with his body fully covered with red sindoor. He covered his entire body, even his clothes and hair with sindoor. Lord Rama saw Hanuman covered with sindoor and asked the reason. Hanuman replied “Sita mata told me that by applying just a small pinch of sindoor on her head every day it will make you have a long and happy life. I thought if just a pinch will do so much, what will happen if I cover my entire body with sindoor.” Thus, Lord Ram gave a boon to all his devotees that those who apply sindoor to Hanuman and observe hanuman puja with sindoor would be blessed with a long, happy life and have their wishes fulfilled. For this reason sindoor is mixed in til (sesame) oil and applied to the entire body of Lord Hanuman. People take back a little sindoor from Lord Hanuman as prasada and wear it on their foreheads.”

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After the temple (& making friends with more doggos along the way), we drove to the centre of Nuwara Eliya which was ridiculously cold. Maybe I’m exaggerating because I’m not a fan of cold weather, but do have a jacket to keep you warn. I ended up having to buy one.
Photo 18-07-2018, 12 28 51 PM.pngThe place reminded me a little bit of Cameron Highlands with all the tea plantations, misty air and pretty plants. In all honesty, the tea plantations were beautiful but didn’t top my list of things to see. Plus, I had a train ride to catch to Ella.

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Almost everyone I spoke to about Sri Lanka has raved about the train ride. I didn’t manage to get 1st Class tickets (which is what most tourists take) but took 2nd class instead. It was cramped and no seats, I couldn’t appreciate the scenic views because there wasn’t enough space, groups of boys were walking up and down then standing by the door which makes it less safe for any female solo traveling to do the same (saw them harass a local girl) and they also serenaded the passengers while drumming against the train and singing Tamil songs.

In all honesty, that was the experience and I’m not complaining. I stood for 2 hours of the 2 and a half hour ride & when I finally sat down made friends with a group of Indian aunties who were so amused by me.
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They were so cute and took care of, even shared their food with me (bless them!) and gave me hugs and wished me luck and told me to find a Sri Lankan husband 🙂

From the Ella station, it’s a 45 minutes walk to the 9 Arch Bridge. The walk itself was stunning and I enjoyed making friends along the way. I even made them help me take Insta worthy pictures.
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If possible do visit when a train is scheduled to pass on the bridge to get the full view of the blue train going across the bridge. Either way, it was really beautiful.

As it was the eve of my birthday, I decided to head to my hotel early to get sufficient rest before heading out again.
Photo 18-07-2018, 12 29 36 PM.pngElla Flower Garden Resort on AirBnB.

The room itself wasn’t impressive nor the cleanest, but the view of the mountain was really pretty. I personally wouldn’t recommend staying there but instead maybe go over for a drink or two.

Took a took took down to a rest-bar called Chill, which I highly recommend and made friends with a bunch of people who celebrated me turning 30.

Day 4: Ella to Colombo. 

Headed to Colombo because I wanted to spend my birthday in the city and meet up with a family friend, Avi who was living there. I then realised I’m legit one of those people who aren’t impressed by city structures and that lifestyle especially during travel.

The drive down to Colombo was 5 hours & you’re probably tired of me saying this by now but the scenery was fantastic;
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My favourite part of the whole trip? Stopping at a gemstone mine in Pelmadulla. Sri Lanka is known for its gemstones worldwide and it was such an amazing experience getting down to the actual mine itself.

Thanks to my driver, who went and spoke to the men working at the mine, they gave me a brief tour and tried to explain how the process works.
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Its so amazing that they go down 8 to 10 meters and then proceed to go through the tunnel to get the gemstone soil before going through the whole process of cleaning and looking for stones. They actually send down a lit lantern down to see if the oxygen levels are okay for them to proceed to work.

If you’re ever at the mines and they offer you food, please say yes. Do it for yourself, and do it for me. I had a miscommunication with my driver because when I was offered, I had asked if there’d be enough food for everyone (because I didn’t want to take anyones food) and he said we’ll eat somewhere else.

Later I found out he assumed I didn’t want to eat in a hut because it was unclean. My life will never be the same again. The food smelt amazing.

Extra tip: Check if they have gemstones for sale. You can get it at such a steal!

Colombo, had it’s own city charms. I generally don’t quite understand the hype as much but thats also because I like more nature and historical places when it comes to travel.  The sea-city divide however is pretty cool.
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Spent most of the day just walking around and resting it up before heading out for the night. The nightlife is fairly decent and I enjoyed the bars I visited.

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Day 5: Colombo. 

Went around Colombo doing touristy things;

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Seema Malaka Temple; The temple is mainly used for meditation and rest, rather than for worship.

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Gangaramaya Temple; The temple’s architecture demonstrates an eclectic mix of Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian, and Chinese architecture.

We then took a tuk tuk to Pettah (which reminds me of Masjid India) to see the Red Mosque.

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Day 6: Galle.

Galle is a place I absolutely wanted to go to to check out the beaches. However, I did get ample warning from some locals that it may not be the safest to travel there alone because I might get harassed. Just like magic, this beautiful human being named Divya reached out to me via Instagram welcoming me to Sri Lanka and letting me know she was in Colombo.

I shamelessly invited her to travel Galle with me and to my delight, she said yes. That was the start of a beautiful friendship right there.

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Galle Fort; Must visit for the history and view, as well as the quaint yet hipster-like shops around the area. Absolutely loved the vibe, did a little bit of shopping (because beach clothes win!) and had some gelato.

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Unawatuna Beach; it’s probably the most famous beach on the stretch and has the most tourists but I loved it the most as well. The vibe was great – the sand, super soft, the water was swimming-friendly & the waves weren’t too intense. To top it off, friendly beach dogs who wanted belly rubs!

Day 7: Galle to Colombo 
It was a great idea to get a driver for the trip because it made it easier to stop & explore other beaches along the way. But our first stop was my favourite;

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There’s tons of sea turtle sanctuaries but this one in particular came recommended so we decided to check it out. Absolutely no regrets! The guys taking care of the place were passionate about the turtles and the work they do.

To top it off, they rescue the turtles that can’t survive in the wild and take care of them. For the love of the ocean you guys, please don’t throw rubbish on the beach. Especially plastic bags because turtles mistaken them for jellyfish and eat them 😦

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Balapitiya Beach; As much as I liked this secluded beach & the really cool tire swing that I attempted to swing from several times, it might just be a bit too secluded for two girls to be at with a bunch of beach men standing around and watching. Though there was a hotel situated there, after awhile it got uncomfortable, so we just left. I would recommend it for a group of people though (safety reasons and all). 

Photo 18-07-2018, 12 32 15 PMPhoto 18-07-2018, 12 32 20 PMKosgoda Beach; this beach was a secluded one too, and I loved the rocky area where the waves were crashing, it looked like something right out of a Tamil movie music video with A.R.Rahman music in the background. Also there was absolutely no one there except for a family that runs a turtle sanctuary nearby.

The weather was crazy hot (which I will take over cloudy any day at the beach) and the beach wasn’t swimming friendly (though I did jump in for a bit, because necessary).

Drove back to Colombo after beach-hunting and ended up visiting this gorgeous Lord Shiva temple & Ganesha temple next to it;
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Day 9: Colombo & back to Malaysia. 

The last day in Colombo was just filled with some last minute souvenir shopping. I fell in love with a few things/places that I’d definitely recommend; 

– Barefoot; which is basically a store that sells hand woven and designed fabric that has been turned  into stuff like bed linen, table decor, toys and as well as books from local Sri Lankan authors.. There’s also an exclusive range of sarees and clothes that were gorgeous and totally not within my budget. 

– Munchee Milk Short Cake Biscuits; Thanks to Divya, I absolutely fell in love with these and ended up buying 15 packets back. Absolutely delicious on its own and with tea. You can get them in almost all the small stores. I also carried a pack of them in my bag to feed the stray dogs I made friends with. 

Also these Sri Lankan food you have to try; 

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For those of you planning to travel to Sri Lanka and book AirBnBs, if your a first time user you can get RM120 in travel credit when you sign up using my code; HERE!

Also, if you need a tour guide/driver I’d definitely recommend this guy; Nalaka +94 (77) 031 0737

This pretty much wraps up all the amazing things I saw and experienced in Sri Lanka throughout my 9 days there, & even with me cutting it down is a lot to take in. I’ll do another post on turning 30 in Sri Lanka, the full experience and what it taught me soonest.

Now excuse me while I indulge in the rest of my cookies and tea from Sri Lanka as you read this post 🙂 

Travel: Langkawi

Langkawi, also known as the Jewel of Kedah, is probably one of the most frequently visited islands by KLites. It’s fairly near, there’s lots to see and do, and most importantly, it’s duty free (I can almost see my alcohol-friendly friends in the background nodding in approval) 😉

Nothing provides me a pick me up like the beach does, so Langkawi was a perfect place for me to escape to, to recharge and get my thoughts back on track. If you’re planning on heading to Langkawi to recharge and spend some quality time with yourself, like I did, here’s some things you absolutely need to do.

I went there in December but was stuck in my room the entire time due to rainy weather, but I had to revisit Pia’s the Padi, It’s located fairly near the airport and is definitely worth trying. Their menu consists of Malaysian fusion food but their Beef Rendang & Butter Chicken is out of this world and comes highly recommended.. Make room for dessert as well, the mango kulfi is a real treat!

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Besides the food being great and the customer service being on point, I love that the view is of the paddy fields. The food is served fresh and takes a while to prepare so it gives you ample time to walk around and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. 

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A friend recommended Sunset Beach Resort for me to stay at, and I’ll forever be thankful to this human being! It’s located in the busy area of Cenang but has a feel of its own. Carefully designed with tropical plants, water features, and stone statues, it immediately sets you up for a peaceful holiday mode. 

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The rooms are basic, clean and well kept – definitely worth the price you pay. But why would you be in the room if the private beach is a 3 minutes walk away & looks like this? 

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I had the entire beach to myself! Best. feeling. ever. I spent my entire first day in Langkawi just being at the beach. There’s nothing quite like self reflection with the salt water cleansing you, the salty breeze kissing your skin, the soft sand beneath your feet and the sound of crashing waves against the shore.

I also have a habit of collecting shells when I walk on the beach. It never fails to amaze me, the kind of mermaid treasures you find. 

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The busy streets of Cenang is a 5 minute walk from where I stayed, Red Tomato (where I had breakfast because yum!)  was right across the road and the duty free zone was about 7 minutes away. Tons of food place, souvenir and beach clothes shops around. 

Say hello to my RM30 dress & random cat I tried to steal; 
35724597_10155780050867058_2559138108494839808_n35804800_10155780058412058_292849574823854080_n35628380_10155780051007058_4067424060416458752_nWith so many places to pick from to eat at, Palm View Restaurant was a random decision & thankfully a great one! The special fried king prawns, Kam Heong squid and three flavoured fish was ace. 

35741642_10155780290772058_2558595031355097088_nOn day two, I went to visit some friends (40 minutes away from where I stayed) at The Andaman Langkawi, a luxury resort that’s surrounded by the rainforest. It was so incredibly gorgeous, I can’t even. 

The water was cleaner (obviously) from where I was staying and the view was stunning but what truly made the entire visit was seeing a sea otter run from the shore into the water to catch fish. I may or may not have ran towards it screaming “Sea dog!” like a crazy person. 

35773158_10155780050217058_8573861892370464768_n35687102_10155780051082058_3617796338063769600_n35804800_10155780058412058_292849574823854080_nAfter watching the sunset and basking in all it’s beauty, we headed out to eat at this place the resort staff had recommended called Kapal Layar Restaurant. Everything was yum, but what stood out was their house special white pepper crab. If you end up going, ask for extra sauce! (one of my biggest regrets is not having extra sauce!) 

I’m getting hungry just thinking about it again;

35522442_10155780058352058_1441022344544911360_nI didn’t do the regular touristy stuff this round but then again, I went purely to relax and get my head (& heart) back on track. 

35628246_10155780051107058_3310234537451061248_nLangkawi, you’ve been a lifesaver. I can’t wait to go back again. 

PS: If you haven’t signed up to Booking.com yet, use my referral to get 10% back from your first stay ; HERE! 

KL Staycay – 188 Private Suites

Running my own businesses and juggling a bunch of freelance work basically means I don’t get to escape for holidays as much as I’d like to. Due to this reason, I’ve made a pact with myself to make an effort to take days off and indulge in staycays in KL city. & since I got so many inquiries on this one on my Instagram, here are the details of my first KL staycay of the year 🙂

188 Private Suites is nestled in the heart of KL and provides all the features anyone travelling in the city needs. The unit was super spacious which was great and provided me & the homegirl ample room to dance around;

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There’s something about hotel beds and their gorgeous white sheets (that my makeup and cat would destroy in minutes) that really makes it feel like luxury. Top it off with fluffy, cuddle worthy pillows and I’m set for some perfect relaxed slumber.
Let’s also take a second and appreciate the minimalistic decor that was so chic and tastefully done using only monochromatic greyscale tones that give it a modern yet classic aesthetic as a whole. 28584318_10155514880242058_1377405282_oScreen Shot 2018-03-06 at 6.26.40 PM.png
Here’s my favourite part about any hotel/vacay room – the bathroom. It’s almost a sin to not have a bathtub. There’s nothing like soaking in a bubble filled bath, while letting the warm water (or hot in my case) wash away the stress of the day, whilst getting lost in your own thoughts.
28641381_10155514879877058_1971442291_o    28640694_10155514880267058_2094330238_oThe basic amenities are provided but that doesn’t include a toothbrush and toothpaste so keep in mind that you should bring those along. Oh, and bubble bath soap because necessary, of course 🙂

 

There’s a walk in wardrobe that almost gave me Sarah Jessica Parker vibes (minus actually having designer or couture clothes to fill it & I’d like my very own Mr.Big too please. Kthxbye ). Did I mention the huge vanity that I absolutely need at home;28583920_10155514880137058_396792899_o

No holiday vibe is complete without a water feature of some sort, and this swimming pool doesn’t disappoint. The (self proclaimed) mermaid approved pool has these beautiful dark chrome blue tiles that makes for Instagram-worthy picture taking.
28641096_10155514879972058_825352635_o26219799_10155509542982058_6491551852786169525_n28580364_10155514879962058_1368951633_o28579712_10155514879892058_1450132731_oThe icing on top of this KL staycay is this amazing view from the sky-deck that makes me fall in love with the city all over again;
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If you want a break and still want to enjoy the beauty and comfort KL city has to offer, you can check this place out HERE!
& to top if off, you can get RM120 off your first trip from AirBnB if you sign up using my link HERE

2017. Thank you.

I’m happy to say that I at least have the discipline required to do a wrap up of the year when it comes to an end. I’ve neglected this space more than I should have and I have no excuses except that I’m an Instagram addict and have devoted most of my picture-taking, caption writing and ranting on that space instead. I’m sorry, WordPress, it’s not you. It’s me.

2017 like every other year had its massive ups and downs, but instead of focusing on the downs, I’m taking a walk down the yearly memory lane with the good. There’s so much of positives that I so easily look past when the negatives come to play but I’m honestly so blessed and should truly focus on that instead.

This was the year I moved out from the family home into my own rented space & I couldn’t be happier or more proud of this. I remember calling my sister and freaking out about how expensive bedsheets were. Basic things, but always being taken care of by my parents who provided me with so much I took for granted. I learnt to appreciate them so much more & vice versa. 16708482_10154405265372058_657732109491017225_n

Being in my own space also meant I could finally have a cat! & this little fur-bundle of joy is everything to me. I genuinely look forward to waking up to cuddle up with her.

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The surreal moment I met Superwoman, Lilly Singh & just being able to bask in her positivity and presence even for just a bit made me want to be better, work harder and be a better human being. Her vibes are contagious and the girl-love was oh-so real.

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Speaking of YouTube sensation, Superwoman, I started my YouTube channel as well after years (I kid you not) of procrastinating. I was even more privileged to have my first video be an interview with the amazingly talented, Sid Sriram.

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I ventured into a new business that I have always been so passionate about, makeup & thus, Dusky Rose was born. I can’t even explain how overwhelmed, nervous and ecstatic I am for all the things I’ve learnt through this progression of this brand.

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There’s so much more I am thankful for that pictures can’t do justice to. I’m thankful for a fantastic family and my newborn nephew, my Geng Unicorn who’ve always been my main pillars of strength who always have my back, to that special person who taught me that love has no gender, race and labels, to everyone who’ve made an effort to be a part of my 2017 including my online family who’ve followed me through my progress. You made my year (and life) complete.

Thank you for the continuous love and support. I couldn’t have done this without you. Here’s to a beautiful 2018. Stay blessed.

 

Love & light. Always,

Harmini Asokumar

Faux Saree Stylin’

Attended the Indian Fashion Agora event at Publika that showcased 7 designers and their collections with the theme ‘Pop India’. Rushed over from a meeting which I didnt want to wear a traditional Indian costume for, so I decided to wear my standard ‘faux saree’ style outfit.

I’m sharing this only because it’s super easy and convenient for those who want to create a contemporary Indian look, without much fuss.

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A turtle neck black sleeveless top, paired with jeans and gladiator sandals for my meeting. Switched it up for the fashion show by using a depot to wrap around from hip, one turn and shawl over shoulder for pallu effect.

It really is that easy;

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Added on some chunky gold jewellery. I love the classic kaasu-malai (long coin necklace) and plain gold bangles on one hand. To give it more of a wow factor, the anklets were added on.

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Simple, fuss free and easy to transform. Absolutely love easy styles like this and hope this inspired you 🙂

Contemporary stylin’
Harmini Asokumar

SetiaMurni AirBnB

With my 7th anniversary of running Deeper Than Fashion coming up, I decided to throw a pool party with a group of close friends a month early because October was going to be intense. Lucky me, I have a group of friends who do such intensive research and managed to find this gorgeous AirBnB in Bukit Damansara that was everything I wanted and more.

It’s such a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city without actually having to leave the comfort of knowing that everything is right around the corner (literally a stone throw away from restaurants, convenience store and pubs). Hidden, tranquil and with lots of greenery, it truly felt like I was at a resort.

& here’s how perfect it was; 22199296_10155118273172058_159843719_o.jpg

Imagine that being the view you woke up to every morning. It’s even more calming thanks to the sounds of water flowing because of the side water features. Bliss!

The room was a spacious, has a cozy king sized bed and an attached bathroom with all the basic necessitates you’ll need for a stay away from home. 22197883_10155118273227058_1407098165_o.jpg

The hosts were friendly, easy to communicate with and so very accommodating. They made the entire process smooth which I appreciate because customer service was on point throughout.

They even set up a table for me along with chairs so that I could entertain my guests comfortably. I went for a summer pool party theme that required almost no decorations thanks to the atmosphere and feel of the place. 22219459_10155118273142058_212738153_o.jpg22198945_10155118273597058_102714856_o22197621_10155118273442058_1932053708_o

Special thank you to PooLampung for the floats & Kreme and Crumbs for the super yummy, cute cupcakes that look like watermelons and pineapples. It really made the whole thing feel festive.

Being the self proclaimed mermaid I am, my favourite part of it all was the private swimming pool. Pictures truly can’t do this place enough justice, but I’ll try all the same;

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If you want a break from it all without having to fuss about the travel out of KL, this place is highly recommended. You can check it out HERE

& to top if off, you can get RM105 off your first trip from AirBnB if you sign up using my link HERE.

You can thank me later 😉

Malaysian Independent Live Fusion Festival

If you haven’t heard of the Malaysian Independent Live Fusion Festival, its about time you do! Its basically a music festival with some really amazing local and international Indian acts. If you love untainted mash up of carnatic, fusion as well as more modern vibes, then MILFF is definitely a must for you. Get ready for a night of pure musical bliss!

Last year’s line up was really good but they’ve taken it up a notch this year (in my opinion) featuring rising swoon worthy star Sid Sriram, unswerving veteran Vijay Prakash, the always-out-to-surprise-you Sooraj Santosh, rocking melancholic Agam and idealistic Aalaap Raju, this year’s festival promises six hours of wholesome entertainment.

It’s no surprise who I can’t wait to watch! ; KK9A1160

The event will be help at StarXpo Centre in KWC Fashion Mall, MILFF (as the festival has come to be known as) on the 9th of September at 5.30pm onwards. It’ll definitely be a night of amazing music, good vibes and goosebumps all around.

For details, visit www.mojoprojects.asia or get your tickets at www.airasiaredtix.com. Alternatively, you can contact this number 016-3271557.20814928_10154979763367058_45266096_n

Travel: Penang

There’s something about Penang and it’s charm that keeps you going back for more. The classic heritage and architecture is in tact yet there’s a modern touch to it to keep up with the times. I genuinely love Penang for it’s amazing food and even more amazing art.

I stayed at Spices Hotel for three days and two night, and let me just say, it was such a fantastic pick. It was secluded enough from the hustle and bustle but close enough to be able to walk down to Armenian Street. There’s a temple and a mosque nearby which means you can hear the sounds of the prayers but then again, it’s part of the Malaysian charm to embrace all cultures.

The room was clean and furnished with the basics needed. The receptionist was helpful when we asked for recommendations, which is great because I appreciate good customer service.

The reception area (as shown below) provided some nice photo ops;

1100The downer though was the free breakfast but hey, you’re in Penang! Good food is so easily accessible 🙂

Speaking of good food, let’s start off with the things I ate that are worth mentioning before I move on to things to do.

I stumbled upon this little cafe while mural hunting called The Book and the sandwich I had there was ah-may-zing! I had the crispy chicken sandwich and the raspberry mint cooler (also super yummy!). Worth checking out if you like sandwiches or want a break from hawker style food.

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What’s a trip to Penang without indulging in some local food, right? Teochew Chendul is one the most famous cendol stalls in Penang and definitely worth the queue. Absolutely loved the chendol and kuey teow.

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I saved the best for last. ChinaHouse is my favourite place in Penang thus far. The place itself is such a cool concept of a traditional compound of 3 heritage buildings, linked by an open air courtyard that has been converted into 14 existing spaces with shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries and theatre. There’s also a live band every night which makes it great for a chilled night out and some drinks.

It gets pretty packed so if you’re going in a big group, call and make reservations. The display of cakes was really a feast to the eyes and the glutton in me wanted to take a bite of everything!

The tiramisu is highly recommended and this coming from someone who isn’t even a fan of tiramisu to begin with. I can’t even begin to explain how delicious it was. 91 38The whole place is also Instagram worthy. I went there twice so here’s the different of the outdoor area during day and night;

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Most of time spent in Penang was to check out the street art which is truly a famous tourist attraction. There really is some form of art in every corner, you just need to look for it 🙂 1516682327262034

For those who are into local arts and crafts, a visit to the Hin Bus Depot during their bazaar days is definitely worth it. Once an abandoned bus depot, Hin has evolved into an unlikely art space that also showcases work from various artists.

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There’s definitely so much more to Penang and I’ll probably do more touristy things when I go the next time. This time called for some R&R, which was very well achieved.

Any suggestions on what else is worth checking out? Let me know and I’ll make a list for my next trip 🙂

Rested and relaxed;
Harmini Asokumar

Travel: Singapore

There’s always a good reason to visit Singapore and Coldplay was one of them. Watching them live was absolutely phenomenal and by far the best concert I’ve been to so far. I’d call it magic! The band really did a stellar job with the performance, from the quality of sound, the visuals and effects, to engaging the crowd. Everything was just right.

The organiser did such a great job too, but honestly, that was expected from Singapore either way. Completely mind blown by the whole experience!
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A trip to Universal Studios is a must if you like amusement parks and rollercoasters. I’m not big on rollercoasters because I legit don’t have the stomach for it. I’ve been there once prior to this trip, so I pretty much knew what to expect. But what I wasn’t expecting was the rain 😦

My favourite part of Universal is how the whole thing is built and walking from one set to another makes you feel like your travelling to different places. If you want to grab a bite, the street food vendors that sell the roasted turkey leg (so juicy and yummers!) and the soft serve ice cream with cookies are ace.

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If you’re a fan of F.R.I.E.N.D.S the sitcom (then we can be friends!), there’s the Central Perk cafe that looks exactly like it is in the show. From the setup of the living room, to the coffee place itself and so much more, it was a great way down memory lane for any fan. Here’s some picture proof of just how amazing it is!;

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The night life in Singapore is pretty nice. A walk around Clarke Quay is a must to crowd watch, have some food and drinks, or even try some of the activities they have. 8788

My favourite thing about the whole trip was the Art & Science Museum. Having heard so much about it, my expectations were really high, and it truly did not disappoint in a any way. Check out beforehand what exhibitions are going on so you have a rough idea if you’d be interested. It was something truly unique, especially the interactive installations which also provided tons of photo opportunities.

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Garden by The Bay is a pretty cool attraction to check out if you want to do the usually touristy things.

110117122124125In all honesty though, there’s always so much to do and see in Singapore. They have broadways and concerts, museums and art exhibitions, its all a matter of when you happen to go.

ArtScience Museum tops my list for must visit in Singapore. If there’s any places I should check out, do ket me know and I’ll be sure to add it to my list for my next trip.

A Head Full Of Dreams;
Harmini Asokumar