Sunday, September 14, 2014

Homestays via Airbnb at Sri Lanka!

Sri Lanka was my first time trying out airbnb as a guest. My family has been hosting numerous people from all walks of life through airbnb and it's about time that we do the same in a place so foreign like Sri Lanka, to call our second home.

This trip was very close to my heart because I went with Daren after so long of not traveling together and to utilise airbnb seemed like the perfect choice.

Daren and I went through a couple of options, a lot of options actually, the more we read about all these wonderful hosts the more I fell in love with them, and the more I got indecisive. Eventually, we've decided that he is to decide on the stays at Kandy, while I needed to decide on the stays in Colombo.

Mr Dijen's House - First Home (First Night in Colombo)
Our first homestay via airbnb was in a very beautiful house with some very edgy black stone walls. Upon reaching the bus station, we followed Mr Dijen's instruction very closely  and options were the bus and tuk tuk. Because we were very exhausted with back to back flights, we decided on the tuk tuk. After about 20 minutes (the jam was quite bad), we finally reached the supposed junction to Mr Dijen's house. We got lost for about 5 minutes looking for it because there were some construction just outside of the road, but when you walk into the actual lane - IT WAS SO LOVELY! I loved the exterior so much I started snapping the moment I walked in.

We were greeted by Mr Dijen who introduced himself so humbly, and so gentlemanly, I knew in that instant, he would be a kind host. He showed us to our room and assured us the freedom we have in utilising the whole place. Because we were there for only one night, he started chatting up with us about our plans and if there were anything else he could do for us (such a sweetheart!).

Honestly, coming to a comfortable home is really just what any traveler could appreciate. Staying in Mr Dijen's home offers just that and more. He had prepared for us the most amazing breakfast spread :) :) :)

Mr Dijen's Listing:

Mr Gerard - Second Home (Second - Fourth Nights in Kandy)
After three hours of being in the train to Kandy, my legs were all jelly and all I wanted was a good ol' lunch and rest. I was extremely grateful that Mr Gerard had offered to pick us up for FREE from the train station. Seeing motorists and tuk tuk going up and down the hill in the most narrow roads possible is just amazing. Gerard himself was a funny guy who choked on Daren's question "what medicine do you take when you have flu here?" "*pause* Vitamin C?".

Of all the home stays in Sri Lanka we had the privilege to stayed at, Gerard's was the best. By miles. He and his wife would prepare us this elaborated local Sri Lankan breakfast that was the most delicious spread of food in Sri Lanka I've ever had. I enjoy the breakfast so much I would top my rice up again and again T____T So good. Unfortunately, I forgot to take the photos!

The property itself is big, complete with its kitchenette, microwave, fridge and television and is surrounded by trees and greens all around.

There is a bit of a climb though going to the home. Because it's perched on the hill, if you're worried for your parents or elder people then please consider. Daren and I enjoyed the walk so it was no issue.

Mr Gerard's Listing:

Ms Gayathri - Last Home (Fifth Night in Colombo) 
After our momentous trip to Kandy, we rode back to Colombo to catch our flight back to Malaysia. This time, I chose another section of Colombo which was Colombo 7 (versus Dijen's Colombo 4). This was like an upped housing area with a complete sanctions of security. The only access to this home was using tuk tuk and is about 10 - 15 minutes away from town (with jam). Ms Gayathri was a colourful lady who Daren and myself could very well relate with because she is media and advertising. Her house like all the homes we stayed with were very beautiful and interesting. Ours in particular was an all white room with book shelves right up to its ceiling. It felt like the perfect place for long stays, especially for its secured area, and cozy book ends at the corner. I'm thinking perfect for kids as well. I even managed a few pages of "The Life of Mahatma Gandhi".

Daren and I had the chance to really sleep in at Gayathri's because it was our last night and the next flight was at 4pm. It was comfortable and had everything cozy.

Ms Gayathri Listing:

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Eco Wildlife City Sandakan

I know I owe Sri Lanka's complete post for the longest time, but since I'm now going back and forth to Sandakan, I might as well share more on this beautiful eco wildlife city for all of you. Sri Lanka will take a LOT of my time which I'm working on at the moment.

For starters - If you and your family only have the weekends to spare to travel anywhere you could in Malaysia, please choose Sandakan. Especially if you have kids. Sandakan used to be British's main port after their first move from Kudat, and if you followed my Instagram you would have known that it was reputed to have the most millionaires in the world thanks to the timber industry. As a result? Till today, Sandakan houses some of the richest people in the world, but they camouflage with everyone else so humbly.

The last time I was in Sandakan was 14 years ago and a lot has changed since then. Not drastically, but you do have some international brands sprouting slowly now, and the charm of the wildlife rehabilitation centres and sanctuaries have developed by leaps and bounds. Some even say the standards of the wildlife sanctuaries and centres are probably among the best in the world. I love the part when the video says "that these centres are conflicted between providing a sanctuary to these protected animals and delivering the requests from tourists of seeing these endangered species." 

I stayed at Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan, and it was epic. The place is right in the heart of Sandakan Harbour overlooking the Sulu Sea. They have the best views in the entire of Sandakan, stretched as far as the eyes can see. At one corner you'd see the berhala island with sunrise, and the other with sunset. They also have this infinity pool that overlooks both the Sulu Sea and Sandakan Bay which is truly breathtaking.