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A Diary to Remember – Travel with TJD

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
A Diary to Remember – Travel with TJDLike0

Not too long ago, I launched the concept of ‘Travel With TJD’ #TravelwithTJD on social media. A concept that I have been working on for 2 years. Building followers, readers and increasing viewers daily were the key elements of this success. The moment you realize you can have everything you want in life is probably the sweetest moment. It takes timing, the right heart, the right actions, the right passion, the right people and a willingness to risk it all. Travel with TJD invites 5-7 strangers on an exciting journey with myself. A way to give back to those who have given me so much. An opportunity to build strong friendships with strangers on board, singing songs on road trips, get addicted to certain fruits (not a bad thing), getting to know the culture, meeting the people, learning the language and helping the less fortunate. #TravelwithTJD first mini series pilot episode is based on true stories in Sri Lanka with people who never met each other before. Having been to Sri Lanka 8 times, it was only obvious that it would be my first choice destination! These episodes of series will be featured on Youtube, Instagram, facebook, Twitter so follow our journey! #TravelwithTJD

A Diary to Remember – Travel with TJD

I approached flydubai with the concept and agreed instantly to become partners. Eventually, everything else came through. Heritance Ahungalla joined hands and became our home for the 3 days. Careem made everything so easy in Dubai by driving the guests to the airport and back. They are so sufficient and on time! It was a wonderful experience working closely with them! We spent our days laughing by the pool side, lunching at Arabella on Boossa, a river safari by Travel ATS, road tripping down to Galle Fort, visiting the little villages, Balinese massages at Heritance Ahungalla and so much food, laughter, ashtanga Yoga with Laura Farrier, watching the sunset, music and just closeness with everyone and most of all, an overdose of coconut water (Also learned the difference between different colors of coconut) and dosas for some!

Some people make your laugh a little louder, your smile a little brighter and your life a little better. Those are the best kind of people. This is for the first team of Travel with TJD. Samantha Wood, Lara Taki, Davina Alexandra, Laura Farrier, Houda Al Kaissi, James Fullerton on Video, Ibrahim Al Beshari on Canon Camera and Sherif Fayed on his sense of humor!

A huge thank you to flyDubai for the ride and all the support, Heritance Ahungalla for our beautiful stay, Arabella on Boossa for lunch, Eyezone for providing us with Diesel Sunglasses, Urban Peak for the Nalgene bottles, Travel ATS for the Madu River Safari, and Careem for driving each one of us to the airport and back!

*Pictures by Ibrahim Al Beshari were taken with a Canon Camera

Dress by Carla's Closet Photo by Ibrahim Al Beshari
Dress by Carla’s Closet
Photo by Ibrahim Al Beshari

 

The Hotel

Heritance Ahungalla, an Aitken Spence 5 star hotel, a 2 hour drive from the airport and nothing less than the best service there is. It’s not the first time I stayed here, so it was pretty obvious that I would return after a review like this one [here].

Heritance Ahungalla has exceeded our expectations, sometimes I even think to myself that some hotels across the world should learn a few things from them.

How they managed: At arrival, we were surprised with a welcome entertainment show. It was an absolute surprise to everyone including myself! As soon as I saw everyone smiling, laughing, taking pictures, a huge load was lifted off my heart and shoulder and I thought to myself…’everything is going to be ok, this is going to work!’

The staff and team made sure we were fully hydrated with coconut water throughout our stay, Mr. Refhan, Mr. Indika, Mr. Dinal and his team were always on site to make sure we were taken care of along with the chefs in the Kitchen!

Rooms were always cleaned, the property, an award winning hotel, had always a positive and happy vibe. Made our stay very pleasant and memorable.

A little tip: If you ever stay at Heritance Ahungalla, make sure you visit the spa and book the Balinese massage!

Aitken Spence Hotel Managements (Pvt) Ltd.
Heritance Ahungalla,
Galle Road,
Ahungalla, Sri Lanka.
Tel : +94 91 5555000,
Fax : +94 91 5555050
Email : [email protected]

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Picture by Ibrahim Al Beshari
Heritance Ahungalla
Heritance Ahungalla Picture by Ibrahim Al Beshari
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Picture by Ibrahim Al Beshari

The flight

It was based on one phone call. Flydubai supported the idea and got on board. Business class tickets were booked for each invitee and team member. Flydubai, based in Dubai, born into making travel accessible , more frequent and allowing more people to fly more places more often. A year ago, flydubai launched the business class section and instead of just making it a front seat section, they have created a whole new cabin and worked closely with the seat manufacturer to design their own leather seats and added value for money services such as access to the business class lounge, a dedicated shuttle bus takes business class passengers straight from the aircraft to arrivals where they’ll be fast-tracked through immigration, passengers can sit back and enjoy one of more than 200 movies on their personal 12.1-inch touchscreen TV or plug in a laptop to their seat’s individual power supply and get down to work. On flights over 90 minutes, business class passengers can choose a delicious hot meal from an internationally-inspired menu. To finish, ice cream in a variety of flavors is served and then followed by a choice of Nespresso coffees and don’t be shy of asking for lots of chocolates!

Flydubai flies twice daily to Sri Lanka with Economy return fare starting price at AED764 and Business class return fare at a  starting price AED 2600 for more information log on to www.flydubai.com

flydubai Business Class seats CMYK (1)

 

The Tours

In 3 days, we managed to squeeze everything in. Travel ATS invited us for a river safari across the little islands in Madu River.

We also visited a turtle hatchery farm, a drive down the South Coast, stilt fishing, markets, villages and explored the little islands and overdosed on so much coconut water! The concept of time, as it’s commonly understood by normal people with normal jobs and normal lives, doesn’t exist on the road. The nights spread out like the dark, godforsaken highways that distinguish them, and the days run together like Thanksgiving dinner smothered in gravy. You never really know where you are or what time it is, and the outside world and time starts to fade away. It’s cool.

Picture by Ibrahim Al Beshari
Picture by Ibrahim Al Beshari

 

Picture by Ibrahim Al Beshari
Picture by Ibrahim Al Beshari
Picture by Ibrahim Al Beshari
Picture by Ibrahim Al Beshari
Picture by Ibrahim Al Beshari
Picture by Ibrahim Al Beshari

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The Food

On the first day, Heritance Ahungalla had prepared a 100% effort for a beach bbq buffet with a beautiful set up! Arabella on Boossa had invited the group over for lunch the next day and needless to say, I had my first Sri Lankan cuisine! It was spicy but delicious and cooked to perfection! Arabella on Boossa is a beautiful family run and owned private property 10 minutes away from Galle by Tuk Tuk. Talpe beach was also on the list and Amal Sea Food restaurant. Heritance Ahungalla had prepared for us cut fruits to take with us throughout the road too!

 

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Heritance Ahungalla Photo by Ibrahim Al Beshari

 

Lunch at Arabella On Boossa
Lunch at Arabella On Boossa

The Guests

Personally handpicking the guests was probably the longest and toughest decision I had to make, apart from making sure the itinerary fit everyone. We were looking for people with a beautiful spirit, an intellectual state of mind, someone that would bring some thing to the table, followers of Travel Junkie Diary and real people who have a thirst for travel.

Samantha Wood, an award winning food journalist and a huge supporter of Travel Junkie Diary from the every start. Samantha has earned my respect from the very start and I always followed her journey through the culinary world. As a business women, its someone I look up to from making it all on her own.

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Lara Taki, a beautiful soul with a heart of gold. Lara has also supported TJD from the start. She added so much to the group with her personality, beauty, fun character and just by being my friend who stood by my side.

Travel With TJD
Photo by Ibrahim Al Beshari

 

 

Davina Alexandra, Davina and I always followed each other on instagram and interacted on each other’s journey. We were always one step ahead or behind each other. It was only evident that we met. Her pictures always spoke to me. I really wanted to meet her. So we flew her in from Prague. I am so happy she joined. We both learned so much from each other. How to conquer few things.

 

Davina Alexandre
Davina Alexandre

Laura Farrier, a yogini that has all the yoga figured out. Yoga is about kindness, truth, loyalty, love and self discovery and she inspired us a lot during the trip. Laura and I had also never met but she posted a video of herself once on instagram that grabbed my attention. From the moment we spoke on the phone, we clicked. She is one of those people that you would never want out of your life. Laura helped the team with any yoga questions ad being a vegan herself, we learned so much about her beliefs and her teachings.

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Picture by Ibrahim Al Beshari

 

 

Ibrahim Al Beshari from Libya, a talented photographer and traveler. Ibrahim and I worked together on so many occasions and he has been part of Travel Junkie Diary team now for a good amount of time.

 

Sherif Fayed from Egypt, a talented entertainer who has stolen the hearts of so many. It was so evident that I would have him part of this trip! He held the fun together and made everything funny!

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Houda Al Kaissi from flydubai, Dana cardoba from flydubai, James Fullerton on Video from Freezeflow and myself.

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Having fun with Houda
Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset
The Team

 

Go outside. Don’t tell anyone and don’t bring your phone. Start walking and keep walking until you no longer know the road like the palm of your hand, because we walk the same roads day in and day out, to the bus and back home and we cease to see. We walk in our sleep and teach our muscles to work without thinking and I dare you to walk where you have not yet walked and I dare you to notice. Don’t try to get anything out of it, because you won’t. Don’t try to make use of it, because you can’t. And that’s the point. Just walk, see, sit down if you like. And be. Just be, whatever you are with whatever you have, and realize that that is enough to be happy. There’s a whole world out there, right outside your window. You’d be a fool to miss it. I’m so lucky to have build moments and memories with those new friends.

 

Photo by Ibrahim Al Beshari
Photo by Ibrahim Al Beshari
Photo by Ibrahim Al Beshari
Photo by Ibrahim Al Beshari
Photo by Ibrahim Al Beshari
Photo by Ibrahim Al Beshari
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Photo by Ibrahim Al Beshari

 

Picture By Davina Alexandra
Picture By Davina Alexandra
Picture By Davina Alexandra
Picture By Davina Alexandra
Picture By Davina Alexandra
Picture By Davina Alexandra

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  • Someone told me that I’m still glowing from my recent @travelwithtjd arctic trip. 
It put a huge smile on my face... because It’s true... I still feel it, that happiness and high... but I was also told that I wear my heart on my sleeve so, my ‘glow’ is inevitable. 
We fall in love with the person we become when we travel to places that sets your soul on fire... And you would do anything to hold on to it. 
Heading back to Lebanon for my last dose of winter & snowboarding with family & friends before heading back to the salty waters and flip flops. 
Have a beautiful week everyone and thank you for following along 💫
  • I’m not sure why I love this first picture a lot. It’s one of those things you can’t explain. 
I’ve always looked at rear view mirrors as walking away from something (Not necessarily bad) towards something greater that might or might not work and it’s somewhat comforting. 
I’m someone who loves their own space and comfortable on my own, most of the time at least. 
I’ve had times where things didn’t always go my way instantly but I knew it eventually will fall into place, and, it always does. 
I might have fallen flat on my face sometimes, and have underestimated my own capabilities in some moments... but, I’m more confident of my choices than I was when I first started my journey and what made me even braver, was my willingness to live up to these moments because in the end, it was all worth it. 
#TravelwithTJD @travelwithtjd @hertz.uae
  • We all crave isolation from time to time to get disconnected from whatever it is that keeps us awake at night. 
To just go, and say nothing and think nothing. 
We hope in the end that whatever you love always loves you back. The sami believes that when you are in nature, you are never afraid of being alone. 
Returning from a ‘letting go’ place such as the wilderness in Finland affects me emotionally and sets me off balance a little, because my happiness was always about following my heart, and so, I try to find my way back from a place of reality that is even far better than my dreams. #TravelwithTJD @travelwithtjd
  • What an incredible emotional 10 days this has been! I’ve met the funniest, warmest and the most caring, thoughtful people on this @travelwithtjd and it’s so difficult say goodbye. We have created our own reality - pushed boundaries - fell in love with life - and set ourselves free from all judgments on ourselves. I’ll post more on stories and photos as soon as I land back home 💫
Thank you @hertz.uae for having such great service during our trip!
  • On this @travelwithtjd trip, I’m surrounded with people that makes me forget where my phone is, makes me laugh till my stomach hurts, help each other when you can’t feel your hands from the cold and makes my heart so full and filled with love, and we all know how much I love love ☺️. I’m back in Finland, creating our own realities with some of the most incredible people I have ever met. #travelwithtjd
  • From Tromso, to Dubai for a couple of days and now back to Finland for our next @travelwithtjd - I had few friends over at home yesterday for lunch @theitalianwayuae to say goodbye, leaving for almost 13 days but never thought leaving my little puppy was going to be this difficult!
  • On our last @travelwithtjd to Norway, we left @radissonblutromso to set sail in the Arctic in search of the Northern Lights and to experience sailing and sleeping out in the wilderness. 
4 nights and we were faced with an incredible storm, high winds, lots of rain and clouds but it didn’t stop some of us from dancing, fishing and sailing. That’s the real Arctic weather!
It was a mind blowing adventure and testing each one’s capabilities of being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. 
That’s what an adventure is really all about. Especially in the beautiful arctic. ❤️
  • I honestly didn’t know how to caption this story because there is a thousand words I want to say and a thousand reasons not to. 
This image speaks to me and I’ve imagined it and orchestrated in my head a thousand times and @dennisstever helped me capture it perfectly. 
It’s a liberating feeling to be able to stand at the edge with a cape with extreme wind and rain in your face and feel like a superhero. 
We are our own heroes. Not because we are about to change the world....But to change inside of us who struggle to make one small difference in their lives for themselves every day. 
I’m the type of girl who will have tears of joy or sadness running down my face and still insist that everything is fine. My glory isn’t just in the achievements, but in the sacrifices I have made to save myself. This is what this story image represents to me. 
#TravelwithTJD @travelwithtjd
My beautiful cape is from @costureroreal
  • We are spoon fed with quotes on social media on the fake realm of positivity and sometime too much of it. 
The truth is, why should we avoid difficult situations? Why should we not get heartbroken? 
To be surrounded by ONLY positive people and those who ONLY inspire you is unrealistic and a recipe for not growing or truly finding out who you are. 
Because you will come across people in your life that can suck out the energy out of you and you will only learn to block them and manage your reaction when you have had a share of experiences. 
It takes real courage to stop pretending you have it all together and accept the challenges and grow. 
If we can allow ourselves to face it; we will experience life to its fullest. 
Being human means facing suffering. There is no light without dark, no joy without sadness. 
If we don’t experience all feelings, we have no basis for comparison. So accept the good and the bad without any judgement, know it’s human to feel both. 
Take your time to feel everything, but once you are done, get up, grow, break your own boundaries and not what others expects of you, and motivate yourself by learning to face and appreciating the challenges that comes your way. Too much positivity could also be lethal and not real. It’s how you learn to deal with it. 
At least that’s what I have learned, and I have felt my personal growth during those years. ❤️
  • I’ll always search for those breathless moments where I will no longer be sure if I am dreaming or awake. 
We drove in total 8 hours that day from Tromso to Senja along the coastline. I kept asking @dennisstever to pull over every 2 minutes so I can shoot but luckily he didn’t, otherwise we would have never reached here at sunset. 
Scandinavia is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to and that’s why I keep coming back and leave with a full heart... until it’s time to come back again. 
Follow our @travelwithtjd Journey and be part of our polar journeys. ❤️
  • One of the most liberating feeling in the world is being able to come back here over and over again and feeling so comfortable and happy. I took this yesterday while flying over tromso and although it was just taken with a phone camera, I think it still looks magical. I woke up at 4am today, excited to start the day, getting ready for the team of @travelwithtjd to start arriving and we set sail tomorrow in the Arctic wilderness. #travelwithtjd
  • The heaviness of the moon this month... so I say this: It’s ok if you lose yourself, I’ll be right here to help you find your way back 💫