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
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.
Ahungalla, Sri Lanka.
Tel : +94 91 5555000,
Fax : +94 91 5555050
Email : [email protected]
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Houda Al Kaissi from flydubai, Dana cardoba from flydubai, James Fullerton on Video from Freezeflow and myself.
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.