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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

Travel Junkie Diary

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  • The trips we host on @travelwithtjd on our polar journeys for the past years has been one of the most exciting experiences of my life and I’m so incredibly grateful for everything I’ve learned, experiences, felt, seen and for the people I’ve met on our trips! 
Our season starts this September with different groups traveling with @dennisstever and I to Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland! 
We have also released our travel dates for 2020 and with new destinations too and new experiences. I hope you can join us!! Click the link in my bio to learn more or follow @travelwithtjd for updates!
  • Lebanon in summer is all about exploring. Found this new hip beach bar on the coast of Byblos. The graffiti on the wall, the hanging hammocks in the water and the vibe, makes this place one of the cutest beach clubs I’ve seen so far. I love my beautiful home 🇱🇧
  • The last time I switched my laptop on was 5 days ago. The last time that happened was exactly a year ago. My phone is most of the time misplaced far away from me, my camera is still in my bag, my mind is switched off and I’m surrounded with love 💕and music 🎶. So happy to be back in Lebanon on my official summer break.
  • Home sweetest home ❤️
  • I love the the 3 AM version of people... Honest, vulnerable and real.
  • I have some sort of mental block this morning... which is a good thing so... Happy Thursday ☀️
  • This is a (long) thank you post... To my teachers.
Thank you for showing me my true strength... Not only physical strength, but more importantly mental strength.
Thank you for allowing me to let go... Whenever I feel I need a break from the world, your shala is the first place I run to... and when I’m away, it’s the first place I think of when I practice on my own, miles away. The sound of my breathing alone, takes me back to the exact spot where I place my mat... and I’m fully transported back to the stillness and awareness. 
Thank you for giving me a safe place to seek connection & allowing me to breathe... when I’m at my most vulnerable, you’ve made it ok for my tears to roll down my face in Savasana or during a posture, open up and just be me without any judgement. 
Thank you for offering so much of yourself to allow me to grow through my practice... Thank you for teaching me the true meaning of yoga, how to practice not only on the mat, but off the mat too... Yoga is a natural state of mind and not whether or not you can touch your toes. 
The light in me honors the light in you. Happy New moon 
Namaste 
Michelle 💫
  • I’m still going through the photos I’ve taken during my trip to Menorca. Still can’t believe how beautiful the island is!
  • Last couple of days at work before heading back home 🇱🇧. What are your summer plans? Anything exciting?
  • Your memory feels like home to me.
So whenever my mind wanders, it always finds its way back to you 💫
  • Someone at work asked me the other day what my goals were... I told them to be happy. To be really really really F**** happy. What’s yours?
  • How much time do you spend planning for a trip? I still can’t get over the beautiful sunsets I’ve been lucky to experience on the island. I’ve also written two blog posts on guides to Menorca and what to watch out for prior booking. 
I do usually spend a lot of time on research for my trips, months in advance and, for this specific trip, it was a little challenging finding a place to stay that matched what I was exactly looking for. 
The search engine that worked well for me was @wegoarabia - as for flights, I didn’t have too many options from Barcelona but it worked out well. I mixed it between hotel stay and private villa stay for my 10 nights. Booked a car and took it really easy at the end!