BootsnAll Travel Network

Glitter the World: South Asia

In response to some requests from family and friends to keep a travel blog, I present to you Glitter The World: South Asia! I am currently on a 5 month journey through Sri Lanka and Southern India. I will be in Sri Lanka for One month, teaching yoga to "holiday-ers" at the luxorius spa resort Amanwella located in Tangalle Southern Sri Lanka. I will then be spending my remaining time in India, studying yoga, past life regression, and reiki in Mysore and visiting Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living Ashram in Bangalore. Between then, I will stay at various ashrams doing some seva (selfless service) and studying meditation.

~You may view photos by clicking on links within my postings, or view the entire photo album at ~

Om Shanti Shanti

Day of Death

December 30th, 2009

 First and Last time as an Octopus Huntress

Another day another snorkeling adventure.  This time Sandun and I assisted (I observed) an octopus catching.  I watched from the surface as his friend prodded and chased the poor little octopus at the bottom of the sea as the mister octopus sprayed his black ink.  I wont go into detail about the catching, but let me just say that his body was turned inside out and his poor little heart destroyed.  After inspecting his beautiful tenticles (which still strongly suctioned to my skin as if he were still alive) I held his heart in the palm of my hand, taking a few moments to honor his life before letting go of it and attentitively watching as it so delicately returned itself to the bottom of the sea.  I felt a little better once I wittnessed a school of fish immediately eating the remains… his heart was not wasted.  At this moment did I experience a brief understanding of the circle of life.

A Grandmother’s grave,  a Sri Lankan funeral, Tsunami damage, and the fish harbor 

Sandun and I took a tuk tuk ride around the country side today.  On our way to his grandfathers house, we passed the fish harbor.  Boats of all shapes, sizes and colors float side by side in the harbor.  Some boats had been freshley used, and others patiently wait for a good time venture out for a catch.  One of the seasoned vessels carried a load of giant fish (not sure what they were called so I will call them Giant Fish) that were being unloaded and weighed.  They looked like tiny fish but with gigantic bodies and they were as large as me!! They all weight several hundred kilos.  I was invited inside of one of the freezers in the back of the truck where I gently stroked the lifeless fishies.  I couldn’t help but wonder how sush a large creature could get around by such small fins.  They had to have been only a few inches long and not even a centimeter thick!  I pressed into his tiny little teeth and scraped the film on his eyeball, which didn’t feel any different then his skin/scales.   

On the way to Sandun’s grandfather’s house, we went through the villages that were devestated by the tsunami 5 years ago.  In one of those villages, there was a gathering of people who where grieving the death of a beloved member of their small community.  This man was the father of one of Sandun’s close friends.  The man was apparantly having investment troubles and couldn’t “handle life’s troubls” as Sandun explained, and so he drank a bottle of poisen.  We quietly passed a large group (woman separated by the men) of grieving Sri Lankans, and entered the family’s household where the man was peacefully laying, dressed all in white, accompanied by his living photograph.  This man would lay in his families living room for 3 days as the villagers would come to pay homage to him.  (Because it was colder than usual those nights, the villagers stayed up with the body to make sure that the bugs that where finding protection from the cold didn’t take an early start on his body) As a Sri Lankan tradition, Sandun and I sat in silence with our appropriate gender for the next 10 minutes.  My presence was acknowledged by smiles and bows of head in appreciation and gratitude for my visit. 

We passed the gravesite for Sandun’s grandmother, and stopped to say a prayer.  I later saw a photo of her, she was just lovely, at her altar in his grandfather’s home.  Finally at our destination, we were greeted by Sandun’s aunt’s pet peacock.  The pink painted cement home is in the middle of the jungle.  The home’s windows are permantely open as there is no separation between inside and outside.  We drank the most delicious coffee (straight from his grandfather’s coffee plants) and did a lot of sitting.  A lot of sitting, and chatting between Sandun and me, and some more sitting in other places.  Sandun went off into the jungle (he wouldn’t tell me why at this point) and I explored every part of his grandfather’s property. I investigated the leaves, scents, and insects of various trees and plants and followed the movements of the brush to find the little animal within it’s branches. 

Sandun soon emerged from the jungle carrying a handful of various Sri Lankan flowers, each exuding the sweetest smells on the earth.  Earlier that day I had been carying around a bundle of flowers that smelled of candy grapfruit, constantly pressing it up my nose.  Sandun promised to find me all of the most beautiful smelling flowers of Sri Lanka, which he surely lived up to.  Each flower, a different size, shape and color, smelled like a combination of the sweetest fruits, perfumes, and candies in the world!  i just want to eat them up!

Sandun’s grandfather, cousin, and aunt do not speak English either, but non the less enjoyed my visit and would like me to come back for dinner soon. Sandun went to school until he was 18 (he is 20 years old now) in which he learned various skills such as fishing, navigation, mechanics, and a bit of geography.  He taught himself English and practiced with foreigners on the beach.  He would like me to help him get an email address and show him how to use a computer!  It’s amazing to me that we studied different things in school that would help us in our different areas and ways of life.  Regardless of my level of education, I would no doubt fail all of his examinations! 

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Adventures around Mulgirigala

December 30th, 2009

Time with Sandun

Sandun (pronounced SAHN-doon) is one of my friends that lives in the village behind Amanwella.  I met him during my first week at Aman through one of the butlers, Sampath.  Sandun first invited me to go octopus hunting with him and his father, but that time we were unsuccessful.  Fortunately there ARE really other fish in the sea and we ventured through rock and coral as Sandun pointed out interesting creatures or showing me which ones where dangerous.  He picks creatures up out of the water and shows them to me while giving me a detailed explanation on their living situation, eating habits, and detail about their body parts etc.  He showed me how to pick up star fish without breaking their limbs and how to gently pull one of the many spikes of the sea urchen to watch them flinch. 

I found myself snorkeling with Sandun everyday, finding new kinds of fish, venturing further and further off the coast and being able to swim deeper below the sea’s surface.  Recently I was able to realise that in addition to enjoying our under the sea adventures, I enjoy Sandun’s company.  One day I vocalised my slight frusturation with the fact that I hadn’t explored much of the area yet and that I finally was going to see the Rock Temple.  I told him my driver Lalith was going to charge me 1,000 SLR’s, and asked if that was a good deal.

“You are going by yourself?  I can come with you and my friend can drive us for free!”

I accepted his offer and rode with him and Dinush to the Rock Temple in Mulgirigala 25 kms away.  It felt so nice to be in the tuk tuk, driving through villages and seeing people and places.  I had always wondered what it would be like to drive a tuk tuk so you can imagine how pleased I was when Dinush offered to show me how to drive it.  It was obviously manuel, and I do not have much experience with a clutch, but somehow I did it.  I drove us the entire way through crazy Sri Lankan traffic (with the lovely addition of vehiches honking due to my slow speed) to the Rock Temple.     

The Rock Temple is a beautiful monestary build around a sacred rock.  There are several mural covered caves throughout the rock containing giant sleeping Buddhas, and one of the dead Buddha.  You can climb over 500 steps to the top of the rock where you will find a breathtaking view of the jungle (monkeys included!) 

Moments i LIVE for 

We could see rain clouds in the distance so I made Sandun wait till they were right over our heads so we could sit on the top in the pouring rain.  Sure enough only moments later the monsoon shower began!!  Large warm raindrops danced on my face, drenching my clothes and hair!  I played in the rain the entire way down and the others took refuge underneath the trees and hid under their umbrellas.  I muddied up my feed and jumped in puddles.  Sandun bought us some tea from a street vendor to warm us up for the ride home.

Back in the Village

Before arriving back at Amanwella, I went to Sandun’s house to meet his family.  I met his little sister (8 years old), mother, aunt (who lives next door), and his two cousins (8 years old and 16 years old).  I enjoyed another cup of Ceylon tea while I watched his aunt cut stacks of cloth into pieces which would soon develop into a t-shirt.  Sandun’s aunt sews plain t-shirts (and there are other designs that are more complicated) and she recieved around 300 SLR’s for each one from the stores.  No one else in his family speaks English, but the children non-the-less hung around us curiously watching Sandun and I speak foreign talk.  His family insists that I come back soon for dinner.  I happily oblige.  

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the truth about the “Beach Boys”

December 26th, 2009

I have been on a mission for the past few days to find out the truth about “beach boys”.  Who are they, how old are they, what do they do and why do they do it?

During my first few days at Peace Beach (Aman = peace, Wella = beach) I of course noticed a lot of attention from the boys on the beach.  I  assumed the I was receiving such attention becuase I was a foreigner, and because I was a girl (we get used to this so I just saw it as normal).  Nothing goes further than kind gestures, short conversations in broken English, and small gifts (I have received some nice little shells, and even some home made ayruvedic oil for mosquito bites).  Being an educated, traveling, and independant woman, I knew to keep my boundaries and be aware of my interactions.  And now only a week and a half later (is this too long?  or was I quick to catch on?) I know the truth.

“Beach Boys” are prostitutes!!  Sri Lanka is a place for female Sex Tourism: when Western woman vacation solo (or with another girlfriend of two) seeking out romance in paradise.  In return for company and sex, the females  take their beach lovers out shopping (for shoes, clothing, jewelery etc), out for dinner, on day trips, and sometimes even let them stay at their hotel with them.  These flings can last as little as a few hours, or as long as a few years!!  Some woman have been known to send money and gifts to their beach lovers long after they have left paradice.

To find out the truth of this matter, I have been interviewing people all over the resort here.  They don’t act surprised when I ask them.  “Yes, it is normal” they say and “I have many friends that are beach boys”. 

It is simply their job.  These boys can range anywhere in age, but particularly 18-late 20’s (child sex tourism is another story I don’t even dare to get into)  and the woman can range anywhere in age, even quite old ladies.  Sometimes these men are even married and are “beach boys” to support their wives and children.  When there are no jobs for the men, they become “beach boys” and fulfill the woman’s fantasy of paradise romance.   

So now it all makes sense!  Two old Italian ladies (i’d say 60’s) got in trouble for bringing one of the local “beach boys” up to the pool.  They were buying him deserts and drinks.  The managers here told him they couldn’t have locals coming up here to the resort, and they knew why.  Later that day I saw one of those same ladies walking on the beach with another boy, holding his hand!! i started to get the hint.  Later that night, I introduced myself to a young couple and asked them where they were from.  They were pretty close so I assumed they were a couple, “She’s from Germany” replied the man.  So I realised he was local and she was his sugar momma for the week.

 So this is what those charming young lads on the beach down below Amanwella have been up to.  And I have been told that they automatically think that any white or Western woman coming to the beach is looking for a beach lover.  Well the “beach boys” do not fool me, and as far as they are concerned, I am married and my husband is up at the pool!

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Creatures of Peace Beach

December 24th, 2009

Monkeying around during Yoga

I started teaching yoga classes to the Amanwella guests last Friday… Oh dear, what day is it even today?  We start at 8 on the yoga platform which is in the coconut grove right in front of the shimmering Indian Ocean. 

During my second yoga class, we were joined by a couple of members from the Peace Beach Dog Gang.  As we melted into our meditation at the beginning of our practice, our deep Ujaii breath was accompanied by by some smelly dog breath.  3 dogs curiously tip-toed across our mats sniffing the yoga students.  It was as if they were protecting their beach by investigating the newest arrivals.  They must have approved of the yoga students becuase they vanished off into the coconut grove after a few minutes of investigation. 

As my students lay in peaceful savasana at the end of class, their relaxation was not only accompanied by the sounds of breaking waves, but of palm tree branches being ripped apart and thrown and coconuts falling from 40 feet in the air.  I caught a glimpse of several grey monkeys swinging about the coconut grove reaping havoc!  Their tails stick straight up in the air like the monkeys from The Wizard of Oz.  The same monkeys that almost caused a 6 tuk-tuk pileup on the road the other day as i went into town.  We had to wait as a line of monkeys crossed the street!

Other tiny (or not so tiny) creatures I have encountered

I constantly walk with my attention at my feet!  There are little caterpiller creatures EVERYWHERE! And they are kind of cute, they are black with yellow stripes, kind of like catipillers.  They even crawl over the yoga mats, and I felt one during Warrior I the other day and took the weight out of the arch of my foot, avoiding squishing him!  Then of course there are the usual ants and mosquitos.  Then there are the Kurmila, the giant black beetles!  I have seen a few, either soaring in the air, or struggling on its back waiving their feet in the air.  I always help him out by flipping him over if I see him on his shell.  Earlier, I described the lizards in the rooms, which actually I found out are geckos.  They don’t bother me, they are rather cute! 
Then there are the SPIDERS!!!!  Not so many, but the two that I have seen are enough to make me jump out of my swim suit bottoms! One night in my room I found a very large spider in my bathroom.  Its legs were probably two inches long!  I don’t like spiders, but I don’t like to kill them either.  So what I usually do is cover it with a glass, then slide some paper underneath it, carry it outside, then set it free!! Well this time, I did all of the above, however the mouth of the glass was too small to fit over the entire spider!! So out stuck its poor legs.  I had used an Amanwella postcard as the base, and as I walked out to my porch to free it, I realised I’d have to set it very far away if i didn’t want it coming back.  So I had no choice but to throw the glass and postcard off into the distance.  The next morning, I found the glass and postcard on my porch, one of the landscaping guys must have found it in the brush, and knew it had to have been mine.  oops!  Then at last, the second spider I saw, eeeeeh I can hardly even write about it, was HUGE!  It had been raining all day so of course many of the little creatures had to find places to sleep, out of the rain.  I found this particular spider inside of my shower.  I could see him in the dark he was so big.  His body had to be at least an inch and a half, with legs stretching over 3 inches!!  I froze in my footprints! I almost started crying i was so scared!  I called housekeeping in the middle of the night and they told me to just spray it with the bug repellent I had in my room.  “Nooooooooooooo way! Please send someone to help me!”  Until they came, I kept looking back in the shower to make sure it didn’t move.  How awful would that have been if it dissapeared and I had no idea where to!!  Finally someone came, and as much as It scared me, I didn’t want it to die.  But there was no choice, he squished him in a towel and carried him away.  I spent the next half hour with on of the workers pointing at places in my room for him to check for bugs. 

In addition to the spiders, mosquitos and geckos who have developed a liking to my room, I share my porch with the same dogs from the yoga platform!  There are particularly three that have hairried up my lounge mattresses.  This is a photo of my favorite one, which I have named Rupee,  he is demonstrating his yoga abilities for the camera and is showing where the term “Downward Facing Dog” comes from. 

 The froggies!! They are soooo adorable!! They come in all shapes and sizes.  There are some from the size of my baby finger nail to the size of my palm.  There are a few outside of my room and I fall asleep to their melodic croaking, along with a mixture of exotic birds (including peakocks and others which I will discuss upon further observation) geckos, and the ocean waves!

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Typical Day at Amanwella

December 23rd, 2009

Typical Day at Amanwella

6:30 am ~ Wake up, do my morning Kriya and meditation on my balcony8:00 -9:00 am ~ Teach Yoga to Amanwella guests on the beach platform9:00-10:30 am~ eat breakfast (usually fresh fruit, yogurt, and tea) and read, write, or sketchbook10:30-13:00 ish ~ swim in the pool or ocean, snorkle13:00-15:00 ~ eat lunch and read, write, sketchbook, go on an adventure15:00-16:30~ Siesta!! zzzzzz…….17:00 -19:00 ~ afternoon tea, and maybe another swim in the pool or the sea and watch the sunset19:00 – 21:00 ~ dinner, read, go to Sleep!private yoga classes are anywhere from 10:00-17:00

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Current Time in Sri Lanka

December 23rd, 2009

Local time in Sri Lanka


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