Tag Archives: travel

Discovering the Beauty of Tea in Sri Lanka and Forming New Bonds

Sri Lanka is a beautiful paradise with lush scenery, wonderful people and scrumptious food. I can’t believe I had no plans to visit this awesome place, until I met a friend from there in Tokyo. When she returned home and told me to come visit whenever I wanted, I jumped at the chance. By then I had been to India and knew it was somewhat similar. Sri Lanka, has its own rich cultural traditions and has a warmth all of its own though. Let me wax eloquent about it all.

Jackfruit, my favourite fruit and mango my other favourite fruit are abundant in Sri Lanka. If I am able to gorge on these then I am happy. I was happy in Sri Lanka both times I visited. At my friend’s house, I enjoyed these fruits and others, as well as a smorgasbord of other local dishes that infused joy into my being. Food in Sri Lanka is spicy goodness, everything is delicious.

Learning more about Sri Lanka through its foods

I am always surprised at how common it is for people to eat their meals with their hands. It seems that eating with utensils (especially at home) isn’t as global as some of us practice/believe. It is something I do when I visit places where this is the norm. Since, I was staying with my friend and her family I considered it important to do this. One great aspect of travelling is learning about other cultures in real life. I am learning as I travel, to be more open-minded and respectful of the way other groups of people do things. When you think of it, it is quite eco-friendly to eat with your hands. Curried jackfruit was new to me. Though I enjoyed it, I still prefer eating it raw and ripe.

Seafood is quite tasty and varied in Colombo (this is where I indulged a lot so keep this in mind). We enjoyed eating at some world class hotels and the fare they served was worth every penny. You can eat good food for cheap and you can also splurge and enjoy good food in more classy establishments. It’s worth trying them, within your budget of course.

Sri Lanka
Somewhere between Nuwara Eliya and Kandy

Exploring tea ‘country’ and making connections in Kandy and Colombo


Sri Lanka is a country where travelling on the beaten path still gives great rewards. It isn’t crowded and train travel or transportation is accessible. Also many people speak or understand English, so travelling around is relatively straightforward. I was fascinated by ‘tea country’ Nuwara Eliya, so I took the train from Colombo up there. It is freezing in summer. Thankfully, I had planned for this. I enjoyed a local tour around a tea plantation to see how tea is made. Phew! The thing that struck me was how hard the women worked to pick the leaves. I was left wondering how much money seeps down to them…

Sri Lanka

The entire area is lush and green. There are lots of picturesque spots for the instagram worthy pics. On the way back to Colombo we drove and those roads are winding…the scenery can’t be beat though. It was nice to see the loads of fresh fruits and veggies being sold by the road side. This brought up memories of familiar places in Jamaica.

In Kandy I spent time with my friend’s relatives and learned more about that area. For me though, just chatting with them about cricket and their lives were the highlights. We are still in touch and I visited them on my next trip, without my friend who had to work then. There is something about making real connections that crosses distance and cultures.

Sri Lanka
Royal Botanical Garden, Kandy

Back in Colombo it was time to check out my friend’s church. Can I just say it was the topping on the cake of my experiences in Sri Lanka. We worshipped, fellowshipped and had great fun. They have a lovely tradition of having Christmas breakfast. This was a special time. New Year’s Eve service was also lovely. Thereafter we set off fireworks and chilled into the wee hours of the morning. These people know how to live well. It reminded me of the joy and closeness of a small church, where everybody knows everybody.

I have nothing but warm memories of Sri Lanka. It’s one of the places I know I could visit again and again. It’s a blessing to have had the wonderful experiences I had there.

Travels in Japan: Hiroshima

Hiroshima is a must visit place in Japan. Nagasaki should be the same.https://thisgracedlife.com/2019/06/27/travels-in-japan-nagasaki/

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum showcases the horrors that people experienced after the bombing. Steel yourself for the graphic images. It’s only 200 yen and it has been recently updated to accommodate more people. The entire park is worth spending some time viewing and reflecting on the events that took place there less than 100 years ago. Get to the museum early because when there are many people they may stop admitting people way before closing time. You may have to wait and it maybe a bit crowded.

Visit the Hiroshima Castle to get a taste of that aspect of the culture. It’s 370 yen to enter and it’s worth exploring. The grounds are really beautiful as well. It’s a nice place to sit and enjoy nature for a while especially in spring and fall.

Many people rush through Hiroshima in a day or two but there are many wonders to discover by walking its streets. Okonomiyaki is a staple of Hiroshima and worth trying. Also ride the trams from place to place and see more of the surrounding areas. Payment on the tram can be tricky so watch others or ask the conductor.

Of course no visit to Hiroshima is complete without a stop at Miyajima.

Everybody who visits Hiroshima has a shot like this LOL!

A short ferry ride from Hiroshima is where you will find Miyajima. It’s known for the tori in the picture above and the deer you will encounter there. Spend a day exploring the island on foot and ride up the ropeway to see a view of the city, on a clear day.

Whenever I visit – I have been 3 times- I enjoy trying out the different seafood on offer by different vendors. It’s definitely a place to walk and eat again and again. Go in the back streets, enjoy the different architecture, see how people live and soak up the moment.

Visiting Miyajima after the Hiroshima Peace Park reminds you of how people are living and thriving despite the horrors of the past. You can enjoy nature in many different forms and see another side of Japan that you may not see on the beaten track.

We stayed at a nice airbnb that is centrally located the last time I visited. The other times I stayed in hotels. Shop around and get the best deals. Book months ahead because Hiroshima is always popular. Every visitor wants to visit and many Japanese students go there on school trips at different times of the year.

Things cost generally the same as other places in Japan so plan accordingly

Solo Travel Adventures in Turkey

Turkey is a captivating country with much to do for all kinds of travellers. A few years ago I visited Istanbul and Cappadocia for a few days each. I was on one of my solo travel jaunts to soak up what I could in these cities.

How did I prepare for my solo travel adventure in Turkey?

It all started a year prior to flying over there. I started reading more about Istanbul and Cappadocia, the two places I was intent of visiting. I read blogs about other people’s experiences in these places. I researched the cost of accommodations, food and transport on the ground to decide how much to budget for the trip.

Since I wanted to be there for a week and use my time efficiently, I opted to fly from Istanbul to Cappadocia on Turkish Air. It was a good decision and I am happy I did that. Sometimes it’s worth spending a little more to travel fast in order to maximize your time.

Some of what I saw in Cappadocia and Istanbul

The outdoor natural rock formations in Cappadocia are captivating and much fodder for the creative mind. Look at some of these images to get a taste of this.

The centre of Cappadocia is a walkable place and lovely to explore. Stay in a rock hotel to experience something unique to that town. Do a few local tours and go see the sights in the desert like area and or take a ride in a hot air balloon.

As a woman travelling alone I felt safe and of course stayed on guard to look out for my best interest. Ahhh… Cappadocia is so picturesque and a great place to go slow for a few days.

Istanbul is a thriving city with one side falling in Asia and the other in Europe. It is lovely to explore and enjoy the old and new sides of the city. A great way to get a feel for it is to do a hop on hop off bus tour.

I like the liveliness of the city and it’s friendly people. There are those men though who think that a single woman travelling alone is looking for a quick lay. Be alert ladies.

The food is fantastic and the coffee is wonderful. Explore The Grand Bazaar and other markets. The colours, the sights, the sounds are an amalgamation of everything that is splendiferous.

The Hagia Sofia was my first stop because I had been wanting to see it for a while. Remember to dress modestly when visiting.

Both places are affordable and have nice boutique type hotels for less than 100 USD per night. This is a destination where your money goes a long way.

I have wonderful thoughts about my trip there and enjoyed my solo travel adventures in both places in Turkey.

Travels in Japan: Nagasaki

I have been in Japan for years and have planned to visit Nagasaki many times and it just didn’t happen. I finally made it happen earlier this year. It was worth the trek from Tokyo.

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum – https://nagasakipeace.jp/english/abm.html is a good place to spend a few hours learning about the tragedy that befell the city.

Nagasaki Peace Park is also a place to explore and learn more about the bombing and it’s focus on promoting peace.

Nagasaki Peace Park Fountain

Getting around the city is easy since there is a tram that passes by its many sights. Unfortunately, you have to pay with cash or buy the local IC card. It doesn’t take Suica or Pasmo.

I recommend spending at least two days there to explore all its wonders. There are many historical churches there.

Urakami Cathedral in the distance

There is also a museum to remember the Catholics who were killed for their faith there. The Twenty Six Martyrs Museum is very educational.

Read more here to know how to enjoy your trip to Nagasaki – https://www.keirinkai.or.jp/nagasaki-walks/sights/points_of_interest.html

The quickest way to get to Nagasaki is to fly there. It can be pricey at times but if booked ahead deals can be had. It takes way too long to go their by shinkansen. Another cost effect way to get there is to fly to Fukuoka and then go to Nagasaki by train from there.

Nagasaki is unique and a Japanese city like no other because of its history as a port city. It had a range of foreign influences and this is present in its sites and foods.

I am glad I finally got the chance to visit.

Tips for the First Time Female Solo Traveller

So, you are thinking, going back and forth about venturing off on your first solo trip. You plan, almost book a ticket, second guess yourself because what if…?

Safety is a big issue, especially for the solo female traveller. This is understandable. Be smart about travelling alone and explore your options.

Here are some tips that might help you take the plunge and maybe even become a dedicated solo traveller.

Take a Solo Trip somewhere Local

See this as a trial run. You are still in your home country and you are familiar with the money, time zone, food, language and so on. Venture out alone in the comfort of the things you know. This will empower you and teach you much about yourself as a solo traveller. For example, are you a boss at finding your way around an unfamiliar area? Do you get frustrated and throw in the towel? How do you handle this?

Do solo local trips a few times and get used to going it alone. Taking the first solo trip abroad doesn’t work for everyone.

Solo travel Abroad to Countries on the Beaten Path

Countries that have mature tourism industries are good for first time solo travellers. Much is written in the way of reviews by both male and female bloggers. Read, educate yourself and plan where to venture off to. I didn’t go to countries where English isn’t spoken widely in the early years of my solo travels. This is something to consider.

Stay at Well Secured Lodgings

It may be worth splurging on lodgings with good security so you feel at peace. Nothing spoils a trip like worrying and not sleeping well at nights. Also do some local trips that are officially recommended by people at your accommodations. Use common sense in this as well.

Take Short Trips to build your Confidence as a Solo Traveller

Some people might want to take a short trip before going on a six month solo jaunt around South East Asia. Travelling can be tiring for some people after a few weeks. Reflect on short trips and plan accordingly. Each short trip will teach you something about how to travel alone and enjoy it fully. The truth is that, travelling alone to different places is a diverse experience.

Plan, Save, Research and take the Plunge

Just do it. Start somewhere and go from there. The perfect trip is what you make of it. Be open to having your own experiences and do not try to anticipate having what others blog about. Research and use the knowledge you gain to prepare well to enrich your journey. Solo travel is rewarding. Women can travel alone and enjoy themselves immensely. We live in the information age so it’s quite easy to know where women are treated poorly. There are many wonderful places where we can travel well, focus on these.

If you feel the urge to travel alone, don’t keep putting it off. You will grow for sure and be empowered.

Solo Travel is Liberating

Solo travel is my norm because those in my life who can afford to travel are not necessarily interested in the places that call out to me. Others want to go but either don’t have time or money. This means much of my adventures have been solo. I enjoy exploring different nooks and crannies across the world by myself.

Isn’t it Scary to Travel alone as a woman?

This is a question that is on repeat. When someone finds out I travel alone or I am planning to do so, this comes up. Of course, I know that for many people it comes from a place of love and concern. A healthy dose of caution sprinkled liberally with common sense helps to solo travel safely, for everyone. The world is not necessarily more dangerous than where I live. I take the same precautions I use everyday when I travel alone.

These have served me well in my travels from 8 cities in Europe to India and other parts of Asia, a few places in the Middle East, smatterings of the African continent and South America.

Solo travel for me is liberating. I enjoy going at my own pace, meeting other people and just being in new environments.

Solo travel isn’t for Everyone

To me, if the first thing that comes to mind, at the prospect of solo travelling is fear, then it should be put on the back burner. Nothing is wrong with travelling with others. I do that from time to time but my lone wolf mentality means this isn’t my go to.

Don’t be Pressured to Travel Alone

It seems to be a challenge that some are taking up to go it alone. Again, no one should push himself or herself to go off travelling alone if that isn’t his or her thing. Travelling alone as a woman in some places is a big headache even when you take all the precautions. Also for people who do not like being alone it may cause their travels to be mundane. Yes, we meet others when we travel alone but we don’t always connect in the same way we would with a well known friend or family member. No one embarks on their travels to be miserable. So, if you know you don’t like being alone, don’t force yourself to join the trend of travelling solo.

The Perks of Solo Travel

  • You can sit and people watch to your heat’s content. There is something to seeing people in a new environment going about their lives. I learn quite a bit about where I am by doing this.
  • You can go at your own pace. If you wake up one day and feel like going, going, then you can do so. On the other hand, if you want to take it easy, that’s ok too since there is no one else to consider.
  • You are open to meeting others. When I am alone, I am more aware of my surroundings and take the time to connect with more people meaningfully.
  • I spend more time researching before I visit somewhere, I travel to alone. This inherently means, I am more prepared and know some key facts about where I am travelling.
  • I can do what I want to do and not have to compromise. This is major when you spend big bucks travelling halfway around the world to experience a destination. This also includes things like staying in a cheap hostel to save money. Not everyone is into roughing it.

Essentially, I find solo travel to be liberating. I like the freedom I have to go at my own pace, make connections and go with my flow.

If you enjoy your own company, use common sense to stay safe in your daily life and have access to Google, give solo travel a try. You might like it or you might discover you enjoy travelling with others far more. It’s best to do what works for us.