It's amazing how a small island can offer so much of excitement!
My first visit to Sri Lanka was in 2004. The 5-day tour package was put together by a dear relative of mine from Singapore. Tess had visited Sri Lanka a few times and was totally captivated by it. The accommodation, food, travel, shopping and sight seeing details were all planned around our personal preferences. It was a time of pure luxury and awesomeness! I too was captivated...
In 2009, I planned another visit with a colleague of mine. I was convinced we'd be able to explore Sri Lanka backpacker-style and she too was game. It was a 10-day see-as-much-as-we-can sort of trip. Going with the flow and expecting the unexpected was all well 'planned' for...
No longer than two minutes after exiting the airport, our great explorer plans took a turn. We stood outside the airport somewhat 'lost'! The bus to ferry us to the main bus terminal was packed to it's maximum capacity and more. In that moment I believe we both had the same thought. We just didn't see ourselves as backpackers anymore. 'Plan B' was standing smack infront of us! The chief of Travel and Tours knew the look well I guess so he approached us. 30 minutes later, we had Jaya our personal driver cum tour-guide and accommodation all sorted out. Awesome? Absolutely! And no, we didn't have to pay an arm or a leg for it. We traveled ALOT, Experienced ALOT and it was A LOT of FUN! Captivated yet again...
Three years later, I was back in Sri Lanka. I rented an apartment over the internet for a reasonable fee. This time for a month of pure R & R, I thought. Jaya picked me up from the airport and we headed to the location of the apartment I had earlier booked. During our tour of the place, that old familiar feeling came upon me. 'Plan B' once again had to kick in. We drove about looking for the sort of accommodation I would feel safe, comfy in and not cost a bomb. We found it in Kochikade, Negombo. Apartments next to the Police station, facing the sea and grocery shops just across the road! Totally God's intervention I must say :) The experience here was again so different from my other two visits. I got down to reading a whole lot, spending time with the locals and experiencing their lifestyle in a very appreciative way. A week later, a friend hops on a plane and joins me. The 2-bedroom apartment certainly gave us enough space to have our alone-time as well as explore more of Sri Lanka together. And explore we did!!
My most recent trip in August 2013 was to accompany a friend to visit her relatives in Jaffna. Had never been to Jaffna before and didn't know what to expect. I did some research and shared it with my friend to decide on a basic travel plan. The cost was going to be fairly high this time around mainly due to the distance of Jaffna from the airport and other more main tourist locations. Since this was my friend's first trip to Sri Lanka, she also wanted to incorporate some sight-seeing. After weighing all options based on safety, comfort and cost, we decided to engage Jaya's services. He was unable to accompany us due to prior bookings but assisted in getting another driver for our long journey. Fuel costs had since gone up yet Jaya offered us a very fair rate for our 10-day travel. I had booked some accommodation via Agoda.com and Booking.com and left the rest to Jaya. We covered many, many kilometers. Sometimes I'd feel it was a kilometer too many! The experiences were many and mostly good. A fulfilling trip to say the least.
The story about our logo, began in Jaffna. It was during our visit to a children's home in Achuvelli that we met Rajendra Kumar. He excitedly brought us his art book and flipped the pages for us. In his eyes, I recognised the look of hope, seeking our admiration and praise. On a personal note, I related to his love for art. The joy on his face was precious. I asked him to put his signature on his artwork and took some picture for remembrance. On our long journey back to Colombo, I shared some thoughts with Sudesh about the drawings and the children. It had created an impact for him too. Ideas began to flow and the name HAPPYLION was born based on Rajenda's artwork. I was now more committed to create a website to showcase Sri Lanka and all it's beauty.
HAPPYLION Travels website is at it's work-in-progress stage. Sri Lanka on the other hand eagerly awaits your grand arrival with a warm "AYUBOWAN". Let us help you create those special memories that linger on for a lifetime. Simply email us :)
Some photos from my personal collection.