Be Here Now – Sri Lanka

Don’t think about the future, just be here now.

Don’t think about the past, just be here now.

Our latest film shot in and around our jungle retreat in south west Sri Lanka.

Camera & Edit – Mati Quinzio

Shop Talk – Venita from Surfskinoil

We love working with people who do things differently. When setting up our shop in Sri Lanka we wanted to make sure whoever we stocked had an interesting story to tell.

When we met Venita and she told us about her 100% natural skin oil, Surfskinoil , we had to find out more. This stuff is seriously amazing, it acts as an antibiotic, soothes sunburn and heals up pretty much any skin issues we’ve had the misfortune of encountering.

What is your name?
My name is Venita

Where is home?
My heart and my home is on earth, I really don’t believe in borders or barriers between people.

How did you first get into creating potions?
My Mother was a practicing aroma therapist for many years, so I grew up around natural plant essences. Mom trained under Patricia Davis who was a field leader and brought aromatherapy to Europe by founding the London School of Aromatherapy.

I was never sent to a doctor, instead, if I ever got sick or encountered disease, Mom would go to her wooden box full of different plant essences and treat me using those oils. So I know first-hand how effective they are.


Who or what inspires you to do what you do?
It is my mission to show people that you don’t need pharmaceutical drugs to be well.  That you can come to mother earth who provides everything we need to experience true health and healing on all levels. Plant essences don’t just affect you on a physical level, they positively affect your emotions too via their scent.

When people tell me that they used my oil in place of anti-biotics and it worked much better, or that sore, irritated or broken skin was healed in super quick time, that makes me very happy and inspires me to continue!

 

What sort of projects are you working on next?
I am currently developing my first aromatherapy brand called Skin Nectar into a full range for the Sri Lankan market place. Skin Nectar uses precious flower oils to beautify the face and body.

 I am also working on a retreat which will be held at the stunning retreat centre: Rukgala, set on the rainforest covered slopes of the Sri Lankan blue mountains.

This retreat will teach people how to clean up their subconscious minds, releasing memories and beliefs which are not serving the higher purpose, discover or solidify what their true purpose is and also connect the conscious mind to the super-conscious mind.

Where is your favorite place to eat in Sri Lanka?
I live in Galle and when there I love to eat at Bedspace. It is right by Una beach and serves up food that is fresh and delicious.  Whether you are vegan, veggie or a carnivore the menu delivers! If I am in Colombo Kumbuk Café is a regular spot, it is also connected to the wonderful Prana Lounge.

What does soul mean to you?
For me the soul is the eternal part of the human nature.  It is our piece of the Godhead or the part of us which is divine. Another way of putting it is, that the sum of all souls in existence equals God/Nirvana/Universal spirit – whatever you’d like to call it. In this way we are all one.

 

Stuff We Like – Florescence

Florescence from Morgan Maassen on Vimeo.

A 2 minute underwater exploration in the Indian Ocean brought to you by Morgan Maassen.

Vesakha – Sri Lanka

On the full moon of May, Buddhists commemorate the birth, enlightenment and the passing away of Gautama Buddha. Simple offerings of flowers, candles and joss-sticks are brought to illuminated and decorated temples, where the celebration is an opportunity to reiterate their determination to lead noble lives, to develop their minds, to practise loving-kindness and to bring peace and harmony to humanity.

The Soul & Surf family took a trip down to Uthpalawanna Sri Vishnu Devalaya to celebrate Vesakha and take in the magic of this special day.

All images: Mati Quinzio

Changing of the Seasons in Sri Lanka


In 2016 we decided to stay open in Sri Lanka all year round. All the way through the traditional ‘off-season’ from May to October. Of course we didn’t just open and hope, we’d spent some time here to check it out and asked our local friends what the general weather and wind patterns were in the long term and concluded that we should still open.

But, having never done it before, we were still nervous. What if it rained non-stop for 6 months, what if all the beaches were washed away and there was nowhere to surf, what if it was cold and miserable, what if everything in Sri Lanka was shut, and many more of those crippling ‘what if?’ questions that our minds design to stop us. You never really know about something until you do it, so following the Soul & Surf way we took a leap, we opened our bookings, reduced our prices, reduced the size of our team, were very careful to be overly cautious about what to promise for our customers and we went for it. Here’s what we found out.

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What’s the off-season like in Sri Lanka?

‘It’s a not so bad’ as the wise sage Joe Dolce once said.

In fact it’s quite a different experience for our guests and our staff and one that the feedback and reviews from our guests, combined with the experience of our team, proved to be a really positive difference.

Yes it rains more, but in our tropical climate here we get crazy tropical rain all year round anyway. May to October does have more rainy days, but mixed with lovely sunny days, and cooler, more pleasant evenings. And we have lots of umbrellas.

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Yes, the waves are wilder and the wind stronger and the ocean less clear but most mornings and evenings are still windless, there are protected bays for beginners to surf safely and there are a few of spots for advanced surfers that work well year round. To be frank, though, we do struggle some weeks to find enough variety for the intermediate surfer so be warned… But a huge plus is that in general there are about 80% less crowds in the water!

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The real positives we drew from were twofold. The difference in the tourist population;

Sri Lanka has been booming these last few years and everywhere from the beaches, the waves, the sights, to the roads are getting more and more crowded. It’s kind of nice because it’s buzzing, but from May to October you get a different taste of Sri Lanka with quieter beaches, less lobster-red package tourists bumbling about, far less surfers in the water and a clearer view of the real Sri Lanka. And it’s beautiful.  Quiet, tranquil, beautiful.

And the interaction and benefits of smaller, more intimate groups at Soul & Surf; We tend to run at full capacity from October until the end of April yet from May to October we averaged around 12 guests a week which makes it a bit easier to get to know the whole group and for our team to give a little bit more attention in the surf, in the yoga classes and there was more chance for therapies. Kind of like the early days at Soul & Surf and the smaller Pop-Ups we run.

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So, are we going to close in Sri Lanka for the off-season? I’ll let the wisdom of Joe Dolce answer that one.  ‘Shaddap You Face’

Oh, and check here for our  availability and prices. And for cheap flights it is definately worth checking Sri Lankan at the weekends, they’ve been running regular off-season specials recently.

 

 

Soul People – Chef Aruna

Next in our Soul People series is Head Chef Aruna who helped us set up our new hotel in Sri Lanka. Chef makes the best seared tuna we’ve ever tasted and is always smiling. We caught up with him for a quick chat:

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What’s your name?  Aruna Ulu Waduge

What do you do?  Head Chef at Soul & Surf Sri Lanka

Where’s Home? Weligama, Sri Lanka

How did you come to be at Soul & Surf?
Before joining Soul & Surf, I was working as a Sous Chef at Mosvold Villa in Ahangama.  I was friends with the previous chef at Soul & Surf and heard that there was a job opening for a new Head Chef.  I applied for the job, and had to prepare a seared tuna steak as part of the interview. (it was the best one we tasted). I said that I wanted to do whatever needed to be done to make the guests happy, and the Soul & Surf team was sold.


What does Soul mean to you?
It’s like a dream.  It’s a long journey.

What inspires you about your work?
I want to find out the fusions of new things and new food combinations because in the cooking industry, chefs are becoming clever and coming up with new dishes for all people around the world.  And I am very proud and happy to be a chef – it is more than just a job, it is part of my whole life.

What’s next for you?
I want to create new dishes.  I want to be a good chef.  I want to continue to grow my skills and knowledge and share that with other people by helping to teach others and learn from other cooks as well.
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All Photos: www.dtlphotography.com

Sam Bleakley – MultiKulti

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The first in our series of guests posts from pro surfer, explorer and author Sam Bleakley takes us on a history trip of surfing in India and explores the vast coastline and all it’s surf potential.

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With nearly 1.3 billion people, India is the world’s second most populous nation, has over 7,500km (4,700 miles) of coastline, pretty much every type of landscape under the sun, is usually pepper-hot, and culturally-speaking, has to be one of the most kaleidoscopic places on the planet. Holy cows, Hindu deities, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and industrial post-modernism all have voices here – transient life and the permanently sacred tangle in a symbol war that multiplies on the eye. Pomp and poverty intermingle, sweat and thirst are inevitable, strict religious codes meet free will and stunning scenery, while elephants hold up the traffic. In Hindi, tomorrow and yesterday are the same – cul, and so are hello and goodbye – namaste. This tells you everything you need to know about travel – stay in the moment. And surf travel is a great wave to experience the present of India.

Both the east and west coasts of this vast sub-continent receive consistent swell from the Indian Ocean, as do two well-placed archipelagos: the Andaman Islands and the Lakshadweep Islands. Although still small, the local surf culture is vibrant, and growing fast, with clubs, grassroots surf-brands, young rippers and the Surfing Federation of India (SFI) organising surf instructor courses through the ISA (International Surfing Association). Indian surfers have a lot to celebrate. Turns out that even the word ‘surf’ has a link to India: over time, the mixing of dialects and languages through trade with India gave rise to a unique ‘pidgin’ language. The Portuguese coined the word ‘surf’ in the late 1600s, from the Sanskrit ‘suffe’ meaning ‘the coastline’. This intermingling that cultures, languages and traders shared along the Indian coastline led to a common ground in the form of the beach – where cultural habits had to be re-invented in the name of exchange.

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It also turns out that an engraving by John Hassell (copied from a sketch by Charles Gold – who served with the Royal Artillery and was stationed at Madras on India’s southeast coast in the late 1700s) entitled ‘Cattamarans’ and printed in London in 1800 (the original stored at the Australian National Maritime Museum) is currently the earliest known image of stand-up wave riding! One Indian fisherman rides a three-log catamaran, parallel stance, holding a paddle. Two men are further out on a second wave. A ‘masula’, a local surf boat with a crew of six, is heading over the third wave, transporting freight for the ships of the East India Company, awaiting off-shore at the Madras Roads. Although the earliest illustration of a surfboard being paddled was sketched in Hawaii, it was not until the 1830s that illustrations of stand-up rides began to appear from the Pacific. ‘Catamaran’ was the anglicised version of ‘kaIfu-mar-am’, meaning ‘tied logs’, widespread on the Tamil coast of south India and still in use in the surf zone for fishing today.

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A good selection of India’s best breaks can be found along the shores of Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, on the southern tip. Most of the spots on the southwest-facing coast are beach breaks, best during the dry season (November to April) when you can usually score clean dawn patrols. Mahé, Varkala and Kovalam (Lighthouse Beach) are three of the better bets on this stretch. The southwest monsoon (May to October) brings bigger swells and southwest winds; a good time to head to the opposite coast, where you’ll find more beach breaks and a decent right point at Manapad.

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The huge landmass of Sri Lanka prevents many southwest swells reaching far up the east coast, but southeast swells are regular during the monsoon season, periodically lighting up the region of northeast Tamil Nadu and Andra Pradesh. July and August are usually the best months. About 80km (50 miles) south of the city of Chennai, Mahabalipuram Shore Temple is a sand-bottom right point which peels for 100 yards alongside a 1,400-year-old Vishnu temple. On a solid swell, Mahabalipuram offers powerful, sand-sucking tubes at low tide, and softer waves at high. Beach cottages are available to rent and there’s a friendly nascent local scene. Just north of the industrial city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, on a clean southeast swell, Lawson’s Bay and Mangamari offer very long right points, generally ridden only by local fishermen returning to shore in their wooden boats, loaded with tuna.

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Photo: JS Callahan/surfEXPLORE

Situated 400km (250 miles) off the southwest coast of the mainland, the Lakshadweep Islands are a string of coral atolls which are part of the same undersea mountain range as the Maldives. They’re some of the most exotic and beautiful islands you’ll ever see, with flawless white beaches, swaying palms and giant turtles wallowing just a few yards offshore. The Lakshadweeps have yet to be fully explored by surfers and many new spots are sure to be found, although permits are required for travel here. Dave Rastovich scored an impressive hollow right with filmmaker Taylor Steele when they were in India shooting Castles in the Sky in 2009.

India’s other offshore territory is the Andaman Islands situated on the far side of the Bay of Bengal, northwest of Indonesia. In 1998 photographer John Callahan became the first to document a surf trip here with Sam George (then Surfer editor), Chris Malloy and Jack Johnson, following a gruelling 70 hour dive-boat charter from Phuket, Thailand, riddled with visa hassles, to Port Blair. Callahan had researched all the potential set-ups on British Admiralty nautical charts. The trip appears in Thicker than Water (1999) shot on 16mm by Chris Malloy and Jack Johnson. Johnson at the time was studying Cinematography in California, had brought an acoustic guitar on the boat, and played songs that later appeared in Thicker than Water and his first album Brushfire Fairytales (2001). Callahan has since made two more projects in the Andaman and the Nicobar Islands (strictly off-limits to any non-Indian passport holders). “I’m probably the only human on earth, Indian nationals included, who has been from the top of North Andaman Island to Indira Point at the southern tip of Great Nicobar Island,” says Callahan. Today you can fly direct to the Andamans from India, as tourism has taken a foothold. A small number of charter boats offer trips to Little Andaman Island, home to a number of quality Indo-style reefs. The best of these is Kumari Point, a speedy righthand reef-point which will peel for 200 yards on a big south swell, with sizzling tube sections. But it’s a fickle spot, fully dependent on early season southwest monsoon swells (April or May).

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Making a Tropical Christmas Wreath

Although feeling festive can be a bit more of a challenge in a tropical climate without the traditional Christmas jumper, roaring fire and mulled wine we still like to keep some customs going. This week we turned our hand to floristry making a Tropical Leaf Christmas Wreath. Our HoV in Kerala, Siona, along with some of our wonderful creative guests spent a fun afternoon making a piece to hang above the entrance to the Kerala house.

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You will need:

Gardening secateurs or good scissors

A basket

Gardening wire cut in to 5cm pieces

A wreath frame

A Christmas playlist (optional)

  1. First gather your foliage. With a pair of gardening secateurs or a good pair of scissors prune a variety of leaves in different lengths and colours. Thicker more rubbery leaves hold better in this heat as they retain moisture. Thinner more delicate leaves may look pretty but will wilt quickly. Once your basket is full lay out your cuttings in front of you so that you can see what you have.dsc01155_lzn
  2. Next select 4 or 5 different leaves in varying shapes and colours and layer them in a neat bundle, starting with the widest, longest leaves at the back and the most delicate foliage at the front.
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  3. Once all of your bundles are done, we used around 20 for a small frame, start to weave them in to the wreath. Work in a clockwise motion so that all the foliage goes in the same direction. Secure each set of leaves to the wreath frame with wire, making sure that all fastenings are
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  4. Hang your wreath in your chosen place. These look great on doors and over entrances. Once hung and secure fill in any gaps with single pieces of foliage remembering to work in the same clockwise direction. Spray with a water spray every day to keep it fresh.dsc01158_lzn

Stuff We Like – A Million Waves

A Million Waves is a portrait of 19-year-old surfer Kadiatu Kamara, the only woman surfer at Bureh Beach, south of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Beautiful work from Daniel Ali and Louis Leeson.

Soul People – Hayley

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Name: Hayley Mia
Age: 29
What is your role at Soul&Surf? I teach people how to bend and how to breathe 🙂

How did you come to be at Soul & Surf?
One of my dear friends shared a post with me on Facebook a few years back that Soul and Surf were looking for a Yoga teacher. I initially only came for 2 months but just like most of us, couldn’t wait to come back again.

What does Soul mean to you? 
Soul to me is the part of us that is our truest form, its the person we aspire to be, its our passion, our warmth, our vitality our inspiration and our emotion. Its the you that’s always smiling from within even when you’re having a tough day.

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What inspires you about your work?
Everything! I teach simply because it is the most satisfying, heartwarming job to connect with your students and, ultimately help them to lead a healthy, positive, fulfilled life.

What’s next for you?
I keep asking myself that question at the moment and i’m yet to come up with an answer, as soon as I have i’ll let you know 🙂

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Guest Reviews

This has to be one of my favourite places i have ever stayed. From breakfast on the first day i felt completely at home here and never wanted to leave. This place has the perfect set up, a huge satisfying breakfast after the early morning surf , a stunning cliff top location looking out over […]

Rosie, UK