fishing boat talalla beach sri lanka

Talalla: exploring Sri Lankans deserted beaches

Sri Lanka

Talalla: Exploring Sri Lankans deserted beaches

So we spend a lot of time sightseeing and sniffing up culture, and we couldn’t wait to go to the beach. Jumping into another filled-to-the-top bus to the South East of Sri Lanka should bring us there. Practically the whole South coast of Sri Lanka is covered with beautiful tropical beaches, some more crowded than others. Since we were quite keen on having the beach all to ourselves, we ended up at Talalla (map). A tiny little town, that surprisingly a lot of people skip (lucky for us though)…

Talalla beach bungalows beds boats sri lanka
talalla beach bungalows accommodation sri lanka

Where to sleep in Talalla

Accommodation wise you probably have no more than ten options to choose from, which made us end up at the Talalla Beach Bungalows. We were welcomed by the sweetest staff and the moment you set foot on their premises you’ll wish you can stay forever. The rooms are really basic, but who needs fancy rooms when you got paradise in your garden, right? The doors of our bedroom literally open up to a view of the bright blue ocean, white sands, and palm trees. The clean waves rolling in only a footstep away with not a single soul on them. And with the wind constantly blowing, did I mention Talalla is a kitesurfers’ dream? Yes, Talalla could be called paradise.

Eat, Sleep, Surf, Repeat.

Just to give you an idea of how your day could look like. Waking up with the sound of the waves, maybe an early morning run while the fishermen come to shore with their catch of the night, breakfast with your feet in the sand. There’s nothing you have to do, so whether you wanna go surf or finally start that book you’ve been trying to get into, it’s all part of the Talalla experience.

sky sunset talalla beach fisherman boat sri lanka
North life t-shirt beach talalla sri lanka

Ayurveda massages for days

Since Sri Lanka is well known for its’ Ayurveda massages, Talalla might just be the perfect setting to try this out. Talalla Beach Bungalows actually have an in-house masseur, which is a very enthusiastic guy with magic hands. While my massage was meant to take about 45 minutes to an hour, two hours later my brother came to check up on me if I was still alive. Alive yes, asleep… maybe.

sunset talalla beach palmtrees sri lanka

Catch of the day

We tried several restaurants around Talalla, but once we got the freshly caught fish at our own hotel we didn’t go anywhere else anymore. Our host is not only very welcoming, but he also turns out to be a great chef! Do try all their fish dishes or one of the curries, because they are all delicious. At night our host turned chef, picks up his guitar and turns into a musician as well. So while you’re looking at the bright moon and stars, drinking your Lion beer, and hearing other travel stories, you can’t help but thinking this is how life should be.

Mama Turtles on Talalla Beach

Still not sold? If it’s your lucky night you get a chance to see the sea turtles coming to the beach to plant their eggs. Could any day be more perfect than this? I guess not. Talalla, what a special place you are! If I ever get stranded or end up shipwrecked; dear universe, could you please make me end up at Talalla beach? Thank you very much.


sunset walks dogs talalla beach sri lanka

Photos by: M. Barends & T. Barends©

ella rock view climbing mountain sri lanka

Ella rock: A serious quest

Sri Lanka

Ella Rock: A serious quest

Multiple guidebooks warn you for it; finding Ella rock isn’t the easiest thing on earth. Where all the instructions on where to go end, practically just start the hike to the top. The only thing you know is that you gotta walk upwards and it’s the second mountain, not the first. Besides that, it is one big maze of tea plantations. Good luck.

hiking ella rock sri lanka

Ella Rock Adventures

However, as stubborn as we are (and with us, many other travelers so we’ve noticed) we thought we could do this without a guide. Luckily we weren’t the only ones getting lost at the exact point where instructions stop… so we might as well join forces! To make it even harder, I kind of suspect the locals of making a running gag out of those lost tourists. One guy says you gotta go right, the next one wonders where in gods’ name you’re going, you gotta go left! One way or another, we did find a path after some serious off-the-beaten-track climbing. Watch out for colorful lizards and chameleons along the way, because behind every little rustle you hear there’s probably one of those pretty fellas.

The contest of views

I know we talk about views a lot here at Mokum Surf Club. Being so spoiled over the past few months in South America, Ella rock has something to compete with. After the sweaty and steep climb, we did get rewarded. As far as the eye can see there are green rolling mountains full of tea plantations and if you’re lucky (we weren’t) you’ll be able to see as far as the Indian Ocean. So honestly, this one ranks pretty high as well!

ella rock view climbing mountain sri lanka

Well-deserved comfort food

I bet your tummies are rumbling after sweating your ass off and training your calves, so once you’re going downhill start dreaming about Cafe Chill. This place got it all sorted out; healthy fruit and veg smoothies, good food, very tasty desserts, and some lounge tunes to finish it off. Exactly what you need after hiking up and down all those hills.

There's more to Ella Rock

Ella rock is not the only thing around. For such a small little town, there’s surprisingly much to do. Probably the best tip I can give you is to rent a scooter for the day. Just cruise around and you’ll find plenty of pretty spots and side roads. It seriously doesn’t matter which direction you choose, cause all surroundings of Ella are simply stunning. The tea plantations with their colorful pickers are a beautiful sight and doing a tour on one of the many plantations around is a must.

tea picker plantation ella sri lanka
tea plantation view ella sri lanka

Chasing waterfalls

A bit further out of town is the Ravana waterfall. A proper tourist attraction for both people and monkeys (not sure which one attracts which) so it seems. If you’re not up for a waterfall dive in between shampooing locals, I’d recommend going to the smaller Upper Ravana fall. Just as beautiful, but you got the place all to yourself.

hotel ella view sri lanka

Where to sleep in Ella

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Ella, try to find a bed at one of the many homestays up the hill. We stayed at Chamodya homestay and Waterfall View homestay, which are both stunning. These places are both only a 5 to 10-minute walk from the main street but offer you views and tranquility that can’t be beaten. Having breakfast with a view like that will throw that morning mood out of the window right away.

Extending is easy

Thinking we would only stay here for two days, we added a few more almost instantly. There’s a lot to do around Ella and the spectacular views all around add to the relaxed vibe which makes you in no hurry to leave. The smell of the forest, the sound of a hundred different birds, the curious cheeky monkeys, and the fluffy coconut pancakes with curd for breakfast, can every day start like this?


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view ella rock nature sri lanka mountains

Photos by: M. Barends & T. Barends©

train view kandy ella sri lanka

A Sri Lankan highlight: the train from Kandy to Ella

Sri Lanka

A Sri Lankan highlight: The train from Kandy to Ella

So after the taxi, the bus, the bicycles, and the tuktuk, it’s time for another way of transport. Sri Lanka does have another one up their sleeve, which they’re actually quite famous for. The train! And to be more specific; the train from Kandy to Ella, which is supposed to be one of the most scenic train tracks in the world.

boys train station ella kandy

The Kandy - Ella train

Leaving the busy streets of Kandy behind, with their colorful people and the noisy traffic, we jumped on this train with many, many others. We were warned to buy tickets in advance, but even two days in advance was too late. However, they aren’t the toughest cookies on the planet in the Sri Lankan train system. Tickets could still be bought an hour before leaving and it didn’t seem like anyone was missing out here…

Train life with a view

I’m not sure if it was just our bad timing, but our train was jam-packed. I would say do try to avoid this track on weekends or holidays because we were stuffed cheek by jowl. No seats, let alone window seats for the first three hours. If you do get the best seat of the house in the open door, hold on to it, because you just hit the jackpot. With the sun on your face, the wind through your hair, and some views that are very hard to beat. Six hours will fly by. Driving through the mountains, tea plantations, rice fields, and little villages with train stations that make you think you’re in another century.

train kandy ella sri lanka

A journey to remember

Don’t get tempted by the first-class airconditioning seats though. You’ll miss out on all the fun. Whether you’re in second or third class doesn’t really matter because you’ll get to experience some proper Sri Lankan daily life anyhow. With a bit of luck, the locals will start to make music and dance in between seats, while the kids are hanging out of the windows trying to get a glimpse of their beautiful country. It’s utter chaos most of the time (starting on the platform), but that might just be the charm of it all.

6 hours of eating and you're in Ella

You don’t have to worry you’ll starve to death either. Every five minutes there will be another vendor showing up with fresh fruits or typical Sri Lankan snacks. Definitely worth trying; so do as the locals do! This ride is like watching a movie, so much to see and seriously entertaining. Before you know it the train slows down and drives into the charming little station of Ella, unloading a big bunch of tourists and leaving the locals smiling and waving behind. What a beautiful journey it is… 


tea plantations view train kandy ella sri lanka

Photos by: M. Barends & T. Barends©

colombo streets pettah market sri lanka

Welcome to Sri Lanka: Meet Colombo!

Sri Lanka

Welcome to Sri Lanka: Meet Colombo!

With Dutch winter in full galore, I couldn’t help but escape to another warm sunny place on this earth. Friends of mine visited Sri Lanka last year and their stories made me wanna jump on the first plane going there. So adios amigos, we are going to Sri Lanka! With my brother as my travel buddy, I started this very special trip. No preparations once again, just seeing where the wind will take us. Starting off in Colombo Sri Lanka turned out pretty quickly like any other Asian country; warm, chaotic, super friendly, and not in a hurry at all (except for traffic).

jetwing ayurveda pavilions negombo sri lanka

Staying in Negombo

We decided to stay in Negombo which is close to the airport and the beach. Staying at the Jetwing Ayurveda Pavilions in Negombo made sightseeing pretty hard. We could’ve easily spent our days hanging by the pool, having a typical Sri Lankan Ayurvedic massage or 2, and sipping fresh juices all day long. Nothing wrong with that. However, there’s more to Negombo and Colombo than chilling.

Colombo Street Life

The streets of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo are filled with colors. Whether it’s the tuk-tuks, the food, the beautiful sarees of the women, or the temples and mosques, dashes of colors cover the city. We spend most of our time in the chaos of the Pettah area walking around the markets. This is the place for treasure hunting and indulging in street foods. It seemed like it didn’t matter what time of the day you’d be visiting, it was crowded all day, every day. Not with tourists, however, so we got a taste of the city as I prefer it. Just going with the flow of the city’s rhythm.

street vendor people pettah colombo sri lanka
restaurant ministry of crab colombo fort sri lanka

Don't miss out on Crab Heaven

Just a short walk from the Pettah markets there’s a whole other world called the Fort area. While Pettah is crowded, busy, chaotic, and lively, Colombo Fort is probably completely the opposite with its grand colonial buildings and quiet streets. Not the most exciting area to spend a lot of time exploring, but do visit Ministry of Crab. This place is heaven. Make sure you’re hungry, ‘cause you won’t be able to say no to anything they have on their menu. Crab, crab, crab, and more crab, and alright some other tasty seafood as well.

Charming Colombo

Although Colombo might not be the prettiest city ever or will make you wanna extend your stay, visiting it is still worth it. The city gives you a pretty good insight into Sri Lankan city life, without the tourist traps and buses full of Chinese (no offense). Soak up the culture, the way all the different religions live peacefully side by side, let the locals tell their stories, eat delicious street food (try Kotthu!!) and let Colombo secretly charm you anyways…


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truck streets pettah colombo sri lanka

Photos by: M. Barends©

mount fitzroy in el chalten Argentina South America

10 things you must do in South America

South America

10 Things You Must Do in South America

I might have said goodbye to the amazing continent of South America, but not a day goes by without talking about it. Roadtrips, trekkings, surfing, cities, food, beaches. So many adventures, so many amazing people, so much to see and do. Since there are plenty of top 10’s about South America stating you can’t miss out on Iguazu Falls or Machu Picchu (which you actually can’t, they’re right), we try to give you a bit more off-the-beaten-track top 10. So here we go, a trip down memory lane for me, and a proper top 10 not-to-miss-out-on-in-South-America. Seems like a fair deal, right?

Patagonia road trip in Argentina

1. Road tripping Patagonia, the most scenic road trip in South America (Argentina & Chile)

I was one lucky champ that I got to meet an Aussie with a car on his way to the most southern tip of South America because road tripping through Patagonia might just be the number one highlight of my trip. The scenery changes all the time, most of the time there’s not a single soul on the road, and putting our tent up under skies full of stars was truly amazing. Explore the Carretera Austral, kayak to the Marble Caves, be amazing by the Perito Moreno Glacier, and hike the peaks of Torres del Paine, to name a few. It’s a soul-feeding adventure that will blow your mind on a daily basis. Patagonia’s nature is truly like no other!

2. Surf the longest left-handers in the world (Chicama, Peru)

Very glad I got to tick this one off the bucket list! The coast of Peru is covered in amazing surf spots, that are alone already tempting enough to spend months. Chicama, Lobitos, Mancora, Huanchaco, don’t miss out on any of them. The chilled-out vibe, the fresh fish for lunch and dinner, the sunsets that color the skies in a zillion shades of orange, the waves that constantly keep rolling in. Can’t say no to any of this, right?

Explore our Peru Surf Guide!
Waves in Huanchaco Peru South America
fitzroy peaks hiking el chalten argentina

3. Hiking Mount Fitzroy (El Chaltén, Argentina)

Being quite new to the whole trekking lifestyle, climbing Mount Fitzroy was my baptism by fire. The town of El Chaltén just breathes hiking. With the peaks of Mount Fitzroy in their back garden and the many other beautiful hikes on offer, you can’t go wrong here. Stay for a few days to do at least the hike to the Laguna de Los Tres, the Cerro Torro, and Laguna Torre. Don’t forget to dive into waffles and other well-deserved treats at La Wafleria, and exchange stories over Patagonian brewed beers at La Cerveceria.

4. Costeño Beach (Colombia)

Three words; don’t miss out!! This spot just stole my heart and I could’ve easily spent months here. Costeño Beach offers you a true paradise, tranquility, amazing food, and fun people. Based on the Caribbean coast of Colombia your day basically just exists out of surfing, sunbathing, rocking in a hammock, playing games, and drinking rum at a campfire while watching the stars. Who said you needed a return ticket?! One way ticket for me, please.

Need more reasons to visit Costeño Beach?
Accommodation at Costeño Beach surf camp Colombia
Laguna 69 in Huaraz Peru

5. Trekking Huaraz (Peru)

A lot of people seem to skip this part of Peru which is a bit more inland than most of the sights in this beautiful country. Let me tell you, you are missing out big time if you are considering of skipping Huaraz. The town it self is not the most exciting one ever, but the mountains that are surrounding this town are your ultimate hiking playground. Whether you’d like to challenge yourself and climb the highest peaks (almost all peaks are over 6000m!) in five day trekkings or just like to do day hikes to mesmerizing places like Laguna 69, Huaraz is your mecca.

Read more about Huaraz here!

6. Climb a volcano (Pucón, Chile)

Chile is quite volcanic as we all may have noticed in the news last year. Although our ‘climb-a-volcano’ adventure in Pucón was disturbed by an overly active volcano, I would still suggest to try this. The views from the top are supposed to take your breath away overseeing the lake district with its many volcanoes. Not to mention you can actually see a proper, and quite rare, lava lake in the crater!

Salesman on the streets of Pucon Chile
view glacier grey trekking torres del paine chile

7. Walk the O-trek in Torres del Paine (Chile)

The O-trek…. sigh. The moment I started that trek I really thought I lost my mind, what was I thinking?! 9 days of hiking, 20kg on my back, boring oatmeal breakfasts (which I can’t live without ever since, who would’ve thought?!), sleeping in a tent with minus 10. Doesn’t necessarily sound like fun, right? Well, it is. A lot. I surprised myself by doing this and I can truly say it was one of the best experiences in my whole South America trip. The mountains, the glaciers, the lakes, the views, the sunrises, and my awesome Team Seduction crew; it was all mind-blowing.

Everything you need to know about Torres del Paine!

8. Visit Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)

Although the Salar de Uyuni is probably on every single top 10 of South America, I couldn’t skip it out of this one. Driving around in a 4×4 through the most insane landscapes is just truly an adventure. Take the 4-day tour from Tupiza, since it shows you a lot more than the one departing from Uyuni and the overall tours are safer and better organized.

Explore more about Salar de Uyuni
laguna verde salt flats tour bolivia
paragliding over the chicamocha canyon

9. Try every extreme sport you can imagine in San Gil (Colombia)

San Gil really is your extreme sport mecca. Bungeejumping, whitewater rafting, paragliding, caving, name it.. San Gil has it. If you wanna push your limits, then this is where you need to be. Combined with beautiful surroundings and a very laid back little town, this place will keep you entertained for at least a week.

Check out our San Gil Guide here!

10. Absorb the creativity of South America

Whether it’s music, dancing, or street art, South America seems to breath creativity. There’s probably not another place in the world where people have the same rhythm as here, shaking those hips like there’s no tomorrow. The tango, the salsa, and the samba, both boys and girls seem to have it in their blood. As if this doesn’t make you jealous enough, the temperament and talent of South America can be found on every single wall as well. I was amazed by the beautiful murals you’ll find in practically every little town to big city. So do the street-art walking tour in Bogota, or take a Tango class in Buenos Aires, and maybe to pick up a bit on some South American passion.

street art cali colombia

Photos by: M. Barends

Cable car in Medellin

Medellin: The city of hope and a thousand activities


Medellin: The city of hope and a thousand activities

The title of this post might sound a little bit tacky, but I couldn’t come up with a more suitable one than this one. Medellin has been known for years as probably one of the most dangerous cities in the world, but has made such a transformation in the last decade or so. Nowadays it actually might be quite famous as being one of the most exciting cities in South America, with many travelers stating ‘they could move to Medellin’. You wouldn’t have found many people claiming that back in the ’90s. So here we are today, in the capital of the proud Paisas. An ever-evolving modern city with so much to do. Where to start you’d probably think, right?

pillars of hope square medellin

Eye-opening walking tour

Well, start with the free city tour of Real City Tours! A walking tour through the city center guided by two really knowledgable and entertaining local guys, or better said; storytellers. In four hours they tell you all about the history, culture, and inhabitants of Medellin, with all its flaws and achievements. Proud as Paisas are, they talk about their city with such admiration and passion, even about their horrible history. It’s refreshing to hear the stories behind this city and leave all the prejudice behind.

Medellin from above

The city of Medellin is huge, and that’s not an understatement. To get an idea of the size of the city we took the cable car to Parque Arvi. A thirty-minute ride that takes you over the favelas of Medellin into a beautiful park perfect for Sunday picnics. Staying mostly in El Poblado, Laureles, and the city center, this really was a good way of seeing the other, less fortunate side of Medellin.

Cable car in Medellin
Guatape town colorful houses

A colorful daytrip

If you’d like to escape the bustling city, there’s plenty to do in the rolling mountains around Medellin. About two hours outside of Medellin there’s a town that seems to have walked out of a children’s book. The moment you set foot in Guatapé it’s like you just took a time machine to a different world. All the houses are painted in different colors and patterns, the tuk-tuks have adapted to the houses, and the men with their bowler hats fit right in. Just sit on a bench and see how life passes by here. If you’re keen on walking 740 steps I would recommend climbing la Piedra del Peñol while you’re there. It’s a bit of a climb, but the view is worth it! Guatapé is surrounded by little islands and the 360 view upon this monolith is one to take in for a while.

Paintball in Pablo's mansion

Does all of this sound a bit too soft for you? Wanna step up your game? In that case, what do you think about playing paintball in one of Pablo Escobar’s mansions? After watching Narcos on Netflix, this guy definitely got me fascinated, and playing paintball at his house is as ridiculous as it sounds. The ruins of what was once an impressive mansion, are one hell of a good setting for an afternoon game of paintball. The adventure includes a tour through the whole Finca. So seeing where Pablo himself played soccer, danced the night away, and kept his horses, this day couldn’t have been more absurd.

Medellin art Botero musuem

Medellin; The city that never sleeps

I don’t want to bother you with a list of those thousand activities Medellin and its outskirts have to offer, so I think you just have to go there and discover the other 995. Medellin is an amazing city that will spoil you with good museums, amazing restaurants, and crazy nightlife (alright, one more; go party at Calle 9). They say New York is the city that never sleeps, but I think they got some serious competition from Medellin. Enjoy this special city and let their hopes become reality!


Ps. Of course, you can always shoot me an email or leave a comment if you’d like to be bothered with the other 995, I’m ready to spill them all over you! 😉

Botero street art Medellin metro

Photos by: M. Barends, L. Folkeringa ©

sunset beach walks on Palomino beach

Palomino: a place to fall in love with


Palomino: A place to fall in love with

If you follow us on Instagram you might’ve noticed that I kind of fell in love with Palomino (map). I spammed our Instagram feed with pictures of the magical sunsets and the relaxing beach days this place offers you every single day. And not without reason.
So picture this. Waking up with the sound of the ocean, getting breakfast on the beach with palm trees providing you some shade, lounging the day away. Or catching some waves and eating fresh fish with your feet in the sand and a sky on fire. Who wouldn’t fall in love?!

Dreamers hostel swimming pool palomino

High-end hostels in Palomino

Palomino equals sleeping in dreamy hostels. Which you actually can’t really call hostels anymore. For 10 bucks a night they really know how to give you value for money. With the Dreamers hostel, Tiki Hut hostel, and Finca Escondida as your best options, it’s practically a matter of good, better, best! Swimming pool lounging, the empty beach just a hop, skip and jump away, and happy hour cocktails, oh well… can’t I just move here?

Must do: River Tubing

Besides doing nothing all day (which I’m perfectly fine with), Palomino got a river… and tubes. 1 plus 1 is two, right? Find a group of people, buy a bottle of rum (it takes a while flowing down), let the locals drive you up the river, and you’re good to go. With the beautiful scenic view of the jungle and the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada, I’ll assure you, it’s one of the best things to do.

river tubing on the palomino river

Foodie Heaven

The funny thing about Palomino is that the village is tiny. There’s literally one main road and a few side roads that will lead you to the beach, but there are so many places where you can eat heavenly! Don’t know how those ratios normally work, but in Palomino, it’s almost hard to choose. When visiting this place there are a few spots you don’t want to miss out on.

La Sirena restaurant beach view Palomino
breakfast at la Sirena in Palomino Colombia

Our favorite restaurants

Getting breakfast at La Sirena is definitely a must (their french toast and pancakes are to die for), just like eating fresh red snapper with coconut rice at Finca Escondida is and this pizza place which I don’t think even has a name. It’s just a shack with lots of little lights, big picnic tables, and amazing pizza. The best directions I can give you is to walk down the dusty road of the Tiki Hut Hostel and the Dreamers hostel from the beach to the main road, and after 5 minutes it’s just there on your right hand. As I said, Palomino knows the way to my heart.

The charm of Palomino

I kept coming back to Palomino (about 6 times), told everyone I met about this place, and even took my parents here. It’s one of those places which you wanna tell everyone about, but meanwhile want to keep secret to let it be as charming and authentic as it is. Palomino is like a dream and I hope you get to enjoy it one day as much as I did. 

Adios Amigos, Marthe

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sunset on the beach of palomino Colombia

Photos by: M. Barends, L. Folkeringa, L. Endstra ©