My friend Megan who writes the blog See. Write. Live. nominated me to share my three best travel secrets on Todd’s Wanderings. The nomination is a part of Trip Base Blog tag in which the Top Bloggers’ Best Kept Travel Secrets will be published in a free ebook that will be shared with the “entire online community…” Hmmm, good luck with that!
First, I had to decide if my secrets were safe for the average traveler…my lawyers tell me I should be okay (by reading this you have now waived all your rights). So here you are, some of my well kept secrets, and favorite places in this wonderful world:
1. Mount Koya, Japan
Everyone visits the major temples in Kyoto and Nara but these days they are little more than tourist attractions, albeit pretty ones, lacking that lived in, struggle for enlightenment feel. Mount Koya, the secluded mountain temple complex of Esoteric Shingon Buddhism in Wakayama Prefecture, is a hideaway for a more authentic massive temple experience. Located in the heart of the Kii mountains, it was founded in 816 by the monk Kukai, mythical founder of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. The complex houses 100 temples, many offering lodging, and the most famous cemetery in Japan leading to Kukai’s tomb. A walk through the cemetery is an otherworldly experience dominated by centuries old cedar trees and hundreds of moss covered stone Buddhas playing hide and seek in the mist.
2. Castlereigh Reservoir, Dikoya, Sri Lanka
I couldn’t possible live with myself if I didn’t include a stay at Castlereigh Family Cottages in my list of best kept secrets. Not that I want to fight the crowds to visit, but they do such a wonderful job they deserve my unabashed fawning. Two small cabins sit in the middle of a working tea plantation, right on the reservoir, with amazingly large porches to wile away a relaxing day soaking in the scenery. One cabin can sleep four while the larger one sleeps up to ten wanderers. Add the genuine friendly staff that wait on you hand and foot, delicious BBQs and the incredibly cheap prices and I am wondering why I ever left. Most visitors to Sri Lanka head up to the large tea plantation areas, but Dikoya delivers on scenery, tea trail hiking and is close to Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka’s best known pilgrimage.
3. Dili, East Timor
Timor Leste has a troubled past, and the instability in 2006 led to travel warning advisories most governments have yet to lift. Excited to go yet? If you are a scuba diver, or you are someone who wants to see a young country before it is transformed, then you should be. The travel advisories mean there are few tourists but plenty of facilities catering to the peacekeeping and development workers helping Timor Leste to recover. Located in the coral triangle Timor Leste boasts acres of unspoiled reefs, world class underwater walls stretching miles into the distance and a friendly local population eager to share their country with the rest of the world. Dili is the main base for diving and most dive spots are off shore,just a few meters from the secluded beaches lining the coast. Of course you need to be careful and watch your security, but this is not Afghanistan folks!
Now that I have shared my secrets it is time for me to “tag” five bloggers to participate in the “Three Best Kept Travel Secrets”. Your it:
1. Lili at Muza-chan’s Gate to Japan
2. Kirigalpoththa, name to remain a mystery…
3. Suzanne, THIRTY: Own up to Being Growing-up
4. Stephanie, Where in the world am I?
5. Marianne, Zen & the Art of Peacekeeping