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Welcome to my travel blog! I document my travels with personal stories, tips and tricks, & many photos! I hope to motivate you to  jump out of your comfort zone & visit some of your bucket list countries!

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

A month in Sri Lanka will definitely allow you see a lot of the sites! You don’t have to book much before you go unless you are keen to stay at nice hotels and have a reserved seat on the train. If you are up for third class and staying at guest houses you can easily book along the way through booking.com or agoda.com. We would book the night before or the day of arrival and found many great places that suited all of our needs. Get ready for lots of hiking, beach hopping, rice and curry and beautiful locals! 

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Negombo  

When you fly into Colombo you can go directly to Negombo which is only 15 minutes from the airport rather than 45 minutes into the main city. Many people I speak to say Colombo’s city is very crowded and there isn’t much more than shopping to be done and from the hour I spent in the city I definitely concur. Negombo is a much less hectic place to enter and since we didn’t arrive until 10pm we decided to spend the night here. The Uber was 600 LKR ($4) to our hostel and the accommodations were fabulous! From Negombo bus stand you can start your Sri Lankan adventure for very cheap. 

- Fish market- They have a massive dry fish market that’s fun to walk through. 

- Boat cruise through the canals of Negombo. Didn’t do this myself, but I’m sure you can barter for a good price. 

Where to eat/drink: 

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- Hole in the wall breakfast spot- Not kidding this is the entrance to the place, but it’s cheap and delicious! 

- Rodeo at night for a bit of a party! Only popping on Thursdays and Fridays though! 

Where to stay: 

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- Marine House Guesthouse- Close to beach and very comfortable beds. 1000 rupees ($7) per night

Sigiriya  

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We took a bus to Dambulla for 150 rupees (95 cents) where we stayed to visit Lion’s Rock and the Cave Temple. Dambulla is the main hub for fresh produce. Upon arrival you will see truckloads of fresh vegetables and fruits being sorted through. The markets were fun to walk through, but you only need a day here to see the sites! 

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We rented a tuk tuk for 1200 rupees ($8) to get us to Sigiriya, also known as Lion’s Rock. It started as a palace on the top of this massive rock dated back to ancient civilizations and then later turned into a Buddhist monastery. There are beautiful paintings on parts of the rock and the view from the top was nice, but the price was extreme. I recommend going to the smaller version of Lion’s Rock right next to it as it’s only 750 rupees ($5) entry and almost the same view. I recommend spending a few extra dollars to stay in the town of Sigiriya as well. It was really cute town full of cool cafes and rasta bars with elephants bathing in the river.  

 - Sigiriya- 4650 rupees ($30) for entrance- Rent a pushbike and ride around the mote and surrounding areas. Try to go at sunset to see from the top of the rock! 

- The temple behind Sigiriya aka Little Lion’s Rock- 750 rupees entry ($5) for a temple on top of the rock! Much cheaper and you get a view of Lion’s Rock!  

- Cave Temple & Golden Buddha- 1500 rupees ($9.50) for entrance 

- Kandalama Lake - We never made it to the lake, but I heard it’s beautiful! 

Where to stay: 

- Sigiriya Paradise Inn Guest House- We had friends stay here and they said it was good! ($18 per night) 

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-  The Lotus Inn Resort- Great cheap accommodations in Dambulla. The family is lovely and offers the cheapest motorbikes and tours through Sigiriya. ($10 per night) 

- Heritance Kandalama- If you’ve got the means by all means pamper yourself and stay here. ($120 per night)

Where to eat:  

- Mango Mango— Mix between western and local food in Dambulla.

- The Food Court- Cheap local food in Dambulla! The curry and rice is delicious! 

Trincomalee

We didn’t spend much time here because it was very stormy when we visited, but the beaches were nice and the diving is supposed to be good around Pigeon Bay Island. I recommend eating at the Crab restaurant across the Main Street from the beach and enjoying a few beers at Fernando’s on the beach. It’s a beautiful place to chill for a few days around Uppevali and Nilaveli Beach. We stayed at a very cheap accomodation called Rainbow villa for 500 rupees ($3.33) per night with breakfast included. Hotel Aqua is definitely worth checking out on booking.com if you have a little bit more money to spend! Check booking.com for accommodations. Use this link! https://www.booking.com/s/21_8/a549eaa8 

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Pinnawala 

Pinnawala is a small town outside of Kandy normally visited by tourists to see the elephant orphanage. It was a very long eight   hours of local bus travel for us from Trincomalee for only 230 rupees ($1.50), but our accomodation made up for it. We stayed at Eden Lodge for 800 rupees ($5.50), a beautiful guesthouse located 500 meters off the main road. Our room had a balcony with a spectacular view where we watched the stars and fireflies compete for who shone brighter that night.

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We visited the elephant orphanage, but I wasn’t all that impressed. It was 2450 rupees ($16) to enter and watch the elephants bottle feed then the animals were led to the river to bathe. I didn’t feel like the elephants were all that happy to be there, some had chains and then I learned they are never released back into the wild in fear they wouldn’t know how to survive. The orphanage seems more to a breeding ground for elephants in order to make money off tourists.... I do not recommend going. 

Kandy

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On our bus to Kandy I witnessed a spectacular moment which certifies how lovely Sri Lankan’s are. A young school girl probably around the age of 8, got on the bus with her Mom. She sat next to me and soon after fell asleep on my shoulder. Another young girl probably 14 was standing on the bus near us. The older girl proceeds to slip money into the sleeping girls backpack. I figured it was her sister or something and just smiled, but after a few minutes passed the Mom quickly woke up the young girl and they exited the bus leaving the 14 year old to sit next to me. I introduced myself and told her how nice that was of her and she said she likes doing little acts of kindness like that daily. It was beautiful.

We only spent a few hours in Kandy. It’s a very big city but a perfect place to get transport to everywhere throughout Sri Lanka. This is where we started our wonderful train journey. The train from Kandy to Hatton was only 30 rupees (20 cents) and four hours long. It was the beginning of the beautiful scenic ride and was definitely worth it! Don’t eat at the canteen in the train station in Kandy though, they will rip you off!

Hatton

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Hatton and the surrounding areas were a highlight of my time in Sri Lanka. We woke up one morning at 1:30am to drive an hour to the beginning of Adam’s Peak where we started to ascend the 5600 stairs to a temple on top of the highest peak in the area. There were people of all ages from elderly hobbling up the stairs with canes to little babies being carried by their parents. I couldn’t believe the amount of locals it brought out in the wee hours of the morning.

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There was an hour long queue to get up to the top which saved me from hypothermia. The brisk wind against my sweat caused my hands and feet to go completely numb as we waited for the sun to peak above the mountains. We watched the sunrise from the top of the peak along with the hundreds of other people. It was an incredible sunrise full of all good energy with heaps of live traditional music, fire poojas and incredible scenery. 

The drive home was even more spectacular full of beautiful waterfalls, crystal clear lakes and the rolling hills covered in eucalyptus trees and tea plantations.  

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What to do:

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- Adam’s Peak- Start walking at 2:30AM to get there in time for sunrise especially if you visit on a weekend you’ll have to queue at the top! 

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- Lake  

- Waterfalls around surrounding area. 

 Where to stay:

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- Niwasa Guest House- Amazing family and accommodations that back up to the tea plantations. He drove us to and from Adam’s Peak and a beautiful breakfast was waiting for us when we got home! 

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- If you don’t stay in Hatton, I recommend staying in the town called Nallathanniya  where the start of Adam’s Peak is located. Use this link to book accommodations https://www.booking.com/s/21_8/a549eaa8

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Nuwara Eliya  

We took the train from Hatton to Nanu-Oya for 30 rupees (20 cents). It was the most picturesque train ride I’ve ever seen. I hung out of the door the whole time until it started to rain. 

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We then took a bus to Nuwara Eliya for 25 rupees (15 cents) and found our guesthouse up on the hill before venturing out for a walk through town. We ended up at Lover’s Leap Falls where a group of locals came to play the drums and drink a bit of local whiskey. We watched the sunset and part of me felt like I was back in Ooty, India.

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We rang in St Patty’s Day at the Lion Pub where we enjoyed Lion Stouts and Strong Beers. Be very careful as they are 8.8% alcohol! 

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This town was where the English settled back in the 18th century. They built massive homes among the tea plantations and you can still see the English influence today. The flowers around this area are absolutely stunning as well! 

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Where to drink/eat: 

- Sapphire Hotel for fish kotthu

- The Cafe on the main road when you walk out of the bus station

- The Pub

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Where to stay:

- Panoramic Hotel- $5 per night, but do not order breakfast. Great views! 

What to do: 

- Victoria Park

- Galway Park

- World’s End Trek at Horton Plains National Park- 3000 rupees ($20) entry- get going early as the view is only visible sunrise to early morning! 

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- Gregory lake

- Ramboda waterfall

- Bomburu Ella waterfall

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- Lover’s Leaf Falls and Sunset Point 

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Hapatule  

The train to Haputale was 69 rupees (40 cents) and was another spectacular show. I was honestly in awe while hanging out the door of the train. We reached the small town of Hapatule and settled in to our nice accommodations before practicing yoga on the roof during sunset. The next morning we woke up for sunrise at Lipton’s Seat. This is one of the highest tea plantations in all of Sri Lanka. We enjoyed a nice cup of tea and some delicious rotis and vadas at the cafe on top of the mountain. It took us about an hour to walk back down through the winding roads and beautiful plantations. 

Later that day we rented a van for 2400 rupees ($16) to take us to Bombarakanda Waterfall, the tallest waterfall in all of Sri Lanka. The drive was extremely scenic along the highway and wrapped around the mountain like a large serpent. We paid 100 rupees (65 cents) for entry to the waterfall and had the whole place to ourselves. We enjoyed some ice cold beers while swimming in the pool below. 

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Hapatule was a beautiful little town with lots of small treks around the area. The views were absolutely stunning and the people were amazing. The local joint we ate at everyday was ran by a man we called Baba. He was very kind to us and let us try everything. Their breakfasts were the best with coconut rotis, delicious daal and coconut samball.  

 What to do: 

- Lipton’s Seat- 300 rupee ($2) tuk tuk ride at sunrise. 

- Bambarakanda Falls - 150 rupee ($1) entry. Can reach by van 2400 rupees ($16) for four-five hours. 

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- Treks around surrounding area  

 Where to stay: 

- Awinco Resort- $20 per night 

- Highcliffe Resort- $20 per night 

Where to eat:  

- Local joint across the street in the main square... starts with New. You’ll see a lot of locals walking in and out. It’s popping all the time! 

Ella  

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We took our very last train ride from Hapatule to Ella for 25 rupees (10 cents) packed like sardines until the last thirty minutes when we lucked out and got to hang out of the doorway. Arriving in Ella was astounding with the lush green mountains and small little villages scattered throughout the foliage.  Ella is a top tourist destination making it extremely westernized and a bit more expensive, but there is a handful of fun things to do and decent nightlife. 

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One of my favorite days in Ella was the day we hiked Ella Rock. We started walking along the train tracks for over two kilometers before reaching what we thought was the path, but it quickly disappeared. A village woman came to our rescue and ended up leading us through elephant grass that was taller than our heads. She scaled the mountain with us until we reached the well traveled path again. She was a very sweet woman and didn’t speak any English, but a smile was worth a million words at that point.

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The rest of the hike was quite difficult for me and I guess it was quite obvious because I was reassured countless times by random strangers that I was almost to the top.  However the view made it worth it and a crazy monkey almost attacked James which gave us one hell of a laugh. We took the path less traveled on the way back down as well descending through locals’ backyards and many tea plantations before finally reaching the street. Everyone we came across wanted to help guide us in the right direction and offered any advice they could give. 

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What to do: 

- Little Adam’s Peak- Lovely walk through the tea plantations up to a beautiful view! Only 300 stairs so not too heavy of a climb!

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- Nine Arch Bridge - from Little Adam’s Peak there is a short cut to get to nine arch bridge then you can walk along the train tracks back into town!  

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- Rawana Falls - pretty crowded but beautiful and fun place to people watch! You can reach by a local bus for 12 rupees. 

- Ella Rock- Give yourself four hours to get up and down. Bring water and enjoy the view! 

- Rawana Cave  

Where to stay:  

- Ella Walker’s Nest- $8 per night 

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- 68 Acre Resort- if you have money to spending this is the place to go! It’s such a beautiful property with private bungalows spread across acres of land! 

- Ella Tunnel Lodge Resort- $20 per night 

Where to eat/drink:  

- Chill Cafe- massive and great vibes! A bit more expensive in terms of food, but apparently the fish and chips were well worth it! 

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- Happy 420 Bar- 24 Hour Bar near train station. There are a couple of bars in a row with good ambience and open all hours of the night. 

- Local pub for cheap drinks.  

- Ella Dream Cafe

- Imala Hotel— Local spot for delicious and cheap good food! Their rice and curry is one of the best we had! 

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- Raja on the corner for delicious rotis. 

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Ulawalawe

We took a bus from Ella to Ulawalawe to take part in a safari through Ulawalawe National Park. The bus was 150 rupees ($1) and took about five hours with one change in Embilipitya. We stayed in Palm Safari Lodge for the evening where we enjoyed a delicious rice and curry for 500 rupees ($3.33) prepared by the family of the lodge. We awoke the next morning at 5am to head out in our Jeep where we caught the sunrise before entering the National Park. The safari was 3400 rupees ($23) and was definitely worth it. We were greeted by a family of seven elephants as soon as we entered. There are over 250 elephants in this national park along with many different birds, crocodiles, monkeys and much much more. The safari was about four hours long. Be sure to bring water and snacks along so you can stay and enjoy the nature for longer. 

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Mirissa

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This is the number one place to go if you are looking for a good party on the beach. We spent over nine days partying on the beaches of Mirissa. Every night a different bar on the beach hosts the party, you’ll be able to tell from the big spotlight out into the ocean, the bumping music and the random fireworks show. The parties start to get good around 11pm. 

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CAUTION: Do not go swimming to the right of Mirissa beach. My friend tried to save some girl who decided to go swimming at night and he ended up with sea urchins all in his feet unable to walk or swim for the rest of his vacation. The hospital run the next day was no fun at all.  

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I recommend renting a motorbike to explore the surrounding beaches! We drove as far as Hiriketiya and Talala Beach towards the south. It was about an hour drive through the winding green rainforests to Hiriketiya beach. This beach had its own little vibe. It was bustling with surfers and tourists and had its own little beach bars and fun restaurants. Talala beach next door was a perfect calm place to go for a sunset swim. 

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We explored the villages north of Mirissa as well witnessing families going about their daily lives in the markets and stumbling upon a Buddhist monastery in the middle of Kogadda Lake. We drove through all the rice fields and palm tree farms spotting peacocks and other wild birds along the way making for a perfect end to the day.  As we drove home with the wind in our hair we passed along the beautiful beaches and watched as the sun set behind the ocean lighting the clouds up all different shades of pastels.

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Closer to Mirissa you can go surf at Weligama beach, a perfect place for beginners. Should be 400 rupees (2.60) to rent for two hours. Weligama is also the closest town where you’ll find cheap booze from the wine stores and cheap local food! 

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I really enjoyed the community in Mirissa. By the end of my time there I had local friends all over the place. It was nice to dance the nights away in the sand and watch the sunrises. Part of me felt the old Carly come back a bit during my time in Mirissa and boy was that a good feeling. 

What to do:  

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- Mirissa Beach, Secret Beach, Weligama Beach, Hiriketiya Beach, Talala Beach,

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- Kogada Lake- Boat Safari  

- Snorkeling tour- 2000 rupees ($13) per person to take a boat out to a reef and snorkel for a couple hours 

- Blue Whales tour- I didn’t do this because I heard they do not do it ethically. There is only one tour company that does it right so be sure to do your research before you go! 

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Where to stay: 

- Indra Resort- really close to Mirissa Beach and very affordable! $12 per night for four people 

- Mister Hostel- $10 per night 

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- W15 in Weligama- really nice resort on the beach in Weligama.  

Where to eat:  

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- Zam Zam Hotel in Weligama- I literally ate here everyday. It was extremely cheap and incredibly delicious local food. Rice and curry in the mornings and kotthu at night! Only 2 miles from Mirissa. 

- Salt Mirissa- if you feel like splashing the cash the food I hear is good  

- Rocket Burger- The fish burger is good!  

Hikkaduwa

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We spent a couple days beach hopping around Hikkaduwa before heading back down to Mirissa. Hikkaduwa is a bit more spread out and a lot more touristy. Many families crowd the beaches and Russians dominate the tourist scene. You’ll find many menus in Russian and a lot of beach front resorts.  

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You must rent a motorbike and drive around! Stop by the Tsunami museums to talk to the locals and hear their stories. We spoke to a women standing in her now destructed home looking at all the photos they had collected. It was tear jerking, but also a very heart warming experience seeing how they all stuck together and how the rest of the world came to help them out.  

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We went out one night to Vibration Hotel. It was a massive club like scene. We danced the night away before the floorboard gave out on me and I took a tumble leaving me bruised and battered.  

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Where to stay: 

- Eden Hotel- 1800 rupees ($17) per night

- Airbnb- you can find nice and affordable Airbnb’s in the area that are very close to the beach. We stayed at Chayoda’s entire home for $20 a night that included three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a kitchen and dining room.

- Vibration Hotel or Circus- if you have money to spend these are the places to stay! 

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Where to eat: 

 - Roty Shop

- Indian Food place in town- great dosa for very cheap  

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Bentota

We hopped on a bus from Mirissa to get to Bentota only 120 rupees (80 cents), but soon got off because my friend wasn’t feeling to good and would rather take a car. I walked down the street and asked a local about getting a car, he graciously offered to order us one on his PickMeUp app and then waited with us until the driver showed up. This is just another example of how lovely Sri Lankan’s are. The car was 4000 rupees ($27) to get to Bentota.

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Bentota is a beautiful small beach town bustling with a handful of resorts. It’s definitely a honeymooners destination, but the beaches are incredible. We spent the whole day on the beach while staying at Ocean View Hotel and it seemed as though we were the only ones there.

 

I watched the beautiful sunset after a stroll on the beach and then took a tour of the Taj Resort. For my last day in Sri Lanka I had the most delicious meal at Ran Rasa Hotel and spent the rest of the day hanging by the pool at Eden Resort and Spa.

What to do:

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- Beach beach beach

- Boat safari through the lake

- Hang by the pool at your resort

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Where to stay: Airbnb and booking.com are perfect ways to find accomodation in Bentota!

- Ocean View Hotel- $18 a night on the beach

- Eden Resort and Spa- $100 per night

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- Taj Resort

Where to eat:

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- Ran Rasa Hotel

The five hour long local bus journey from Bentota to the airport was a nail biting experience. I made it to the airport nice and sweaty with little time to spare, but all in all Sri Lanka was a beautiful surprise. It’s diverse landscapes, beautiful waterfalls and incredible beaches leave you wanting more. From the delicious rice and curry to the big hearts of all the gracious locals, there is nothing not to like about Sri Lanka.

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Him. Surviving a Suicide

Him. Surviving a Suicide

Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India