Travelling Lanka by Bike as a Different Light

When Subramaniam Sudakaran (32) and Jehan de Silva (26) decided to cycle from Kandy to Meemure one fateful Saturday, the two never thought they’d be in for the ride of their life, let alone start a company together. Soaked in heavy rain, cycling late into the night on lonely roads, first time ‘adventurer’ Jehan didn’t expect all that drenched and befell them as he followed the single torch light that fellow Rotaractor- Sudakaran tried to balance along with his bike and the 15 kg packs they each carried. But the next day, while gazing at a waterfall, “you should do this as a business” Jehan had suggested, and so, Ceylon Ramblers’ Club was born.

 Jehan and Sudakaran (L to R) . Pic by Amila Gamage

For Sudakaran and Jehan, their clients’ experience must be nothing short of authentic. It’s why they screen potential travellers who thereafter join the ‘club’. Their members are entitled to benefits and discounts and the screening process they explain, is important for safety (as many ladies are part of the group). Their packages depending on the location include transport, meals, camping and other equipment. Depending on how big the group is, either one or both Jehan and Sudakaran operate the tours.The two man tour company has already created quite a buzz in the travel community since their inception in March this year. Their unique service- a ‘club’ type association is intimate and simple with over satisfied clients and 68 tours completed in over 20 destinations around the island. Their style of operation is very close to their first trip together. “It’s all about meeting friends,” Jehan explains, with close to 25 being the maximum they’ve accommodated for a tour.

Their expertise in the field is the result of countless trips and adventures. But both young entrepreneurs otherwise spend most of their time at desk jobs. Jehan always knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur from his younger days. He currently works in a software company where the flexible working hours allow him to take time off when he goes on tours. His friendship with Sudakaran, which began through Rotaract transformed with that fateful trip. “Till then I was doing the same thing every Friday night.” So when a bored Jehan called Sudakaran one Friday, while the latter prepared for a hiking trip the next day, the rest is obviously history.

.Before inviting Jehan to his world of adventure in the great outdoors, Sudakaran was already trekking and hiking. His first taste for exploring was while cutting class in Nuwara Eliya to investigate the neighbouring forests. By the time he was 15 years old and schooling in Kandy, the inquisitive teen was finally able to go on “official” trips to Horton Plains, etc. His passion for trekking is ironically attributed to a fear of heights. “It was the best way for me to overcome my fear.” It doesn’t hurt that his phobia also keeps him from taking unwanted risks.

When we catch up with the duo, they are just back from a two day scuba diving trip to Trincomalee. Sudakaran, the seemingly quieter of the two lights up and admits enthusiastically “I’m a foodie”. From a full English breakfast to Sudakaran’s signature Ambul thiyal (which Jehan adds, is a must try), the ‘trendiest’ thing the duo admit to providing is a BBQ dinner, where their guests can unwind and get to know each of their other travel companions.

When Sudakaran left his comfortable corporate life of 12 years together with Jehan to start Ceylon Ramblers’ Club the energy and genuine desire to give their fellow travellers a unique vacation experience overtook the initial trepidation of starting up. Their clients so far being friends of friends with the same yarning for a simple, unmatched wanderlust and spirit for adventure that changes with every day dive, bicycle ride or campsite under the stars. “Your next adventure is your best adventure,” they add.

For more information on tours and packages visit their website or their facebook page at CeylonRamblersClub.

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Filed under cultural transmission, heritage, landscape wondrous, life stories, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, tourism, travelogue

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