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La Vache

La Vache

If you’re in the mood for steak frites in Hong Kong look no further than La Vache. This cosy little spot is nestled between a slew of great restaurants on Peel Street and like the others it does not disappoint. If in doubt look for […]

Carnaval Brunch at Uma Nota

Carnaval Brunch at Uma Nota

What do you get when you cross delicious Brazilian-Japanese fusion cuisine, tasty (and might I add, strong) caipirinhas and the sizzling atmosphere of a samba-infused block-party? Answer: Uma Nota’s “Carnaval Brunch”!

Phong Nha, Vietnam – Day 1

Phong Nha, Vietnam – Day 1

Phong Nha Caving Adventure

Have you ever travelled somewhere and fallen in love?

Well that was me with Vietnam – one trip and it captured my heart. The soft swoosh of silk lanterns swaying in the breeze. The babble of market sellers calling to me to buy, smiling in curiosity at my long braids. The tangy sweetness of unripe mango slices, dipped in golden grains of sugar. The tingle of excitement in my spine as I perched precariously on the back of a scooter as it weaved through traffic. Utterly and completely in love I tell you!

So of course when I got a chance to go back to Vietnam I jumped at it. This time, the location was Phong Nha, a sleepy little town in the centre of Vietnam. Until fairly recently not many travellers have ventured that way, most choosing the appeal and excitement of more popular cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. But now known for some of the largest caves in the world, adventure-seekers have started to trickle in – myself included!

Admittedly, exploring caves is not necessarily my type of trip at all, but life is short and is for living right? Plus Vietnam and I had a love story to continue so I booked those flights…

Day 1 – Friday

Flying Out

5.15am: Up bright and early. Well not so bright – more groggy and begrudging my three hours of sleep, but certainly early. Threw on a simple uniform of denim shorts, a white shirt and trainers – plus a baseball cap to hide my sins. Strolled down to the airport express train – I’d be at the airport in no time… 

7:15am: Panic at the airport! A booking issue meant I couldn’t check in online. Stupid mistake on my part to leave it to that morning, but after rushing around trying to sort it, I had to buy a brand new one-way flight to Ho Chi Minh for an extortionate amount!! Sad times.

8.20am: Onboard the new flight from Hong Kong, with my wallet significantly lighter. It was a two-hour flight to Ho Chi Minh, and we’d have five hours to kill before our connection to Dong Hoi. 

Phong Nha - touchdown

11am: Landed in Ho Chi Minh City and had the most PHENOMINAL food tour! (Post coming soon)

3pm: Back to the airport for our one-hour connection to Dong Hoi. Great chance to sleep off my food coma 😀

Finally in Phong Nha

7pm: Finally arrived at Nguyen Shack in Phong Nha after a one hour drive from Dong Hoi airport. Our home for the weekend was breathtaking! A gorgeous eco-resort with a series of cosy cottages and rooms overlooking a lake (although the dry season meant scarily-low water levels).

Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 1

A sea of greens and yellows as far as the eye culd see, and the setting sun gave the entire place a romantic glow.

Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 3
Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 2

As we took it all in we were shocked out of our tranquil state by the squeals and grunts of the hotel’s pet pig being playfully tormented by three adorable puppies. It was A LOT of nature, but I smiled to myself as I took it all in – I was ready for Vietnam.

Nguyen Shack Views
Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 5
Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 4

We were shown to our cabins and they are just as natural and charming as you would expect. Made out of wood, it felt like I was inexplicably one with the outdoors. A feeling most people would love, but it made me a little nervous…I was worried that “the outdoors” will get into my cabin! In this case “the outdoors” being snakes. A thorough check of the cabin for them and any other lurkers eased my fears (a little).

Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 9
Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 9
Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 8

8.30pm: Dinner time! We opted for barbecue, which involved us doing all the cooking ourselves. Not the best idea for 24 hungry campers – but delicious all the same! Then it was straight to bed as we had a super early start in the morning…

Phong Nha BBQ
A Holi Lot of Colour

A Holi Lot of Colour

You’ve probably come across pictures of people dancing, smiling and covered from top to toe in paint while they celebrate Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colours.

Also known as the Festival of Spring or the Festival of Love, Holi originated in India but is now celebrated all over the world – including in Hong Kong!

A Holi picnic on Lamma Island sounded like a perfect plan for a sunny Sunday afternoon…

Guess Who’s Back…in Hong Kong

Guess Who’s Back…in Hong Kong

So it’s been an exciting couple of months for me… After spending last summer in Hong Kong for a project at work, I got the opportunity to move back to this city for a longer stint and I jumped at the chance! I moved back […]

A Little Treat

A Little Treat

So we ate all of the food at Christmas, drank all of the champagne on New Year’s Eve and rang in the new year with excitement and fervour to be better people. Whether it’s dry January, vegan-uary or just a general healthy kick, it feels like everyone was determined to start the year right!

Three weeks in and I don’t know about you, but January is kicking my ass! 😂 It’s freezing, working full weeks is feeling particularly long, especially as the sun insists on setting before I leave the office.

But hey, it’s still my birthday month, it’s my 2-year blog-iversary soon and it’s nearly pay day! So I’ve decided to treat myself…

For starters a massage and facial are definitely overdue. But I’m starting by treating myself to some fabulous dresses from Quiz Clothing. Their maxi dresses are bomb! This black number just oozes luxury and it’s on sale. Check them out yourself and thank me later 😀

And it gets even better! Check out my Instagram to win yourself a treat of your own…I’ve got one of these dresses to give away but you’ll have to be quick…

5 Podcasts You Need To Listen To

5 Podcasts You Need To Listen To

Something I’ve really gotten into over the past year is podcasts. It’s either the in-thing now for everyone and their dog to have a podcast or it’s just me showing my age, because I’m obsessed! There are so many brilliant podcasts to choose from. Here […]

A Fresh Start

A Fresh Start

Happy New Year lovely people! Hope your 2019 is off to a great start. I myself have had an absolute blast so far – helped greatly by the fact that it’s my birthday!! As each birthday rolls around I find myself getting more and more […]

Meeting Geisha in Kyoto

Meeting Geisha in Kyoto

Kyoto was a pleasant surprise! With only a few days to spend in Japan, the girls and I were determined to make the most of our time there.

We arrived at Kyoto Shinkansen station by bullet train from Tokyo and strolled 10 minutes to our conveniently-located Airbnb. We had rented a traditional Japanese house, with mat flooring, sliding doors, and super-low furniture (I’m talking mattress on the floor low!)

Kyoto-16Kyoto-36

There would be plenty of time to spend admiring the architecture, but first we had to explore. Our hosts had bikes ready for us so we hopped on and headed straight out. First stop…

Nishiki Market

The bike ride there was only about 20 minutes long but about halfway into our journey it started to drizzle (typical, right?) A quick stop at a 7/11 for four very handy raincoats and we were back on the road. A little hot and bothered and of course there was no escaping the wet feet but we made it intact. Finding somewhere to park the bikes was another adventure but hey, that’s a story for another day.

Kyoto-1

Sometimes called Kyoto’s Kitchen, Nishiki Market is a collection of mostly food shops and stalls selling everything from fresh fish to delicious grilled treats. It’s a loooooong road plus quite a few stalls try to entice you with free samples, so by the time you walk from one end to the other I almost guarantee you’ll have a full belly – I certainly did!

 

I had just about the largest shrimp I have ever eaten, some interesting-flavoured ice cream and of course picked up some cute gifts for friends and family back home. There are also quite a few shops selling clothes, skincare products and all sorts nearby so you can till you drop (all those calories ha!)

Definitely a must visit if you’re ever in Kyoto.

Yakiniku-Hiro

You know how I said you’ll have a full belly by the time you’re done at Nishiki Market? well if you press on with the rest of the shopping you’ll have worked up an appetite again and helpfully there’s this AMAZING restaurant nearby. Hiro is chain of Yakinuku restaurants in Kyoto, with one just 5/10 minutes walk from the market.

Kyoto-13
Not surprising to find a full house at Hiro

They specialize in grilled wagyu beef and you do the grilling! A hot-plate/grill is set on your table and you choose different cuts of beef to try (and sides if you want). The beef was sublime – tender and flavourful, I didn’t know it was possible for meat to melt in your mouth! I couldn’t recommend it enough.

Kyoto-14

Price wise, it was very reasonable too. The meal plus drinks came to roughly £25 each and we were all stuffed. Cycling home after that hearty meal was admittedly not my favourite activity.

Gion

No trip to Kyoto is complete without a visit to Gion, the most popular geisha district in the city. People often say early evening is a popular time to see the geishas as they make their way from one building to another.

Warmed up after our cycle home from the restaurant, we hopped back on our bikes around 11pm and made our way along the canals and winding roads in the cool evening breeze. We had no idea what to expect, but we definitely knew when we arrived. It was like stepping back in time…

Kyoto-24

The streets were lined with quaint wooden buildings and restaurants, and it was almost eerily quiet (not surprising given the time of night).

After wandering around for a while, taking in the sights we were content to head on home until a group of geishas emerged from one of the buildings talking and chuckling quietly amongst themselves.

Kyoto-27

Till today I still get a big grin across my face when I think about it – I was so excited to see these women, almost preserved in history, with my own eyes! We greeted them with smiles and I shyly asked one if I could take a picture of her. She graciously accepted and posed for me – as I silently willed my DSLR not to let me down. Thankfully it didn’t…

Kyoto-29

Best. Night. Ever.

Day 2 in Kyoto coming soon…

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Weekend in Taipei

A Weekend in Taipei

Touchdown in Taipei A weekend in Taipei was just what the doctor ordered. In the couple of months I spent in Hong Kong I wasn’t able to book in as many weekend getaways as I would have liked, so when my friend recommended Taiwan I bit […]