Koh Tao, Thailand-Paradise

I have spent about a week in Koh Tao (island on the East coast of Thailand). I have heard from a number of expats describing it as paradise, but i’m afraid I have been to nicer islands e.g. the Fiji islands. However lets not get negative because Koh Tao is definitely a place to visit.

Geography– lets start by explaining that you can ride across the island in around 15 minutes. Therefore the island activities are limited.

So in my opinion if you are not a scuba diver don’t spend more than a few days here. Those days should roughly consist of:

  • The Koh Tao bar crawl (Mon, Wed, Fri.)
  • Scooter round the island
  • Go to a beach I recommend Ao Tanote (there a cool rock jump)
  • Hike up to ‘two views’ viewpoint
  • Snorkerling trip
  • Try the amazing 995 roasted duck (so good and soooo cheap) and try the best Pad Thai I have had in Thailand at Mama’s

Now the real crown of Koh Toa is SCUBA diving. You will see endless Scuba schools and I’m told that Koh Tao is the cheapest place in the world to learn. So try something new and learn, I did and loved it. My awesome school was Roctopus.

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Chiang Mai, Thailand in two days

There are some excellent guides on what to do at Chiang Mai in Thailand, the city/town has a lot to offer after all. However when you have limited time how can you choose? After eight days these are my recommendations.

Chiang Mai in two days

Day 1-AM: Tan Pra Maha Kajjana followed by some frozen yoghurt on Rachadamnoen Road.

Day 1-Afternoon:some much needed lunch at Aroy Dee, then off to Grand Canyon Waterpark (not my normal suggestion but its the best one I’ve been to).

Day 1-PM: Book on one of the many great Thai cooking classes.

Day 2-AM/Afternoon: You have to go to one of the elephant sanctuaries (please go to one of these rather than the cheaper alternatives, the elephants are so much more happy)-I personally had the best time at Elephant Land.

Day 2-PM: Hit the night market along Changklang Road, then off for some much needed food at Ploen Ruedee Night Market.

Enjoy and if you have any questions please ask

Hanoi, Vietnam-what’s good?

In an earlier article I mentioned how crazy Hanoi is, and I still stand by this. Hanoi for me personally is like a really ugly dog; its not appreciated to start with but then it starts to grow on you.

What’s good-top tip visit Hanoi between Friday- Sunday.

Night market (between Friday to Sunday): The weekend brings a long street being closed in old town and transformed into a buzzing market with foods and local wares.

Cooking class: For me personally I get to know a culture via the food. I choose Apron Up cooking class as one of the cheapest and best reviewed. This was the best class I have done since travelling. Not only did I get a true flavour for the markets and the food, but the teacher was passionate about sharing Vietnam’s culture.

Hanoi Prison: this prison has been turned into a museum. Entry 30,000 Dong. The museum charts the French occupation, the liberation and then the treatment of American prisoners. Although i’m sure there is bias its a really interesting museum.

Vietnamese Woman Museum: Entry 30,000 Dong. This may be the most interesting of all the museums. It gives a take on Women’s lifes from different regions. It includes marriage, birth, jobs and modern life.

Essence Hanoi hotel restaurant: Don’t get me wrong the street food is amazing in Hanoi but sometimes you need to escape. This restaurant while expensive in Vietnamese standards(not western) is beautiful with attentive staff and delicious food.

Bosnia-a very pleasant surprise

I didn’t know much about Bosnia before visiting beside a limited amount on the 1992 war/Genocide. So maybe I had an expectation of a somewhat sober country. I was so wrong. Bosnia obviously has had massive investment; the result is a buzzing electricity, a flavour of different cultures and an interesting history.

Now knowing more about the country this is completely understandable as its been Slavic, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian, the result is an eclectic culture.

What to do

Old town in Sarajevo– Nothing encapsulates Bosnia more than the smells of old town. Just wander down any street for an unique food.  In addition there are beautiful Mosques, Orthodox Churches and a Catholic Cathedral.

Tunnels– Bosnia is full of underground tunnels due to its interesting history. I would highly recommend visiting one. The Belgrade underground tour is highly recommended.

Srebrencia– Even though its intense you need to visit the war memorial in Srebrencia. The Museum is interactive and although incredibly sad its extremely interesting. Make sure to contact in advance for a tour from someone who was a victim of the genocide.

Cambridge, UK- a flash visit

I have been briefly back in the UK until my next trip on 15 August, unable to sit still for more than 5 minutes what do I do? Explore, explore, explore. On the rare short’s weather day it was off to a city I haven’t been, Cambridge.

I admit that I was a little anti the UK when I left with BREXIT, the daily grind of London and the famous English weather. However I am seeing England’s beauty and Cambridge showcases why people should visit. With the cobbled streets, the amazing stone work and picturesque parks Cambridge is a must visit. In particular I absolutely loved punting and this is why….

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4 months on….some useful travel tips

So I have been travelling for four months now…shit when did that happen!

I was considering doing a look back of my top moments but decided that’s a 6 month goal. I thought back to 4 months ago how excited I was but also scared, so I thought I would try and give some tips to would be travellers.

  1. Spend some time in the hostel– its tempting when in a new place to just get out and go, however invest some time in the people.  Its amazing what you can find out about a place and find travel companions.
  2. Couchsurfer– if your on a serious budget you maybe able to get a place to stay from fellow like minded thinkers. However the reason I mention this app is because it has a massive social element to meet up with travellers and locals to explore.
  3. Leave time to be spontaneous– as a previous hyper organiser I know how hard this can be but its worth it. Being able to live in the moment makes a big difference when travelling.
  4. Learn to love Apps– there are so many apps to help with travel. You can find a few of my suggestions here

A mexician adventure

I travelled around Mexico for a month and  a major trouble I had was narrowing down what I wanted to do. In terms of both geography and regional variances Mexico is big. So I wanted share my best bits.

Best temple/ruins:Uxmal– I know Chichen Itza is the most famous but I much preferred Uxmal. It has a surprisingly diverse history and gets about a 10th of the footfall.

Best Cenote:Grand Cenote in Tulum– This is probably the most touristy one I visited but it wasn’t overwhelmingly crowded. The Cenote itself is the perfect temperature on a sunny day and they have a turtle sanctuary.

Best Town: Merida– The town itself adopted tourism as a trade a few years ago, as a result it has found the perfect blend of keeping its Spanish heritage and being tourist friendly. Check out my full guide here.

Best experience: Oaxaca Cookery school– In my opinion Oaxaca is best experienced through its food and this was the perfect day. Exploring the markets to understand the evolution of food in the area, understanding Mole, eating Grasshoppers and then making amazing food in a traditional kitchen-can’t understate how good this was.

Oaxaca- a real taste of Mexico

With its vibrant colonel architecture, memorizing churches and mouth watering street food this city is a must see.

What to do
The great thing about Oaxaca City is you don’t really need to make plans you can just walk and see the most amazing sights and smells. On the whole the best tip is to start in Zocalo the beautiful square and choice a direction.

I would try if you can to check out Museo De Las Culturas, Templo De Santo Domingo, the Catedral and check out one of the many markets to get a real flavor for the city.

My favorite activity– Oaxaca City screams food food food. Hence I would highly recommend one of the local cooking classes to learn about Mole, traditional ingredients and learn some amazing recipes

London…relearning the love part 2

In an earlier post I spoke about relearning my love of London. As I discussed I discovered a great app called Walkster that has suggested walking tours. Today’s tour Belgrave Mews.

So armed with my coat, hat, gloves and contactless card of to Sloane Square I went. What did I discover? my love of architecture. In a very small area there are stunningly different styles of buildings from art deco churches to converted mews. A must walk for those visiting London. For those picture lovers see a few here https://www.instagram.com/quittingmylife/

In other exciting news I got a great credit card for traveling called the Halifax clarity.  For those planning a long trip abroad a must have. As always I will leave you with a quote that struck a chord:

“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.” -Frank Wright