My Thailand Travel Diary – One night in Bangkok

This time last year I was back in London, newly wed and having major holiday blues. And why? Because I had just returned from two weeks travelling a country that gave me so much in return. Thailand awakened my senses; the smells, the sights, the sounds and the lights. And so, for the next few days, I will be taking you on a journey through Thailand. I hope you will enjoy the adventure through my eyes.

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Enjoying the city lights from Vertigo & Moon Bar, Banyan Tree Hotel
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…About to enjoy a hangover martini at the Sky Bar, Lebua State Tower

First stop Bangkok!! Feeling half sleepy and half ecstatic to a) finally be off the plane and b) Argh, I’m in THAILAND…we stumbled into a cab and set off on our way to the first of many destinations. And so the story goes a little somethin’ like this – Bangkok had me..but not before avoiding two near death experiences. The car swayed to the side, the brakes came on and the car went skidding to a halt. Sagar and I were thrown out of our seats and woken from our jet lagged nap with our jaws dropped open. Picture this – the truck in front of us was carrying milk and SOMEHOW the milk cartons started falling out and onto the highway. (The crazy busy kinda highway with cars travelling at least 60mph! :o) The driver of the truck slowed down as the passenger gets out ūüėģ and tries to collect the milk cartons and in the meantime, our driver almost kills us (but aww he would’ve saved the crazy milkman I guess! :/ )

Well, I promise you, Bangkok’s not all that bad.. Haha ūüôā In fact, it grew on me. And very quickly!

 

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Time out on the rooftop at Chatrium Hotel on the riverside.

Within our short but sweet three days spent gallivanting the temples, eating our way through the local food shacks and sipping on cocktails up in the clouds overlooking the hustle and bustle of the city¬†below, I realised how much I loved this place. Asia’s city that never sleeps!! I sat on¬†our hotel balcony and watched the twinkling little lights below – the market vendors, the taxi drivers, the flashing lights.. but they never stopped! Drinking a few too many Singha beers, I remained there until¬†around 3am, taking in the smells and the sounds and finally the city began to wind down…but not for long! By 6am the sun was awake in all its glory and the street vendors and taxis were back to buzzing around the city. Bangkok is not for the faint hearted I must admit. The streets are jam packed, as are the endless miles of luxury malls and the night markets. In the same sense, this is what I take away with me; the sense of adventure, excitement and a thirst for the unknown¬†in this never ending melting pot.

A day in Bangkok:

  1. Explore the Grand Palace.¬†IMG_7061Your trip to Bangkok will truly be incomplete if you do not see this incredible sight. Here you will be presented with a huge complex of incredibly impressive buildings which contain very famous temples such as the Emerald Buddha and the Reclining Buddha is just a ten minute walk away. Just be sure to cover your shoulders and whatever you do, do not wear shorts OR you will be asked to wear a very pretty *ahem* fluorescent green robe (Don’t learn the hard way as I did guys!! *facepalm*) You can easily spend half a day exploring this wonder and so book yourself in for a massage straight after. Bangkok has the best massage salons and they are absolute cheap as chips! My favourite experience was the traditional thai massage at Nemita Spa as part of the beautiful Chatrium Hotel Riverside.
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Prayers at The Golden Palace, the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782.
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Hangin’ out with the reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Grand Palace. This is one of the oldest and largest temples in Bangkok. The statue representing Buddha lying down is a major icon of Buddhism. Definitely one not to be missed. Absolutely stunning and quite surreal!
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The Reclining Buddha

2. Head over to Asiatique¬†The Riverfront for a stroll along the riverfront with a cool beer, some night bazaar shopping and of course the incredible variety of restaurants. You may even find some live music at the local bars. It really reminded me of London’s Southbank; a super relaxed way to wind down from a busy day soaking in the history and culture at the Grand Palace.

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3. One of my favourite things to do in Bangkok Рenjoying the sky views from one of their many luxurious rooftop bars with a cocktail or two. The perfect way to end a perfect day.

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Sipping on a cocktail (with a popsicle) at Sirocco SkyBar at the Lebua State Tower. You may remember this place from The Hangover II? Well, it is just as cool in real life!

 

On¬†My Thailand Travel Diary tomorrow; travel with me to¬†Northern Thailand’s¬†Chiang Mai¬†where I will be cooking up a storm!

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H

xoxo

Sentosa Island – Singapore’s hidden gem

Last weekend marked the big milestone of our one year anniversary.¬†Gah, I find it hard to believe! One year of marriage? It feels like only yesterday that we were planning the guest lists, choosing the rings, walking down the aisle, dancing till our feet couldn’t take it any longer and ending with a¬†honeymoon trip to Thailand filled with so many blissful moments.¬†Strangely¬†enough at the same time it feels like it should be more than 365 days. Birthday celebrations,¬†hen weekends in Barcelona and mehndi nights to becoming a wife and adjusting to married life. And then it came, the big move to Hong Kong! Adjusting to married life along with relocating to a new country (thousands of miles away from home – eep!) has been both challenging but also very very rewarding. And so this past weekend, I found myself asking…¬†“All this? In just one year?”

And to celebrate surviving a year of marriage and all the challenges we have been faced with, Sagar and I took a short but sweet trip to Sentosa Island, Singapore. After a few whirlwind months, it came as a super last minute idea and we both agreed that we needed a get away. Somewhere hot, somewhere with a beach and somewhere we could ultimately relax and do absolutely nothing!

“You want to go to Singapore!?”…

I was quite adamant that I didn’t want to go to Singapore when Sagar first suggested it. After all, its just another concrete jungle right? Or so I thought! After some research I was astonished to discover Sentosa Island.

Sentosa, meaning ‘peace and tranquility’ in local language Malay. And true to word, it really was beyond incredibly beautiful. Just a short 25 minute ride from Singapore’s Changi Airport and we were transported from a stunning skyline of high rise buildings along a glistening marina to ¬†a haven, a complete sanctuary oozing nothing but pure peace and serenity.

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The Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa
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Welcome cocktails at midnight – it’d be rude not to!

Sentosa Island is a resort island just south of the city. Not only does it have THREE incredible beaches (Tanjong, Siloso and Palawan) but also heaps of attractions. From Universal Studios, to beach bars, to zip lining across the island – get that adrenaline pumped! If its a quiet and laid back trip you are looking for, I can not recommend enough Sofitel Singapore Resort & Spa. Beautiful grounds with stunning peacocks casually roaming the grounds, a ridiculous breakfast buffet, a pool bar to die for and a short five minute walk to the picturesque Tanjong Beach. If you don’t believe me, have a look for yourself…..

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Sit back, relax and order yourself a pina colada!
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The peacock even joined us for breakfast much to Sagar’s astonishment! ūüėõ
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Breathtaking sunset ūüėģ
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Posing at Tanjong Beach
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Lunch at Tanjong Beach Club

The Sofitel Sentosa Spa was just a quick and smooth buggy ride down through the resort. As the driver took us through the windy forests, I stare up at the lush green palm trees closing in on us as the bright pearly blue sky peered through and the sunshine gleamed against the sea. I was in complete heaven! ūüėģ ūüėģ ūüėģ

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The view from the Sofitel Sentosa Spa relaxation rooms

Okay, there are tons¬†of amazing things that I could say about this Sentosa Island¬†but my ultimate favourite? The thing that kicks it up a notch or two? It has got to be the proximity to the main city. This gives you flexibility and if you are anything like me, someone who gets cabin fever super quickly, this is the place for you! You can begin the morning on the beach or lounging on the sun beds by the pool and then for lunch head over to one of the many luxury hotels on the Island. For example, Capella. Woah, Capella!!!!! (It really does deserve that many exclamation marks!) Where do I even begin. From the moment you step foot onto the private estate,¬†you are transported back¬†to a colonial time – I see a white mansion ahead of me, surrounded by beautiful flowers and trees as tall as the sky.¬†Words won’t do it¬†justice. In fact pictures won’t either but if you’re still curious enough take a look below! Opt for the lunch at The Knolls, Capella and you will not be disappointed. 5* food and most definitely 5* service!

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Capella Hotel, Sentosa Island
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Views from Capella Hotel
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Lunch at The Knolls, Capella

In the evening you can catch a cab and head into the city of Singapore full of laser light shows, breezy marina nights and sky high views. Or if you fancy staying on Sentosa Island, take a walk along one of the three beaches and find yourself a beach club or bar playing the latest jams and serving a variety of cuisines. You may even catch the fireworks from Universal Studios or The Sentosa Wings of Time light show (Yeah, they kinda appeared from nowhere and then blew my mind! And this my friends, is why I have no photos to share!)

If you’re British, it is a MUST that you go to the Long Bar at The Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling. The hotel is named after British statesman Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore and the Long Bar is where the cocktail was originally invented! This place was a known¬†hot¬†spot in the early 1980’s where celebrities such as Ernest Hemingway were spotted drinking on a regular basis. So if thats not the only reason you should visit then of course¬†there is THE Singapore Sling. Not anything¬†like the ones you have at the regular city bars on a happy hour¬†but the most delicious one you will ever have. You can even sit at the bar and eat monkey nuts and throw the shells on the floor (yeah, no kidding!) It is the only place in Singapore where you can litter legally!!

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Long Bar, The Raffles Hotel
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City views from Ce La Vie rooftop bar Marina Bay Sands
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Oh hey Marina Bay Sands, I see you hangin’ out there in the back! Selfie taken at Lantern rooftop bar, Fullerton Bay Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is so much more to explore, experience and see in Singapore and I am 100% sure that I will return. In the meantime, for those of my readers who are considering planning a holiday but want the perfect balance of city and chill, head on over to Sentosa Island Singapore. It will not disappoint!

Ps –¬†For my foodies, the hipsters and the beach party animals out there, check out The Bikini Bar and Coastes in particular – my absolute favs!!!

H

xoxo

Happy 3 months Hong Kong

Three months,¬†a quarter of a year, 91.25 days to be precise… You know they say time flies when you’re having fun? Well it couldn’t be truer right now.

Three months ago we arrived as strangers in this place of bright lights, buildings on buildings, a concrete jungle. In the beginning, I couldn’t help but make comparisons to New York City; the density, the high rise buildings and the fast paced life to name a few. However, having spent¬†three months here, I have learnt that Hong Kong is all the excitement of New York + MORE… It’s a place representing a strong culture, a beautiful history, all the dim sum and the most precious of all,¬†natural beauty (and so much of it guys!! ūüėÄ )

After having¬†lived in The Big Apple, I know in my heart of hearts, that I am a city girl. There’s nothing like the sound of traffic, the buzz of a busy lifestyle, the rows of stores on fifth avenue to the amazing skyscrapers that inspire you to reach for those dreams. My favourite of them all being the Chrysler Building. Ugh, its all about the sparkles guys! It glistens by day and night and the art deco styled architecture coincides with everything which the city represents; a fashion capital. Every morning, I’d walk through Midtown on my way to work and I’d take a quick glance and admire its true beauty.

That being said, my time in Hong Kong has¬†reminded me that even as a city girl, there will inevitably come a time when I will crave fresh air, some space to reflect on my mind, body and soul and to appreciate the nature¬†that surrounds us. And ultimately¬†this¬†is one of the reasons I have fallen so madly in love with Hong Kong. Head over heels in fact! When that impending doom rides upon me, I don’t need to hop in a car and spend¬†hours upon hours on a motorway to find my escape. Here in my new home,¬†I can choose to¬†take a scenic ride on the bus and within an hour reach Stanley, a picturesque and quaint seaside town located on a peninsula or I can hop on a ferry to Cheung Chau, a small island and a hidden gem located just southwest of Hong Kong Island.

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Stanley Promenade
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En route to the Vantage Point, Cheung Chau
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Kwun Yam Wan Beach, Cheung Chau

 

I can even wake up on New Years Day and be talked into a ‘small hike’ around the Island which eventually turned into a three hour trek on the quite fittingly named ‘Treacherous Trail’ (Yes, with a hangover and all, I kid you not!) And albeit challenging (and almost killing me in the process!)…reaching the top of the peak in time to catch this breathtaking sunset made it so worth it ūüôā

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London will always have a piece of my heart but for now, I am embracing Hong Kong and the endless surprises it has to offer and for that I am beyond grateful.

H

xoxo

A little bit of home home in my new home..

So whoever said Hong Kong doesn’t get cold lied! Thankfully, I am a knitwear fanatic and as the temperature dropped to a crazy 7 degrees this weekend, I ran straight for my chunky cardi and It sure felt like I was back at home in London!

Starvin’ marvin’ and wondering what to gobble for lunch, Sagar and I agreed that¬†the cold weather was the perfect excuse to try some¬†British inspired lunch. Aberdeen Street Social located at the PMQ (Police Married Quarters) on Aberdeen Street has been recommended by many and after doing some research I was pleased to discover that the menu was created by British Michelin-star chef, Jason Atherton.

Upon arrival we were greeted by the hostess who kindly explained that the restaurant was busy but if we were happy to wait, could order a drink and take a seat outdoors in the terrace area. After seeing the scrumptious selections on the all day menu (homemade sausage rolls, mac n cheese and minestrone soup? Hello!) there was no way Sagar and I were leaving, so we made a swift move to the seats beneath the patio heaters and waited patiently for our order of drinks and spiced peanuts to snack on in the meantime. The terrace was lovely as were the views of the landscaped garden. I can only imagine it gets really popular during the summer days. Even on a day like this, people were queuing to get their hearty British fix.

After a short ten minute wait, we were shown to our seats inside the restaurant and I let out a sigh of relief as I felt the warmth. Brr, far too cold! Even after living in the UK for the majority of my life, how was I feeling so frozen? Because ‘climatizing’ is real people! (and expat problems are becoming VERY real right now #firstworldproblems)

It took me a whole two minutes to decide what I wanted from the menu.. One thing you will learn (if you’ve not already from my zillion and one food pics on my Instagram account! *facepalm*) is that for a petite girl, I SURE CAN EAT!! I am a total foodie in the best of situations¬†but when Im hungry? Jheez, I get hangry! Fortunately, there was no need for that crazy side to appear¬†today as¬†the waitresses were so attentive to my needs.

” A glass of prosecco and your lobster roll please” Eeek. The happiness on my face was real!! Did somebody say cheeeeese! ūüėÄ Sagar and I (typically!) discussed whether it would be as good as the lobster rolls we devoured in London at Burger and Lobster; my absolute fav! I try my best not to compare things to home but sometimes it just gets the better of me.

I noticed that the cafe-esque restaurant was never empty and the sound of chit chatter in the background along with the cocktail shakers behind me, made for a relaxing ambience.

The interior was dark, polished and sleek and upon entering, I couldn’t help but stare at the strange piece of spectacular art on the wall. ” I wander what that is”, I asked Sagar. It looked great but what was it for? As the waitress approached, I asked and she simply replied “Its a piece of art for you all to enjoy”. So after some research (aka google), It turns out this wonderfully inquisitive creation is a piece of art from a local artist named Adrian Wong. Good for you Adrian, I love it! Geometric shapes, brass and rustic textures – I wish I had a picture for you all, but the food was placed on my table and I quickly got distracted (I wasn’t lying when I said I get hangry.) Hey, atleast I managed to get a picture of my order….

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There was a healthy offering of lobster and the toasted brioche, although a little too toasted for me, tasted marvellous. I will definitely be coming back. If not for the ambience and the great hosting then 100% for the Lincolnshire sausages with mash and onion gravy! I sure have found a little bit of home home in my new home ūüôā (and my tummy is SO thankful!!)

H

xoxo

Ps – I must note, that any restaurant reviews I include on this blog are my honest, tried and tested opinions and I do not get paid by the restaurants. So if you’re reading this and wondering if I lied to get free grub, honestly I didn’t. Go try it for yourself, you won’t be disappointed :p

Farewell London, Hello Hong Kong

November 3rd 2015: Tears, goodbyes and celebratory bubbles

After countless leaving parties, dinners and cocktail nights, my husband Sagar and I finally set off on our new adventure! Only six months into our marriage and life had already presented us with an unexpected yet wonderful opportunity to move to the Fragrant Harbour. With our four suitcases (and some) in tow, we set off to the airport and after what seemed like hours of crying, we finally said our goodbyes, checked in and and headed straight to the next¬†destination- the bar! I was in dire need of a strong drink. It wasnt until I had arrived at the airport that it really hit home that we were moving millions of miles away from our nearest and dearest; the ones we lean on during the hard times and the ones who are there to party with us during the good times. But there was also¬†that niggle in the back of my mind, you know the type you can’t ignore? The voice that told me we were beyond fortunate to have this chance at living in one of the most amazing places in the world not to mention the countless exotic destinations in close proximity.

Sky Garden View

 

So I dried off those tears, put on my happy face, bid farewell to London and made a toast to an adventure of a lifetime!

 

 

 

November 4th: The eagles have landed!

After a pleasant flight (filled with lots of snacks and plenty of fizz – thanks Virgin!) we finally arrived in the land of dim sum! The views from our serviced apartment were enough to make our jaws drop and we sat in amazement as we watched the light show from our room.

HK Skyline

 

My mind was whizzing in disbelief – This is my new home!

 

 

 

Feeling absolutely starved we decided to head out and find some local cuisine. Fortunately, there was a shopping plaza not far from our apartment and we went straight for the Szechuan Restaurant.

“Everybody seems to be heading there, it must be great”.

Oh, those famous words! Sagar and I sat as we watched food being delivered to every table that arrived after us, wondering why nobody had even come to take our order. As our tummies grumbled more with impatience, we soon realised that people were raising their hands to get the waiters attention; reminding me of how we did at school when trying to get the teachers attention. New country, new customs… Here goes! I raised my hand and to much delight the waitress arrived. She wasn’t the best with English but we exchanged enough to order (what we thought we would enjoy) from the menu. Little did we know that everything would be so spicy!!!! If I recall rightly, we managed to enjoy one dish out of three (kung pow chicken – which we only ordered because Sagar had remembered seeing it in one of the restaurants at home! haha)

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How did we get it so wrong? Why was everyone else ordering different things to us? So many questions and so much confusion along with a fuzzy, heavy jet lagged head. Yup, it was definitely time to hit the sack and as we settled in for the night we agreed that we were in for a long ride (or so we thought!) whilst settling into our new home, the 852.