Travel recommendations, hotel reviews and more!

A Weekend in Whitstable

I really love the English seaside.

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A few weeks ago I spent the dreamiest weekend with some of my favourite people in a cute AirBnB in Whitstable. We didn’t have much planned, other than to lounge in the sun, go swimming, eat oysters and watch films. It was one of the best weekends I’ve had this year.

Its only just over an hour away from London on the train, and it felt so good to get away, taste and feel that fresh sea breeze, and really unwind.

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Of course, I had to check out my copy of The Good Food Guide before I went, and nabbed a table for us at Harbour Street Tapas.

 

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We were tempted by the desserts, but couldn’t resist the fresh doughnut sandwich by the seaside!

Whitstable - Ice Cream DoughnutWhitstableThe drink of choice for the four of us is always a G&T, and we spent the evenings sampling the vast selection at The Twelve Taps.

WhitstableWhitstableIt might not seem like much, but it was the most incredible weekend away spent with the most wonderful people.

WhitstableHave you ever been to Whitstable? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram

Cambodia: Phnom Penh & Kep

My Cambodian Christmas was a relatively chilled one – as it was my fifth visit or so, I’d gotten most of the usual touristy stuff out of the way, which meant I could just relax.

Here are a few of my personal highlights from the last trip – a few places I enjoyed visiting and eating at!

In Phnom Penh

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The food at Bistrot Langka was really incredible – this incredible slowcooked egg dish with chorizo and soldiers was absolutely divine.

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I really wanted some Cambodian art, and managed to get a Cambodian Space Project poster at Space Four Zero – if they are playing while you are in town, try and get yourself to a gig.

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Finally made it down to Kravanh for traditional Khmer food – I’m keen to recreate their tamarind chicken dish at home.

In Kep

After stopping in at The Rusty Keyhole in Kampot en route, we enjoyed a lovely few days in Kep. The Sailing Club restaurant next to Knai Bang Chatt has the most beautiful views (and lovely cocktails).

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We also spent the best day out snorkelling on the Tyka Boat – the barbecued seafood lunch was absolutely delicious.

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We also managed to squeeze in a swim in the Kampot River, with the LoveTheRiver cruise.

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I loved every minute of my trip, and will really miss it once my family move back home!

Have you ever bene to Cambodia? Comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

Kamakura

A lot of my time spent in Japan this time was time I spent ‘switched off’ – no cameras, no live sharing, no collecting content – just spending it in the moment. The end of last year was extremely hectic, and I needed to get into the right headspace – and that involved taking a break from blogging, too.

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It was so nice being around family for New Year – eating osechi ryori (traditional food eaten at the beginning of a new year), visiting hachimangu temple and komachi dori, which I wrote about when I came last time.

I love Kamakura so much, it’s probably my favourite place in Japan, and wanted to share some of the places, both familiar and newly discovered, I went to last time:

Cafe Vivement Dimanche

Kamakura

Cafe Vivement Dimanche is home to the best omu-rice in the entire world, no lie. Omu-rice is a dish like an omelette, filled with delicious chicken rice and topped (in this case) with a delicious wine-based sauce. It’s worth getting there promptly, as people do queue for it – but it’s so worth it.

Masamune Sword and Blade

Kamakura

After finishing my culinary school course, I was eager to get my hands on some Japanese steel – so I went to Masamune Sword and Blade. The same family have been forging swords for around 700 years, and have an impressive amount on display. I came away with a hand-forged vegetable hocho knife – it’s probably the most expensive thing in my kitchen, but it is beautiful, and cuts like a dream.

Kamakura

Jomyoji Temple

Kamakura

This one isn’t my typical recommendation, and is a bit of an odd one as it has bittersweet connotations – my grandfather is buried there. But Jomyoji Temple has a beautiful Japanese garden, it’s near a bamboo garden, you can get tea there – it’s very serene.

Have you ever been to Kamakura? What did you get up to? Comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

Hoi An

After gallivanting around Hanoi by myself, I flew to Da Nang to meet up with the rest of my family to spend a few days in Hoi An just before Christmas.

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Hoi An is an incredibly beautiful place – as an old trading port you can really see an amazing mix of cultures in the architecture.

loved my time in Hoi An, but a few things really stood out from my trip:

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Coffee at the Hoi An Roastery. I stayed at the Riverside Hotel, which was absolutely incredible, but their coffee wasn’t as good as it was at the roastery. The rooms at the hotel were lovely, and the staff were so helpful – I even fell in love with the bottles they kept their shampoo and conditioner in, and they tracked some extra ones down for me so they will be jazzing up my bathroom at home.

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Getting leather bags and shoes custom-made.

I ended up getting three pairs of shoes and two bags, and it was an incredible experience. My family have been to Hoi An around five times, and swear by the quality and price for Friendly Shoe Shop, and their sister store for bags. My shoes were made to measure, in the material and heels I wanted, and were a perfect fit – and were reasonably priced as well. I ended up getting a big leather weekend bag, but the real highlight for me was getting an old Whistles handbag recreated in a mixture of black leather and suede. I use the original handbag almost weekly, and they don’t make it anymore, and all I had to do was hand it over – and two days later I had the exact same bag, brand-spanking new.

Hoi An

The Food

The Taste of Hoi An food tour was a real highlight – the guide, Neville, was a real character, and the food was delicious. It was really well organised, and despite the terrible weather I had such a brilliant time – I couldn’t recommend it enough. My favourite part was getting to try the types of street food I would never even know was in front of me the whole time – I came away with quite a few bottles of chilli sauce, too!

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Another incredible meal was had at Ms. Ly – delicious and authentic local food, although it’s worth going early if possible as there’s always a queue outside!

The only disappointment for me on the food front was Banh Mi Phuong. I’d heard so many good things about it, but the service was terrible, and I’m not sure it was really worth the wait (or perhaps it was, but only because I got my food an hour after I ordered it)!

Lanterns on the River

Hoi An

The other highlight was a trip down the river for sunset – setting lanterns alight was incredibly touristy, but really stunning.

Hoi An

Have you ever been to Hoi An? What did you get up to? Comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

A Day in Hanoi

Happy new year! 2017 was so incredible, and I can’t wait for what 2018 brings.

One of the things I’ve realised is that I really enjoy exploring places on my own, something I didn’t realise until I went on my trip to Mexico City last February. Being able to set your own pace is really nice, and I find you end up getting to know a place in a different way when you go alone. So when I was given the option to spend a day in Hanoi before meeting up with everyone else in Hoi An, I jumped at the opportunity.

24 Hours in Hanoi

I booked my flight through Vietnam Airlines, arriving at 7.00 am or so on a Friday. My flight to Da Nang was scheduled for 11 am the following day, giving me around 24 hours in total to explore. While I wanted to make the most of my layover in Hanoi, I didn’t want to add too much pressure, and I had such a great day.

I ended up booking a cheap room near Hoam Kiem, the Old Quarter near the lake. I’m glad I did, as there was so much to see and do – and after checking in and having a shower, I started off my day walking round the lake after picking up an egg coffee.

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The combination that makes up egg coffee was unlike anything I’ve tried before. It’s basically like someone dumped an egg custard (egg yolks, condensed milk, sugar, cocoa powder) in a coffee, drank it anyway, and started a trend. While it was far too sweet for my taste, I’m really glad I tried it, and definitely see the appeal – it’s incredibly rich, sweet and creamy. If you’re into eggnog lattes, I’d definitely give it a go!

I was in too much of a jetlagged stupor to remember where exactly I picked up my Hanoi egg coffee fix, but I’ve heard great things about Cafe Pho Co.

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While I was aimlessly wandering around I came across a shop that had the most beautiful ceramics – I found it incredibly hard to leave (I ended up buying several pieces). I came away with several beautiful pieces, and all so reasonably priced (around £3-£7 mark for most items I bought). The Authentic Battrang Ceramic Shop (62 Hang Hom) is definitely worth a look if you’re in the area – just make sure you clear out enough space in your bag.

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At this point I’d killed a few hours just aimlessly wandering and exploring, and so I made my way to make it in time for my only appointment for the day – a cooking class at Madam Yen’s.

It was just around the corner from my hotel, and when popped in to see if I could book onto their 2pm class a couple of hours before. I’m so glad I did! I love exploring markets in other countries, but am always so curious about ingredients, so being able to get the answers to my questions was something I really appreciated.

After the market tour, the other students and I headed back to the restaurant for our class – it was a small one, just the three of us, but a lovely way to pass a few hours.

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At the end of it, I came out with a delicious meal – spring rolls, banana blossom salad, and pork bun cha. According to the chef, they are also able to cater for vegetarians, too! The experience set me back $45, which I thought was great value given the quality of the lesson (we were given recipes to take away), and the length of the food tour.

24 Hours in Hanoi

After my delicious meal I ended up heading back to my hotel to get a proper nights sleep. If I had longer in Hanoi, I would have also checked out the Green Tangerine (which came highly recommended by several people with excellent taste), Sentosa, and a Taste of Hanoi food tour.

Have you ever been to Hanoi? What did you get up to? Comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!