18 March 2015

Getting to know you: Koh Tao, Thailand

Koh Tao is translated to turtle island and with the vast amount of scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities it really does live up to it's name. It's a beach lovers dream and by far the most relaxing of the three popular islands in Southern Thailand: Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.

I've been to Koh Tao on two occasions now, first as part of our worldwide trip in 2013, we needed to wait for our visas to come through from India to the embassy in Bangkok so we split our time in Bangkok city and down on Koh Tao island doing a PADI open water scuba diving course while staying at the Sairee beach front Coral Grand Resort.

Koh Tao is world renowned for PADI courses as you pay a bargain compared to doing the same course in other parts of the world such as Cairns in Australia. The course is five days long and starts with two back to back days in the resorts swimming pool getting to know the scuba gear and learning your technique. This equaled to nearly ten hours per day in the pool and was quite frankly exhausting, our dinners were spent on site as a group and then hitting the sack to preserve our energy for the next day of lessons. Days 3 to 5 were out on the sea, doing the dives and the underwater skills required to pass.

Sadly I didn't make it to the last day as I struggled with some of the maneuvers (such as taking your air plug out, blowing bubbles and then putting it back in) or removing your goggles and putting them back on while clearing the water out from them and your eyes - at 18 feet below water. Cue small panic attack. My other half on the other half passed with flying colours and the rest of the team even made an underwater music video on the last day to the harlem shake which we all sat around and watched with some beers on our last night on the island. Pure magic.


15 March 2015

London Town: Busaba, Eat Thai

Working in West London has its temptations when it comes to lunchtime treats and after work dinner dates, one of my favourite guilty pleasures (guilty as it's far from cheap) is the Thai restaurant chain Busaba.

The restaurant has decor so full of considerate details which allow you to soak up the atmosphere as if you were dining at a five star hotel restaurant in Bangkok. Familiar Thai fragrances, music, flowers and ornaments - all add to the experience. My favourite dish is the calamari starter - or in my case, I order it with a side of the vegetables and combine the two for a main - sometimes alongside a roti. More or less every time I've had an impulse to visit Busaba, it's the craving for their calamari which has brought me through the doors. They also do excellent curry dishes.

I spotted an offer on their Facebook page recently (of course I LIKED their FB page - I'm a fan) for a boozy brunch (their word, not mine) at their Shoreditch branch which included a two course lunch menu and unlimited prosecco for £20.00 per person. Well, I could spend that on a few glasses of prosecco on a Saturday afternoon alone so I booked myself and a few friends in for a 1pm-3pm reservation.

As it was my first time to their Shoreditch branch, we ended up about ten minutes or so late but were determined to make up for time ordering three glasses of Prosecco right away. The lunch menu varied from their regular one, thankfully the calamari was still part of it, so I ordered this along with a fish burger and chilli spiced, sweet potato fries. The service was slow to start - but maybe that was more down to our wanting to get our full two hours worth of the offer! We needn't have worried, the waiter usually ended up at our table to top up friends empty glasses before I was even ready for mine, we even asked for a take-away container for some breaded prawns and spring rolls we couldn't finish.

This offer is still running on Saturdays and Sundays for the next few weeks at the Shoreditch branch so definitely give them a call and book a table. It was fairly quiet while we were there, but I'm sure once word gets out about this fantastic afternoon treat, they'll be fully booked! I'm even trying to find an occasion (excuse) to head back again myself...

Streets of Shoreditch

 Leather Jacket - Topshop, Check Shirt - Pull&Bear, Denim Shorts - 7FAM, 
Knee high boots - BrandAlley

5 March 2015

Getting to know you: Bangkok, Thailand

Dress: Oxfam, Hat: New Look
I've been lucky enough to travel to Bangkok on four occasions now and only one thing is certain from my time there - the city always has something new to offer, thus no two trips are ever the same.

On my first trip, my beau and I went on a multi-destination East Asia holiday with only one day and night in Bangkok before moving on to the west coast of Thailand to Phuket. I did my research, starred a map and took a tuk tuk around every temple, buddha and palace that we could possibly fit in. It was 40 degree heat and the roads were a constant busy haze of smoke and noise, it was exhausting and made me feel slightly ill (no really - I got heat stroke).

Fast forward to my next trip as part of my around the world venture and we stayed in Bangkok this time for over a week, (we were in no rush as we needed to wait for the India Embassy to issue our visas) so we kicked back at hostel LUB D and took the city in our stride while enjoying plenty of downtime eating pad thai, drinking Chang beer and making the most of the hostels air con while catching up on series one and two of Breaking Bad.

My combined time spent in Bangkok equals to nearly a month, in which time I've grown to love it. Here are a few of my favourite things to see and do and a couple to avoid:

Street Food 
Whether you're on a no expenses spared holiday or staying in Bangkok as part of a larger trip while backpacking south east Asia, the street food is not to be overlooked. Not only will you get the very best value for your money but some of the most authentic thai dishes will be rustled up in those silver tin make-do kitchens, not in fancy restaurants.

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