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Vietnam

sunny
View Honeymoon Tour on Daft Slags Do..'s travel map.

Saigon:

We left Cambodia on the morning of the 5th and caught a coach to Ho Chi Minh that took around 7 hours. One of the fellas on the coach collected all passports on commencement of the journey, which we thought was a little odd but we went with it. As it turned out what followed was a bizarre situation waiting at the boarder crossing without a clue what to do and everyone on the bus walking one way and then another and then finally into the boarder 'warehouse' and eventually getting called through one by one and finally our passports were back in our possession. Luckily we had done our research beforehand and read that this is common practice, so we were a little less worried than other passengers on the coach. As we drove over the boarder into Vietnam the landscape began to change with blossoming trees lining the road and we welcomed a sigh of relief. Once again when the coach pulled up to park we got off and navigated our own way to the hostel, which turned out to be fairly close by. After checking in and chucking our rucksacks in the room we headed out down the main backpackers street for delicious food and then back out in the evening for beers as we watched the scores of tourist bumble up and down the bustling street.

In the morning we had a home cooked breakfast at the hostel before catching a taxi to the airport hotel we previously stayed at to collect our larger bags. After that chore was done we wandered around the streets of Saigon taking in the sights and stopped by Cong Caphe for scrumptious Vietnamese coffee. Then onto the delights of Ben Thanh market to shop for souvenirs with feisty sellers grabbing your arms and not letting go! Then onwards again to the Ho Chi Minh post office, an old French colonial building that was architecturally stunning. In the evening we visited the Five Oysters restaurant down the backpackers street for Phở and a couple of beers.

This is what Cambodia was lacking for us almost, the ease of walking and wandering without a plan and feeling completely safe. The following morning was a fairly relaxed one and after wandering for a while we caught a taxi (that cost £2!) over to the War museum. Incidentally it did not open for another 30 minutes so we had a drink across the road and watched as people arrived to the same fate. We spent a good couple of hours in the War museum, learning and educating ourselves.
Again afterwards we wandered, out and down to the river where we sat and watched the crazy Saigon scooter traffic rushing past. On the way back we stopped at Hum vegetarian restaurant where again we had absolutely delicious food before heading back to the backpackers street, where we just couldn't resist another cup of Vietnamese coffee!

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Phu Quoc:

Arising fairly early we checked out, hailed a taxi to the airport and caught our plane to Phu Quoc. What a dream Phu Quoc was, checking into our Hotel we felt in utter luxury. As in the Philippines, all days merged into one. We spent our days lounging around the pool, ordering cocktails at 12 noon on the dot, eating in the restaurant and generally feeling spoilt. Perhaps I'm over exaggerating it, however compared to the accommodation we had recently stayed in and the fact that we were non stop tourist's for a while meant that it was pure heaven and we relaxed like there was no-one watching. We even ordered room service, sat in our pyjamas, that was brought right to our laps! Perfect! One day we left the hotel, borrowed the hotel bicycles and rode over to the beach, although very nice we decided that this would be our only pool time so headed back to the hotel to read and chill the hell out. The hotel offered breakfast included in the rate, and it was one of the best breakfast's we've had with all sorts on offer, a highlight being freshly made pancakes and pomegranates in abundance! It was a perfect break from our travels!

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Hanoi:

On Monday the 14th we sadly checked out of paradise and flew up to Hanoi. We both took a cold with us, so upon checking in to our Hotel located in Hanoi's old quarter, we had dinner across the road and headed for bed. Exciting.
In the morning we were greeted with yet another lavish breakfast set up offered by the hotel before heading out to peruse the streets of Hanoi and over to the market. Navigating your way through Hanoi traffic really is a skill, with scooters driving and hooting in every direction. You really have to commit to crossing the road, or you will die. We took a leisurely walk down the nearby lake and ended up at - you guessed it - Cong Caphe! In the evening we found a vegan restaurant called Jalus, that was closely matched to the affectionate nickname we give to Jason and Alice (Jalice) as it turned out we often returned to this restaurant as the food was something else! Soy milk, coco infused, leather free 'energy booster' - be rude not to. After we walked over to Bia Hoi (Beer corner) and found a bustling street filled with food vendors, bars and badly dressed Europeans and settled down drinking 45p beer and people watched the night away.

The next morning I awoke to a day of hell. From the moment I opened my eyes I did not stop sneezing, apart from a 30 minute break in the evening to eat dinner, I literally sneezed ALL DAMN DAY! Even through breakfast. We got a taxi to Hanoi towers and went to the prison museum, however Jack will have to tell you what it was like as I was too busy sneezing. People actually avoided me. In the evening we went back over to Jalus (cannot express how good the food was!) and headed back to the hotel to pack our rucksacks for Sapa. Still sneezing.

Sapa:

Feeling like absolute crap, we got up and waited outside our hotel at 6:30am for our 'Limousine' to collect us. We were not disappointed - the mini bus turned up with blacked out windows and we were ushered onto the back seat, luckily we were the last to be picked up so the three seats at the back were all ours. (The mini bus only had a further four seats) We were given a little 'snack pack' of water, banana and a muffin to our delight and the mini bus also had usb charges in every seat and WIFI!!!! I stretched out and slept the whole way to Sapa town, where we were deposited for an hour wait to catch another bus onto our home stay in Nam Cam Village. Walking through Sapa town we stopped at a restaurant for Jack to eat lunch whilst I drank ginger tea and nursed my teeth that felt as if they were about to fall out (sinus pain). Upon the arrival of our next mini bus also came Chung, our guide. A lovely, chatty Vietnamese man that called me 'the wife'. It was a short but nail biting drive up to Nam Cang village over severe drops!!! At one point I even hoped to just fall off the edge, to get it out of the way you know?! The anticipation was torture and of course, there were no road barriers - if you careered off the road you were done.
Once at the village we walked through and over a rope bridge to the family owned lodge. We saw that the family offered the traditional herbal bath and booked ourselves in for an hours time, as this was the approximate time it takes to prepare the bath. Herbs were boiled over a wood fire for the hour then transported into large wooden baths. We soaked in the bath for about 45 minutes overlooking the river below. Any longer can be dangerous as the herbs can make you feel drunk! However it completely sorted out my sinus' and I began to feel human once again. Afterwards we had a home cooked dinner, bringing out plate after plate of delicious food that was more than we could muster and headed for bed in one of the best night's sleeps we've had.

Up at the crack of eight for a home cooked breakfast then out into the village with Chung. You are only allowed into the village if you have a guide that has a permit. The views were spectacular, rice paddies and hills that seemed to go on forever with a mountain backdrop left us speechless. We met the local tribes people that were extremely welcoming and friendly. Chung met and greeted everyone that passed and took us inside one of the local's houses, it was an odd experience as the elderly gentlemen was just waking up and Chung pulled up two chairs for us to sit on whilst he chatted with the gentleman in Vietnamese and gave him a bag of sweets for the grandchildren (although we had previously read that sweets should not be given due to the lack of dentists and how expensive it can be) although he seemed pleased. We could see pictures of the gentleman hung on the wall from the war and we chatted (through Chung) about the practical layout of the house and what each section was used for. It was incredibly interesting. We had lunch back at the lodge and I went for a much needed nap whilst Jack went back out with Chung around the village. They walked into the hills and had to abruptly stop several times to check something wasn't an asian cobra (luckily didn't see any but think we heard one make a warning sound as we walked past). And once again time was spent in the local's homes where Jack met a 96 year old lady who didn't take too friendly to him, although it was all good fun.

At 3pm we walked the short distance through the village to the mini bus which then took us to Topas Eco Lodge. Again, driving along the mountain path was excruciatingly scary but we made it! We checked in, pre ordered dinner from the a la carte menu and located our hut overlooking the mountains. Absolutely incredible views. We went back to the main lodge at 7:30pm for a fancy dinner and back to the hut to enjoy the luxury.

We enjoyed another free breakfast, showered, packed and checked out. We had a little wait before the mini bus back to Hanoi so we had a walk along the buffalo trail and had a beer/ginger tea in the bar before jumping on the bus. On the way back there was only four of us so we enjoyed the spacious captain seats for the 5 hour ride back. We were dropped back at the Little Hanoi Diamond hotel where we collected our large bags once again and walked over to our next hotel to check in.

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Hanoi part 2:

The next day back in Hanoi was a chilled one visiting Cong Caphe and planned some more itinerary. We had pizza in the evening as a 'safe' option before our trip the following day, however it left Jack feeling sick and I was actually sick bleugh!

Ha Long Bay:

Another early morning for our coach to pick us up to take us to Ha Long Bay. It took around 3 & 1/2 hours and we were entertained along the way by our tour guide 'Qui'. Once on the boat lunch was waiting for us and we settled in and chatted to the other passengers whilst we ate. Afterwards we got onto a smaller boat that took us to the 'amazing, surprising cave' for a tour around then back on to the main boat for chill time then ferried back onto the smaller boat for a tour around the oyster farm. We were quite surprised at how pearls are made - a membrane is taken from one oyster, sterilised, cut into small pieces and then inserted into the ovary of another oyster. Pretty severe. Back onto the main boat to freshen up before dinner then spent the evening drinking, chatting and squid fishing. Although the bay was mainly populated with jelly fish and floating rubbish, we had fun all the same.

After a comfortable sleep in our cabin it was a 7am start for breakfast on the boat before boarding a bamboo boat to take us around a small fishing village. Back again on the main boat we had a short cooking class and learned how to make spring rolls (Jack even partook in a spring roll race!) On the way back lunch was served and then we got off the boat and back onto the coach to take us back to Hanoi.

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Hanoi part 3:

On our last full day in Vietnam we decided to head over to the Ethnicity Museum for a final history lesson. After we did a spot of souvenir shopping and in the evening went back to Bia Hoi for cheap beer and people watching.

Overall our experience in Vietnam was a good one - we would highly recommend visiting and would definitely say it is the country that had the most culture and history, with plenty to do and an abundance of sight seeing. A big thumbs up!

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Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 12:48 Archived in Vietnam Tagged buildings boats beach vietnam travelling travelling_honeymoon Comments (1)

Cambodia

sunny
View Honeymoon Tour on Daft Slags Do..'s travel map.

The next couple of days were spent travelling with three flights in three days. We had a four hour delay at Kalibo airport to fly back to Manila, arrived at The Melting Pot hostel in the early hours had a kip and checked out the following morning to fly to Vietnam. Arrived again in the early hours and stayed at a nearby airport hotel in Ho Chi Minh for ease, then flew onto Siem Reap in the morning.

Once in Siem Reap we got a taxi to the Mad Monkey hostel and headed straight to the rooftop bar (that had real sand on the floor!) for some food. We went for a much needed sleep in the afternoon then joined the gaggle of Chang vest wearing twenteens in the bar on their 'gap yah' drinking their weight in alcohol. I say joined but in reality we sat at the back and ogled at the youngsters making utter fools of themselves and reminiscing what it was like to be that age again! Some poor sod did try and make conversation with us, which was going well until he was summoned to the bar for a free 'grenade' (a shot of vodka and a shot of Jager in a glass of red bull) How could you refuse?! We reflected on the fact that this hostel was maybe a little young for us, but what the heck, you have to try it! And off to bed we went. Although our room was directly underneath the bar we were luckily that it shut at 12am when the pub crawl continued down 'pub' street. A word to all hostel owners - stop putting your private rooms in the noisiest part of the hostel, they are more expensive and are most likely for people that would like some peace. Just saying.

After a leisurely morning we waded through the hungover masses down by the pool and approached the reception desk to book in a trip to Angkor Wat. We headed out into Siem Reap and had a look around the markets, had a drink at a bar and went back to catch our tuk tuk to Angkor Wat for the sunset. Our tuk tuk was driven by Lee and he drove us to the ticket office first to get our picture taken that was put on our temple entrance ticket, and then off to Angkor Wat we went. Unfortunately for us we couldn't find the 'big hill' that everyone goes to watch the sunset over the temple, although they only allow 300 people onto it. Instead we wandered through impressive structures and around the grounds and nevertheless got to see a rather impressive sunset from there. Lee drove us back to the hostel where we attempted to have a beer, however Kiwi had a very bad upset tummy that put a bit of a downer on the evening. It was pretty bad timing as we were setting our alarms for 4am to go and see the sunrise ovver Angkor Wat the following morning!

So up at 4am and down to greet Lee waiting by our chariot to take us back to Angkor Wat. Luckily Kiwi was feeling better and the drive was rather stunning, especially as the traffic was halved at that time in the morning. Again we found ourselves trudging the grounds of Angkor Wat looking for a good spot to sit and wait it out. We found a nice spot down by the lake in front of Angkor Wat and settled there. Looking back over our shoulders 15 minutes later and there were literally hoards and hoards of tourist that had gathered. The dark side of Angkor Wat. Much to the delight of the swarming mosquito's hovering on the lake however. We waited a while, got our snaps and decided to have a walk as it was beginning to feel a little claustrophobic. Also, a Chinese woman sat on Jack which was pretty much the last straw.
We waked around the main temple and down a back street where there were further temple ruins to peruse. On the walk back we saw a commotion up ahead and realised there were Monkey's rallying around a poor american girl trying to keep hold of her pack of biscuits. The Monkey's won. Back in the tuk tuk and off we went to look around a further two temples, one of which was used to film a scene in one of the Tomb Raider films - the one with the big tree. Feeling absolutely templed out and thankful that we only signed on for the 'short' trip we arrived back to the hostel for around 11am, booked in for the bus to Phnom Penh the next day and went for a nap. By eck was it a good nap! In the evening we walked out into Siem Reap for a lovely meal and a walk around the night market before a final beer at the bar and an early night.

We got picked up from the hostel at 8am in a mini bus that drove us to a parking lot and got on a different bus to Phnom Penh at 8:30am. We arrived into Phnom Penh at roughly 2:30pm and after walking for about 10 - 15 minutes, managed to locate the hostel ourselves. We were greeted by 'Rock' at the hostel and booked our bus back to Ho Chi Minh along with transport to and from the Killing Fields and Genocide museum the next day, Then we checked into our very basic room. Back down in the common area/restaurant we watched the nightly showing of the Killing Fields and had an early night.

The next morning we had a breakfast of undercooked eggs and awful coffee and set off in an extremely polluted 45 minute tuk tuk ride to the Killing Fields and afterwards the Genocide museum. I shall not write about our experiences here, other than it was a very harrowing but albeit interesting and knowledgeable experience. It is really something that has to be experienced individually rather than written about, well in our opinion. Although I will say that there were plenty of tourists distastefully taking photographs throughout, which was a little disappointing. To top off the day our tuk tuk driver tried to sell us a trip to the shooting range before heading back to the hostel. He didn't seem to understand how odd this was.
Back at the hostel we washed off the grime of Phnom Penh and went out to the Foreign Correspondent's Club for dinner and drinks overlooking the river.

Feeling a little 'touristed' out we spent our remaining day in the hostel common area to plan, sort itinerary and book flights etc. We did witness a disgruntled hostel goer accusing the hostel of giving them fake money, the police were called and when a policeman arrived stood and did absolutely nothing then had a good old laugh with the owner before getting his extremely corrupt behind out of there. It was entertaining, although did have us checking our money back in the room! Our money was real, phew!
In the evening we went back over to the Foreign Correspondent's Club for happy hour and then back to the hostel. Slightly peckish we asked Rock where we could get a pizza from and he offered to get us a 'happy' pizza, to which we politely declined and got a drug free pizza from across the road. Off to bed for an early night again, which was intermittently interrupted by a drunken, drugged traveller throwing up on the balcony outside our room. Lovely.

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Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 21:36 Archived in Cambodia Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises sky temples sunset temple cambodia sunrise palm_trees travelling travelling_honeymoon Comments (0)

Philippines

Boracay

sunny
View Honeymoon Tour on Daft Slags Do..'s travel map.

First things first... there is only one reason to go to Manila and that is to fly out of it again. Perhaps that sounds a little harsh. But it's true.

The flight from Hong Kong was a good one and arriving into Manila we had a two hour wait in the queue for a taxi (which turned out to be a 10 minute drive!) and thus, set a precedent for our general travel experience in the Philippines. We checked into our hotel for the evening and wandered down the street to a nearby 7/11 for supplies. It is hard to describe the general vibe of the area - imagine being in a down trodden, over-populated, smelly, underbelly of a red light district. Well that's what Manila's streets felt like. We sought refuge back in the hotel and ordered a take-away pizza before the following morning's early rise to get back to the airport and fly out of this overbearing city.

So off to Boracay we went, glad to be out of Manila and looking forward to paradise... it was one hell of a travel day, taxi to the airport, flight to Kalibo, coach to the boat, boat to the Island, mini bus to the air bnb. We roughly set off at 8am (although our flight was delayed in true Manila style - voted one of the worlds worst airports. We know why) and arrived at around 8pm that evening.

What followed has merged into one and much to your joy we did not keep a record of day-to-day activities, because quite frankly, there wasn't much. What we had not realised is that due to it being the Chinese New Year holidays and that the Philippines is fairly close to China there would be A LOT of Chinese tourists. A LOT. So the paradise island was not at all what we expected, but i will get back to that.

Our first accommodation on the island was a room in an air bnb house. The house was a little disappointing, an unusable, tiny outside kitchen area, a freezing cold shower, the bins rarely got changed the sheets certainly didn't. Stuff like that. Although the cat had the tiniest kittens which was a highlight of staying there. Tiny animals are cute. We met a couple of people while staying there that we saw on-and-off around the island.

We tried a few of the beaches on the island until we found one that was right for us. Station 3 beach was quieter but the sea was full of algae. Station 2 beach we avoided, it was crammed full of people and we constantly got bombarded with touts selling selfie sticks and dry bag pouches. Puka beach was lovely, although is was a 30 minute side-car ride away and the day we went was incredibly windy, the sea was too violent to enter and the wind kicked up the sand so hard it was like little needles all over your skin. Station 1 beach - we found it! Station 3 leads into station 2 that then leads into station 1, but it was about a 15 - 20 minute walk down the beach to find the right spot, nice and quiet, hardly any algae and only the odd tout walking past.
It was utter and complete paradise, talcum powder sand and the clearest sea water we'd ever seen. We spent most of our days here, sunbathing, reading, playing bat and ball (We got pretty good at bat and ball) and just generally relaxing to the max. In the evenings we often frequented the 'Local Bar' - a little reggae bar off the beaten track down a side street, where every evening there would be live music and the beer cost £0.70 per bottle.

One day we tried another beach called 'Diniwid' that was a short walk from our usual spot, just around the headland. It was a small and quiet beach that led to Spider restaurant that had a nice lookout point, although very popular with tourists that they like to pack in like sheep. We also had a look at the kite surfing beach 'bulabog' at the opposite side of the island, although we didn't dare to go into the sea at this side, as this is what is know to us back home as 'sewage treatment' enough said. On the way back from bulabog beach we took a wrong turn and ended up in the back and beyond walking through slums where children were playing on rubbish heaps and three men were wet shaving a goat.

For our second accommodation we moved literally 50 steps away into MNL hostel, where we had our very own hot shower and they put on specific nights where we got to chat to other travellers and share our thoughts on the Philippines. The hostel was also even closer to one of the restaurants we went to called 'Los Indios Bravos' where the staff knew us by name and served a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.

On one of our last days in the Philippines we decided to get off our arses and do an Island hopping trip. We went snorkelling, cliff jumping (well Jack did) off 8 meter high ledges and got a free buffet lunch.

The Philippines is undeniably beautiful, scenic and for those that stay in a five star resort, a complete paradise. Although like the experience of bulabog beach, behind the scenes was chaotic, stuffy and extremely dirty. After moving around so much in the lead up to the Philippines, we had wanted to stay in one place for two weeks and chose Boracay for it's reviews and world renowned beaches. However we should have read on, as nothing prepared us for how busy it was and how much money was pumped into the tourism and not into the island's preservation or conservation. We found that the island was greatly lacking in culture and had we more time, would have explored other areas of the Philippines that had not been (for lack of sounding pretentious) inhabited and exploited by the common tourist. Don't get me wrong though, after a few days of feeling like we would never step foot back in the Philippines, we started to get into the swing of life there and thoroughly enjoyed our time together on the island. We left feeling completely relaxed, well until we got back into Manila...

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Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 22:25 Archived in Philippines Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises boats sunset beach island palm_trees travelling boracay travelling_honeymoon philippenes Comments (0)

Hong Kong

Year of the Monkey

sunny
View Honeymoon Tour on Daft Slags Do..'s travel map.

After a two hour fifteen minute flight from Bangkok, we arrived into Hong Kong airport ready to negotiate a taxi to our hotel. Little did we know that Hong Kong would be well geared up for this and gave us all the useful information such as taxi etiquette, how much it costs to certain areas, what the taxi meter means, details of our taxi driver and a card with important numbers to call such as the police etc.

Once checked into the hotel we sauntered down a nearby side street to get a bite to eat. The small alley like street was packed with restaurants and bars, each equipped with a mouthy sales person trying to get you in. We settled on an Italian (when in Hong Kong!) and ate scrumptious pizza and pasta, albeit at hefty London prices. The beer was weak and overpriced. Just like home.

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The next day we arose early, packed a rucksack and headed out navigating our way through Hong Kong's MTR stations all the way to Disney Land!!! The MTR even had it's own line to get you to Disney Land that played fairytale music, had Mickey Mouse ears for handles and Disney character motifs adorned the windows. Feeling like a six year old we skipped into Disney Land and spent the entire day there. We saw the daytime parade, night time parade and special fireworks celebrating both the 10 year anniversary and Chinese new year's eve over the Disney castle. We went on all the rides (some twice) and saw all the shows. Money well spent and we left feeling satisfied but exhausted. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at 'Welcome' supermarket for some staple food supplies. They had regular sized yoghurts on sale for £15 each. Obviously we did not purchase these, we're on a budget after all. The majority of our meals were shared peanut butter sandwiches, crisps and boiled eggs (that we boiled in the kettle in the hotel - yes this is possible, you just boil it twice)

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Luckily we picked a hotel that was a five minute walk from all the Chinese New Year activities, in an area on the northern bit called Kowloon. We had a wander around on the Monday (New Years Day) down to the harbour and shopping centre. It was absolute carnage with a million tourists walking in every direction. At 6pm we headed down to the parade route and picked our spot. It was already filling up at this point but over the two hour wait for the parade to start, hoards of people filled in pushing and shoving for the best view. People were handing out goodie bags also, which we managed to nab, inside was a packed of vegetable crisps and a honey drink. The parade itself was a little on the disappointing side in terms of the array of floats and acts going past (especially compared to Disney Land). We got to see a traditional Chinese dragon though and a lot of people on flipping stilts (Kiwi's phobia). But overall it was a good experience and would definitely recommend it. Afterwards we made a quick exit to avoid the crowds and had a walk through the streets of Hong Kong and down to the waterfront and took in the incredible sights of Hong Kong Island's colourful sky line.

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After a late evening back at the hotel watching Nat Geo Wild, the next morning we headed over to an area called Mong Kok to look for souvenirs. There had been riots in protest of the government shutting down illegal street vendors the night before but all looked good during the day. We were also on the look out for Tim Ho Wan's dim sum restaurant (a famous five star restaurant at affordable prices) however the first one we located had shut down and the second one located on Hong Kong island was opening in two days time. We threw our hands in the air and headed for a McDonalds (cheap and affordable). At 5:30pm we walked over to the waterfront to get a spot for the New Year firework display that was starting at 8pm. We were jealous of the people that brought along camping stools and flasks of tea. They took it very seriously.
At 8pm sharp the sky lit up furiously as the sound of thunder roared over from the river. It had started. What followed for the next thirty minutes was a continuous eruption of sounds and an explosion of colours unlike anything we had ever seen before. Best. Day. Ever.
We took a slow jaunt towards temple street night market where Jack purchased a steamed pork bun for 70p and we perused the stalls for souvenirs. Weirdly dotted around nearby streets where karaoke and fortune teller tents. The karaoke tents were literally pop up gazebo's with a karaoke machine and a pair of oldies belting their hearts out. An odd scene.

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For our last day in Hong Kong we decided to go to the New Years races at Sha Tin racecourse. Again we navigated our way through Hong Kong's MTR system, taking a wrong turn at one point and going a stop too far, only to have to turn back around. Neither of us having ever gone to the races in the UK we had no idea what to expect, except that maybe people in the UK dress up all fancy and get wasted. Well, Hong Kong races are nothing like that. On arrival to the station we followed the mass of people entering the racecourse into what looked like a warehouse. It was absolute mayhem, people walking in all directions, people queuing to spin the lucky wheel of fortune, vendors handing out free pens - we had no idea which way to walk or what entrance to go through! Eventually we found our way through to one of the main betting halls and wandered around bewildered. With not a clue how to put on a bet it was even more confusing in Chinese! We approached one of the betting guys who kindly showed us how to place a bet and ushered us over to purchase an English booklet explaining each race and what the odds where for each horse. Finally getting our heads around it we placed a bet for the next race, queuing up in the betting lines with little old ladies pushing and shoving. Overall we put three bets on and Kiwi won on two races, albeit a lowly amount as we only bet one Hong Kong dollar per race (about £0.89) however we walked away £1 up so we were pretty chuffed. We even shared a pint too.
Following from the excitement of the races we decided to stop by Hong Kong history museum on the way back to the hotel. It was pretty interesting stuff.

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Quick turn around back at the hotel and then out on the hunt for some Chinese food! We settled on a restaurant and ordered food - Jack opted for traditional chinese soup with dumplings and minced pork rather than the chickens feet/tripe in broth and Kiwi ordered the only vegetarian option on the menu, vegetable fried rice. Although when it arrived it was literally rice with bits of cabbage in! We were also served tea with condensed milk that was pretty rank, although Jack quite enjoyed it. We finished off the evening with a walk around the nearby Kowloon park. Although it was a central city park it felt really safe at night and was quite bustling for the time of day.

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We thoroughly enjoyed Hong Kong and would definitely recommend going, it's insane and colourful and loud and busy. But it's good. Now all we need is a good rest in the Philippines....

Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 19:10 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged buildings skylines night fireworks travelling hong_kong chinese_new_year disney_land lunar_new_year travelling_honeymoon year_of_the_monkey chinese_dragon Comments (1)

Thailand - Koh Mak


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Our small mini bus left Bangkok at 8am on Friday 22nd January. We were cramped inside for a 5 & 1/2 hour journey with a young couple who were constantly taking selfies - a picture of the inside of a mini bus is what everyone wants to see, you get a real sense of the fun you are experiencing. Sarcasm over, we stopped at a rest point to which we were ushered onto a small train like truck vehicle - the ones children go on around zoos, you know?! This peculiar transportation took us to the ferry port and we boarded for a 40 minute journey across to the island of Koh Mak. Once we stepped foot on the island we were immediately approached by a taxi man, we accepted his services and he drove us the short journey to our dwelling - Banana Sunset Bungalows. Down the dirt road strewn with coconuts, that no one will make use of, and we were checking in with the boisterous Cambodian receptionist/waiter/bar man Tom. We were offered fresh pineapple, given toilet paper and shown to our room. A modest bungalow with en suite "wet room" and a faint musty smell, albeit very conformable and only a few meters from the waters edge. After showers we went back up to the bar for a spot of lunch overlooking the sea, then down the adjoining board-walk and into the sea. As much as Jack makes fun of my jelly shoes they were extremely useful over the rocky sea bed, I ultimately had the last laugh as Jack had to wear manky wet suit boots that had previously had other men's wretched feet in. Urgh. Plus my jelly shoes have glitter in a look pretty in the sunshine.
A trip to Banana Sunset is a must for anyone visiting the island, as it has an amazing viewpoint to watch the sunset over the sea. We spent the remainder of the evening at the bar, where the music was a good volume and a chilled, relaxed atmosphere ensued. They even had a pool table, table football, darts and other games to keep us entertained.

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The following morning we pretty much did the same, had breakfast overlooking the sea then chilled at the bar and swam in the sea. Drank beer in the evening and played games.

The next day was a little more active, we packed up our rucksacks and hired push bikes for the day. It was tough riding, with some big hills and questionable gears/breaks on the bikes. We rode down into the small village and stopped at a restaurant called the "Food Art Hut" and had a big old breakfast washed down with fresh fruit shakes. Delicious. Although Jack did get the shits from some dodgy ham (suspected). Swings and roundabouts. We carried on riding around the island where only two months previously had the main road been finished and about every 15-20mins you would see a scooter, car or another human being. Back to the bungalow for a skype with the family and a shower and we were riding back out into the village for dinner. We tried to have a beer back at the bungalow bar but Jack's bowels weren't up to it so we played Yahtzee in the room instead.

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Monday we had booked in for a cooking course from 10am-2pm. So we walked the short distance from the bungalows and down towards Smile Cooking School. We were greeted by Leng, who teaches the class and given hibiscus tea which helped to settle Jack's stomach. The class took place on Leng's terrace overlooking the sea, a beautiful and serene setting to learn how to make delicious food! Leng offers a class from either 10am-2pm or 3pm-7pm and each class has four spaces. Luckily for us we were the only two that booked for the morning class, so we had Leng all to ourselves! We were given a small cookbook and began by learning how to make pad thai, after we chopped and prepped we moved over to the small woks on burners and it took seconds to make. We got to munch on it afterwards and it was so tasty! We then started to prepare ingredients for meals such as fried tofu with cashew nuts and stir fried vegetables with Chinese kale. After this Leng's assistant brought out a large structure filled with colourful ingredients and we learnt how to make green curry and penaeng curry from scratch! It was hard work on the pestle and mortar. Leng taught us that you should separate the coconut milk into cream and milk rather than pouring it all straight in. The cream should be used like oil in the beginning, the milk for the curry and a little cream at the end. Once everything was made we were directed to the table in the garden to feast on all the food, Leng even served us blue rice that she grows in her garden. An amazing experience and we'll definitely be cooking a LOT of Thai food when were back home - which you should all look forward to!

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Food coma in full flow, we headed back over to the bungalows for a well deserved nap. Later in the afternoon and after checking our insurance policy, we rented a scooter from Banana Sunset for 24 hours and went out for yet more food! The bungalow bar drew us back in and we spent the evening drinking beer.

We did find out after we initially booked the transport to the island that the beaches were riddled with sand flies. You can ward them off by covering yourself with coconut oil, but this surely meant that you would cook like a roast potato in the sunshine! We hopped on the scooter and rode around to Vista view point to have breakfast and take in the breathtaking views. Hopping back on the scooter we then travelled to the south of the island to buy ferry tickets for the follow day's move. Once there we took a walk down the pier and decided to lather our legs with coconut oil so we could have a swim in the sea. We travelled even further around the island to Ban Laem Son where there was a small bar overlooking a quiet beach, we sat and had a refreshing drink and bumped into Leng and her buddies. The return journey took about 40 minutes to get back, however the jungle and rubber trees either side of the road were a perfectly peaceful setting.

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For our last evening, you guessed it - we had beers at banana sunset bar and enjoyed a game of pool and chatted to Tom and the team. We had a final leisurely morning eating breakfast overlooking the sea before we had to check out at 12pm and got a free lift down to the ferry port ready to board the speedboat over to Koh Chang.

Koh Mak is a really beautiful little island that is very much off the beaten track and life moves at a steady pace. We found out the island is owned by 5 different families and all decisions taken co-operatively, thus preventing the island from turning into the next Phuket. They even have an island AGM for all residents to discuss island issues and agree a plan for the coming year. Whilst it doesn't have the dramatic scenery of the west coast islands it makes up for it in other ways and it is certainly not touristy in the traditional sense. If you want a laid back, pretty, friendly island experience, then Koh Mak is the choice!

Until next time....

J&K x

Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 07:58 Archived in Thailand Tagged landscapes trees sea sunset palm_trees travelling travelling_honeymoon koh_mak Comments (2)

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