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Friday, 27 March 2015

Hello, Vietnam!


This morning I bid Singapore a sad farewell and hopped on a plane to Vietnam! I've landed in Hanoi and I'm planning on a little trip to the breathtaking Halong Bay over the next couple of days. Check out my Instagram for my travel pics.  
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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Goodbye London, Hello Singapore

 
Don't let the oversize Ferris wheel fool you, this isn't London in 25 years time. This is Singapore's beautiful skyline and in a few hours I'll be on my way to have a quick gallivant in this pristine modern metropolis before heading off to Vietnam. I'll have plenty of posts coming up to keep you entertained but follow me on Instagram to keep up to date with my travels.
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Friday, 20 March 2015

Hotel Review: Bambu, Cambodia

 

 
If you’ve been following my recent series of travel posts documenting my time in Cambodia, you’ll know that I fell in love with Battambang, Cambodia’s charismatic, sleepy city. Originally intended as a short visit, almost like a palette cleanser after spending time in hectic, tourist-centric Siem Reap, I ended up falling for Battambang’s ramshackle French colonial charms and staying for longer than I planned to. Often touted as ‘the real Cambodia’, it’s almost as if the mass wave of tourism over the last decade or so has completely washed past Battambang, I felt like I really got under Cambodia’s skin and experienced the real country rather than just the dichotomy of modern Phnom Penh and ancient Angkor temples. Needless to say, I strongly suggest taking a stroll off the beaten path to experience the real Cambodia when you visit.
 
As I was travelling solo and off the beaten path, I decided to play it safe and stay in a hotel rather than a guesthouse or hostel. This was me being cautious rather than out of necessity; Cambodia is one of the safest countries I’ve travelled in, I was troubled way more in Malaysia and even Spain! My caution did serve me well, as it led me to Bambu hotel. Located a short walk to the East of the tranquil Sangkae River, the boutique hotel is easily one of the best hotels in Battambang.
 
 
Designed in traditional Franco-Khmer style, beautifully combines local Khmer and French colonial architecture which is reflective of the aesthetic of Battambang. The reception is inviting, drawing your gaze through the room and out to the serene pool area, which is one of the highlights of the hotel. The pool is literally the heart of the hotel, sitting between the 16 luxury bedrooms and the restaurant and reception areas. It serves as an idyllic oasis of calm in the city. Every time I needed some respite from gallivanting around the city I popped back to the pool to put my feet up, it felt like a little inside secret.
 
 
If the pool was an oasis of calm, my room was a sanctuary. After the eight hour boat journey, it was a sight for sore eyes! The wooden interior and rustic feel made it feel like a very luxurious tree cabin while the gorgeous, cool tiling was a nod to the Franco-Khmer design. The stone inlaid bathroom was minimal but beautiful, like the rest of the room it was understated luxury which reflected nature. The one word I would use to describe the room is sublime; I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
 
I also have to mention the service at Bambu which was impeccable. Each member of staff was warm and helpful, from the tuk tuk driver who collected me at the boat dock to the reception staff and housekeeping. Nothing was too much trouble - day trips, restaurant recommendations, tuk tuk drivers and extending my stay were all handled within the blink of an eye. The owner, Pat, is fascinating and has a wealth of knowledge on the local area. I obviously picked his brains about the best places to eat and ended up eating at a local night market for the princely sum of $5 as well as David Thompson’s world class Jaan Bai restaurant for $15.
 
 
For me, Bambu is the epitome of what a boutique hotel should be. It oozes understated luxury but is sympathetic and reflective of its surroundings. Luxury hotel chains are lovely but often clinical in feel, there is usually little difference between staying in the Istanbul property and the London property. Bambu is inherently Cambodian and totally channels the charm and charisma of Battambang.
 
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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

An Ode to Pho


A couple of years ago, I used to work a couple of minutes away from Pho in Clerkenwell and used to pop in once or twice a week for some delicious Vietnamese food at lunchtime. I was only a habitual user. I recently popped in with my friend Dena and since then I’ve developed a full blown addiction. I’ve either popped in or grabbed a Pho-to-go every other day; over the weekend I went for dinner twice. This is definitely an infatuation.  
 
I’m a huge food fan; I think it equals fashion and travel as one of my favourite things to indulge in. But I tend to really indulge in food; crab donuts at Chiltern Firehouse, the Full Elvis at Duck & Waffle and the habanero soft shell crab at La Bodega Negra are some of my favourites. By contrast, Pho is simple, healthy and super fresh but totally moreish. It’s comfort food without the stodge and bad bits.
 
 
My favourite dish is the Chicken Bun – lemongrass and chilli vermicelli rice noodles topped with fresh herbs, beansprouts, a veggie spring roll and peanuts with your choice of meat or veggie. They come with a delicious nuoc cham sauce which you pour over, mix then devour. The lemongrass makes it taste super light and crisp while the chilli and nuoc cham add a little bite. My mouth definitely did not water as I typed that out. I usually go for cha gio (spring rolls) on the side, which I swap for goi cuon (summer rolls) in summer when I fancy something a little lighter.

 
Last weekend I popped into Pho twice; once with a friend who spent a few weeks in Vietnam recently and the second time with a friend who is half Vietnamese. They were the toughest critics as they’re used to the real deal but they are now both as obsessed as I am! Both of them have been texting me about Pho every day and my half Vietnamese friend has already been back for more (yes, I’m jealous).
 
As with everything that I love, I just had to share Pho with you. There are a few Pho restaurants around London and beyond, but be warned it’s a slippery slope to addiction.
 
 
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Thursday, 12 March 2015

Travel: Visual Diary for Malmo, Sweden


Last year, I had the pleasure of spending a long weekend in Malmo, Sweden. Perhaps not the obvious choice to visit in Sweden in favour of Stockholm and Gothenburg, I fell in love with Malmo’s quaint, picturesque charms. I loved the laidback vibe and enjoyed actually taking in the city rather than working out an itinerary based on checking out the sites. From mooching around Lilla Torg and navigating the cobbled streets to drinking my bodyweight in the best chai lattes ever, here are my highlights from Malmo:
 
If you’re tempted by Malmo’s medieval charms, check out my review of the Renaissance hotel.










 
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