Winter weekend in Paris

December 16, 2014

I think it was Audrey Hepburn who uttered the famous words "Paris is always a good idea"
 - and I have to admit, I agree with her. 

I've been going to Paris fairly regularly since I was a child but somehow, I'm still not bored of it; I don't know whether it's the amazing architecture, all the art, the yummy vin or the elegant - yet ridiculously rude - Parisians themselves, but I just keep going back. After the initial thrill of moving back to London had worn off, I needed a little something to keep me going until Christmas so naturally, I booked a weekend away. We managed to find return tickets on the Eurostar (which I can't help but marvel at - getting to another country quicker than you can get to Newcastle? Incredible) for £66, which was too good a bargain to pass up.

South Bank Christmas Market

December 08, 2014

Last weekend, for the first time in about seven weeks, I found myself with a free weekend to spend in London. I've been so busy rushing from home to Leeds to various other places that I had actually forgotten what it was like - and I was at a bit of a loss for something to do. Whilst I've been busy over the last couple of weeks, Christmas seems to have snuck up on London - everywhere I look now is covered in lights and tinsel and glitter. I can never understand people who complain about the christmas coming earlier and earlier - I get as excited about Christmas as a very small child. For me, it literally is the most magical time of the year.

Adventures in Winterville

December 04, 2014

It started in late October. A frisson of excitement running through social media - a few shares on Facebook here, some retweets there. As Christmas crept closer, the news began to spread around East London: something fun and festive was coming to our very own Victoria Park. Winterville. 
Marketed as "London's alternative christmas destination", it's designed to be a mini Winter Wonderland, with similar holiday vibes, funfair rides and plethora of bars selling delicious mulled wine. Having been unfortunately predisposed on Tuesday when it opened (I'd had a Brazilian Blowdry that morning, it was raining - go figure), last night I braved the crisp air and headed over to to see what it was like.

The 5 women on TV right now we all secretly want to be

November 27, 2014

I can't be the only one who watches someone brilliant on TV and immediately changes my life ambition. When I first watched Harry Potter, I wanted to be an actress like Emma Watson so badly that I went to an open audition for Northern Lights (and failed, miserably.) After watching Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada I told everyone I wanted to be the editor of Vogue - that one lasted a good few years - and most recently, after watching James Bond, I wanted to work for MI6 (I still do, actually, but no one takes me seriously. Honestly, SOMEONE has to do it.) Anyway, my point is, television and movies - and the people in them - have an amazing ability to capture one's imagination. From a feminist point of view, there probably aren't as many strong, powerful women on our screens as there should be - but there are still some pretty inspiring characters that make us all wish we were just a little bit more sassy.

Lust List A/W 14

November 16, 2014

Recently, as anyone who knows me may have noticed, I have had a bit of a wardrobe revelation; and two months in, I just can't preach about it enough. I spent my first year of student life spending money on pieces I loved, but never being able to afford the entire look and consequently feeling like I hadn't bought anything at all. Over the summer, I realised the solution to my problem was very simple: Become Chic. All my friends have laughed at me, a LOT, for describing absolutely everything since then as 'chic'. I do appreciate the irony of this - chic does tend to say effortless and casual and Audrey Hepburn whereas, obviously, I have actually tried quite hard - but only in the beginning. Since September I have only bought clothes in black, grey and white, and here's why it's perfect. 

Best friends in London ft. Dirty Burger and Wig Wam Bam

November 15, 2014

Last weekend, after spending my "reading week" relaxing, shopping and overeating at home, my lovely, lovely best friends came to visit me in London. As you might have guessed from the amount they've featured in previous posts, these girls are absolutely like my sisters. Without spilling my heart out to my anonymous readers, I will only say that I'm not finding Uni easy at the moment - and not a day goes by when I don't rely on our ridiculous Whatapp conversations to cheer me up. Since the months have flown past, I suddenly realised I hadn't seen them since August - which meant that, obviously, a reunion was needed ASAP. Cue loud laughter, Thailand reminiscing and a LOT of

PSLs, pumpkins & holiday vibes

October 28, 2014

Every year, autumn seems to creep up on me a little bit faster. Suddenly the clocks have gone back, golden leaves are everywhere and the smell of Pumpkin Spice Latte lingers outside every Starbucks - I think I spend more on overpriced flavoured coffee in the run up to Christmas than I do the other 9 months combined. I absolutely love this time of year; it's all very cliché but the crunchy leaves, cold clear mornings and return of polo necks, baggy jumpers and oversized scarves make me breathe a sigh of relief. I have a theory that summer is usually a bit of a disappointment - the English weather, far too much time on your hands - but winter is always brilliant. The end of October is fast approaching and that only means one thing: Halloween!

Why Emma Watson is right to be standing up for feminism

October 14, 2014

Feminism. It's a hot topic right now. From Emma Watson's #HeForShe campaign to Elle's first 'feminism' issue, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. With it becoming such a high-profile issue, why do some people refuse to admit it's important?

Legally, we're pretty much equal. Any employer discriminating against women can get slapped with a fat ass law case, the Equal Pay Act means we get the same pay as men and we can all do the same jobs. In the eyes of the law, we're the same. There seems to be a tendency to believe that the job is now done - any further takes us into the realms of the man-hating lesbian feminists from the 70s, screaming for single-sex communities.

When asked if I consider myself a feminist, I hesitated to say yes. We have equality. I don't feel marginalised on work experience for being a woman, or during seminars at uni. But when I thought further, I realised that any woman who wouldn't call themselves a feminist is lying. Or very stupid. Because the thing is, the law isn't really where the problem lies; in reality, to a teenage girl talk of unequal pay in top jobs, sexism in the workplace or breaking the glass ceiling means very little. What really affects me, and thousands of girls my age, is much closer to home.

For a second, imagine you've been raped. In order to send the bastard that did it to prison, you have to relive the experience in front of an entire court - and you're prepared to do it. What you're not prepared for, however, is to be questioned on your entire sexual history - when did you last have sex? How many sexual partners have you had? Do you like it rough? Is it true you were wearing a short dress and high heels? All questions designed to make you seem like a "slut" to the jury. Whilst sexual history evidence is technically not allowed to be shown to a jury, it finds its way in.
In a world where sexism didn't exist, these questions wouldn't need to be asked.
It shouldn't be relevant what clothes a girl was wearing before she was raped; she should have the freedom to wear whatever she likes without fearing that the men around her simply can't control themselves. Running through these questions is an age-old belief that women should be shamed for having sex frequently, or with more than one partner. Continuing to ask these questions in a public court upholds the belief that men aren't to be blamed - women who dress in revealing clothes are asking for it. The fact that this attitude is still so visible in our legal system today highlights exactly why feminism is still relevant.

If that's still a little hard to empathise with, let's try something a little more common; because really, what feminism means to me is to not be shouted at in the street every time I leave the house. I get comments from men about my body or my appearance so frequently that it's become a standard part of daily life; my friends and I will jokingly count up the horn honks on the walk from home into university. But this shouldn't be the case.
It angers me is that men feel they have the right to shout sexual remarks at a total stranger. We're women, we know we're hot, and we don't need an uneducated twat in a souped up Polo to confirm it for us. Thousands of men casually intimidate and harass young women every day simply because they believe that they can. And that's exactly why we still need feminism. Before men and women are truly equal, mental attitudes in the general public have to change; and that going to take a lot longer than it took to pass a few laws through Parliament.

I'm not saying it's all men; it clearly isn't. But it's still far too many. If you really believe sexism no longer exists, take a walk down the Mile End Road; because it's everywhere, in broad daylight.
It's a van driver telling me I've got great tits. It's hackers releasing naked photos of Jennifer Lawrence, for everyone to look at. It's the Daily Mail commenting on women's appearance instead of their actions, and it's TV producers sacking women over a certain age, whilst the men keep their jobs until retirement.

Yes, legally we may have equal rights; but in reality we still have a very long way to go.

5 best places in London for a hangover brunch...

October 04, 2014

When I came back to London I realised what had been missing whilst I was away; brunch. It's the easiest thing in the world to pop out for brunch in the city, but it's something I just never really do at home. Whether I'm hungover, have no food in, or just really hungry when I wake up in the morning, its totally acceptable here - and I LOVE it.

Foxcroft & Ginger

Whilst my mother might not approve of it's "rustic" decor, Foxcroft is one of my favourite places for brunch. When I first saw it on the way back from uni last year, I had to do a double take - there aren't many yummy places for brunch, coffee and cakes on the Mile End Road. Nestled between Tesco Express and Sports Direct, it seems an unlikely brunch spot. However, if you're a fan of french toast, eggs benedict or salmon and avocado, this is the perfect place. My favourite is the french toast with bacon, maple syrup, banana and walnuts... heaven on a plate!

Eat, Pray, Love in Morocco

September 14, 2014

Every woman has that "thing". The thing that they can't resist buying. Obviously the most common of these are designer shoes, handbags, Chanel make-up... but I've always thought I was free of this particular vice (although those who've seen my lipstick collection may beg to differ).
However, over the past year it's dawned on my that, just like every other woman, I too have a "thing". Travel. There's something about the Skyscanner website I just can't resist. For someone who is usually incredibly cautious with money, I have absolutely no restraint when it comes to planes, trains and hotels. 
But this time, it was really my friend Saf's fault. She's one of those people that make everything seem like an amazing idea; in February she nearly convinced me to cycle from London to Brighton instead of getting the train - luckily I remembered just in time that A) it's a bloody long way and B) I actually don't like cycling. But this incredible enthusiasm is how, back in March, an innocent cup of tea at hers somehow turned into booking Yet Another Holiday. 
At the beginning of Spring, September seemed a really long way away. But then revision came around, and then exams, then travelling for a month, and August came and went and suddenly I had to pay the balance of the Surf and Yoga holiday to Morocco that I had spontaneously (and a little foolishly) booked half a year ago. But secretly, I was really looking forward to it. A month was quite enough time to recover from my last little trip and I was really itching to get going again...


Hey, Fresher...

August 27, 2014

Life's been a little dull since coming back from Asia, and I've largely spent my days lounging around on the sofa powering through my Downton Abbey box set and drinking wine with my unemployed friends - on a really exciting day, both at the same time. That being the case, when Grace invited all the uni girls to stay, I was really looking forward to going down to Portsmouth to see them all again. After lusting after Outlook, Unknown and Bestival this year but not having the funds to buy any of them, I haven't been to a single festival - so to kill two birds with one stone, we all headed to the famous Victorious Festival at the weekend...

 I joke. It's not famous, but for £22 a ticket it was a pretty decent line up. Or at least, it should have been - but after spending a little too long drinking or, in my case, standing in the queue for the toilet, we managed to miss most of Razorlight, Scouting for Girls and Tom Odell. But still, in my opinion, time spent drinking cider out of festival cups and riding on fairground rides is never wasted. Lily is the world's most unlikely Dizzee Rascal fan and since we did manage to see him, we were all happy.

I had a great weekend with everyone, and seeing all my uni friends has got me thinking about going back for my second year; it's a terrifying thought that its been a whole year since my parents packed the car up to the brim and dropped my off in the big city on my own. It's been 12 months of drinking, cleaning up after messy flatmates and anger at TFL after copious amounts of tube strikes - which means I think I now officially qualify as a Londoner. But the whole year hasn't exactly been as easy as I thought - so for anyone heading to uni this year, I thought I'd share some of the things I wish someone had told me.

Here's the thing - I love London. I really do. I love running along the river past Tower Bridge, I love the miracle that is the Uber taxi app and I love being able to order takeaway (because we don't have that luxury in the countryside). But for Uni? It was a bit of a mistake.
From the comfort of your parents home, its easy to nonchalantly shrug it off when everyone asks you whether you're worried about the cost of living in London (which they will.) But in Fresher's Week, when all your friends up North are happily drunk and bonding on three treble vodkas for a fiver and you can't afford the cheapest drink in the SU bar, you might be a little less cocky. Equally when you start to be convinced that Primark are regularly putting their prices up, you'll regret voluntarily choosing to pay £165 a week when all your friends are paying £80. Whilst there's a great student atmosphere in the big university cities, London just hasn't got that. It's a fantastic place and I love living there - but if you're thinking of choosing a uni, do yourself a favour and have a look at Newcastle instead.

A few memorable nights from year one...

 So much of your first year is down to luck. If you're lucky, you get a flat of five other incredible people who you bond with over drunken nights and hungover breakfasts, and end up being friends for life. If you're unlucky, you end up with the kind of people who think its acceptable to put raw chicken in the bin and leave it for two weeks, and two Chinese people you only know exist from the unused Mickey Mouse rice cooker in the kitchen. Most of the time - it's somewhere in the middle.
So, if thats the case - join a sports club. Even if you hate sport and you don't even own a pair of trainers. At any Uni the sports socials are the best, and it's where I met the whole group of my closest uni friends this year. Take it from me - if you hate everyone in your flat, even being forced to drink mashed up McDonald's burger mixed with vodka as an initiation starts to look like fun.

I think the most important thing about uni is - don't be afraid to admit you were wrong. Quite frankly, Uni isn't for everyone - schools push students towards a degree when there are many other routes out there. It's equally easy to just end up at the wrong uni, even if you were convinced it was perfect for you - I know so many people who dropped out and started somewhere else, and absolutely loved it. It's a vast expense and if you're going to voluntarily be in that much debt, you should be damn sure you're happy.

In hindsight, maybe my uni isn't perfect for me - but other parts of my life have really come together and that wouldn't have happened anywhere else. I have a great group of friends at uni, including the girls I'm moving in with, and I'm really excited about going back. When everyone's posting how much fun they're having on Facebook, its easy to believe everyone else is having a better time that you; which just isn't true. Everyone feels a bit lonely at times, or misses their friends and home comforts. Your first year goes so fast that, at the end of it, you'll look back and wonder where it went - so enjoy it. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and if it turns out Uni wasn't quite how you expected; it will all work out OK in the end.

Why every girl should want to be Blair Waldorf

August 13, 2014

Since being given the box set for Christmas, I have been shamelessly working my way through Gossip Girl again from beginning to end. In an attempt to alleviate the post-holiday depression that has absorbed me for most of this week, I treated myself to watching the final episode with a nice cold glass of Sauvignon and the remainder of Sunday's hangover chocolate.

What a mistake. As I downed the last of my wine in a blur of tears, I suddenly remembered why the series was so fantastic - and why I was so sad it had ended. See, as sad as it sounds to admit, Gossip Girl was my entire adolescence. For six years I followed the lives of these fictional characters - through starting and leaving boarding school, my first relationship, A levels and leaving for university. As they moved on, so did I, and by the end I was emotionally invested. And I'm not the only one. In this day and age, when watching an entire boxset beginning to end in one session is totally acceptable, TV shows are a form of education. And what I learned was, you're either a Serena or a Blair in life; and I know which one I'd rather be.

Home sweet home...

August 03, 2014

It's a known fact that the hardest thing about travelling isn't the home-sickness, lack of 4G or being out of your comfort zone; it's coming home. 

It's hard to explain the feeling of sadness that creeps up on you the closer you get to landing. Somewhere between BKK airport and arriving at Gatwick 16 hours later reality sets in, and after being stuck in traffic for an hour on the M25 it begins to feel as if you were never really away at all. After excitedly recounting tales from your trip to everyone at home who will listen, you go to bed on your own and just feel sort of... flat. 

After a month somewhere, it almost begins to feel like home. Everything we found strange when we first got there - the heat and humidity, inability to put used toilet paper down the toilet (a personal favourite) and using chopsticks with every meal, to name just a few - became second nature. No matter how vividly you describe your adventures, no one at home can really understand them and you   quickly miss the company of those you travelled with. So instead of wallowing, I thought I'd write my last sad, emotional, little bit cheesy post about it; starting with why it's all so great. 


Travelling the world wouldn't be the same without the fantastic people you meet along the way. The staple "so how long have you been out here?" means that any stranger you meet turns into a friend. It quickly becomes apparent that you may be 6000 miles away from home, but the world really isn't that big. Its surprisingly easy to find connections or mutual friends - we met one girl from near us who I have mutual friend with from uni, and another who worked with a friend of Annie's cousin.We met people from all over the world and learnt loads of useful stuff about their countries - for example, it costs $600 to fly from one side of Australia to the other, kangaroos can get very vicious and in Perth a packet of cigarettes is £18. See? Travel really is the best form of education.


OK, this is a weird one. But I do find it very strange that I have had full signal without fail everywhere in Thailand - and I mean literally everywhere. If I wanted to make a call at the top of a mountain on Phi Phi, tiny island in the middle of the sea - it was no problem. It was the same with a tiny village in the mountains in the North, and rainforest outside Chiang Mai - and yet, apparently my multi million pound phone provider EE can't get me any signal in the middle of Bury St Edmunds. Equally, in Thailand, everywhere has high speed internet access. They may need to run the wires up some very dodgy looking poles along a mountain path to get it, but I had fast wifi in a wooden bungalow in the middle of a mountain village. At home, I live in the East of England and apparently Virgin can't get us broadband any faster than a snail's pace. Really? REALLY?


In Thailand, everything is really, really cheap. On our first night, we were told by the Thai receptionist of the hostel that the only place to get food was next door, but that is was "very expensive". Not looking forward to forking out on our first night, but without little other choice, we went in and sat down. "Very expensive" turned out to be £6 for a huge bowl of freshly made Thai curry, sticky rice and a large beer. That was still our most expensive meal of the trip - usually, a decent meal in a nice restaurant was between £3-£4. The most annoying thing about that, however, was that the cash machines only gave us money in thousand baht notes. I can only imagine that the makers of the cash points find this a highly amusing way to wind up tourists; we quickly discovered that when offered one of these notes, people look at you as if you are mad and refuse to accept them - the effect being that, really, you still have no money at all. Trying to break one of those buggers was a military operation. However, once that was done, everything was so cheap that the change from it lasted days. On a budget, Thailand is the perfect place to visit.

The scenery

There's a reason why Thailand is always featured on the front of travel magazines - it really is stunning. Whether it's sunset on a white sand beach, the crystal clear turquoise water or the stunning mountains and canyons, there was hardly anywhere that wasn't breathtaking. Even the concrete cities had gorgeous temples casually littered around it. The English countryside might be nice on a sunny day, but Thailand beats it without even trying. 

To be honest, I could go on forever. There's a thousand reasons for travelling but unless you bite the bullet and buy a ticket you'll never really appreciate them. It's a complete cliché but it's true - travelling really is a bug. It's addictive and yes, it's expensive - but for me, there's nothing I would rather spend my money on. It's not the same as a holiday - there will be some parts you don't enjoy and some moments where you fervently wish you'd never booked the flights in the first place. But it always turns around and, looking back on it, you almost enjoy those moments too.

For my first big adventure, this was the perfect place to go. It's safe and everyone is so friendly; from the hotel owners, to the taxi drivers, and all the friends we made out there. It really is a beautiful country and I'd recommend it to anyone. Thank you Thailand - you were brilliant!

The David Ruffley issue - and why the feminists are wrong

July 29, 2014

For the first time, I'm going to branch out a little bit from self-centredly writing about my own life. Sometimes I do get the urge to write about something I feel strongly about - and believe me, there are a lot of those - but I've never really got round to it and after all, it's just easier to write about what I know. Anyway, whilst I've been in Thailand I have been unable to avoid the 'David Ruffley' issue. It pops up continuously on my Twitter feed and even from 6000 miles away has managed to annoy me to the point that I'm going to put pen to paper and vent. So here we go.

For anyone that doesn't know - and I don't blame you if you don't - the MP for my constituency, David Ruffley, has been given a caution for assault of his then girlfriend. This was three months ago. It's only really just slipped out and a lot of people are up in arms, to put it mildly.

Firstly, let's get this straight -  I do not approve of domestic violence. I know people that have been affected, as many do, and it should absolutely not be condoned. Equally, I don't particularly like David Ruffley. He's been our MP for a staggeringly long time, given his previous personal issues, and it's about time we had a fresh face representing us.

However, I do believe those campaigning for him to step down for being violent towards his girlfriend are wrong to do so, and here's why. 
There is no evidence he was physically violent. The statement released said he had 'accepted a caution for assault'; here here is where the problem seem to stem from. People seem to be getting confused and conflating assault with another offence, battery. Assault means 'causing someone to apprehend immediate violence' - this could be shouting, arguing or any form of verbal abuse. However, the minute violence is inflicted, even in any minor form, it becomes battery. 
As David Ruffley was cautioned for assault, it is very unlikely he ever touched his girlfriend. As I said, I don't condone any form of domestic violence - men shouting at women is a verbal attack. However, right or wrong, it is a known fact that many couples argue frequently - some even thrive off it. Break-ups are painful and they can get nasty. The police were called to the scene by a neighbour, not his girlfriend - in my opinion, there could be every chance they were just having a 'domestic'. And that's all. And technically, yes - that is assault - hence accepting a caution. But he will not be alone in admitting to having a heated argument with a partner. I have friends whose parents have been married for 20+ years and are still very much in love; but even they will admit to a shouting match every now and then. 

If at any point his girlfriend felt threatened, she had every right to call the police and press charges. I reiterate; even verbal assault can be domestic violence. My point, however, is that there is no hard evidence David Ruffley hit or in any way harmed his girlfriend. Jeremy Vine, in an interview on national radio, asked whether is was acceptable for him to have "beat up his girlfriend". I find it amazing that this accusation was made on the BBC,  when the papers and reports have been very careful never to say he has done this. He was cautioned for assault, which as a crime, means he did not physically touch her. 

For me, until either David Ruffley or the police release a further statement clarifying the events of that night, he cannot be asked to step down for 'domestic violence', 'beating up his girlfriend', or 'hitting a woman'. Unfortunately, due to the pressure of social media from those that, in my opinion, have misunderstood the original offence, he has had to. And that seems a shame. I fully understand that, at first glance, it is unacceptable to have an MP who is associated with domestic violence representing women. My point is that no one seems to know what really happened that night - given the very little evidence, it seems impossible to either defend him, as some have done - or vilify him, as many have. I personally find it difficult to do either of those without all the facts before me - I certainly cannot call him a wife beater and call for his resignation. 

If it emerges there is hard evidence that he was violent on the night in question, as it absolutely might, he will not represent me as my MP and I will whole-heartedly support his resignation. As it stands at the moment, feminists - I'm afraid I can't get behind a campaign that will ruin the career of a man who could be innocent for the crime you say he has committed. 

Thai Adventures - Part Three

July 26, 2014

I've never really thought of myself as a person prone to exaggeration, but the last couple of weeks have proved how wrong I am. I seem to have exclaimed that "this is the best day ever!" at least once a day, which has become something of a running joke; last night, it was for something as simple as treating myself to my first glass of wine in three weeks. For anyone who knows me, going three weeks without my favourite drink is pretty impressive. Admittedly, we are in Thailand and the wine list was not extensive; I had a choice between a nice generic "Mont Clair White Wine" and, a small step up from that, Jacob's Creek Chardonnay. I can't remember what I went for but after drinking nothing but Chang beer and bucket cocktails it tasted like heaven.

Anyway, my point is that in the grand scheme of the holiday, the glass of wine probably not "the best day ever". The best day was, hands down, the day we spent on Monday at the elephant camp. Whilst I was looking forward to it, I was nowhere near as excited as Karis, who seemed to have only tagged along for the rest of the trip for this one day with the elephants. 

To begin with, they're pretty fucking terrifying and I was beginning to wonder what the fuss was about. For those who haven't seen an elephant up close, to say they're not exactly pretty is an understatement; they're huge, lumpy, have very hard skin and their trunks are very capable of crushing a human being. Just some initial thoughts. 

What was immediately noticeable is how nice the camp was. Many of the tourist elephants camps in Thailand chain up the elephants, and use heavy saddles and hooks and sticks to control them; a group of people we met refused to ride the elephants where they went as the conditions were so bad. Here they were  roaming around the countryside, and we rode them bareback...

Getting on was a source of hilarity, especially after we all had to try climbing up their trunks - mainly, I think, to give all the men helping us a good laugh. They also taught us Thai words in order to make the elephants move forward, left, right and so on... And then laughed at us saying it with such an English accent that the elephants did the exact opposite. 

Once we got on, the 'easy trek' proceeded to go up a sheer, mountainous, muddy hill, which only got muddier and more slippery in the monsoon rain shower. Covered in mud, we began to be very grateful for the delightful baggy trousers and rug-like top they gave us to wear.

After we were all suitably dirty, we rose the elephants into a pond and bathed them, quickly jumping off when they decided to roll over or, in our case, give us a shower from their trunks. It was quite possibly the cutest. thing. ever. No exaggeration this time.

After deciding not to to Cambodia because of a lack of time (ahem, money...) we instead went further north to Pai. Which we just loved. 

The waterfalls were incredible, and for some reason we felt it an appropriate place to copy our friend and get arty with the photos. This ones for you Amy! 

The mini Grand Canyon was pretty cool too...

... And we provided some Chinese tourists with some more risqué pictures than they perhaps would have liked... 

We also found a waterfall with a natural slide. After some involuntary slipping, we decided to give it a go anyway... 

Pai is a really cute place with so many lovely bars for the evening. We already loved this Western themed restaurant when, in an odd turn of events, we were suddenly given cowboy hats and made to do a barn dance, in the middle of the restaurant, with the staff. Much hilarity. 

Can't believe we only have one week of our adventure left! Much cry. Very sad. 

Thai Adventures: Part Two

July 19, 2014

I love a good quote. Whilst I've never gone as far as putting a heartfelt one liner as a caption to a Facebook photo, even in my angsty pre-teen years, I have been known to google some wise words when I'm feeling down. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to find this gem in the excitement leading up to my travels:

"It's not about the destination, it's the getting there that's the good part"

Well, I can only imagine that the person who said this has not attempted to take three planes, three buses, four ferries and countless taxi journeys in the space of two weeks. Because good isn't the word I'd use. It's boring, stressful and exhausting - although that may have been down to the suspicious looking Thai travel sickness tablets I bought over the counter which make me feel far weirder than some of the less legal drugs I've encountered...

However, it's a pretty small price to pay for some of the places we've seen since we arrived. As I mentioned before, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the island experience so far - even the Full Moon party, whilst a fun night out, is overrated. So when we left Koh Phangnan I had no particular expectations - until we arrived at what is now one of my favourite places in the world, Koh Phi Phi...

Even from the ferry, it's immediately  much more picturesque than the other islands we visited. As Chloe mentioned several times, it's pretty much the only reason she came to Thailand as it's where The Beach was filmed - cue us all being completely overexcited at 'stepping where Leo stepped', 'swimming where Leo swam' and 'eating where Leo ate'. In fact, we mentioned his name so often and so casually that the Canadians on our boat trip just thought Leo was a very adventurous and well travelled friend of ours. If only. 

Fortunately, it turned out that Karis knew a guy from back home who now works out here, so the next day we got on a cheap boat trip. 

This started off promisingly, apart from the minor cuts and bruises sustained from climbing up a cliff face with just the aid of some old rubber shoes and a piece of rope. The trouble really started at the top of the cliff, however, when Karis realised that being both scared of heights and deep water was not a winning combination for cliff jumping. Unfortunately, it soon occurred to her there was no other way down, and she had to bite the bullet and just jump...

She was rewarded with a free Chang, so it was all worth it. 

The boat then went to Maya bay, where the famous Beach scene was filmed. It is the most beautiful place in the world, and only apparently only reachable by swimming over sharp rocks in jellyfish infested water, being thrown against said rocks by the tide, and climbing up another rope. (Health and Safety doesn't appear to exist here.)

We immediately had to go straight into our Beach Jump photo... 

If you haven't seen The Beach, please watch it. If nothing else, it's 2.5 hours of young Leonardo Di Caprio. You can't really go wrong. 

We had also been told to, even if we did nothing else, visit the Phi Phi viewpoint. So, after a long day of sunbathing the next day, we attempted just that. The expectation of a short walk up some stairs quickly evaporated when, 30 minutes into a steep hillside trek, we still weren't there. Smug Thai men on mopeds passed us frequently, no doubt highly amused by the sight of three girls in swimwear, burnt and sweating, flip flopping up a mountain path. After being chased by a mountain goat, we eventually arrived and, thank god, it was worth it... 

Koh Phi Phi is one of the most stunning places I have ever been, and it completely made the island hopping worth it for me.

We're now in Chiang Mai, which I was looking forward to so that we could actually soak up some culture. Today, we cracked and ate dinner at McDonalds, so I guess that's something we have still yet to accomplish. However, we also skipped excitedly round the night bazaar and picked up some amazing handmade goodies for my new house... 

(The pictures don't do that bag justice. It's far less hideous in real life, honest.) 

I spent so much that I came home and quite literally cried into my few remaining bank notes. I'm not sure how I plan on surviving the next two weeks...

Thai Adventures Part 1 - Much Travel and an Unpopular Opinion

July 12, 2014

It's very hard to believe I've only been in Asia for a week. I'm getting pretty used to sharing a room with seven others, wearing the same clothes more times than I'd like to count and DYING for a proper mug of tea. The flight I was dreading turned out to be quite delightful - thank you Emirates - what's not to love about thousands of movies, unlimited G&Ts and above-par airline food? Admittedly the nine hour layover in Dubai was a low point so far - even when you're sleep deprived it's surprisingly difficult to sleep on a stone cold marble floor. However, 30 hours after we left Suffolk, we made it to Bangkok. 

Which I loved. I've always been a bit of a city girl and much prefer a city break to anything else, and Bangkok was no exception. It's hot, stuffy and so hectic it took us about half an hour to cross the road every time we needed to, but also very exciting. After debating whether to spend £10 (a fortune in Thailand!) on visiting the Grand Palace, we were SO glad we did - much glitter, much gold, much Buddha, very gorgeous. Many photo opportunity...

That afternoon we booked the night bus down to the islands for that evening - after hearing many stories about the dubious safety of these buses, Karis (quickly nicknamed Cautious Callum) threatened not to join us on this particular journey. However, after an hour of coaxing and harassing the booking man with questions about its safety, she finally agreed to join us... 

The next morning after an awful ferry journey that led to my first ever bout of seasickness (the memory is still too painful to talk about), we arrived at our first island - Koh Tao. And it was raining.

As Karis quite unnecessarily stated, the beaches did not look like the pictures. In fact, it looked like we had travelled about 6000 miles and ended up on Bournemouth beach. Not a great start.

It continued to rain for most of our two day visit to what is most people's favourite island. During the breaks in the cloud, I can say that the beaches were beautiful in the sunlight - and the nightlife was great. There's nowhere at home that I can limbo under a limbo stick that's been set on fire...

A few days later we arrived at Koh Phangan, where we are now, for the famous full moon party. The sun was finally shining and it was very hot - so hot, in fact, that during Karis and Chloe's first day of sunbathing they obtained what I can only describe as third degree burns. The alcohol is even cheaper and it's much busier than Koh Tao - under the influence of two Thai buckets of vodka the pool party we went to on Friday night was definitely the best night so far! 
(Although I then spent the next day in bed, hideously sick from Thai vodka poisoning, my mum and Cautious Callum's warnings echoing in my ears - not so great) 

So, this is where the unpopular opinion comes in. I don't think the islands are that great. Yes, they're fun for drinking and sunbathing, but so is Malia, Magaluf and Kavos and I needn't have saved since December to go there. I came to Asia for an adventure and drinking vodka, eating burgers and spending a lot of my morning sleeping doesn't quite qualify for that. So whilst I'm very excited about Full Moon tonight, which is going to be amazing, our next stop after another island is Chaing Mai in the North, and I'm itching to get to now!  

P.S forgot to mention the Ladyboy show. Very odd experience that had to be documented. Also not great for the self esteem as most of them were hotter than me....