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Asia, European Destinations, Travel Tips

The Top 5 Foods I Discovered Whilst Travelling RTW

March 28, 2016
Dumplings and Nyonga cuisine in George Town, Malaysia

Over the last 8 months I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to travel around Europe and Southeast Asia. It’s been an incredible experience, but one of the best parts about travelling to the stunning mountains of Albania and fast-paced modern Bangkok was the amazing food that we discovered around every corner. Here’re my top 5 dishes from Spain, to Thailand.

Tapas in Barcelona

Tapas in Barcelona

Seafood Paella in Barcelona, Spain

Seafood Paella in Barcelona, Spain

1. Paella and unique tapas in Barcelona, Spain

After visiting the historic Quimet&Quimet in Barcelona I decided to recreate the delicious  signature dish of smoked salmon on a toasted baguette with Greek yogurt, a drizzle of honey, balsamic vinegar & truffle-infused olive oil. Served with olives and salad with fresh bufala mozzarella from Italy! Not only did we find the best tapas venue in our 3 weeks in Barcelona, we also had a succulent seafood paella in the Sarria neighbourhood.

Dumplings and Nyonga cuisine in George Town, Malaysia

Dumplings and Nyonga cuisine in George Town, Malaysia

Nyonga Cuisine in George Town, Malaysia

Nyonga Cuisine in George Town, Malaysia

2. Nyonya cuisine and Dumplings in Malaysia

Amazing Nyonya cuisine, an original form of fusion that dates back centuries to the cosmopolitan ports of Malacca and Penang where marriage between Chinese and Malays created a unique way of cooking. We also stumbled upon the most amazing dumplings in George Town, a must-visit if in Malaysia.

 

Balinese cuisine

Balinese cuisine

3.  Homemade Balinese food in Sideman, Bali, Indonesia

One of my favourite places on this trip was Bali, specifically Sideman. A small sleepy town near the east coast that’s yet to be overrun with tourists, still imbuing a sense of serene calm and tranquility. Surrounded by deep green rice paddies terraces and overlooked by the Mount Agung volcano, the view from the infinity pool was heaven. A gorgeous place for a luxury stay and still affordable among the five star hotels. The homemade Balinese cuisine served here tasted as luxurious as the surroundings.

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Bosnian Coffee

Bosnian Coffee

4. Traditional Dessert & Coffee in Bosnia

We were recommended by our walking tour guide to try a Bosnian dessert called Tufahija. A delicious stuffed apple with hazelnuts and honey with cream on top! Followed by a cup of traditional Bosnian coffee!

Pad Thai in Bangkok

Pad Thai in Bangkok

5. Thailand – From North to South

We spent the last 3 months of our time in Asia in Thailand! A stunning country with a variety of dishes from Khao Soi (a rich yellow curry noodle soup with vegetables and chicken, pork or beef) in the North to spicier dishes in the South. My favourites were the delicious, people-pleasing, Pad Thai with Chicken and Mango with Sticky Rice. I ate them almost daily!

What were your favourite dishes from around the world? Let us know in the comments below!

Asia, Thailand

That One Time We Moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand

January 28, 2016
A stunning bridge over moat near the North Gate of Chiang Mai, Thailand

A stunning bridge over the moat near the North Gate of Chiang Mai, Thailand

In early December, after travelling around the world for almost 6 months, we decided to find a base and a new ‘home’ of sorts. We do feel very fortunate to have had this experience and it’s been eye-opening.

We had been moving from place to place every 2 or 3 days and realised that as wonderful an experience as it had been to travel and see Southeast Asia over the last 3 months, we both needed to settle in one place for a while. We’re both working on projects (check out Rocket Women!) that needed more of our attention. I’d also unfortunately been quite ill and bed-ridden for a few weeks in Indonesia whilst on the Gili Islands, due to a nasty parasite. So our hunt for a new temporary home began.

Chiang Mai is in the north of Thailand, making it cooler than other parts of Southeast Asia in the winter months. Usually it’s around 30 degree Celsius during the day and 14 degrees Celsius at night (apart from a recent cold snap in Asia).

It also has a thriving digital nomad community with excellent internet connectivity (100 Mbps download & upload speed at CAMP), great co-working places (have a look at CAMP at Maya mall), amazing (and cheap) Thai food, excellent modern healthcare (after getting ill on a tiny island without a hospital or a permanent doctor, I now care about this a great deal!) and is an easy place to find a temporary apartment. We ended up renting one for 3 months, between the Old Town and the ‘trendy’ university area of Nimman, an easy walk to both.

It’s been a fantastic 3 months, interspersed with a 2 week trip to Cambodia. Coming to Chiang Mai was just what we needed and we’ll be sad to say goodbye before we go to the UK in February. We’ve been working on our projects each day and eating Mango with Sticky Rice to our heart’s delight. We ended up renting a studio apartment that’s almost as large as my old apartment in Germany. The difference is this one is less than a tenth of the cost per month, at just under £130 per month, including utilities (internet, water, electricity). We used this fantastic list of apartments to find one when we arrived and found an available apartment within a day.

By the moat surrounding Old Town, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

By the moat surrounding Old Town, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Chiang Mai is a great place to be from October to mid-February. The rainy season is prior to October and from February the smog season starts, mainly caused by the burning of land. A lot of expats in Chiang Mai leave around this time to go to the gorgeous islands in the south of Thailand for example or elsewhere before returning in the autumn.

Overall, if you’re looking for a place in Southeast Asia to be based from for a few months, then Chiang Mai might just be it!

The newly opened Maya Mall Shopping Centre in Nimman, Chiang Mai. It contains the CAMP co-working space which has been our temporary office in Chiang Mai.

The newly opened Maya Mall Shopping Centre in Nimman, Chiang Mai. It contains the CAMP co-working space which has been our temporary office in Chiang Mai.

Asia, Burma

Burma: A Country Changing Before Our Eyes

December 1, 2015
A colonial building in Yangon with the North Wing missing after a WWII bomb. Surprisingly the building isn't abandoned, with some of it used for a small claims court.

After stopping off in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to apply for our Myanmar/Burma visas we went onwards to Yangon, Burma. Arriving two days after the elections had taken place we weren’t really sure what to expect. From the news and the events of past elections there was a chance that there would be unrest on the streets. What we saw when we arrived was the opposite. Landing in Yangon the airport modern. clean and immigration took less than 3 minutes. We didn’t bring crisp US dollars as per the usual long-term advice and didn’t have to. The airport was full of ATMs with the transport concierge then personally leading visitors to a taxi on the street with a fixed honest price. The airport ATMs do however charge fee of ~$20 for each transaction, so having some money when arriving would be handy. ATMs in the city on the other hand charge a much more reasonable~$2. From November 2015 it will actually be easier to pay with the local Burmese kyat rather than with crisp US dollar bills. We didn’t take US dollars or Euros with us and had no issues using ATMs in Yangon or paying with credit card in the city. Depending on how long you’re visiting for and where you’re travelling to, it may be helpful to carry a small amount of US currency with you in case.

Driving from the airport to our B&B we saw a modern city, even at night. The golden Shwedagon Pagoda marking the centre of the city, malls lining the roads with international store including Mango and new models of cars.

The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)

The Shwedagon Pagoda at night in Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)

We spent almost a week in Yangon, the former capital of Burma. What we saw was a city changing before our eyes and certainly a country on the precipice of change.  A country full of hopeful people, hopeful children, teenagers, millenials and parents. Yangon has a history unlike any other, with the highest number beautiful colonial buildings, however much in need of TLC, than any other city in the world. Some of these are being restored, however many unfortunately aren’t and are being replaced by modern towerblocks. Bagan to the north is another must-see, with not one but over 2000 temples, some as large as Cambodia’s Ankor Wat. The time to visit Burma (Myanmar) is now, with the country changing each day, the Burma of today will certainly be different to the Burma in the next decade.

A colonial building in Yangon with the North Wing missing after a WWII bomb. Surprisingly the building isn't abandoned, with some of it used for a small claims court.

A colonial building in Yangon with the North Wing missing after a WWII bomb. Surprisingly the building isn’t abandoned, with some of it used for a small claims court.

 

The beautiful bar at the Strand Hotel. Host to guests including Orson Wells, Mick Jagger (and 2 supermodels).

The beautiful bar at the Strand Hotel. Host to guests including Orson Wells, Mick Jagger (and 2 supermodels).

 

Cocktail at the Strand Bar with expats, visitors and UN workers.

Cocktail at the Strand Bar with expats, visitors and UN workers.

 

Yangon docks at sunset

Yangon docks at sunset

 

A 100-year-old original floor tile from a Colonial building manufactured in...Manchester, UK

A 100-year-old original floor tile from a Colonial building manufactured in…Manchester, UK

 

 

Asia, Thailand

A Photo Tour of Loy Krathong: Celebrating The Festival Of Lights In Thailand

November 29, 2015
Not Stars But Thousands Of Lanterns Took To The Sky

After 6 months of travelling through Eastern Europe and South East Asia we arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand just in time for the annual Loy Krathong festival, or lantern festival. Loy Krathong is a Buddhist festival celebrated in Thailand to honor Buddha. In Northern Thailand, where Chiang Mai is located, this festival coincides with the Lanna festival of Yee Peng.  The festival involves the beautiful Sky Lantern release followed by floating handmade krathongs (or floating lotus made of banana leaves and flowers) in the river. With Chiang Mai being the former capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom, it holds a spectacular annual Yee Peng Festival and cultural celebration, falling on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month when the tides are highest.

Traditional Thai Costumes During Yee Peng and Loy Krathong

Traditional Thai Costumes During Yee Peng and Loy Krathong

 

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Thousands Of Lanterns High In The Sky Like Stars

Thousands Of Lanterns High In The Sky Like Stars

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Miss Chiang Mai

Miss Chiang Mai

A Float During The Festival Parade

A Float During The Festival Parade

A Beautiful Float By A Chiang Mai Old Town Gate

A Beautiful Float By A Chiang Mai Old Town Gate