A Night in Manchester

SO we headed up on a morning Virgin Train to Manchester on Saturday, to stay the night for triple birthday celebrations for 3 of my favourite girls.


We had lots of fun and stayed in the lovely Renaissance hotel. There was 8 of us girls so we booked two ‘double deluxe rooms’ for £50 each. When we arrived, to our excitement, we were told we have us adjoining rooms! We absolutely loved this as it meant we could still get ready and have a pre party altogether before we headed out on the town.

 The rooms were spacious and clean, my only negative would be that the lighting was very poor, which meant only in the bathroom could we all contour properly (oh women’s struggles eh?)


We started out at The Milton Club

We’ve heard lots of good things about here. The music was really good but a vodka and soda will set you back £10 so don’t expect cheap drinks! We stayed here until around midnight but it didn’t get very busy. I definitely wouldn’t call it a ‘club’, more of a ‘pre bar’ drinking spot.



We ended at Bijou

Absolutely loved this place! The music was spot on with a mix of everything! 

Great crowd and lots of space to dance so it gets a big thumbs up from me. I’d definitely go back to Bijoux if I headed to Manchester again. We didn’t get in until 5am so I think its fair to say we made the most of the night…


 

 

 

Advertisements

Hey Kuta, what’s with all the dead fish?

Kuta, Bali.

So on our first day in Bali, after the tropical downpour eased off, we headed to Kuta beach just down the road from our hotel. 

To be truthful I was less than impressed. The trouble with travelling to many places with beautiful beaches is; your standards are heightened for what qualifies as a ‘great beach’ and your expectations are higher.

Kuta in my opinion, just ain’t gonna cut it. 

The sand is quite nice; when you get a clear bit that isn’t filled with litter, plastic bottles or weird stuff you’d rather not step on. 

  
The water is murky. Though that’s probably because the tide is strong. Because of the waves it’s a popular place to surf. 

There is just something very mysterious going on at Kuta Beach..

On our walk across the beach we came across at least 25 dead fish on the shore.

Does anyone know why this is or the cause behind this? Is it simply that the tide brings them in and forgets to take them back out or is there something in the water poisoning all the fish? 

I am baffled.

I’m also very nosey and inquisitive so I’d really like to know. What’s with all the dead fish? 

On the plus side Kuta has some lovely restaurants. Our favourites were the Bamboo Garden Cafe, which is really cheap and serves gigantic portions.

   
And Kumatex which has a great lunch deal! A meal, an ice tea and an ice cream after for just 49000 rupiah (that’s £2.60!)

   

LwL X

A night in Bournemouth

After a gruelling 5.5 hour journey (never drive out the city on Easter weekend), we arrived in Bournemouth at 3.30pm. A quick check in and freshen up time later, we headed to the beach front to enjoy a lovely stroll across the beach and stop somewhere for a beverage.

The beach in Bournemouth is lovely! Probably one of the best I’ve seen in England. The tide was out and its safe to say it was very chilly. I was right on bringing a coat.

  

We had a lovely walk along the beach, taking some creative pictures and selfies along the way of course.. 

     
   
We grabbed a tea and cake at the restaurant pier while we looked out at the beautiful view

  
  

  

  

The we headed back to get our dancing shoes on for a night on the town. We stayed at Park Central hotel. This is right by the beach, the rooms are very clean although slightly small, yet still big enough for two to get ready in and the bathroom has great lighting for taking selfies. Ha.

 
  

At 8 we headed to a restaurant by the pier called ‘Aruba’. Its a very popular restaurant in Bournemouth, the food is lovely, affordable, and later on in the evening it turns into a club. Did i mention it was BOGOF on cocktails until midnight? This went down very well with us..  

 After a lovely dinner, we headed around the corner to the Lost Paradise. The music was great; a mix of cheese and pop songs, great for us to bust some embarrassing moves on the dance floor and have a good laugh with each other.

  We hung our dancing shoes up around 2am and hit the sack in our lovely and comfy bed.

We headed back to London early the next day, ready for my bottomless brunch!

It took 2.5 hours for us to get home, what a difference! I’d definitely recommend a night in Bournemouth if you’re looking to head somewhere new, beach, restaurants and good nightlife, everything you need for a fun night away.

LwL X 

The backpacker route: Donsol to Cebu

 

Philippines. From Donsol (West Philippines) you can get to Cebu via a boat and ferry.

The first boat you need to get is to ‘Masbate’. This leaves from Pilar port daily at varied hours (Pilar is a 30 minute jeepney drive fromDonsol) .

The jeepney is an experience in itself. We were lucky enough to ride on the roof!

The journey from Pilar to Masbate takes 2-3 hours depending on whether you choose a fast or slow boat.
On a Sunday we arrived in Pilar Port, but we didn’t really have a particular boat option. There only seemed to be one ticket office for a 3 hour boat to Masbate that left at 1pm. So we jumped into the cramped Catamarang and off we went.
From Masbate you will need to get a ferry to Cebu. We were told in Donsol that these depart at 6pm every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and arrive at 8am the following day. When we arrived in Masbate, this was not the case.
After our 3 hour boat journey from Pilar, we was told by the tourist police that the transasia boat actually no longer runs to Cebu city? How true this is we’ll never know but basically most information advertised in Donsol is wrong!
There is however, a boat that goes from Cataingan (South of Masbate) to Bogo (North Cebu) everyday, at 12pm and at 7pm.
The nice tourist lady gave us a lift to a hotel called Novo, where we stayed for the night in Masbate.


The next day we grabbed a tricycle to the Masbate city bus terminal at 8am, and caught the 2 hour bus journey to Cataingan at 9am. They leave every hour and the bus cost 120 PHP per person. We also paid for an extra seat for our backpacks as there is no space to put luggage anywhere.
We was told that the ferry from Cataingan takes 8 hours. However we arrived at the Port just after 5.30pm. Something to take into consideration if you want to take the 7pm boat. The cost 455 PHP per person. Luckily for us this ended up being beneficial as Bogo is to the North and is a lot closer to Malapascua Island where we were heading. If you are looking to go to Cebu city, you would have to get a bus from Bogo following your ferry journey.

According to the Masbate government website the Transasia actually still runs. It’s all very confusing and I’m not sure how true everything is on any sites or what you are told after this cafuffle. Continue reading “The backpacker route: Donsol to Cebu”

Manila vs Cebu

 

This is my view and my opinion based on my own experiences. By no means do I intend to offend anyone, needless to say as a tourist you may have a completely different experience to mine.

Manila

I am sorry to say that my time in Manila was less than magical. Although the city is a main hub for the whole country and its home to an international business district; the place itself for me was undesirable.

I got an unsafe vibe from this city from the moment I set foot there, resulting in me not really wanting to leave my hotel.


It’s so hard to explain and I can’t put my finger on it.

Maybe it was the way people stared and laughed at us as we walked down the street? Now I’m no stranger to locals staring us at us questionably, I had travelled Asia for over 3 months after all. This time it just felt very different. It was more judgemental than inquisitive.

Continue reading “Manila vs Cebu”

The lowdown on Malapascua Island

Malapascua Island, Philippines.
Every time I hear someone say the name, the song ‘I like to move it move it’ comes in to my head. Don’t you think it has a striking resemblance to Madagascar? 

Unfortunately this small island, North of Cebu, doesn’t have any talking lions but there are a lot of other things it has to offer.

Water activities (And they’re super cheap!)

Other than the obvious of swimming in the sea, the serene clear waters of Malapascua makes the island a divers paradise. 

Diving 

You can swim with white tip and thresher sharks (if your trips not cancelled that is..). 

There are diving shops all around the island as the area is famous for two main dives. 

In the early morning you can catch sight of the Thresher Sharks feeding. Alternatively, if your not so much of an early bird, you can take a day trip to Gato Island to swim with White Tip sharks and through an underwater cave. 

We opted for a place called Sea Slug Divers to go diving at Gato Island. It’s the cheapest we found at 1200php (under £20) per fun dive. That includes the equipment too.

Unfortunately they cancelled our trip last minute on the morning of our dive. Something about a broken boat and no dive shops heading to Gato that day? I’m still not certain of what the woman was actually trying to explain. Anyway, this was our last day on Malapascua so unfortunately there was no shark diving for us!

Snorkelling

Because of the beaches low tides there are lots of great snorkelling areas around the island.

We explored 3 different areas of Malapascua including the WWII shipwreck. 

 
Watch out for a post on our day of activities here. 

Food

Stay inland as much as you can and food tends to be cheaper. 

There are lots of ‘eateries’ a couple of roads back from the beach. 

Just behind Cocobana resort on the beach there’s a place called Ging Gings restaurant. They do poached eggs, yay! It’s super cheap here and the food is good so do try this place out.

If you head down to the beachfront, you can expect an expensive meal. Over a backpackers budget. In Ging Gings we got our breakfast and lunch for same price as one breakfast on the beach! 

If you really want to eat by the beach though, head to Oscars restaurant where you can eat while looking out at the sea for a reasonable price. Their chicken tomato and pesto in brown bread was amazing. 

My lunch and drink was less than £3 too, cheap on this island! 

Going out

Like most places in the Philippines, Malapascua has barely any nightlife. The south eastern side of the Bounty Beach has a couple more ‘bars’ if you would call them that. Generally it’s just very chilled restaurants with quiet music. Perfect for a group card game of Shithead! 

Other than all that you can lay on the beautiful white sands while sipping pins coladas without a worry in the world. It’s the perfect place for that. 

 Have you been to Malapascua Island?

Feel free to add your recommendations below 

LwL x 

Monday Blues: Travelling Reflection

Was it worth the money you spent? Was it worth quitting your job for? Was it worth having to start ‘all over again’?

It’s Monday, I’m home in London and I’m unemployed.
In the last four months I have watched beautiful sunsets over horizons and mountains. I’ve swam next to Whale Sharks and turtles and explored the inside of one of the biggest caves in the world.

I’ve selfie’d in front of beautiful viewpoints and took in sights that are postcard worthy. 

I exposed myself to the horror of a ping pong show and drank from coconuts and cups made of bamboo shoots.

I rode a bus through the borders of countries. I made new friends and missed old ones, sat listening in awe to some amazing stories, fascinated by the lives of people I barely know. 
I fell in love with the feeling of the warm sand between my toes and the lazy afternoons spent reading books and sleeping in hammocks. 
Ive woke up startled in the early hours to the alarms of rooster cries and have slept in shacks barely roofed, similar to the locals homes. 

I flushed toilets using buckets of water and slept in a bed too small to fit my feet in. Spent many a nights on cramped sleeper buses too, all part of the appreciation for what I have at home. 
I looked into the eyes of a Tarsier, one of the worlds most unique of creatures. Had my toes nibbled as I swam in a lake. Caught and ate a giant tuna and indulged on the flavour of barracuda steak. I enjoyed the absence of my phone, embracing the beauty of the world around me. 

My pasty skin has suffered hundreds of mosquito bites, attacks by mysterious insects, cuts, grazes and some serious sunburn. 

I found myself caught in a tropical thunderstorm and danced freely in the pouring rain. 

I experimented with worldly food, sometimes contracting bugs and sickness. I lost weight and gained weight. Starved myself for days to rid my body of food poisoning. Gorged for days on unhealthy carbs. 

I quad biked around white sand dunes, was taken downstream by the current of a river and have laughed so hard I almost wee’d myself. 

I have tasted the sweetness of raw sugar cane and have experimented with many different types of cheap Asian beer.

I hesitated to ride the roof of a jeepney, only for it to be one of my travel highlights in Asia. 

Ive experienced a strange Thai massage in Bangkok that I’ll remember for years to come. 

I slid from the top of rocks and jumped feet first through waterfalls. 

Walked through prisons where thousands of people were tortured and educated myself on shocking historical events. 

I shared food with kind locals on a ferry, climbed hills and dangerous pathways, trekked kilometres through stones and mud in only my flip flops and stumped my toe numerous times on bricks in the road. 

I revelled in the free time to reflect, without being interrupted by lack of time or chores for the day. I witnessed the most breathtaking of sceneries. 

I partied in the middle of a jungle and spent Christmas dancing on a beach covered in glow paint. I drank buckets until I could no longer stand and have felt the buzz of pure red bull. I’ve lived high on life.

I’ve felt lucky and thankful everyday for what I was born into. I’ve witnessed people live in poverty yet still find the strength to smile and appreciate life.

I walked through sand that glitters, cut my feet on the ridges of coral and shuffled on my bum through the Cu Chi tunnels. 

I washed frequently in freezing water and experienced adrenaline on the back of a motorbike. I’ve roamed freely with no plan of action, visited world heritage sites, dined in the dark and zip lined from a lighthouse. Swam in waters so clear that I could see starfish at the bottom.Sunbathed on the most blissful of beaches. 

I felt unsafe in the heart of a city and played chicken on the craziest of roads. Touched my hand over the carvings of temples hundreds of years old and climbed up giant statues.

I came face to face with tigers, fed and bathed a baby elephant, floated in a pool of mud in a dark cave and bamboo rafted down a flowing river.

I hustled and bustled through street markets and haggled until blue in the face. Purchased clothing on stalls for under a pound, learnt the basics of a few languages and interacted with those from all walks of life. 

I have soaked in the culture of 7 different countries and share some of my best memories with people that I only know the names of. I have learnt a great deal about life and a greater deal about myself. 

In answer to the questions above I say yes 100%. 
Why travel you ask?

Because travel is the only thing you buy that’s makes you richer’. 

LwL x 

Gili Islands: Swimming with Turtles

Did you know that Indonesia is one of the only countries in the world that inhabits all 7 species of turtle? Pretty cool huh?

Liam and I took full advantage of this and booked ourself on a tour to snorkel around all three of the Gili islands yesterday.
  We went on a mission to spot as many turtles as we could. 

We set off from the harbour in a small boat at 10am with Cha Cha tours. A mere 100k each paid for our whole trip that included the rental of a snorkel, mask and fins. 

We swam in 2 spots in the morning. The tour guide leads you around and luckily for us we found a turtle swimming near the surface as soon as we jumped in. 

 He/she was so calm, swimming gracefully through the water, not at all startled by us humans. I’m pretty sure they’re used to sharing the sands of the Gilis with us tourists by now to be fair. 

  After we had worked up an appetite in our first two sessions, we headed for lunch overlooking the beautiful beach at Sasak Cafe on Gili Meno. We had already seen 5 turtles by this point! 

    
At our last two swimming spots, not only did we see 2 more turtles, we saw a wide range of beautiful corals of all colours and lots of wonderful fish!

    
 
  We also found a very interesting display of bicycles and racks under water? We took full advantage of this unique and weird experience..

   
  How cool is that?!

We  finished up around 2pm and headed back just as it started to rain. How’s that for timing? 

We spotted a total of 7 different turtles throughout the day, some of them bigger than the torso of my body. Crazy stuff. I would say a very successful snorkelling trip wouldn’t you?

  
If your visiting the Gili Islands i’d advised you to do this tour. Such a bargain!
And don’t forget to visit the Turtle Conservations on Gili T or Gili Meno. You can see all of the newly hatched turtles that the locals protect and feed for their first year of life.

When they are big and strong enough to fend for themselves, they have a big festival and set them free into the ocean. 

Please try to make a donation too as its a non-profit organisation and all the money goes to feeding and providing for the turtles. We need to help these mammals as many species face extinction due to various causes! 

Exploring Kuala Lumpur in less than 24 hours

We jumped off the plane and headed straight for the train. After all, we only had 5 hours left of daylight to enjoy the capital of Malaysia.

  

From the airport we grabbed a fast train to KL central. It took 35 minutes and each. From there we headed to Bukit Bintang on the metro, using our magic coins..

  This was the station closest to V’la Heritage which was home for the night. 75 minutes later we’d arrived. 

Just under the station there’s a coffee shop. We grabbed a bite to eat here as we were starving. Doesn’t travelling make you hungry?! 

As soon as our bags were down at the hotel, we scrubbed ourselves up and headed out to explore.

The city reminds me of home in London. Lots of high office buildings, the city business like buzz. I love it. For the first time since leaving for travelling I actually missed London.

First stop, the Petronas Towers! If your in KL you have to have a picture at the Towers. 

  
Did you know that Catherine Zeta-Jones supposedly walked the line between these two buildings in the film Entrapment?

The towers are futuristically beautiful, and are the tallest twin towers in the world! Islamic influences are evident in the towers 5 tiers, representing the 5 pillars of Islam. 

 We took a walk on the inside, through the unbelievable shopping mall. There was everything from Chanel to Topshop! We just window shopped of course. Tom Ford doesn’t really come under a travellers budget.. 

   

 

Just by the towers is the huge greenery famously known as KLCC Park. There colours are vibrant and the culture is rich. We stopped at one of the restaurants for a refreshment overlooking Lake Symphony; the 10,000 metre man made lakes with fountains that features a daily water show.  

   

 We then explored the park, taking in all the scenic nature. This place would be perfect for a picnic!

  Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to head to the Batu Caves in the end which is a shame. 

In the evening we headed to the lively pub district: Changkat Bukit Bintang. A long strip of bars and restaurants and cheesy music awaited us. This was perfectly situated right behind our hotel.

   

 Kuala Lumpur isn’t the cheapest of places I have to say. I mean traveller wise of course. Tax is added on to ‘goods and services’ here so don’t calculate your bill in your head and expect the receipt to recall the same number. 

While drinks were expensive and tax were added in to each round, there were some good deals though. 

But one drink get 2 free cocktails. We took full advantage of this. Liam bought one overpriced Guinness and I got 2 cocktails free. The 3 drinks for the price of the one Guinness worked out about £5, so was almost acceptable for a round! 

We danced the night away. Well for a few hours or so.. We had a 5am wake up call the next day and headed to the Philippines.

Keep an eye out for our spending breakdown of KL

LwL X

Swimming with Whale Sharks

Oslob, Philippines.

By our third attempt to see sharks in the Philippines, I was more than doubtful. What with our failure of a trip in Donsol and our cancellation of our diving in Malapascua, I was starting to wonder if our chance to see these big giant fish under water just wasn’t meant to be!

We set off from our hotel in Lagunde (near Oslob) at 8.20am after rushing through our breakfast. The food at our hotel took a long time to come which made us a bit late for our pre planned tricycle. To be fair though the pancakes were worth the wait

We decided to stay at Lagunde Beach Resort the night before, instead of arriving straight from Cebu by bus as we had a couple of days to play with. 

After stopping on the way to run a few errands, we arrived at the Whale Shark watching spot around 9.15am.
Sign in, watch the orientation, pay 1000 PHP each etc. We knew the drill by now! 

We stood anxiously on the beach waiting for a boat to call ’41’..
While we wait, one of the tour guides told us that it’s best to visit Oslob on a weekday as it’s much less busy. Unfortunately it just worked out that we was there on a Saturday. 

I see her point. There were ques among ques of people, which meant more people and more boats in the water; creating underwater human traffic. 

‘Number 41’ a man called.

With masks and snorkels fitted, we set off in a small row boat and stopped not far from shore. 
I jumped in frantically and looking around, aware that we only had 30 minutes in the water. 

Immediately I was faced with a giant bluey grey spotted body and an open mouth the size of a 15 inch TV. 

    
I couldn’t believe it. I thought that I’d be scared but I wasn’t. This giant whale shark was approx. 6 metres long!

Underwater in their natural habitats these creatures look big, harmless and cuddly. Well almost. You definitely wouldn’t want to be slapped with the force of their tail, it would probably knock you out.

  And the fact that they had no teeth stopped me from choking on my snorkel in fear. 

We swam by them freely, struggling to keep up with them of course, taking a selfie or two.

  
Liam and I watched in awe as one of them hoovered up the water sucking in everything in the vicinity. 

  At one point Liam almost got sucked in himself! 

  By the time our 30 minutes was up we had seen 2 maybe 3 whales sharks. (It gets confusing as they leave and come back as sometimes your not sure if it’s the same or a different one ha.)

  
This experience was the highlight of the trip to the Philippines for me and it was everything that I thought it would be. I’m ecstatic that I finally got to experience this especially as I had almost lost all hope by then. 

  
I can now say I have officially swam next to the biggest fish in the ocean!
LwL x