So I’m writing this post while laying tanning on a boat in Cannes. This really is the life!
I’ve also just realised that this is my 200th post on my blog. What a lovely way to celebrate right? While chilling in the sunshine, while on holiday where I am at my happiest.
I’m in Cannes for a few days visiting our friend Kenzie who has grown up here. We are living like locals in the day, and tourists in the night. Seeing some great sights, soaking up the sun, and eating good French food.
Our first night here we got in around 3am and ate a cheese board! True French style. Better than your average drunken McDonald’s I suppose!
There are lots of places I’m going to post about here, but for now I’m going to nap in the sun.
I’ll just leave you with a lovely picture of the turquoise blue sea..
We met a lovely tour guide called Yugi on the boat over from Maya to Malapascua. He gave us lots of useful information about the island and suggested an afternoon of exploring under water.
Myself, Liam and our two new German friends Max and Rebecca hired a private boat for the afternoon. We paid just 750 PHP per couple for a whole afternoon of snorkelling from 3-6pm. That works out under £6 each and our masks and snorkel hire was included!
We explored 3 different snorkelling spots and took a boat tour around the whole island.
First spot, South East of Bounty Beach.
The water here was perfectly clear. You could actually see the sand at the bottom while sitting on the boat. As we swam around the area we see lots of lovely colourful fish and some great coral formations.
The second spot was around Daquitdaquit Island.
A small island of sharp rock that towered out of the water.
Due to the waves crashing against it, the water wasn’t as clear as Bounty Beach. We did however see a Dori fish (the blue one in finding nemo that I don’t know the name of) and a couple of sea urchins that we swiftly avoided. The third spot was my favourite: The WWII Japanese Shipwreck
This was so cool to see! Buried only about 5 metres beneath us was the remains of a Japanese WWII ship. Because of the low tide you can see this by just snorkelling.
Unfortunately the water was murky as it had rained the day before so it was a bit hard to see (especially in my pictures). That didn’t stop us though! Liam and I held our breath and swam down a few times to get a closer look. Lots of big fish emerged from under the ship, they’d obviously found a home under there.
After our final underwater adventure, we climbed back on the boat and set sail around the whole island. Some of the views were beautiful. We see a Lighthouse and what appears to be the ruins of a church
We stopped at the West of the island to watch the sunset over the hills. The water was so clear that as we rode through shallower waters we could see starfish on the corals.
It was such a lovely afternoon and a great way to see the really beauty of Malapascua.
I would recommend this trip to anyone, especially for less than £6 each.
If you need help with any tours or have questions, feel free to call Yugi on 00 69359969716. He helped us with tours, diving and accommodation! Just tell him Lauren and Liam from London gave you his number.
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!)
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
We’ve recently spent 5 nights having some much needed beach time in Sihanoukville. My best friend and her boyfriend came out to meet us for a holiday which was super exciting as I haven’t seen her since I left in November! We’ve had so much fun.
We spent most of our time on Serendipity beach which is the tourist part. The sand is lovely and the water is clear.
Chill days, minimal activities, a few sunsets and the odd night out. We wanted to laze in the sun to try and get our tan back after Vietnam!
The only downside to this place is that there are lots of beggars, ladies offering manicures and massages and very young children selling bracelets. Unfortunately a ‘no thank you’ the first time is not enough. You have to be stern and repeat no 3 times and you’ll get this repeatedly throughout the day. I understand that this is their living but it can get annoying! It’s also very sad to see such small children having to work, especially as a sign just up the road says not to promote this and buy from them as they can be victims of abuse and can get ill from working on the beach!
Other than that the place is lovely and lively. There are lots of restaurants and bars. We gorged on some lovely food at Porkys and Angkor beach restaurant too (even though I had food poisoning again from somewhere). Its easy to see why this seems to be a tourist hotspot!
For one night we treated ourselves to a night at the Deluxx Boutique Hotel. Its newly opened just around the corner and cost £100 for a 2 bedroom apartment for 4 people. The hotel had a jacuzzi,pool, free tuk tuk service and included an impressive breakfast the next day. We really made the most of the facilities..
Not so bad for ‘backpackers’ eh?
I would definitely recommend this place to holiday makers or travellers looking to flashback for a night.
I’ve also learnt a new card game called shithead – have you ever played before? We have literally played it 100 times in the last week or so ha. It is our new favourite pass time.
Although this is a touristy area, thankfully there are still lots of places you can stay for cheap as a traveller, drink deals on the beach are great and there’s a few places that do nice food for cheap.
I have many more posts to come on Sihanoukville nightlife and where to stay, our night in Koh Rong and the days of Phnom Penh. I’m about a week behind I’m afraid so bare with me!
Ok I know travelling is all about immersing yourself in the culture, finding unusual places, embarking on great discoveries, trekking and all that jazz but it’s been a month since we’ve seen some proper sun.
Heading for Vietnam in January? clearly the worse decision Ive made so far. It’s their winter you know? We have had constant clouds and miserableness for so long that I forgot what the sun looks like.
So we decided to skip the French Alps looking town that is Dalat, and head straight for the beach of Mui Ne. Don’t judge me.
On our first day sunbathing I got a bit over excited and unfortunately this resulted in some serious sunburn..
Ouch. God damn you Irish skin.
I worked so hard to get a base tan in Thailand and after 3 weeks here it’s ruined me and I’m back to square one. Emotional times.
Anyway, this is the lovely Mui Ne Beach.. Mui ne is popular for kite surfing – I gather that’s because the beach is ridiculously windy; so much so that it’s hard to lay and sunbathe because the sand attacks you.
As a result of this, the waves are also quite violent, nonetheless it’s really fun to run into the sea and jump into them. Just make sure your bikini is done up tight or it will fall off!
We stayed at the Backpackers village for a night and made use of their pool for most of our time in Mui Ne.
There’s nothing like a dip in the pool when it gets too hot!
We had a lovely few days chillaxing here and I don’t regret our decision to come here instead.
Just wait for my sand dunes post, one of my travelling highlights so far!
It appears that there are 3 main tourist spots that get circled around Nha Trang. A lot of places operate half day tours that cost around 1.3 million dong (£40). What with us being ‘travellers’ and all, 40 quid for half a day out just couldn’t be justified. We therefore popped on our walking shoes, GPS in hand and headed straight for the hotspots
Here’s a map to give you an idea of our day.
We headed to the Long Son Pagoda first, this was approx. a 3.5km walk from our hotel.
Long Son Pagoda
One of the oldest and biggest pagodas in Nha Trang. It was built in 1886 but has more recently been dedicated to the monks and nuns who died protesting against the US supported Diem regime.
I’d be lying if I said I was unbelievably impressed by this site but that’s just my opinion. Let me know when you visit?
We then climbed the 152 stone steps leading to the giant white Buddha sitting on a lotus blossom. It really was giant! We also had great view of the whole city from here and we passed some other cool stuff on the way up too.
We stopped for lunch after this in a random restaurant that we found. It was really hard to find somewhere to eat around this area, we were looking for ages!
The benefits of walking everywhere is that you truly get to explore the place you’re visitong. We see some great sites along the way
The Cham Towers were a further 3 or so km. We weren’t sure if this was walkable. As you can see from the map, there is a motorway and an island to get past beforehand, but we decided to take the risk. This was actually super easy so don’t be put off by this. The bridges had pavements and so did the busy roads.
The Po Nagar Cham Towers is a sacred Hindu site. The towers were built between the 7th and 12th century in honour of the Cham Princess. Today it’s still used as a pilgrimage for the local people.
I loved this place, so much detail on the buildings and lots of scenery to enjoy.
Entry fee: 22,000 dong
On our way back we popped into the Dam Market, the famous trade centre of Nha Trang.
The market is a circle shape with stalls both in and around the circle. Expect all the obvious merchandise being sold here.
I’d say it was approx. a 12km walk all in all. We did the whole day in the space of 4 1/2 hours; including a stroll along the beach and a cake stop on the way home.
Our total day cost 275, 000 dong (£8.60). This included our lunch, fluids for the walk, 2 big cakes and entry into the Pogar Towers.
I also lost about 200 calories. Well, before I ate the cake. That was my reward for the exercise ha.
That means we saved over £30 each by avoiding a tour!
You may have seen some memes taking Facebook by storm recently. So I’m going to join in, as I feel I deserve one.
Hoi An, the home of bespoke tailoring and streets of yellow painted buildings. We spent 3 nights in the town voted ‘most favourite destination for tourists’ by Wanderlust UK.
With Tailors on every corner, this town is becoming increasingly popular for paying only $120 dollars for a tailored suit, made and ready in just 1-2 days.
We had a very chilled time there, no big tours or premeditated plans; just us and our feet walking a fair few kilometres, running laps around the Ancient Town and making a dart for the beach on the one hot day we had.
Hoi An is a charming and romantic area with a beautiful riverside setting. The ancient world UNESCO site is impressively well-preserved and infuses a mix of Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese culture all into one.
The ‘city centre’ is around 4 streets in length, making it easily accessible for walking, as long as you avoid being run down by all the motorbikes of course. It is here that you can head over to view the Japanese Bridge, and go through it to the preserved part of Ancient Town for a small fee. We gave this a miss.
Hoi An reminded me a lot of Chiang Mai; a wonderful place that doesn’t necessarily have the ‘oh my god there is something unbelievable to see here’ landmarks, but it’s just one of the very few places that has preserved it’s area to how it used to be. A great place to experience the real unindustrialised Vietnam.
On the one day the skies blessed us with 28-29c and no rain, we headed for the beach on a long straight 4km road.
We stopped every so often, taking in the sites, enjoying a beverage or two by the riverside and had a bite to eat. Granted, you can rent bikes from your hotel for a mere $1 which would be a quicker option, but with Liam’s still iffy ribs we decided that walking was the safest bet.
The south part of Cua Dao beach was lined with sandbags and wooden posts. Not the most scenic but the waves were violent, so I assume this was for people’s safety?
The northern part of the beach was much nicer, clear sands and a rock backdrop. Well worth a walk along on a nice day.
Hoi An really comes alive at night. The history in the ancient town vs. the new drinking culture means that there is something for everyone.
The hustle and bustle of the street vendors down Le Loi street, paired up with the English speaking bar promoters, selling all you can drink and BOGOF deals over An Hoi bridge gives the area a contrasting mix.
There are authentic Vietnamese restaurants side by side with crazy bars that offer you unlimited drink for 100,000 dong. Thankfully, there isn’t enough of these to create a Magaluf bar strip atmosphere. The area still holds on to its culture and beauty, but I’ll be interested to see what this place looks like in another few decades, and whether tourism funded greed will get the better of this vibrant city.
There is a long night market straight down the middle of the small strip for you to immerse in.
The lantern shops make the road very picturesque but unfortunately the constant pestering: ‘you buy something here’ every time you glance over at a stall, started to get on my nerves a bit.
Is it just an English thing? You know where we get instantly wound up and on the defensive in a retail shop if a worker asks if we need help with something. Like no woman, stop being salesy and leave me to lurk and doddle in peace ha.
If you’re a true night owl and you want to continue the party after most of the town has lights out at midnight, head down to ‘why not bar’ where you can carry on the drinking and fun until 3am.
Hoi an is listed in top 25 destinations in Asia 2013 by trip advisor and after my enjoyable visit here I can see why.
A couple of days ago we decided to take a taxi boat over to Nang Yuan Island as its a mere 10 minute ride away from Koh Tao. I would definitely recommend a day trip here!
Koh Nang Yuan is actually made up of three little areas of land connected by sandbanks. Its absolutely stunning; a picture perfect paradise where post-card dreams are made. I have the photos to prove it!
Have you ever seen clearer waters?!
We headed straight to the viewpoint from the pier.. Lots of steps and lots of giant mosquitos were awaiting us, but we made it! (Well almost to the top, the rocks to get to the top were too dangerous and had all blood over them,no thanks!)
We made it high enough to see all 3 islands connecting:
Then we went to relax and swim..
To preserve the island you aren’t allowed to bring in plastic bottles and you have to pay 100 baht on entry but it’s definitely worth it, even if just to get a photo like this..