Thursday, 28 April 2016

Don't Get Attached to the Local Food

This is Puppydog and she followed me for around 10miles through the villages surrounding Sapa. Stray dogs are pretty common in Vietnam but most of them pretend to look like they belong somewhere. Puppydog didn't seem to belong anywhere. 
Dog meat is really popular in Vietnam, normally eaten at the end of the month to bring good luck and fortune. Being a vegetarian myself for moral and ethical reasons, you'd maybe think I'd see all animals the same in that respect but truthfully, I found this much more difficult to come to terms with. She took a particular shining to me, maybe she could sense the crazy-animal-lady in me. She didn't look at me nor did I pet her but she kept very close and often brushed up against my leg if a larger dog was close-by. Then she watched as we drove away and it took every ounce of strength in me to not smuggle her wee skinny body away. 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Descending Dragon Bay- Halong Bay

I'm looking through my photos and I can't actually believe I've just been in Halong Bay, woooft! The trip wooshed by, beautiful friends made along the way. I went with a junk-boat cruise called Halong Dragon Cruise for a 2night/3day trip. After a hot and humid day kayaking and squid fishing, we drank the hours away on the deck in the floating city of boats.
 A struggle getting up for breakfast the next morning and then across to Monkey Island to see the monkeys and get our tan on. We made our way to Cat Ba island, the largest of the islands in Halong Bay, and cycled the 5km through the limestone mountains to our bungalow for the night which was in-credible! All the wildlife. David Attenborough eat your heart out. It was a pretty remote village and I wish we'd been able to stay longer. I mean b-jeezus look at those photos.
I'm off to the north-west next to a place called Sapa.
Lazing about Hanoi waiting for the lightening storms to end there. Crossing so many things of dat list!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

24 Hours in Hanoi

I took photos all morning today before I sat to look through them to have my camera tell me there was no card in it. I don't know whyyyy it wasn't in there. What a bloomin idiot. I also got spectacularly lost which was especially upsetting because I've always prided myself on my inner map of the world. Something of a quiet talent. Hanoi, you beat me. 
I found a secret cafe, a little hidden treasure that looks out onto Hoan Kiem Lake and it was perfect timing as the sun was setting and I'd just un-lost myself. You have to navigate through a silk shop, a set of regular steps and then 2 floors of a steel spiral staircase. Traumatic for those of you with vertigo. Ahem. 
Louise 1-1 Hanoi. 
Then it was eating time. My mum reckons I need to be told to eat to keep my strength up. I don't know who she thinks she's talking to! I found a Vietnamese vegetarian restaurant called Cai Mam and made a friend in the waiter who told me that Scotland were "bad to vote no" and that I should eat more (kindred spirits I think!). 
I'm off to Halong Bay tomorrow morning on a junk-boat cruise. It's been top of my bucket list for a very very long time so here's hoping it lives up to my expectations! 

Happy Monday, folks!

And some more from Bangkok...

Friday, 15 April 2016

24 Hours in Bangkok

So I survived the 21 hours it took to get here with a little finesse and dignity, can you believe it!
Round of applause, please.
I'm only in Bangkok for a day but will probably return at some point on my way home and I slept the morning and some of the afternoon away. I had every intention of going straight out once I'd dropped my bags at the hotel but you know how appealing beds can be at the best of times and it just had that king size come-hither look.
I did venture out eventually though and I swear on. my. cat's. life I didn't think I was going to make it back in the heat. I didn't know a single person could sweat that much. After finding refuge in an ice cream cafe, I made my way to the Grand Palace to be told I couldn't enter. From what I gathered from the hundreds of police, Buddhist monks, uniforms, blacked-out windows and people lining the streets, there must have been someone important in there. I googled it with no luck so I'll just have to live with never knowing. A man with a badge told me I couldn't move, sit down, or use my camera so I was stood there looking like a very confused tourist and visibly burning every second longer I was made to stand and watch. 
I'm safe and sound, back at the hotel with only a mozzie bite on my bottom and a couple of pink shoulders. 

Thursday, 7 April 2016

13 Free Things To Do In Vancouver

1. Explore Gastown, Vancouver's oldest neighborhood. Home to The Cambie, my favourite pub in the world. Check out this gallery for inspiration.
See here why The Cambie is the best pub in the world.

2. Walk the Stanley Park seawall. Don't fall in. 

3. Explore Granville Island for beer, more beer, shopping and the public market. 

4. Watch the sunset from Sunset beach. On a log. Maybe with a barbecue and a blanket? 

5. Swim at English Bay

6. Lynn Canyon Park. Walk the suspension bridge over Lynn Creek, A much cheaper alternative to the Capilano bridge.
7. Take a stroll down Commercial Drive

8. Walk the Lions Gate bridge

9. The Grouse Grind. The views of the city are second to none and while it may take you two hours (and 2830 stairs to be exact) to hike up, it's free and therefore considerably cheaper than the gondola. 

10. See a film at the Stanley Park outdoor cinema every Tuesday during the summer at Second beach. 

11. Richmond night market

12. Explore Canada Place for spectacular views of the city and surrounding mountains. Also the best place to watch lightening storms. If you're into that kinda thing. 

13. The Vancouver Art Gallery is free on Tuesday's from 5-9pm. They house some pretty cool travelling exhibitions so keep a look out. 

Friday, 25 March 2016

How To...Rome On A Budget

Rome still holds the number 1 spot in my top cities that I haven't lived in (because, ahem, Vancouver rules) and having been to Rome when I was a poor, hungry student, I kinda know how to sniff out the cheap stuff. So without further ado...

1. Piazza Navona
Sit. Eat Freshly made pesto farfalle. Drink Wine. Relax and watch the world go by.
This is also the perfect spot to grab those souvenirs to take home. 

2. Spanish Steps and the Trinita Dei Monti

3. Trevi Fountain

4. Villa Borghese 
We skipped this on our first trip and I'm so glad we put time aside to visit the second time around. It's such a relief from the heat and bustle of the city streets. Perfect for a rest day when your feet are aching from all the walking. They will ache. 


6. Campo de Fiori
I don't have a photo because I was drunk to be honest. Blame the rain! It is a must though. A bustling marketplace during the day and conveniently lined with bars for night time. 

7. Piazza del Popolo

8. The Pantheon
The Pantheon is a domed temple dedicated to pagan Gods and is said to be the best preserved ancient building in Rome. But if that doesn't tickle your fancy, you can just take in the views from one of the many cafes and restaurants that line Piazza della Rotonda. Like everywhere else in the labyrinth that is Rome, you'll probably stumble across it anyway. Grab some mashed potato pizza while you're at it because it exists. 

9. The Vatican and St Peter's Basilica. 
The Vatican museums are open for free on the last Sunday of the month but the main Basilica is definitely worth your time if you don't want to pay for entry to the museums. Remember to dress appropriately and expect to queue. 

10. Santa Maria in Trastevere
One of Rome's oldest churches in a quiet little corner in Trastevere. A quiet escape from the busy streets.