Travel Thursdays: A weekend in Paris

BON JOUR! Image

 

Yes exactly.  Paris = Eiffel Tower!

It was very glamorous at night.  However, in the daytime – it’s rather disappointing.  I’d suggest to see it at night first, otherwise your disappointment might leave a bad taste in your mouth.  And perhaps even a quattro formaggi pizza would not be the cure. 

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Yes – it does not reflect the image often shown in movies. LOL!  

We had gone to Paris for our first weekend being married.  Our weekend – mini honeymoon! What a romantic surprise by my husband!  The perks of living in London is that Europe is just a stone away.  We were unable to go for a lengthy honeymoon like most couples as my husband was still new in his job and leave was a problem!  Oh well – when life throws you lemons – you take them along to Paris and drink lemonade over the weekend! 😉  I was disappointed at the time, but what can we do!

We stayed in Novotel, which worked out really well as it was a 10 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower.  Highly recommend the hotel as you can’t go wrong with Novotel!

Things to do in Paris over 2 days:

  • See the Eiffel tower at NIGHT 
  • Go on the top of the tower (pre-book to avoid having to queue up!) 
  • Take a cruise along Seine River to view all the major sights
  • Go to the Louvre (the actual Mona Lisa is a bit disappointing)
  • Walk at Gallery Lafayette and you might bump into a friend from Singapore like I did (I was beyond stunned when I heard my name being shouted across the mall.  When you have such a unique name – you know its YOU when you hear it!)
  • Stroll around Champs Elysees and learn to pronounce it too!  Quite a challenge!
  • Eat 4 cheese pizza – it’s a good excuse for a cheat cheesy day!!

ImageA Little Cafe opposite the Eiffel Tower!  I just love my cheese. Yum!!  🙂

ImageGallery Lafayette.. Beautiful architecture and many shops!  If you’re going with your husband/boyfriend make sure you’re extra nice to him before… Then you might end up with many gifts 😉 HAHAHA!  

Au Revoir!

xx

B

 

 

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B’s Day Trip to Brighton

Hello everyone!  i’n going to be blogging a bit more than my usual to compensate for my absence.  So even if I was not missed – let’s just pretend I was 🙂 HAHA!

Last weekend I went to Brighton for the second time and it was lovely. When I first went there I was a bit taken aback by the lack of sand  on the beach.  I’m more used to Australian Beaches (Manly Beach, Bondi Beach, Gold Coast etc) where your foot just sinks in the soft sand.  However, never seeing a pebbly beach before I was intrigued.

This made me return there 🙂

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I absolutely love beaches – just sitting and watching the swash and backwash of waves gives me a sense of peace.  The concept of water merging with water and forming an indistinguishable embodiment of water is intriguing.  It draws a parralel to humanity – we are all the same, yet we aren’t.  We merge into one light at the end (that’s what I believe).  I wasn’t planning to get philosophical there 😉  But yet I absolutely love sitting in beaches.  This one was a bit different as it did HURT.

TIPS FOR BRIGHTON BEACH:

  1. Take a comfy picnic mat – as stones can be rather pokey.
  2. Take a pack of playing cards to play (just because we did that) haha!
  3. Eat yummy vegetarian food in Pompoko (Japanese restaurant!)  A great find 🙂
  4. Watch the sun set and take silhouette pictures – just because they come out so artistic.
  5. If taking a car, park after 5pm as it’s a flat rate of 5 pounds.

Here are some pictures of our trip:

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The yummy vegetarian food in Brighton deserves a separate caption

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(Vegetarian Prawns:  Basically crispy tofu with veggies in the middle)

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Tofu Sesame Don 🙂

The last time I went to Brighton we couldn’t find anything vegetarian besides pizza, so this was really a refreshing option for vegetarians.

Brighton is worth a day trip for visitors in London 🙂

xx

B

Travel Thursdays: Dublin

B travels.

In Ireland do as the Irish do!  Wear a leprechaun hat, just because you want to.  Walk around in green the whole day because you want to celebrate St. Patricks Day but are just a few months late.  Just.. HAVE FUN!  That’s what we did!

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Just because I am a serious person who takes life far too seriously. 😉  HAHA! I actually try to adhere to the aphorism “Don’t take life too seriously, it’s not like we’re going to get out of it alive anyways.”  I’ve met some people who are far too gloomy and make the sunshine seem grey.  Really not my sort of thing! Try to put LIFE in LIFE and LIVE.  I did that in Dublin.  Walked around like a looney and had tons of fun! Ok, so many people assumed I was drunk. It happens when you try to be high on life.

Dublin is a bustling city with surrounding beautiful nature.  I was there on a family trip with cousins, aunts, and my husband.  It was a nice mix of company and ambience.

We stayed at Louis Fitzgerald Hotel (4 Star) and very reasonable priced from lastminute.com.  I would highly recommend it as the rooms very comfortable, there was free wifi and it was air-conditioned.  However, my cousins would disagree as they argued with the manager (long story).  So I won’t get into the technicalities of that as it had to do with noise control.  We were a tiny bit noisy. 😉

Places to see in Dublin:

  • Main city centre (very much like London actually)
  • Ha’penny Bridge over the Liffey River – beautiful for pictures.  There are many love padlocks here to symbolise undying love of a couple. You can put one too! Though I didn’t!
  • Trinity College – pretty college to stroll along.  It’s near the city centre so you can simply walk there.  We met a friend from that college to show us around.
  • Temple Bar- the bar that holds a Guinness World Record of 114 hours and 30 minutes of guitar playing.  You go DAVE!  Yes, so we went there to see this famous bar.  It was bustling.  I don’t drink but it was worth seeing the atmosphere.
  • Day tour from Dublin – I highly recommend to do one! You get to experience nature like never before.

We did the Connemara Day Tour.  We left the hotel really early as we had to be in the city centre at 6.30 am.  This is an early start, especially for someone like me.  I stress about waking up early.  All my university classes were always late as I simply could not do early mornings.  Therefore, if someone like me is highly recommending waking up early, it must be completely worth it.  The tour lasts 12 hours in which you pass through Galway to make your way to Connemara.  A boat tour is also included in the tour package of around 38 Euros per person.

This was the breath taking view of Connemara (the place where the romantic movie PS. I LOVE YOU was shot):

ImageIt resembled a beautiful postcard.  The photography-freak in me could not help but keep clicking pictures.  Some on our DSLR camera and some on my iPhone to whatsapp my family and friends who were missing out.  The view was really breath-taking.

We stopped in Galway and were free to roam around for an hour in the small town.  We grabbed something to eat and were back on the coach.

All in all, it was beautiful.  I even saw a beautiful sunset!  I love sunsets – there’s just something about the sun setting that gives me peace.  The beauty it exudes lights up the sky and then in a moment it’s dark.  Sunsets are mystical in my opinion.  There’s just something about them that I can’t describe as words do not seem to do justice to it.

ImageThis was taken on my iPhone and was edited with just one filter on Instagram.

Like any holiday, it becomes a memory that is etched in your heart.  The adventure that it entails is a story for one to always tell.

Dublin was a wonderful memory!

xx

B

Travel Thursdays: 3 Days in Vienna

Beautiful– that’s definitely a word that encapsulates the ambience of Vienna. The city resembled a postcard. It was surreal.  I felt as if I was walking through a magazine with edited photographs!

We stayed in Pentahotel after thorough research on trip advisor. We wanted a good nights sleep with a budget price. In addition, it was accessible to a nearby train station.  However my only complaint would be that it was a half an hour walk to the city center and this was misrepresented to us.  We were told it was a 10 minute walk – unless of course the guy was sprinting in a marathon.

Here’s a picture of the hotel:

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Picture of our room:

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It was contemporary and clean.  I was definitely happy with it.

Some postcard-type of moments in Vienna: (FYI- These pictures are all un-edited!)

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Schonbrunn Palace

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The Belvedere

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A different angle of The Belvedere. It was just breath-taking!  And the walk there also took my breath away.  It was so far!  DO NOT TRUST AUSTRIANS when they say it’s a 5-10 minute walk.  I am really skeptical as to what speed they walk.

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A random church that we passed by as we walked and walked.

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The Hofburg

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Stephansplatz at night!

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Inside St. Peter’s Church.  Divine!

Places I recommend:

  • The Belvedere Palace- we almost didn’t end up going which would have been a real shame.  It is simply gorgeous as you can see!  You must go there to get a feel of Vienna.
  • St. Peter’s Church – sometimes people feel if they have been to one church they have been to all.  Fair enough.  But this church had gorgeous architecture.  It’s something worth visiting.
  • Schonbrunn Palace- I absolutely loved the flower carpet.  It was gorgeous!  The colors were vibrant adding to the picturesque beauty of the whole place.
  • The Imperial Palace (Hofburg).  It’s a huge square which has the Spanish Horse Riding School as well.  A beautiful place to walk around.
  • Stephansplatz – the ultimate place for tourist.  You can get souveniers and good food there!  It’s best to go here at night to feel the city-life of Vienna.  We go lucky as the 13th night was the Fashion Night of Vienna.  There were street dances to entertain the crowd and freebies given at every corner.  It was fantastic!

It was really a good holiday.  Our second day in Vienna was only half a day as we hopped over to Slovakia to celebrate our anniversary.  Slovakia deserves an entire blog post as well 😉  I’ll be posting up some stuff real soon!

xx

Travel Thursdays: Future Travel Plans

Travelling is simply fulfilling.  It makes you feel alive.  It makes you get out of your comfort zone and have a different ontological experience.  It is a must.

Our next destination is Vienna!  Stay tuned – will be posting all about it in the next few weeks.  For now if there are any suggestions, or must-sees do drop me a comment!

xx

B

Travel Thursdays – Plights of Flights

Cover of "Bon Voyage!"

Cover of Bon Voyage!

This week instead of a country review or my wanderlust adventures – I’ve decided to post some travelling tips which I find very helpful.  These tips address the plights that arise with flights. Combat problems associated with flying, yes, truly a first world problem.

Tips for future globe trotters:

  1. Sleep enough before a long flight.  Jet-lag is inevitable so try to combat tiredness before boarding the flight.
  2. Your skin tends to get very dry on long haul flights (I tend to break out) -moisturize yourself in the plane.  A spritz spray might be a good idea.  I use Jane Iredale Antioxidant Hydration.  It works well for me.  I order it online from Beauty Time Therapist (it’s cheaper with free delivery!)  Spray your bare skin a few times during the flight.  If you have make-up on, I’d suggest mineral make-up to ensure you don’t clog your pores.  In addition, the Hydration spray is suited for mineral make up and is able to penetrate through your make-up to your skin.
  3. Keep a packing list saved on your computer.  Or print one out everytime you travel.  It relives stress and the problem of forgetting to pack something is eradicated.
  4. Keep a bit of different currencies with you.  You never know when you need it, and you won’t lose out on exchange rate.  I’m not saying 100s of dollars, but keep the petty cash after a trip and don’t convert it back.  This is exceptionally true for my Europe trips.
  5. Keep a ziplock that contains your liquids (less than 100ml) in your handbag.  It’s easier than having to search through your bag prior to security.  You know its waiting to happen so be prepared.
  6. When shopping abroad, use your debit card.  The exchange rate is the best rate on it.  I’ve come to realise it’s better than exchanging money.  However, if living in the UK make sure to alert your bank that you are travelling – otherwise your card gets flagged for fraud. This will leave you stranded!
  7. Overcome jetlag by trying not to sleep on the plane even if it “your night”.  Try from the first day to fit the new clock.  That’s the only way to maximise your trip!
  8. Be consistent with Multi-Vitamins.  It’s essential.  Stay hydrated on the plane.  Walk in the plane and make frequent trips to the toilet.  it all sounds logical but it’s imperative.  Not doing so causes DVT and other illnesses.
  9. Travel with a laptop.  Transfer pictures of your holiday daily.  Memory cards get lost/damaged – be pro-active!  To be honest, I’ve learnt this from my husband as he’s in control of photography, photos and technology.
  10. Turn 3G/Roaming off.  The bill will kill you even before your shopping bills arrive.  If you go to a certain country often, getting a local pre-paid sim card would be practica.  You could top up to retain the number from online.  Find out from the provider. Save money where you can!

These are my golden 10 rules of travel.  You can add to my list from your experience! 🙂

Happy Travelling!  Bon Voyage! X

One night in Brussels

The great advantage about living in London is its location.  Location is everything when it comes to travelling!  My husband and I hopped on the Eurostar and reached Brussels in just about two hours in time for us to break our anniversary there.  The plan was pretty last minute last year – as our first year anniversary was in Switzerland (that was more planned).  However, he couldn’t get leave so we just wanted to make the best out of the situation.  When life give you lemons – make tequila! 

We stayed in Radisson, simply due to the fact that it was opposite the Eurostar station.  Subsequently, it would save us on the cost of a taxi and the inconvenience of having to drag our luggage around.  Surprisingly, I travelled light.  (Even a day-tripper usually results in a big bag. I’m just not a light traveller!)  Radisson had above average ratings on tripadvisor which made us choose it to be honest.  I was astonished in my first few Europe trips at the fact that many hotels do not have AIR-CONDITIONING!  Without a good night’s sleep, it’s impossible to enjoy the country.  Luckily, this was not the case here.  I had a very comfortable sleep!  In case you’re wondering what I got as a gift for my anniversary – you can see for yourself!

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To match my new Burberry Collection, I got my nails done in Burberry print!  That was one of the highlights of my trip 🙂

Moving on to the actual country, and tips for future travellers…

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These pictures speak a thousand words and summarze my one night stay in Brussels.  I almost always have pizza at least once in Europe.  I guess being Vegetarian can get tricky in some European Countries.  The Pizza is a safe delicious bet 😉  On the same note of food (why do I always seem to highlight food in all my holidays?  That was completely rhetorical.) – the waffles were amazing.  They were everywhere – but I would definitely recommend it!  Also – we tried a waffle on the stick.  I’m not putting up a picture of that as it wasn’t as good in comparison.  Indulge in waffles and chocolates as its Belgium is infamously known for making people fat. Ok, so it’s not but I think it should be!

The main piazza is the Grand Place.  It’s the central square of Brussels which is etched with gorgeous architecture.  It’s the most popular landmark for tourist.  Enjoy the surroundings, walk a bit and soak the atmosphere.  We went searching for a Hard Rock Cafe which was meant to be at the square itself.  However, we were told it has not opened yet!  What a pity!  Unfortunately,  I couldn’t expand my collection of Hard Rock Tees from this city.  If you go – please send me one 🙂

What is Brussels famous for besides chocolate?

Manneken Pis. It’s the little Manekin up there pissing.  Frankly, the hype pissed me off.  It just sounds absurd, but after my research that was apparently a must-see.  Frankly, I did not think much of it.  I much prefered the waffles.  But since it was all around the same area (the piazza) – we walked to have a look at what the fuss was about.  There’s a story to it!  Well, my inquisitive nature insisted that I googled it before going.  There are many stories linked to this.  My favourite marks a little boy saving the kingdom from a huge fire by his urine!  Imagine the tank loads of water he had to drink before this act.  HAHA!

Enjoy your travels while I’m in Singapore for my Mom’s 50th Birthday Celebrations.  I leave tonight!  Can’t wait! X

Travel Thursdays – Barcelona, Spain

Hello everyone!  Hope you all have been wonderful.  I had a great day yesterday – reconnected with a friend that I haven’t met in 13 years.  Geet was a school friend from Singapore, one which I spoke to every single day for a few hours as I sat next to her in class.  She’s in London for two days and through technology, namely FACEBOOK she messaged me for a meetup.  Was heartwarming.  It’s always so nice to see people from the past in the present who then make it to your future (well if you want that is).

Anyways, over scrumptious lunch at Cafe Concerto (which I highly recommend to all shoppers at Westfield,London) we were talking about our 13 years.  Inevitably, being a person I could connect with, I shared my sorrows and my joys.  My joys included my travels.  Traveling is the joy of my life.  Well one of, but a great joy definitely.

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Beautiful Barcelona! The lights of the city definitely add sparkle to my little bubble.  I loved soaking in every bit of it.  🙂

Where I went & what I recommend there:

WALK WALK & WALK SOME MORE.  I recommend that highly in all my Europe trips.  Have a very comfortable pair of shoes, as your feet are going to need it.  You will never come across the small artisan shops in alleys by any other means of transport.  Thankfully, I did not sprain my ankle or anything (sounds absurd, but I sprained it in New York last year.  It was tragic but at least it didn’t stop me from exploring.  I rented a wheel chair as I could not move.  I will blog about that soon, as it gave me a different perspective to life).  But anyways, buy a day tripper, or 3 day tripper for the metro, grab a map and begin your journey.  It’s the only way. Really.

-Walk to Gaudi sites. Gaudi was a famous architect that has splashed his work all around Barcelona.  It’s gorgeous.  If you are not an architect enthusiast (like me), I’d suggest doing all the “free sites”.  My husband and I went to Park Guell which has Guadi’s old home in it.  His mosaic type of architecture can be seen throughout the park. It was very nice for photos! (I love photos for their memory and aesthetic value).

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Sagrada Famila– a Gaudi site that is very famous.  So much so that the metro station that is located there has the same name!  It is permanently in construction.  However, we just saw it from the outside as we were not interested to go inside. So I can’t comment on the inside but the outside was not very appealing to me. We walked to Casa Batllo and appreciated its beauty from the outside as well.  Being a smart traveler is about choosing where your money goes.  Don’t spend for the sake of it – then you’ll never travel for God’s Sake 😉  Travel on a budget – then you’ll end up seeing more of the world.

Magic Fountain.  Another FREE site.  Basically a rule of travel is being thrifty.  If you are too lavish, chances are you will not travel frequently as it will burn an enormous hole in your pocket.  I usually research on TripAdvisor as it gives a realistic view of the country through travelers’ eyes.  The Magic Fountain was magical, ipso facto.  The Fountain danced to the music and it was all so glamorous. I loved it.

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– Pappabubble located in the gothic area.  A candy artisan shop that demonstrates how candy is made!  Another free event which is really interesting to watch and eat (you get samples at the end!) Warning:  Shop is very tempting and no matter how much you restraint you will end up buying a bag of artisan candy which is far too sweet.  We ate only half in the next month and discarded the rest in fear of diabetes, just FYI.Image

Yeap!  It’s really that beautiful.  The candies in the shop were so colorful and attractive.  The high ratings online were justified.  Our long walk in the Gothic area to get to a little candy shop all made sense.  I loved it!  The foodie in me was excited and thrilled at the same time.  🙂

-We went to Barcelona FC.  I’m not a fan and uninterested in football, as a result I can’t say much!

EAT CHURROS with HOT CHOCOLATE.  It’s more important than eating TAPAS in Spain.  Do not leave Barcelona without it!  They can be found almost in any small cafe.  Cost about 3-4 Euros for heaven in your mouth.  You must.  If you could eat one thing, it should be churros.

Vegeterians – always find a Hard Rock. Their burgers are yummy and you really can’t go wrong with nachos and potato skins.  In addition, I’m a hard rock fan and I collect their tees.  So every country I go to, I buy a Tee.

– Shop at Desigual.  It’s originated in Spain – it can’t get cheaper.  If you find the fashion weird then obviously don’t.  It’s a bit strange, but that’s why I like it.  Though, I can’t do too many colors at one go but I do like some of their fashion range.  I ended up buying a beautiful overcoat!

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Yes! I kept admiring it, I couldn’t help myself.

– Go to a Spanish Beach.  I love beaches. Enjoy Spanish Music while sitting in a beach. We got off at the Barceloneta Station and walked around 20 minutes (my point about walking re-emphasized!) and there it was.  It was a pleasant day and we enjoyed the weather sitting, talking, and eating while listening to Spanish music.

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This reminded me of a scene from a movie!  🙂

– Lastly, I’d say walk the streets of La Ramblas. And walk some more!  Walk in fruit markets. Watch live dances on the street (very entertaining, the performer while spinning on his head removed his shirt) Talented way of stripping, I must say! If you are Sikh (like me, there’s a gurdwara in La Ramblas itself. Make sure to stop by!)

Enjoy being a traveler while you wander streets of Barcelona!  That’s it for now.

X

B

  • Spain (malwinatomaszewska.wordpress.com)
  • Barcelona (rebekahfmccann.wordpress.com)

Travel Thursdays – Hua Hin

I absolutely love traveling.  Like Benjamin Disraeli has once said,

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”  My most recent holiday to somewhere completely new was end of January.  I went to Thailand for a cousins wedding & an engagement ceremony!  In between all the parties and functions there was a gap of 3 days.  I finally got quality time with my family (since now we live continents away – Sydney and London often seem like different planets to be honest)!  We all have been to Thailand many times as my mom used to live there in her childhood and we have family there.  My dad decided to take my family to Hua Hin Sheraton Resort. We hired a minivan and off we went!

It was simply beautiful.  Reflecting on it,  there’s definitely more to it than I remember.  It’s tricky how memories are so elusive.  Thankfully, photos capture our memories quite accurately 🙂

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We went there to simply soak in the atmosphere.  Very different from my usual holidays- which you will see in my future Travel Thursday posts.  I usually maximize my time in any country with the desire to cover every inch of it – with no regret!  Yet this time, we were so happy to be with each other, that we just wanted to be.

Our typical two days were :  wake up and make it in time for the buffet breakfast.  A fantastic spread of cold, hot and anything in between!  Asian 5 star hotel breakfast spread puts Europe to shame, sadly.  There were hot pancakes, waffles, potatoes, sausages, hash browns, a table of assorted freshly baked breads, mouth watering exotic Asian fruits such as logans and rambutans, freshly squeezed juices, sandwiches, rice, etc etc.  I was in love.

After being so exhausted from eating, we sat and absorbed our surroundings, till it was time for our second meal.  We basically ate, sat, and got massaged. It was heaven.  Definitely how I picture it.

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The best massage I ever had in life – was on the beach. The picture above is of my feet that are about to indulge in a wonderful massage in the perfect atmosphere where I hear the calming effects of the swash and backwash of the waves.  It was peaceful.  Except for my sister who would keep interrupting the beautiful silence. 🙂  It was still perfect.

The hotel overlooked the beach, so we didn’t really have to leave the hotel at all. There were little canopies where you could sit and relax.

It was so easy to do nothing.  Something that is not as easy in a city-based life which we were all used to.  We loved it. Before we knew it, it was time to eat again (yaey to food!)  I absolutely loved the pineapple fried rice.  An authentic Thai dish which was served in a pineapple!  I was in awe.  I had never seen a dish served in a fruit. The flavor exceeded my expectation and it is definitely a dish I would recommend to all.  I had it all three days. 🙂  We ordered new dishes everyday – but one pineapple fried rice was a must.

In addition to that, I loved coconut ice-cream, which was also served in a coconut!  I was so pleased with these refreshing creative ideas of serving food, that I was being the typical foodie tourist.  Taking out a picture of my food before eating it!  It was delish!!  Coconut ice-cream topped up with Thai sticky rice and peanuts.  To top it off, a drizzle of coconut milk was poured over.  You might think that’s a coconut overload, but frankly it was very pleasing to the palette! All the food we had was simply divine.

My mom can speak very fluent Thai, so we didn’t experience any difficulty while ordering.  Otherwise, if I were the one ordering I cannot imagine the consequences of me having to play charades with the waiters!  (I have had an experience like that in Shanghai – while trying to ask the salesgirl if a jacket was waterproof.  Let’s just say it was very comical and I think I might stick to drawing instead of playing charades)

So here we have it! My first entry of Travel Thursdays! Hope you enjoyed reading it, as much as I enjoyed blogging about it.  I would definitely recommend Hua Hin Sheraton Resort as a place to unwind from the city life of Bangkok if you are holidaying in that region.

xx

B