South East Asia – 6 – A Guide To Koh Rong Samloem

This is my final destination post in my South East Asia series and I really hope you will enjoy it!

We wanted to spend the last days of our adventure relaxing and soaking up the sunshine before heading back to Edinburgh for our Graduation celebrations. The planning process of this trip was so much fun but also a lot of work! Choosing our island destination was particularly challenging as there are so many beautiful islands around South East Asia! After reading blogs, checking instagram, Pinterest and speaking to people who had recently been to this island cemented the decision for us.

Day 1

Not to put you off visiting this stunning, UNTOUCHED island but the journey getting to and from the island was not fun. We got a bus from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville with the company Virak Buntham Express. That was our first mistake… the company have 0 safety standards and the trip took 2 hours longer than it stated on the website. Unless you go in a super car you will not get from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville in 5 hours…EVER….it takes 7. Not even joking the bus driver was opening the doors at random times on the road and several times made passengers fear that we were going to crash!

So after the bus ride from hell we missed our prebooked ferry to the island (therefore I would not recommend booking in advance as there is a high chance you will miss it due to the roads and you can easily buy tickets there). Unfortunately the bus station was no where near the pier so we had to get a tuk tuk which was also not the safest ride, but we got to the pier in around 15 minutes. We managed to get a one way ticket (11 USD) as our return ticket should still have been valid. Finally we were able to relax on the ferry to the island which took around an hour.

We got off the ferry at Mipai Bay and checked into our first Airbnb called The Beach House . The accommodation was very basic and small for 3 people to share. There was one double bed and a small “bed” upstairs in the attic area that none of us really wanted to sleep in! However, the staff were lovely and the location was great for the beach (literally outside your door).

There are many beautiful bays around this small island so we wanted to make the most of our time by staying on 2 bays. Mipai Bay is definitely more authentic and has a very boho vibe. As soon as we checked in we headed straight to the beach to enjoy the crystal clear waters that everyone raves about. The beach did not disappoint! It was amazing and so warm! For dinner we got recommended a little restaurant by the sea that was supposed to serve amazing Red Snapper but they were so popular they had run out by the time we got there!

We still enjoyed a BBQ style dinner! As it was the 23rd of the month the islanders have a party that tourists are welcome to join! It was such a cool atmosphere!

Day 2

For breakfast we headed out to the local cafes and picked one that had pancakes and fruit salads on the menu.

We got told by our host that the stretch of beach that’s a 10 minute walk away from the house was beautiful so we went there for the morning. I definitely enjoyed the beach a little too much that day as I got so badly sunburned (typical Scottish girl)!!

For lunch we checked out another little cafe called Lost and Found which instantly became out go to spot! It had homemade bread and WIFI!!!!

After a full day of relaxing we had a nice “family” dinner at our Airbnb with some of the other guests.

Day 3

We had been so lucky with the weather up until this day on the island where all it did was rain….ALL DAYYYYYYY. It wasn’t too fun but made the most of it by playing card games and intense games of jenga at a bar! For dinner we went to Bong’s which was a really busy restaurant (with backpackers and expats) serving a variety of food.

Day 4

It was a big day because we were excited to head to Saracen Bay and see another part of the island. We had breakfast at our favourite cafe, Lost and Found. We took a long tail boat for 6 USD over to Paradise Pier where our new accommodation was situated. Let’s just say that it was a traumatic experience sailing over to the next bay as it was an open roofed boat and we sailed through a thunder and lightening storm….not ideal!

After hauling our now soaking wet backpacks off the boat and onto the pier we headed to our new accommodation (Paradise Villas ). As it was still raining and we were still a bit early for check in, we did what everyone else was doing and stayed in the restaurant/bar area and played game!

It was actually a really cool atmosphere in there with the cushions on the floor etc. We also ate lunch at the restaurant which was very tasty (Khmer curry). When we got into our villa we were pleased as it was much bigger and cleaner than the last accommodation we were in!

When the rain finally stopped we headed straight outside our door and to the beach! This beach was the definitely the most beautiful beach we had ever seen, crystal blue waters and soft white sand. There were even 2 cool hammocks that were located just into the ocean!

Take into consideration that the Cambodian islands are a bit more expensive than the mainland

Day 5 and 6

After such an intense holiday we loved spending our last couple of days just chilling on the beach.

– Story time starts –

One of the reasons that we chose the island was that it was known for its GLOWING PLANKTON! When we arrived at the hotel we noticed that they were organising trips at night to see the plankton. We organised to go our 5th night and spoke to the guy who was in charge of the trip and he said we would only go if the weather was suitable. We came back at 8.30pm and the trip was supposed to be at 9pm to see if the weather was okay and the trip was happening, he said it was so we went to change into our bikinis. We were told to grab either a stand up paddle board or a kayak (even though I’d never used one before I close a paddle board, thought I’d give it a go). We paddled out into the ocean heading for a little long tail boat that apparently had snorkels on it so we could see the plankton. We got to the boat and the guide tied our boards to the boat and we swam to see the plankton, its so beautiful, we had never seen anything like it! But….things quickly took a turn for the worst when I could feel a current trying to pull me under the boat so I said to the girls and we all got back on the boat. As soon as we climbed aboard the rain was pouring down, the wind was strong and the thunder and lightening was just about to come! Long story short it turned into a bit of a horror story I’m afraid as there seemed to be 0 health and safety regulations or any way to communicate with anyone on shore! Buttttt we lived to tell the tale!!

– Story time ends –

I really hope you enjoyed reading about my rollercoaster experience on this island and have been clued up on the do’s and dont’s when you visit! It you are a beach bum this island is for you!

It feels bittersweet writing this post as this is the last in my South East Asia series! The trip was an experience of a lifetime with the best travel buddies and has only grown my desire for travel.

Till next time ūüôā

If Home is Where The Heart is…My Heart is in Fife

I know it has been a slow start to the blog this year and I wanted to post more consistently….but life happens! I’m currently in my final year of my event management and tourism degree and things are a little hectic. Anyway, I have been home for the weekend and it dawned on me that I have never written about where I grew up! This post is all about my favourite places to visit, eat and relax around Fife. Firstly, for those who do not know where the Kingdom of Fife is, it’s a region in the East of Scotland (1 hour from Edinburgh and 1 hour and a half from Glasgow).

1. St Andrews

I’m sure most of you have heard of St Andrews if not Fife with the golfing and royal connections. For readers who don’t know this is 1. The HOME of Golf and 2. Where Prince William met Kate Middleton at university.

So with that amazing little introduction to this student seaside town I will tell you my favourite places to check out!

West Sands Beach

This is a beautiful stretch of beach that is a major pull factor for visitors to this town. You can try some water sports such as surfing and windsurfing if you are brave enough to get in the North Sea. Or if it reaches above 18 degrees and remains sunny you wouldn’t believe the amount of people who come to sunbathe!

If you are willing to splash out a little on a cocktail or nip of whisky head to the 4th floor of The Old Course Hotel to get an uncompromising view of this stunning spot.

The Himalayas

No..I’m not actually referring to the mountain range in Asia but there is a fun putting course named after it! It is open every day April to September and only costs ¬£2!!!

This is one of my favourite childhood memories , I am sad to say that I’m still not a pro golfer. However, navigating this tricky course can fool even the best golfers….tell me how you get on!

The Cottage Kitchen

This is the cutest little cafe nestled in the alleyways of St Andrews. Grab a light lunch made with all local ingredients or indulge in their delicious home baking!

Rufflets Hotel

Just outside St Andrews is home to one of the prettiest country house hotels in Scotland. My family have celebrated many special occasions here over time including birthdays and wedding anniversaries.

The inside of the hotel has the most beautiful decor and has many separate rooms if you would like a private function. In addition, you can explore the large garden area which is a perfect backdrop for wedding and celebration pictures!

The Seasons restaurant has an excellently priced 3 course lunch menu for £20 that still includes all the frills!

2. Anstruther

Anstruther is a picturesque old fashioned fishing village near St Andrews, that is known for its harbour and award winning fish and chips! It is popular in the summer months with day trippers visiting to indulge in some of the best seafood in Scotland.

As a child I spent Summer evenings eating fish and chips from the BEST FISH SHOP which is the Anstruther Fish Bar overlooking the busy harbour.

3. Elie

Elie is another charming coastal town to visit in the East Neuk of Fife. In addition to the beach, there are many lovely coastal walks and small boutique gift shops. As a child my family owned a timeshare at Kilconquhar Castle Estate so we spent a lot of time enjoying Elie!

Elie Ness Lighthouse Walk

This lighthouse was built by David Stevenson (cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson) in the early 20th century and has become a well loved attribute of the town. One of my favourite walks in Elie is around the lighthouse. If you continue on the Fife Coastal Path you will journey past some ancient ruins called Lady’s Tower. This was built in 1760 for Lady Janet Anstruther so she can change in private for her morning skinny dip routine!

If you are driving to Elie you can park in the car park next to the lighthouse walk!

The Ship Inn

This restaurant has been open in Elie for many years and is always a favourite. It is known for it’s fresh seafood and beautiful views of the sea!

In the Summer months the patio area overlooking the beach is open for BBQ nights

Elie Watersports

Ever wanted to try SUP paddling, surfing or tubing? Now is your chance!! Grab a couple of friends and pray the Scottish weather will work in your favour and have the best time!

If that doesn’t sound like your thing and you would rather just throw yourself off the pier….hire a wetsuit and do that too! Trust me the wetsuit is essential…..

4. Crail

If you have an obsession for quirky little houses with steps down to the sea and want to try fresh lobster (literally caught that day) visit Crail!

This vibrant little fishing village is home to a very busy harbour where you can see fishermen coming and going out to sea everyday. One of my favourite spots in this village is right down by the harbour at Reilly Shellfish. This is where you can grab a picnic table and eat the freshest shellfish hidden within the harbour walls.

As well as the huge fishing scene, Crail is known for it’s vibrant Festival scene at the end of July. The festival showcases the best of Crail and the produces of the villages surrounding it.

The last year I went there was a stall for the Cocoa Tree which is my favourite cafe in the East Neuk! Perfect for a fellow chocoholic…

5. Falkland

I am saving the best till last…..home is where the heart is and my home is Falkland. Falkland really is a hidden gem but is getting even more popular as it was featured in the Outlander series which is now known worldwide!

This little village is full of beautiful architecture, former home of Scottish Royalty and surrounded by an ancient estate developed in the Victorian period.

Falkland Palace

Falkland Palace was the country home to royalty such as Mary Queen of Scots and is now owned by the National Trust Scotland. Wander around the beautiful palace and stroll through the acres of garden and orchards.

These are the entry prices shown on the website: Adult £13, Family £30, One adult family £23.50 and Concession is £9.

Falkland Estate

This estate was the former hunting grounds for the Kings and Queens that resided in Falkland Palace. It’s one of my favourite places to go when I am home, especially up to the hidden waterfall (follow the trail named Maspie Den)!

The Stag

One of my favourite restaurants in Falkland is The Stag. It is a cosy restaurant and bar located near the now famous water fountain (seen in Outlander).

After being away from home for so long and coming back, really does make me appreciate the beautiful environment I was brought up in. I hope you visit Fife and the East Neuk sometime too!

Istria – Croatia Series #1

I have just returned from my 2 week Croatian adventure and I am very excited to start writing my Croatian blog series. For my first time visiting Croatia and I saw many beautiful places that would definitely make me want to discover the rest of the country.

Don’t worry, I won’t make you read a novel of a blog post so I will split the series into 5 blog entries!

This first blog post will cover my time in the Istria region of Croatia that we explored the first week.

Labin

We spent the first week in Croatia on a couples/group holiday with friends, in a villa in Labin. Villa Rosa was absolutely stunning and perfect for a chilled group holiday (10 poeple max).

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The owners were lovely and offered us a couple of bottles of wine from the region that they keep in their wine cellar.¬† I found Instrian red and white wine to be light and¬†VERY drinkable…

On the first couple of days we wondered into Labin to have a look around and some dinner. It’s not a big place but does have charming features such as the umbrellas and old winding streets.

I would highly recommend¬†Velo Kafe¬†for something to eat. It’s in the centre of Labin and has a cute terrace area to dine on. I ordered fish in a white wine sauce which seemed to be a favourite amongst the group….don’t worry it comes without the fish head¬†(biggest fear…)!

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Rabac

Rabac is a lovely holiday resort town to visit which is only 10 minutes away from Labin. It’s full of gorgeous coves and beach bars to spend the day at. However, if you do decide to spend time at the beach here go to the smaller coves as the main beaches are very crowded! We got recommended Beach Girandella (blue flag beach) by the villa’s owner which was a great place to spend the afternoon.

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However, I preferred the smaller beaches around the promenade area of the town as they were quieter.

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If you love the look of my towel use my personal code¬†CatrionaKe15¬†for 15% off all orders at the checkout! A percentage of all Sandcloud’s profits go into saving marine life by supporting conservation charities. #savethefishes

Pula

After we had enough of waking up at 2pm and taking it easy by the pool all day we ventured to some other beautiful places in Istria. Pula is definitely worth a visit and is only a 1 hour drive away from Labin.

Pula is an incredible city that is known for it’s stunning beaches and ancient roman ruins. During our day here we checked out the Amphitheatre where the gladiators fought which was 25 kuna¬† (¬£3) for student entry!¬†

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If you have the car and are looking for adventure I would definitely recommend driving South of Pula to Premantura. You must drive to the furthest tip of this part of the island, past the Safari Bar (shown on google maps) to discover the perfect cliff jumping spot!

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 * BUY WATER SHOES! YOU WILL THANK ME LATER*

Rovinj

This place stole my heart….I absolutely loved my evening wandering around this pretty waterfront town. In many ways it reminded me of parts of Italy and if that wasn’t enough for me I could have hopped on a boat sailing to Venice!

Lukas kept having to wait for me because I couldn’t stop snapping pictures of the winding streets and steps leading down to the sea!

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We found this amazing little cocktail bar down one of the alleyways called Mediterraneo Bar. 

Untitled design (57).png39739161_287774335334333_7739606199254908928_n.jpgTake a seat on one of the colourful cushions or dip your feet into the sea while enjoying a frozen daiquiri = perfection! 

As well as this gem we also found an incredible restaurant¬†Puntulina that really was the best place to watch the sun set over the sea. We didn’t book a table so it was just by luck that they had room for 2 on the balcony area! It was not the cheapest place to dine but we had been eating in the villa the past few nights and I can easily say that it was one of my favourite moments of the holiday.

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Lanzarote – Puerto Del Carmen

This summer I travelled to the liveliest part of Lanzarote, Puerto Del Carmen and had an incredible time! If you love a safe, friendly holiday destination with year long sunshine then Lanzarote should be high up on your bucket list.

I found some amazing places to sample the local cuisine and sweet treats, swam with the fish at the Playa Chica cove, watched the sunset over the marina at Puerto Calero, discovered the blue lagoon at Los Jameos del Agua, teared up the track at San Bartolomé and partied at a cool music bar in the Old Harbour.

Eat, Eat and Eat again

Lanzarote is a Canary Island off the coast of West Africa and administered by Spain. Therefore the authentic food on the island in Spanish. Don’t get me wrong there are hundreds of Chinese, British, American, Italian and Indian restaurants on the island but the Spanish cuisine is one to try if you are in the mood for something different.

Puerto Bahia

My favourite meal on that holiday was at a beautiful restaurant suitable for Al fresco dining in the Old Harbour looking out at the ocean. Puerto Bahia was the perfect choice for a romantic and delicious meal. It serves traditional Spanish food as well as a lot of fish dishes. If you are a prawn fan the sizzling garlic prawn starter is a must! As well as being in a picture perfect location the food is very reasonably priced for that area.

To make the night even more perfect the staff provide you with cosy blankets to wrap around your shoulders if the open fire lanterns are not enough to fight the fresh sea breeze.     13700104_1212260568794400_8898763514840019582_n

The Buddha Bar  & La Taberna del Puerto

If you fancy getting active as well as experiencing breathtaking ocean views walk from Puerto Del Carmen to Puerto Calero. This walk start from the chained stairway in the Old Harbour and journeys along the waters edge to Puerto Calero. One tip….do NOT believe the locals when they say it will take 20 minutes, it will take at least an hour, especially if it’s a really warm day.

While in Puerto Calero have ¬†a cocktail at the Buddha Bar and admire the luxurious boats docked in the marina. If you are peckish after your walk then head to La Taberna del Puerto and order paella dish (perfect for sharing). The paella from here is honestly the best I have ever had so don’t miss out!

Grand Creperie Orient Express

I want to give this little crepe stand a very special mention! While we were in the Old Harbour we visited this stand 3 times (once at 11pm!). These are most probably the largest, cheapest and most delicious crepes on the island (only 3 euros!!) The Nutella and Banana crepe is a must have for any fellow chocolate lover!

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You will never be bored in Lanzarote…

There are so many activities and attractions to enjoy on this island for all ages. Whether you like to chill out at one of the attractive coves or have an adrenaline rush on the jet skis you will never have a dull moment!

Jet Skiing

If you like the sound of flying over the waves then jet skiing is the activity for you to try. Book your jet ski experience at Playa Chica and prepare to have the time of your life. For a single jet ski it will cost 5o euros and 60 euros for a double jet ski.

Go Karting

Pretend your an F1 driver and race around the challenging circuit at San Bartolomé. This is  a great way to spend a couple of hours away from the beaches and crowds. You cannot walk to this place from Puerto Del Carmen but you could travel by car or there are organised busses from central locations.

Party the night away in Puerto Del Carmen

Okay so Lanzarote is definitely not a “clubbing holiday” destination but that does NOT mean that you can’t have a fun night out! The Old Harbour and the main strip is packed of live music bars. If you want a proper night club venue head to Centro Atlantico for dance floors and cheap cocktail deals! (They honestly do buy 1 cocktail and get 3 free…) ūüėČ13775490_1212260495461074_7657718820169852411_n

 Los Jameos del Agua

Finally before you leave this fabulous island take  a trip to the blue lagoon and caves at Los Jameos del Agua. This movie background/James Bond like piece of art was created by Cesar Manrique who has various other pieces of artwork around the island. When you visit this magical place you will journey down the stone steps and be welcomed by  a shimmering lagoon. As you walk past the lagoon you will see tourists enjoy a snack and a drink at the unique cavern bar. Before you leave this wondrous place you will be directed through an exhibition about volcanoes and the island.

 

 

After reading this post I hope you visit Lanzarote and enjoy it’s unique charms like I did…