South East Asia – 6 – 2 Days in Phnom Penh

Welcome to the 6th blog post in my South East Asia series! Thank you for sticking with me, it’s a little crazy at the moment preparing for the move to Ibiza but here we go with the Phnom Penh post!

In my personal opinion, 2 days is enough in Phnom Penh. Before travelling to this city I had heard mixed reviews, to be honest we did not like it very much. However, if you are visiting Cambodia it is just as important as visiting the temples (if not more important) to visit the Killing Fields and Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh to learn more about the country’s tragic losses.

Again, we booked through Airbnb for our accommodation. We were actually booked into a hotel room but still through Airbnb which we thought was a nice surprise…. The hotel that we were staying in was called The Bridge and appeared to be very popular with Chinese business men and woman. Our experience at the hotel was not great to be honest. When we were checking in, the receptionist said that there had been a mistake and we were booked into a room for 2 people (not 3). They really were not very helpful and did not try hard to fix the situation. It was quite late when we arrived so decided a room with one bed was a lot better than no room at all (thankfully it was a HUGE bed…). As it was a hotel, breakfast was included. It was nice but had very limited choice…we had french toast everyday..

Night 1

On our first night in Phnom Penh we went to the Night Market and tried some street food. Some were better than others and the fried options were very heavy. It was a cool area though, full of locals just enjoying their evening.

Unfortunately, we did not feel safe in this city and sensed that from the first night. I mean don’t get me wrong we were fine, nothing happened…it just always felt slightly dodgy during the day and night.

Day 1

The next day we wanted to explore as much of Phnom Penh as we could as we had planned to visit the Killing Fields the next day. We got a tuk tuk driver to drop us off in the centre so we could start sightseeing.

The tuk tuk drivers will 100% try to rip you off, so if you have been in Cambodia for a few days try to gage how much you are paying per journey. A 10 minute journey will usually cost 3 USD.

We were dropped off right outside the Royal Palace which is also home to the Silver Pagoda. Unfortunately when we arrived in the morning (around 10am) it was not yet open. So we took some pictures from the outside and moved on!

After doing a little research we knew that we wanted to see Wat Phnom which is set upon the only “hill” in the city. According to the locals, Wat Phnom was the first Buddhist temple created on this site and was built in 1373. It was discovered by Lady Penh who the city is named after. Many people visit this ancient site to wish for luck involving their business deals or exams (I guess it worked as we were over the moon with our degree results days later)!

For lunch we headed to Friends the Restaurant which supports and trains teenagers in hospitality who do not have the opportunity to attend school. IT WAS AMAZING!!!

After lunch we saw that there were stalls opposite that are related to the Friends company, so we went over for a bit of shopping.

We saw that the students were also doing beauty treatments such as nail painting and hairdressing. I left the girls to get their nails done and I went over to the other side of the road to get a NEEDED Khmer massage.

Before heading back to the hotel to chill by the pool we stopped to look at the beautiful Buddhist temples  along the way!

Day 2

After the second breakfast of french toast we headed out the hotel to get our tuk tuk. We asked previously if the guy who took as from the bus station to our hotel the first night would also drive us to the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum. We knew that this day would be distressing but nothing can quite prepare you for learning about the inhumanity of the Khmer Rouge.

We visited the Killing Fields first which is a little outside the city. The entrance was 6 USD which included an audio guide for in-depth information regarding the events that took place there. Afterwards, we drove to the S-21 Genocide Museum to find out about the lives of prisoners before they were taken to the Killing Fields. The entrance fee is 5 USD and an extra 3 USD for an audio guide.

After a long day we spent the evening enjoying the sky bar at our hotel before packing our backpacks again for our bus journey to Sihanoukville then onto Koh Rong Sanloem island!

If you are interested in my other posts about my time in South East Asia or the planning before, below are direct links to my previous posts!

Start of planning

Pre trip planning

Kuala Lumpur

Hanoi

Siem Reap

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!

Weekend in Warsaw

Last weekend I took little weekend break in Warsaw with my fabulous flatmates (you know who you are). It was so much fun! It felt really special to finally be in Poland as I’m actually a 1/4 polish! As well as eating, drinking and exploring I learned a few polish words, but I won’t embarrass myself by trying to spell them for you…

We booked our flights a few months in advance for only £40 from Edinburgh to Warsaw Modlin. The flight was only 2.5 hours, which is funny considering it takes longer to drive to Inverness from Edinburgh!

Before leaving we prebooked train tickets to take us into the centre of Warsaw where our Airbnb was. However, the train station was a taxi ride away and took an hour. Learning from this experience we rode in an Uber (£23) to the airport, which took 40 mins and was just a little more expensive than the train and MUCH EASIER!

On that note Uber is your best friend in Polish cities as it’s so much cheaper than in the UK!

 I had an amazing time in Warsaw and would recommend checking out these places…

What To See

1. The Old Town Market Place

This colourful square is the heart of Warsaw and one of the oldest places in Warsaw (it was rebuilt after WW2 ended).  Find The Mermaid of Warsaw and enjoy the Christmas market stalls in Winter.

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Legend has it that local fisherman wanted to capture the mermaid after she kept rescuing the fish from their nets. However, after the heard her singing they fell in love. Then a rich man imprisoned the mermaid,but the fisherman saved her. Ever since, she has been protecting Warsaw’s citizens with her sword and shield.

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2. Warsaw Rising Museum

This museum was well worth a visit. It was created in memory of the people of Warsaw who died fighting for the independence of Poland.

Entry is free of charge every Sunday

3. Palace of Culture and Science

This is one of the most iconic buildings in the city. Unfortunately we ran out of time to visit, but we heard a rumour that the top floor is the best place to take a picture of Warsaw!

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It was a little foggy….

4. Royal Castle

This is one of the most beautiful buildings in Warsaw! Spend time wondering around the lavishly designed rooms of the Polish monarchs.

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Entry is free of charge every Wednesday

Where To Eat

If you have been looking at any of my recent Instagram stories you probably saw brunch and Pierogi crop up a few times…. these were the stars of the show!!

1. Bulke przez Bibulke

Yes Polish is a very tricky language….so the link is above so you can find this gem too! This place was so cosy and is rated one of the best brunch spots in the city. Try the stack of pancakes!

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2. Restaurant Zapiecek

According to two of my native friends, this traditional Polish restaurant serves some of the BEST PIEROGI (dumplings)!

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If you want to stick to the local cuisine order a class of apple wine with your meal (it’s delicious).

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3. SAM Kameralny Komplex Gastronomiczny

Back to Brunch!!

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day… and if you don’t wake up early enough this is the perfect solution…right?!

One word….BAGELS!

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4. Hala Koszyki

This is one of the best indoor food markets I have ever been to. It’s such a relaxed environment with so many cuisines to sample. If you are vegan check out the range of vegan stalls here!

But what did I chose to eat again…..

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PIEROGI!!!!

Where To Drink

1. Czupito

This quirky vodka bar is the perfect place to start your night out in Warsaw! Try the Pink Panther if you have a sweet tooth or Rainbow if you’re brave enough….

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2. Nap Nap Cafe

This is the perfect stop for a midday mulled wine and cake!

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3. Panorama Sky Bar

If you want to take your night out to the next level check out the Sky Bar! Great cocktails, music and views!

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Bare in mind the cocktails here are more like UK prices eg £10!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my time in this cool city and have the chance to experience it for yourself!

I’m currently planning my next trip back to Poland….people to see and things to explore!

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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…) 😉13775490_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…