Thursday, 23 April 2015

#ProjectMVietnam - Homestay

Everyone should experience a home stay on their travels.


It gives you the chance to stay with a local family and truly learn about the culture in which they live. Oh, and they'll have many stories to share with you. 

Let's put aside the five-star luxury experience, you won't find that here in this post.

I got used to sleeping next to a mouse who I caught scoffing my Oreos, (to be fair, it was my fault for leaving them in my bag, once an ant has discovered snacks, he invites his mates for a rave) after a few days, spotting bugs just didn't phrase me anymore.

Oh, I forgave the mouse in the end, we named him Bob.

To embrace the real travel experience, you have to stay in a place that's completely different to home. Vietnam is rich in culture; there's so much to be learnt. You will realise how much we take for granted. 

Check out this house. Property porn right there.

Let's go and meet our hosts. 

I can't tell you how wonderful it felt to walk across fresh growing taro with a hit of a light humid breeze across the walkway.

And I wish you saw my face when they served this very taro to us later - in delicious spring rolls! 

This was my bed, the pink net is to keep those jammy mosquitos from biting my a** (they seemed to love munching my bum for some reason). 

I befriended the family dog. Such a loving pup.

Our host ran through our dishes for the evening. 

Usually at home, my mind blanks out when a waiter runs through the specials from the menu because whilst I salivate, all I can think about is, 'just put that food in mah belleh', but on this occasion - I patiently waited as I was genuinely interested to hear her run through each dish - it was like the stuff you hear on the food channel. 

I can still remember that charcoal smell wafting the air. Oh, and fish sauce, fish sauce goes into everything in Vietnamese cooking.

At University, I used to put fish sauce in my scrambled eggs, my flatmates were so fed up of the smell, the meanies hid my bottle. I felt at home with this family here; they were on my wavelength. Yes Vietnam! 

Banh Xeo is a delicious Vietnamese pancake which is wrapped around mince pork, onions, carrots & spices and you dip it in fish sauce. It's f**king delicious, I'm telling ya'. I know I could be biased because I'm quarter Vietnamese, but honestly, it tastes like vanilla heaven. 

I said goodbye to chief mouse Bob and his clan of ants as it was time to head to Saigon / Ho Chi Minh.
But before saying goodbye, look at this sexy view.

I can't stop staring at it.

I could just watch the sun melt into the sea, all day, everyday, but, it was time to hop into the boat to float across the Mekong Delta.

The Mekong Delta is a river whereby the locals ride their boats to buy or sell freshly grown fruit, vegetables or, wait for it...iced coffee?!

This man rocks up on a boat selling coffee, I was like, what the...?

I had a sip out of a fellow travellers cup. Best. Coffee. Ever. 

Nice work coffee man... and wife.

Our Mekong Delta tour guide is one of my favourites. He is Fricken' funny. As soon as we got onto the boat, he whips out his... microphone and starts singing Lionel Richie's, 'Hello'.

He reminds me of my mum, my mum does that. She loves karaoke, any excuse really.

We also played games where you have to sing and everyone guesses the song, it's all about getting to know people whilst singing 'Dem Choons'.

Me & the girls had way too much fun jumping up and down on the boat edge. 

We were careful not to fall in though, we were told by the tour guide that in some parts of Vietnam, they sadly have poor water sanitisation. You can read about that here

I found a boat that sells pineapples and I wanted to sit by them and pretend I sell pineapples, just, because. Who doesn't love pineapples
Location: Vietnam - Phường Thượng Thanh

Friday, 3 April 2015

#ProjectMCambodia - Sihanoukville

The first thing we spotted from the coach, on route to Sihanoukville, was a golden lion perched over a lioness, having the childish sense of humour that I do, without thinking, I yelled, 
"Oh look, they're humping!".

My friends tell me that sometimes, I don't have a block on what my mind thinks and what my mouth says. 

I assumed that everyone thought I was a weirdo, but thankfully someone else shouted, "Oh yeah! Hahaha". Don't you love when you find friends who hop onto your banter bus? That, or they're probably laughing at me as oppose to with me. Awkward.

Anyway, welcome to Sihanoukville, the beach town in Cambodia.

All hail the beach.

We spotted a lovely seafront shack called Angkor Beach. They make scrumptious fruit shakes. I might of mentioned this x 5, but Pineapple shake is my favourite. I had about 10 shakes by this stage, if they were those protein ones, I'd be super Hench.

A word of warning to anyone going to Cambodia, don't order Western food. I know, I know, whilst travelling, you miss home and you just want a burger, but they do it so wrong. I had the worst burger which I'm sure was made of soy sauce and mince.

On the other hand, local Khmer food is ridiculously delicious. Opt for that option.

Being British, we of course, couldn't resist getting our kit off and going for a dip. 

I give the Sihanoukville beach a rating of 3 out of 5 because, even though the water is super warm and clear, the beach is overly packed with tourists & floating trash. You will be surrounded by children selling bracelets, fake Ray Ban sunglasses and ladies offering to thread your eyebrows, legs, and, *Ahem* bikini line (I'm being deadly serious). If you want peace, don't expect it at this beach.

On the bright side, (like my sunny yellow bikini) all souvenirs & services are super cheap. The nightlife is insane. Similar to the Thai islands, there's a wild beach party every night. 

I'm about to write about one of favourite moments. Ah, gosh, when I think about it now, I just daydream about how heavenly the whole experience was. 

We told a private small boat to Bamboo Island.

Floating on top of the waves, the ticking of the engine and the ocean beneath me, pushing Sihanoukville further and further behind. Surrounded by layers upon layers of endless shades of blue in the sea and into the sky. 


On the way, we brought crabs from another boat who went fishing that day. They're so pretty right?

Here's me and my crabs, I mean erm, crab... oh you know what I mean.

One of the things on my bucket list was to go snorkelling in the sea. If it's on your list too, do it. You'll wander around all sorts of interesting fish and plant life, plus, just look at that water! Beautiful

Welcome to Bamboo Island. A secluded island where a handful of people reside.

One of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen. Beach rating: 5 out of 5. I don't think I need to explain why...

I couldn't spot any crabs on this island so I thought I'd do my own. #yoga

The locals on the island made dinner for us, a choice between BBQ chicken or barracuda, after being photo bombed by a rooster earlier, my inner cave woman went for the chicken. 

Would I recommend Cambodia? Erm, yes!

You will see a lot of hardship which will change the way you see life, which is why I recommend it to anyone (in a safe organised tour group). 

Besides the people It's absolutely beautiful. Vibrant and humid. Delicious food, beautiful coastline, cultural treasures, all for ridiculous prices. 

On our last night, the girls set off a lantern into the sky. 

A wonderful way to say goodbye to Cambodia. 

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Location: Cambodia - Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville beach rating: ***
Bamboo Island beach rating: *****