Our trip to Vietnam – Da Nang & Hoi An.

 

Last week I finally faced my fears after 2 years and got on a flight! This may sound absolutely minuscule to someone without an irrational fear of flying but to me, this was such an accomplishment. Feeling like the Queen of Sheba, we landed an hour and half later in a cloudy Da Nang. We made our way to our accommodation to find that the hotel website had not only lied to us but had also cast us in a hotel from hell murder mystery, without our consent. Faster than you could say “Expat Brat”, I was typing my credit card details into booking.com and planning our escape. Now I have stayed in a range of accommodation, from hostels to insect infested Muay Thai camp tin houses, however, I will draw the line at red coloured stained walls.

After an awkward chat with the reception staff, we were on our way to the Furama hotel. Our room wasn’t ready until 2pm so we dropped our bags and made our way to their Italian restaurant DON CIPRIANI’S which totally hit the spot. The tiramisu deserves a special mention! Wowza

The Furama was a beautiful hotel where we spent the next 3 days indulging in utter relaxation, morning beach walks and forced yoga classes (sorry Phil!). Unfortunately the weather was pretty disappointing but with a 5* buffet breakfast, who really cares eh?

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One afternoon, we felt we needed to rip ourselves away from our comfortable little abode and see a little bit more of Da Nang. We first visited Han Market, which is named the best market in Da Nang. Safe to say, we lasted a total of 5 minutes browsing the same identical stuff at every stall and then went on our way to an Australian bar for the best coffee I’ve ever had…. ironically. Vietnamese coffee is on another level! 

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On our third day, we caught a 30 minute cab to Hoi An, just south of Da Nang but embodies a whole different vibe. Bustling with backpackers, stunning 17th century architecture with an array of shops, restaurants and galleries. A far cry from the peaceful, relaxed Da Nang.

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Luckily the weather improved greatly for the remaining 3 days of our trip which we spent at the Belle Maison, exploring and eating our way through Hoi An Old Town.

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One of my best meals from the holiday had to be from a restaurant called  Morning Glory (Thanks for the recommednation Sarah!) . Papaya mint chili peanut salad for me and a roasted pork Bahn Mi for Phil.

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On our last day, we went to An Bang beach to catch some much-needed rays. If you can ignore being asked every 10 minutes to buy something, then this beach is a great day out with great places to eat and relax.

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For dinner, we enrolled ourselves in a cooking course at Mamma’s Gourmet cooking class. Not only did we learn to cook some traditional Vietnamese dishes in a beautiful garden setting but we also had a great time being entertained by Chef Vu.

We cooked three courses of veggie spring rolls, zesty fish in banana leaf and a glorious mango and papaya salad.

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Back in Hong Kong with yet another sinus infection but nothing can take away the great feeling of finally facing your fears :)

 

 

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Our trip to Guilin, China.

Thanks to my job in education, this summer meant 7 weeks of pure blissful holiday! The only downside was being in between contracts, which meant no salary for 2 months and concluded in no real plans for a summer vacation. Although I was prepared for a summer spent down at my local club, living the life of a Tai Tai, by the first month this quickly grew old. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for the stunning weather Hong Kong displayed for pretty much 2 months straight, I just craved a change of scenery.

As much as I would have loved to be drinking a crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc poolside of a Southern Eastern paradise, I wanted more of an adventure which wouldn’t break the bank, didn’t eat up too much of my boyfriend’s annual leave and meant that I didn’t have to fly.

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I came across Guilin which I found out was only 4 and a half hours by train. Guilin was also the first trip I had ever taken without my parents at the age of 10 years old with school (shout out to the DBIS squad!) so it seemed like the perfect place to return to, 16 years later with my boyfriend. So two days later, we were off to China. I’m not going to lie, I tried to talk myself out of going, especially when I had done my routine Social Media account check after awaking to find out there had been a close earthquake only 12 hours previously. Others would feel excitement at the chance to go away, but it did take a lot of courage on my half to force myself to Hung Hom station at 6am.

DAY 1- After a very pleasant 2-hour train trip to Guang Zhou, we cabbed it to another train station to catch our train to Guilin. Now this train experience was very different and we both felt like fish out of water. It was cramped, loud and in all honesty, a little bit grim. Though the views from the train were breathtaking and I wouldn’t have traded for anything as we got to see what most miss whilst flying. Just as the obnoxious man next to me continued to scream at his phone in a conversation for over 2 hours, we caught eyes with a little girl sticking her tongue out at us. After a game of sticking out tongues, she then came over and offered us a peanut, followed by handfuls over the next 30 minutes. I had luckily bought a colouring book and felt tip pens in my tired state in Guang Zhou which I gifted to this little girl. The look in her eyes was something I’d never forget and her mum ensured she repay the favour by giving us some face cream from the cosmetics factory she worked for. That was my first lesson of the trip, don’t prejudge anyone, not even the asshole on his phone who’s  giving you an earache.

We arrived in Guilin at around 8pm and caught a Taxi to the Shangri-La where we would stay for the next 5 nights. It was a nice hotel with lovely staff and beautiful views from the room but don’t expect too much food wise. However, I would say that the hotel especially catered for children and I would 100% recommend The Shangri-La to families staying in Guilin.

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DAY 2- After a long sleep in the extremely large comfy hotel bed, we headed out to do some exploring of the area. First stop were the Reed Flute Caves which I remember doing on Year 6 camp. We arrived at the site where we chose to enjoy a 7-minute walk through the botanical gardens, rather than paying for a 2-minute train journey. Got to get my 10,000 steps in!

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The caves were truly magnificent, although like many attractions, it was a total tourist trap with gift shops coming out your eyeballs. The arrangement of the lights were absolutely stunning and I was in constant awe walking through, so much so, that I didn’t want to leave.

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After the Reed Flute caves, we headed to Zhengyang Pedestrian Street which is known as the shopping and food quarter in Guilin. It was quite an interesting place that apparently comes alive at night.

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Surprisingly enough, the no. 1 restaurant in Guilin according to my trusty Trip Advisor was the Indian Restaurant of Kali Mirch and as avid Indian Cuisine fanatics, we just had to try it. It was good but I quickly realised how spoilt we actually are in Hong Kong with amazing family run, authentic Indian joints.

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Day 3 – Due to a typhoon passing Southern China, it brought a halt to our site seeing which meant a day spent at the hotel. Luckily, the weather had improved by evening so we took an evening Two Rivers and Four Lakes Cruise which was recommended by the hotel. Apart from the Sun and Moon Pagodas (pictured below), the cruise consisted of lit up buildings and fishermen bird shows which just seemed overly rehearsed and staged. It was actually quite upsetting watching these bird chained up, made to dive for fish, swallow fish and regurgitate them every 5 minutes when a new cruise boat would pass. Everything about it was so gimmicky and I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to experience true Chinese architecture and culture.

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Day 4 – Today was a day of accomplishments for me both physically and mentally. We booked a bike tour as we had wanted to tour the countryside whilst getting some exercise in. We met up with our tour guide Mark Tang , who led us through manic streets through to the outskirts of the city. We rode to the rurality of Guilin and enjoyed the view of stunning limestone hills, rice fields, old villages and beautiful rivers. Half way through the ride with some burnt shoulders and a numbed backside, we stopped off for some roadside famous Chinese rice noodles. You were able to add your own toppings such as chilli, chives, bamboo shoots and soybeans. They were the best noodles we had ever had, all for 5¥ (HK $6) !

img_1439img_1433img_1430img_1427img_1424img_1423dsc00931img_1440The views were stunning and our tour guide Mark was extremely friendly and had such in-depth knowledge of Guilin and China. If any of you are ever interested in a bike tour in Guilin, make sure to contact him via Facebook or here.

Day 5 – On our last day, we took a boat cruise tour down the Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo. The cruise is over 52 miles long and is estimated to take 3 and a half hours. The eye-feasting landscape did not disappoint!!

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When we arrived at Yangshuo, we were given 20 minutes to explore before we were given the choice of a tour of a silk factory or the countryside for an additional large amount. After spending 5 minutes in Yangshou, we knew we had to sack off the tour group and explore at our own pace. Yangshou was filled with bars, restaurants, shops, hostels and had a great energy about it. Our only regret was that we didn’t spend more time experiencing all that Yangshuo had to offer as I have read that the hiking and the scenery were some of the best in the country.

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It was great to return to a place 16 years on, travelling through mainland China by train and immersing ourselves in a culture so different to Hong Kong despite it being so close in distance. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone every single day and all in all, I am so grateful for my out of the norm summer experiences! x

Fitness update & HK’s best veggie/vegan restaurants (Vegan Char Sui??) :O

What a beautiful sunny week it’s been in Hong Kong!

I am now only 10 days away from completing the 8 week fitness challenge and I wanted to continue to write a short update on the second half as well as the lead up to the final fitness tests. I can’t believe how fast it’s flown by!

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Week 5 started off great. I was feeling healthy and active and continued to build strength and endurance, I was on cloud 9! It wasn’t until week 6 that I had suddenly felt like I had been hit with a tonne of bricks. My joints ached, my muscles were tight and I felt fatigued. I no longer had the energy I had built up over the last 5 weeks and even though I was eating the same foods and exercising the same amount, I just felt tired. Just as I started to feel panicky and frustrated, the fitness challenge nutritionist, Lisa Tarquini from Eat Move Glow , sent the email below and suddenly I realised I needed to take a couple days rest, fuel my body and reset.. which is exactly what I did :)

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As well as cutting down my exercise, this week was filled with friends and family birthdays and surprise engagement parties which meant quite a few naughty days. By the end of the week, I was bloated yet satisfied!

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After my glorious 2 days of rest and eating my heart out, I have started week 7 with determination and gratitude. I am pushing through the burn and loving every second of it. Today was the first 6am spin class where I didn’t feel out of breath and for me, that is a milestone!

 

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  • If you’re feeling hungry, It’s probably your body asking to be nourished. Don’t obsess over calories and do not go to bed hungry after a workout.
  • I have noticed in the past couple of weeks that slight glimpses of borderline obsession have peaked it’s ugly head. I have started to feel GUILTY that I’m only exercising for an hour a day…which after a chat with a colleague, I realised how ridiculous that is. Each day, for that hour, I am giving it my all, whether it’s spinning, attempting to increase my body pump weights, HIT training, Bootcamp or Strongman training, I am trying my best to push that little bit extra each session. So, why do I feel that unless I exercise 2 hours a day, I am unfit?
    I have taken part in an 8 week challenge to improve my fitness, raise money for Bali Kids and make a lifestyle change, not to obsess. I am now in a routine where I no longer dread exercise, it is just a part of my day which comes and goes. I was constantly comparing myself to my fitness level 2 years ago where I could do an hour of Grit Strength, an hour of cardio and an hour hike and feel absolutely fine. It is important to keep reminding myself that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Day by day I am getting fitter and stronger, whilst actually enjoying myself. That’s most important.
  • Take the time to relax and treat yourself. Take Epson salt baths, book massages, yoga classes..anything to make your body feel looked after.

 

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I set myself the below goals for the final week:-

– Fit in more yoga sessions as I LOVE this practice.

– Loose at least a kilo

-Do one of HK’s many beautiful hikes

– Stop snacking on pita chips and make some filling snacks like protein balls!

-Don’t look at Week 8 as the end of a challenge but the end of the beginning. I fully intend on keeping my routine change as my new lifestyle.

-Raise more donations for the Bali Kids cause. If you’re interested in supporting this amazing cause, please donate to HERE!

Now moving on to something just as important to me…. FOOD! Over the last couple of weeks, I have been on the hunt for vegan friendly restaurants around Hong Kong as there is only so much I can take of having to pester waiters every time I dine out. I had heard of these 2 restaurants online and not meaning to sound over the top in the slights but THEY HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE!!!

The first was newly opened HOME – Eat to Live. Not only does this place sport beautiful and cosy interior but, the menu had me more excited than the time Back Street Boys were rumoured to be touring Asia.

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I ordered a custom flatbread with olives, falafel, roasted red onion, spinach, classic alioli and roasted garlic hummus and a side of sweet potato fries. I am not sure what I was expecting a flatbread to look like, but a wrap was not it. No complaints here though, the food was delicious!!

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A meal deal came with your flatbread of choice, a side, a healthy version of lemonade, your choice of sauces and small bar of raw dairy free chocolate.

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The flatbread was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, flaky and grilled… oh my days, get me back there.

And now, for the best bit of the meal and one of the best dessert ever to grace my tongue, THE RAW HAZELNUT CHOCOLATE SLICE. Hand crafted by angels, constructed by kings and queens and sprinkled with fairy dust. This was heavenly. Nutty, chocolatey, rich in flavour and so addictive.

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Now for the restaurant that I decided to drag my boyfriend along to last night, which genuinely nearly wanted me to cry happy tears. The Loving Hut is one of 200 worldwide 100% vegan restaurants. Being Vegan and dining out at Chinese restaurants is pretty much a no-go so you can imagine my happiness when I found out this place did VEGAN CHAR SUI BAO (life changing). Funnily enough, I had been craving them earlier this week…must’ve been The Law of Attraction hey?

Although this place was far from fancy, it was warm and friendly and everything you need it to be.

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We ordered the char sui bao (bbq ‘pork’ dumplings) and the veggie dumplings to start. They were everything I had dreamed of and more.

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For the mains we ordered the Char Sui with vermicelli noodles and a noodle laksa. The mock meat char sui looked and tasted so similar! It was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with a tasty BBQ glaze. Next time I’m back, this will be the first thing I order. (Hello boyfriend, can we go this weekend, please?!)

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Lastly, we shared a Tiramisu. It didn’t exactly taste like tiramisu (needed some alcohol!) but was still enjoyable.

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The loving hut offers food ranging from vegan pizza and french fries to Ramen and fried rice. If you’re veggie or vegan, or just enjoy veggie foods, you MUST try this place out. I can guarantee you it will not disappoint.

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Have a great week and I hope your days are as happy as I am with my ‘pork’ bun :)

 

 

 

WEEKEND BLOG: 2 DAYS OF SUMMER

On Saturday, I woke up to chirping birds and light glistening through the window.. It just couldn’t be….. could it? Had our longest, wettest winter finally buggered off for bigger and better things? It was official. SUMMER WAS HERE (for the time being!)

With a jump to our step, we headed to one of our favourite HK spots, Mavericks, Pui O to take advantage of this beautiful weather. As I’ve said in a previous blog, I can’t get enough of the vibe and more so, the decor at this beachside surf shack. Not to mention, dog friendly.

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The food is a little pricey for the what you get but I guess you pay for the atmosphere. I ordered the sweet corn, chickpea and red pea cake with frisee leaves and basil pesto with fries and the boys ordered burgers.

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Now these margaritas were worth every penny!

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After the boys had a few too many, we headed down to the beach to let the dogs have a run around and watch the sunset. It seems that I had forgotten how beautiful Hong Kong can be after enduring 5 months of constant awful weather.

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We started today with a cheeky dragon boat practice before taking my mum out for a Mother’s Day Brunch @ Isola. It’s always a good feeling to be out in the water, especially when the sun is peeking through the clouds.

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Isola is located on the 3rd floor of IFC and boasts some great views. Their lunch menu includes a delicious antipasti buffet, along with a main of your choice, followed by a dessert buffet.

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Luckily for me, there was a vegan option on the menu, Tomato risotto :)

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Happy Mother’s Day to my beautiful Mum! 

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I was pretty gutted when my boyfriend came back with this plate of dessert….

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UNTIL I found out the chocolate fountain used DAIRY FREE chocolate!!

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Pretty grateful to call this place my home. 

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As always, have a great week and apologies for the image heavy post!

A week of firsts – Weddings, vegan pizza and Maid Of Honor surprise!

My first week of adapting to the vegan lifestyle has flown by. It hasn’t been a week of feeling deprived and unsatisfied, like I had originally nervously anticipated. After the first 4 days, I started noticing so many changes within myself and my body. Even though it has only been a week, my energy levels have slightly improved, my brain fog has lessened and my junk food cravings have started to diminish. The he majority of what I’m eating are carbs but I do find myself filling my plates with a variety of fruit, veg and legumes instead of breads, pastas and vegan junk food. I have been trying my best to adopt a healthy mindset and look at food as fuel, rather than a treat and whether I end up feeling the best I ever have or I end up piling on loads of weight, and I’m excited to see where this may take me.

Earlier this week, I stumbled across this vegan pizza recipe from Minimalist Baker and just had to try it! Paired with a Greek salad (without feta), I recreated this pizza for a midweek treat. Being the pizza fanatic that I am, I was once again pleasantly surprised with the alternative options vegans have these days.

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Below are some of the other meals I’ve had during the week:

Quinoa bowl with broccoli, sweet potato, peppers, cucumber and onion. 

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Cauliflower rice with a tomato lentil sauce and roasted butternut squash.

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Passion green juice @ Mana

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My favourite after work go to, sweet potato with hummus and arugula

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Coconut oil popped popcorn with chill salt and lime. This stuff tastes exactly like pad thai! 

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This week was definately a week of firsts. My best friend has asked me to be her Maid Of Honor for her wedding! She seems to think that I would’ve already expected it, but, since she has friends from all over the world, it was such a lovely surprise to open the box below! Not only is the wedding located near her birth town, it is also an area which I hold close to my heart and where my god mother resides and have spent many amazing summers with my family. Bring on the best wedding ever summer 2017 in beautiful Spain!

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Speaking of weddings, I attended my first ever wedding last night which was such a good time. It was held at Hullet House in Tsim Sha Tsui and the setting was beautiful.

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The menu was a 10 course, meat filled, Chinese set menu which unfortunately meant I ended up only eating a few pieces of veg which resulted in my massive hangover today! I have to admit that I did drunkenly consume a few pieces of chocolate which WASN’T vegan. I was starving and intoxicated, but in my eyes, slip ups are always part of every new process. I am someone who feels strongly about the corruption of animals and will try my best to limit all consumption of all animal based products, but, I can’t say on my life, that I will never taste an ice-cream or  piece of cheese ever again. I can only hope and try my best.

Since being inspired to turn vegetarian months ago and now vegan, I’ve noticed that within the vegan community, with some individuals, the focus is being drifted away from the welfare of our beautiful ecosystem and inhumane treatment of animals and on to whether or not you’re sticking to all the 100% strict vegan rules and restrictions. I have seen numerous YouTube vegan activists attempting to publicly shame fellow vegans for accidentally eating something that had contained honey in it. It seems that there are many vegan public figures that believe you should not or cannot ever fail. To me, there should be compassion for both humans and animals and people in no way, shape or form should attempt ‘out vegan’ you.
I understand that the majority of vegans are out there to promote a healthy lifestyle, but, how on earth has coffee been banned by the community? For goodness sake, if you feel like you want a coffee (using soy or almond milk, of course) then have that coffee and do not like anyone tell you otherwise! No animals have been harmed for that coffee so bloody enjoy it!
BUT ANYWAYS, If you’re interested in checking out some lovely, ordinary vegan YouTube channels, you must check these guys out:-
Thats just about enough posting about food. Wishing you a great upcoming week!

Weekend Getaway – THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MACAU MADNESS.

Like every Hong Konger, you will have either been to Macau or have heard of it. Situated only an hour away by catamaran and coined ‘Asia’s own Las Vegas‘, it is no wonder that it’s a popular destination for anyone over the age of 21.

My boyfriend and I were sitting on the couch one morning discussing how to spend our weekend and within 10 minutes we had booked 2 nights in Macau on a last minute website. We were looking to take a break from responsibility for a couple nights and Macau was the only place that didn’t require either a flight or a visa. So, within an hour we were on route aboard the Turbojet.

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We arrived at the Grand Coloane Resort and the rooms certainly didn’t disappoint. The hotel was located around 10 minutes from the Cotai strip and 25 from the ferry terminal.

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To our surprise the hotel was situated not far from one of Macau’s favourite restaurants; Fernando’s. This Portuguese restaurant is considered a ‘must do’ and attracts locals, tourists and celebrities.

We ordered the garlic prawns and sea bream which were accompanied by french fries. We had heard that Fernando’s did a good sangria to which we were asked if we’d like red, white or green sangria. Yes, you read right. GREEN SANGRIA. I had never heard of this concoction so of course we had to order it. It turned out being sparkling wine with sangria mix and was rather tasty!

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The next day we woke up just in time for breakfast at the hotel. I can’t say I was expecting much, but we were delightfully surprised! For HK$170, the buffet provided such a wide variety of foods from dim sum, to vegetarian curries, to on request omelettes and pancake stations. There were cereals and pastries, cheese, fruit platters, bacon and sausages.

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After breakfast, we decided to delay the casinos and see what more Macau could offer. We bought an open bus sightseeing ticket for HK$150 and hit the road. The first stop was Macau Fisherman’s wharf, which was pretty much a tourist trap. Some built roman architecture with an attached mall of shops and souvenirs. Never again.

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Our second stop was the Macau Science Centre. I wasn’t particularly interested as I didn’t see how it was considered a sight to see, but once we were in there, we ended up having a pretty good time.

 

Our third stop was probably the stop I had been most excited to see, The Ruins of St. Paul’s and Leal Senado Square. It was probably the most cultural area in Macau yet, despite the Portuguese influence, it was overrun with commercialism and more SHOPS.

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For lunch, we found a hidden Dai pai dong offering a range of Vietnamese dishes. We both opted for Pho and my goodness, it was delicious. That’s what I LOVE about Asia! Sometimes the best meals are dirt cheap and are found in makeshift ‘restaurants’. 

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When in Macau, do as the Macanese do and end your meal with a Portuguese egg tart! Fresh out the oven, these bad boys are only priced at $9 and according to my boyfriend, can be eaten by the dozen.

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Our last stop was the Macau Tower. By this time, we had grown tired of sightseeing and were desperate to hit The Venetian. However… After loosing more money than we had hoped on the blackjack and Sic Bo tables, we ended the day with drinks at the Bellini Lounge which is always a great time!

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I have been to Macau many times and have had great nights out and comfortable stays, but it seemed that the more I saw of it outside of the casinos, the more I started to dislike it. I’m a believer that beauty can be found anywhere, even in the darkest of places. Whether it be crystal clear beaches or grimy, smelly back alleys somewhere in mainland China. There is always an element that stands out, whether it be the energy/atmosphere, design or culture in every place I visit. However, I cannot say the same for Macau. I feel like I spent the whole time thinking what it lacked. Sure, it had some gigantic casinos and super clubs where you could experience a couple hours of thrill but the novelty soon wore off. Macau lacks that energy and thrill that it should possess given its comparison to Las Vegas. Macau could have had such potential, but unfortunately 90% of the place looks run down, dirty and ghost town like, purely existing to empty your pockets at tourist traps and gambling.

All in all, I had a great weekend in Macau and at The Grand Coloane Resort but I think that was purely down to the person I was spending time with and what we made of it.

What are your thoughts on Macau?

 

CNY holidays -My first veggie burger & our fur babies first trip to Sai Kung.

The week before CNY I managed to catch a flu virus which was going round my workplace. I can’t remember the last time I have felt this ill from the flu and spent around a week in bed with minimal interaction with the outside world. By the time it got to the holidays, I was desperate to be able to talk to someone other than my two dogs and determined not to waste anymore time indoors, despite feeling horrendous.

On Saturday, a friend invited me to try out an aerial yoga class in Discovery Bay. This was my second time doing aerial yoga and after getting over the initial laughing fits from watching my friend struggle to move her long limbs whilst upside down, I remembered how fun this type of yoga was. It’s not often you get to stretch your body out whilst swinging from material.

After yoga, we were invited on one of our friends boats for the day. The weather was beautiful, sunny yet cool, just like a good English summers day. Unfortunately, the seas were a little too rough for my liking and not wanting to ruin everyone else’s time with my panic ridden face and gasps, we cut the boat trip short and headed for a bite to eat.

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My boyfriend and I were both craving some Mexican so we headed to our local Mexican chain, Carumba. We started with some jalapeño poppers, (which were definitely worthy of the #foodporn tag!) Nachos Simpatico, accompanied by a green apple mojito.

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The next day we decided to visit my boyfriends mum who resides in Sai Kung. I absolutely LOVE Sai Kung and hope to one day live there myself. The only downside is that it literally couldn’t be any further from where we live, which means, enduring an hours taxi with our two furry little vomit buckets. Much to our luck, we had forgotten some vomit catching bags which resulted in me instinctively catching it in my hands (who does that!?) The rest of the journey was far from pleasant as you can imagine….

We arrived late morning to a fresh fruit breakfast of mango, grapes, blueberries and pomegranate.  Luckily my boyfriends mum always has an array of fresh fruit at the ready which can be a godsend after some greasy Mexican the night before. It’s crazy to me to think I only tried mango around 6 months ago and now I can’t get enough!

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This was the dogs first trip to their grandmas home and they loved every minute of it. They spent most of the day running round the garden and it was so lovely to see. It was nice not having to keep an eye on them at every second whilst outdoors.

We then wandered down to the beach to let them run wild some more. It was so refreshing to have the sun shining down and my feet in the ocean after these winter months.

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After we tired the fur babies out, we headed into Sai Kung town for a drink and a snack. On the way, we passed a couple selling roasted chestnuts and sweet potato. After living in Hong Kong for over 20 years, it was almost embarrassing that I had never tried roasted chestnuts so I had to grab myself a bag. They tasted nothing like I had thought and the texture definitely needed some getting used to.

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We walked along the pier to our favourite hidden snack joint for some egg puffs. These little balls of batter are delicious and will always remind me of my teenage years hanging around Causeway Bay. This place is extremely popular and specialises in bubble tea. I’ve yet to try bubble tea, but will get my hands on some next time I visit.

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With a day well spent, we said our goodbyes headed back home. We finished off the day with yet another bad decision and gobbled up some more greasy food. However, I have to say Mcsorleys do an amazing veggie burger!! With it being my first time trying a veggie burger, I can honestly say I was expecting to hate it, but it tasted so similar to a beef burger AND didn’t make me feel ill after. #winning!

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Veggie patty, red onion, swiss cheese, avocado, bbq sauce and mayo.

Now it’s time to ditch the deep fried foods and finally get over this virus!

 

 

 

Engagments, Disney and Tacos.

SO! It was my best friends birthday yesterday and she got engaged!

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I’ve never had to keep a secret so big, for so long in my life and am thankful that I no longer have to! I have been in the know for a while and it was absolute agony to not be able to tell anyone something so exciting. They are perfect for one another, I am so incredibly happy for them and can’t wait for the wedding of the century in Spain next summer. 

As well as this SURPRISE engagement, her new fiancé organised a weekend of surprises for the birthday girl. Friday night we went to The Udderbelly Festival to see Russell Howard and it was absolutely brilliant!

 

However, there are always a group of utterly annoying men with their lame heckles and egotistical manners right? (It’s 2016…who still uses the ‘your mum’ comeback? 100 points to gryffindor you originality monsters! ) It was a shame that I had paid to see Russell Howard and instead had to listen to their pathetic attempts at humour for half the show. Despite this, it was fantastic! You know its going to be a good show when the support act has you in tears in the first 5 minutes.

Saturday morning we got up early (not by choice…but by our stage 5 clinger puppy, Jeff) and headed to Disneyland. The first mistake I made was doubting Hong Kong Observatory (when will I learn?!) AS IT WAS FREEZING. Despite the temperature dropping to 2 degrees, we put aside our expat need to always be warm and made the most of it. Luckily for us, due to the weather, the park was rather empty which meant FAST QUEUES :D

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I ended up filming parts of the day out which I’ve uploaded to my new youtube channel if you’d like to check out the link! DISNEYLAND HONG KONG .

Any Youtubers out there? I’m hoping to start vlogging soon but have no idea where to start?! My main mission is to document my explorations of Hong Kong as well as find the best vegetarian eats this city has to offer. I guess learning through trial and error will have to do!

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We went to dinner at one of my top 5 favourite restaurants in Hong Kong. I just can’t get enough of BRICKHOUSE! Located in a grafitti’ed alleyway in Lan Kwai Fong, it offers some of the best take on mexican food i’ve ever had.

We started with the usual guacamole and salsa dips, served with their stone ground chips. This is probably one of the only places in Hong Kong that gives you healthy portion of guac without an extra charge.

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and the DIABLA. The best cocktail i’ve ever had. Includes vodka, jalapeño, raspberries, pomegrante and lemon. Spicy but sweet…AHHHMAZING!

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We then ordered the Mexican-style street corn which is sweet corn dipped in a chilli, mayo, lime and cheese rub.

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and lastly, the FISH TACOS. Spicy Nemo – fish, cabbage, avocado and chipotle aioli

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Apparently they now do MEATLESS MONDAYS and offer 4 course menu for $430 Per 2 Persons. Will need to check that out asap.

On Sunday we ended the birthday weekend with The Watermark at Pier 7 for their Seafood brunch. I was feeling a little under the weather so didn’t really take any photos. It was a nice day and great company but it terms of the food, I think there are far better brunches in HK. I can’t say there was one dish that left me feeling content and I don’t think I’d visit it again. The staff looked rather miserable and almost annoyed when we kept ordering drinks from their FREEFLOW package.

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A couple days ago, I came across some Massaman curry paste and coconut milk and fancied making a vegetarian curry. I unexpectedly made a delicious meal out of food I needed to use up and will definitely try this recipe out again.

I started by pan frying some onions and garlic in olive oil and sprinkled some cumin seeds for taste. I then chucked in some potatoes, peas and lentils, added half a cup of hot water and left to boil for 5 minutes. I then added the massaman paste and 1 cup of coconut milk and let it simmer for 25 minutes. With the thai curry paste and indian curry spices it actually worked really well and paired with a roti – divine!

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Home is where the warmth is..

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After a year and a half in London, my boyfriend and I have packed up and returned to the 852! Hong Kong to me is not only my birthplace, my home, my happy place. I had a great time in London and was so grateful to be able to meet some amazing new people as well as catch up with my high school expat brat mates. I got to chance to live in Bayswater, Clapham and Camden and travel around Spain, Greece and Belgium as well as the UK.

I’m a big believer in the idea that your environment shapes everything in your life. That includes people, work, temperature and even scenery. As time went on, I started to get the itch to be back in my natural habitat, humidity, pollution and all. I’ve always known I was an extremely seasonal person and that my wellbeing is dependent on it but after constant chronic fatigue, lack of motivation, a weight gain of a stone and a half (damn you UK street food and dominos!) and a handful of health issues, I couldn’t get back quick enough.

After a very turbulent journey back to HK, we were greeted with a lovely 6 day storm which allowed us to get over probably the worst jet lag we’ve had to date. Its now been 7 weeks since we’ve landed and moved back home and I’m really enjoying seeing old places and faces. I joined my old gym, The HIT room, and have thrown myself into Body Pump, Grit strength and Plyo, hiking and even a little cross fit.

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I feel myself getting fitter as each day goes by but I have always struggled keeping my nutrition in check. I have found it very hard to completely cut out all of my intolerances and enjoy the food i’m consuming but with each week that goes by, I have made small changes which have kept me on the right track. I have also chosen to limit the alcohol I consume as lets be honest, It turns me into the worst possible version of myself (with no filter!) as well as leaves me with 3 day hangovers and palpitations resulting in bad food choices and extreme laziness. Its been tough during social events to not want to keep up with others and i have slipped up a few times..which is sometimes easier trying to explain to young adults that you don’t actually enjoy binge drinking.

It’s been great to be able to have the time to cook meals and try out some new recipes.

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Last month, My mother and I went to a 3 hour seminar at I-Detox where we were taught how to make healthier breakfast alternatives. At only $199 for the session, I came back having learnt (and tested!) a variety of options. Almond Milk (unsweetened and cacao mint), Nut Cheese, Overnight oats and GF breakfast muffins to name a few. I’ve attempted most of the recipes and have found that Cashew Nut Cheese has got to be my favourite! With it being so easy to make and 100% Dairy and Lactose free, I would happily substitute this cheese for any creamy cheese.

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I started out with soaking a cup of Cashew nuts over night to allow them to soak in the water (which will allow a more creamier taste.) After around 10 hours soaking, I drained the water and added my cashews to the blender. I then went on to add 2 probiotics capsules and oregano and cajun seasoning. With half a cup of water added, I blended the mixture until smooth. Using a nut milk bag or a old (unopened!) pair of tights. I placed the mixture in and squeezed out all the excess residue. I let the mixture set for around 10 hours until it represented a firm ball shape. For a less time consuming recipe, blend the soaked cashews and eat as a more hummus type texture.

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Another one of my favourite healthier alternatives I have recently become OBSESSED with, is French Toast! As I can’t say I ever had French Toast as I child, I feel that I have been trying to catch up on missed time. Try this recipe whenever you’re feeling like a treat.

1.Crack open 2 egg whites and 1 egg yolk and whisk
2. Add 2 tsp of Chia seeds and whisk until mixed
3. Heat 2 tsp of Coconut Oil in a frying pan (instead of butter or oil)
4. Dip your slices of Rye Bread into the eggy, chia seed mixture and place in the frying pan to cook.
5. When slightly browning, take out of pan and use 1 tsp of Agave Nectar to cover (instead of honey or maple syrup)
Add Blueberries or strawberries for extra sweetness.

Camden Lock Street Food

Camden Lock has got to be one of, if not, my favourite place to eat in London. If you can withstand the mass amount of people and tourists pushing each other around, the street dealers and the drunks, you cannot be disappointed. The food is incredible with an array of cuisines and tastes and nothing quite beats the quirky vibes attracting an alternative crowd. I think everyone can agree that there is literally never a dull moment whilst walking through Camden.

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I dragged my hungover self to Camden Lock Street Market in the hopes of bringing myself back down to earth with some of my favourite artery clogging dishes. Please keep in mind that there is so much more variety at the lock, it was my alcohol infused body making the not so daring choices!

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Firstly we hit The Mac Factory, whom specialise in gourmet Mac and Cheese. They have a number of flavours which include:

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NostalgicA classic blend of mature cheddar, parmesan and mozzarella

La Med BabeNo nut basil pesto, confit tomato, bocconcini    

Super Mario – Sautéed Portobello mushrooms, truffle oil, oven roast garlic  

Posh Spice – Spicy chorizo, harissa, lyonaisse onion  

The Big Smoke – Home smoked chicken, fire roasted peppers, apple wood smoked cheddar

Blue Jacob – Bbq glazed, slow cooked short rib of beef, danish blue cheese, spring onion

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we opted to share the The Big Smoke which was oozing with cheese and had the optimal amount of flavour and crunch.

As if we hadn’t already gone way over the weekly dairy consumption recommendation, we made our way over to the TOASTITS for the best toastie (grilled cheese for you Americanos) my taste buds have had the pleasure of experiencing. They offer gluten free bread which is always a plus.

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We went our usual cheddar avocado and parmesan mash with Prosciutto and chilli flakes toastie. The cheese was melted to perfection with each of the flavours not too overbearing for the other.

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To end the day, we ventured over to my personal favourite find, COOKIES AND SCREAM. Every product is dairy, egg, wheat and gluten free. All bakes are low fat, boasts low cholesterol and are made with unrefined sugars. This place is extremely popular and with everything freshly baked that morning, you’ll have to make sure you get there before everything runs out!

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We shared The Affogato shake which comes with a fresh shot of espresso. It completely hit the spot and didn’t leave us with the sugar shakes.

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Other favourites from our previous visits include Churros, Churrasco & Wild Game BBQ and Oliver’s Fish & Chips –

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I’m already looking forward to my next hungover venture!

Santorini Part 2

We had one more day to spend with our friends from the states before they flew back to the UK the following day so we decided to rent Quad bikes and go all Dora The Explorer on this island. I felt like we just had to show them Santo Winery which Phil and I had visited for 5 minutes a few days before. It’s located on the hill of Fira and just had the best view, so much so, that we saw about 3 weddings going on whilst we were sat there. After getting over the initial awe of the views, we decided to do a little wine tasting before heading over to Perissa Beach. After my time in Greece, I’ve definitely taken more of an interest in wine and ventured out of my Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot comfort zones. A dry white is the way forward for my little taste buds!

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It was a 20 minute ride to Perissa Beach which involved driving through some real local villages which is always great to see. Perissa Beach is distanced away from all the hustle and bustle but was still pretty touristy..and not in a good way. The actual beach is unexpectedly beautiful with volcanic black sand and pebbles and views of mountain churches, however, the bars and restaurants above just brought the Kitsch factor up by 500%. To make matters worse, the service and food were just awful. I’ve never had tougher calamari in my life, it was like chewing through an iron bar! I can’t say I would recommend staying anywhere near Perissa Beach, especially during high season.

We headed back to Fira and hit Theoni’s restaurant for one last portion of the feta cheese fries and seafood.

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The next day we decided to stay around Fira and check out some local hotspots. Our hotel recommended a restaurant called Chefs Garden and as many do with recommendations from locals, you take with a pinch of salt, due to the fact that it can just be a case of mass promotion. We decided to try it out on a Sunday afternoon and were a bit hesitant as there was no one else in the place. We were absolutely blown away! I would definitely recommend trying the sausage with mustard and honey, the grilled sea bass with oven roasted brussels sprouts (so meaty!) and the tomato and crushed feta seafood saganaki. Service was fantastic and as the lovely Greeks do, we were presented with a rich chocolate orange soufflé and ice-cream with our bill.

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We followed dinner with cocktails at a bar which was highly recommended on TripAdvisor called Palia Kameni. The bar was split into 4 levels and had couches all facing the sunset. It was such a lovely location to watch the sunset and what made it even better was the unlimited Prosecco for 20 Euros. As soon as we had put one glass down, a refill would magically appear in front of our eyes in seconds. Perfection.

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On our last full day, we decided to make one last trip to Oia to catch the sunset. We had read that you could hike from Fira to Oia in around 3 hours and that the views were spectacular. I absolutely love hiking and haven’t been able to do any since I left Hong Kong for London so I was extremely excited! We left Fira with massive bottles of water and no expectations of what was ahead of us. Thankfully the hike wasn’t that physically demanding at all which allowed us to take our surroundings in and finish within just over 2 hours. I think overall, this was probably one of my most favourite experiences during my time in Santorini, coming after first settings eyes on Oia. Santorini really does have an energy about it that you just can’t explain, must be something to do with it being Volcanic lands.

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We had a quick snack at Ammoudi’s Fish Tavern  (Baked Feta in a crisp leaf, covered in honey and sesame seeds. YUM) and then relucatantly said our farewells to Oia and caught the 20 minute bus back to Fira wedged between a pervert and an old woman. Like I said in my pervious post, I wouldn’t recommend using the bus service unless you don’t mind not being able to move an inch or breath without inhaling someones sweaty armpit.

Santorini exceeded all my pre consumptions and I am so thankful that I was able to visit this island with my boyfriend and meet all the people I did. I will be seeing you in the not so distant future Santorini! 

Belgium

For Christmas this year, my family & I wanted to break tradition of a Christmas and New Years in Hong Kong and indulge in our first legitimate wintery wonderland-esque holiday. Much to my delight, with my extreme fear of flying, we opted to take the Eurostar to Brussels for a 4 day mini-cation. With absolutely no preconceived idea of what Belgium had to offer (apart from chocolate and beer), it was great to have no expectations and the ability to explore.

We spent the first day in Brussels and checked into The Queen Anne Hotel, located conveniently within a 10 minute taxi between the North, South and Central stations. Everything about our stay at The Queen Anne was perfect. The staff were extremely helpful and friendly, the beds were unbelievable comfortable and location was a god send. I would highly recommend for anyone visiting Brussels who doesn’t have a large budget. The only downfall admittedly was having a satanic child staying across from us who was more than happy to scream it’s lungs for no apparent reason for about half an hour each morning.

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Our first day was spent walking around the centre, visiting the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, the Christmas Market (Grote Markt) and my most favourite of all, The Grand Place. The light show was magnificent! so so magical. It’s just one of the things where no explanation will do it justice.

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On the second day, we caught an hours train to Antwerp, where my uncle resides. We spent the day tasting a variety of Belgian beer (Cherry Liefmans for the win!) and Glühwein (in our attempt to dodge the rain), wandering the christmas market to see the Silvius Brabo statue and finishing off the day with a lovely 5 course dinner at Jeanty’s.

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On Christmas Day, we hopped one another train to Bruges. Bruges was filled with cobbled streets, chocolatiers and little beer factories. Such an enchanted little city.

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We travelled back to Brussels for Boxing Day which we spent relaxing and wandering around before our train back to London. My experience of Belgium was one I had not expected and I’ve genuinely fallen in love with it’s town and cities (There are restaurants dedicated to varieties of chips. HEAVEN on earth).

Thanks mother dearest for a great christmas holiday. K

8 reasons why I’m grateful for being an expat brat.

 

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While most expat brats feel the need to complain about how hard their lives were growing up in another country due to identity issues and not being able to order a good burger, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. And here’s why:

1. One day during my teens, I remember my dad mentioning to my sister and I that he was extremely proud of the fact that we hadn’t grown up racist. At the time, I couldn’t quite understand how that could possibly be something to be proud of, until I moved to the UK.

Growing up in Hong Kong and attending an international school meant being taught all about the different cultures and religions. Whilst I was naïve to the fact that discrimination existed, There aren’t too many places where your closest group of friends are Icelandic, Spanish, Israeli, Indian and British.

2. Most third cultured kids have a number of identity issues and it can sometimes be a little irritating having to explain that I’m from Hong Kong but have never lived in the UK. (Queue the you don’t look Hong Kong-ish?’, ‘Does everyone in Hong Kong have blue eyes?’,‘Do you ride a panda to work?’ type questions) However, It easily generates conversation when you first meet someone, making it less awkward for all parties involved. I then feel that little bit more interesting and to others I officially turn from that blonde girl to the girl who lives in fricking HONG KONG.

3. How many people can say they flew before they walked?

(And before I sound too cocky, let me state that I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to visit an array of beautiful countries!)

4.  I can swear in a variety of languages…I’m sure it’ll come in handy one day.

5.  The sound of foreign languages actually brings comfort to me, which makes travelling a hell of a lot easier. I can glide through the airport without a stress in the world…until I get on a plane, over 150 flights and xanax’ed up to my eyeballs, I still can’t stand those horrid air gliders!

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6.  I am constantly reminded by my parents and the people around me, what hard work and personal responsibility looks like. On the flip side, it makes pulling a sicky extremely guilt ridden.

7.  We make great debaters, as were aware of current global issues and the latest gossip from the daily mail. (Oh em gee, still can’t get over Kristen Stewart cheating, what a trampire)

8. The thing about third cultured kids is that we generally establish relationships quickly. We’re welcoming, converse with adults well and seem to adapt quick to unfamiliarity. We also infamously know how to have a good time…

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