27 April 2016

Mandarin Oriental | Where To Stay In Kuala Lumpur

She's A Fan! - Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Twin Towers are Kuala Lumpur's most famous landmarks in Malaysia, if not the whole of Southeast Asia. When I was planning our visit to Kuala Lumpur I was also on the hunt for hotels in Kuala Lumpur city center as almost everything that I planned was close if not within the main part of the city center. We checked into Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur, which not only sits pretty with views of Malaysia's business district but comes with a bonus of being right next to Petronas Towers and the ridiculously HUGE Suria KLCC shopping mall. The location makes it some much easier to get started on the list of things to do in Kuala Lumpur as KLCC and Petronas Tower Bridge Tour Experience are right at your door!

The luxury hotel boasts 10 restaurants serving up Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Spanish and other international cuisines. Gastronomy to the max! Kuala Lumpur is already a multi-cultural city but I love that the hotel is already offering you a piece of the world in all its international flavours without even having to leave the premises. With all the city's tourist sights we had on the cards, first on the list was a bit of R&R on the rooftop's infinity pool. Considering we had just spent a few days temple running through Cambodia's Angkorian Temples, it was time to relax by the pool with a cocktail before exploring began. A few days ago I also shared some pictures from our culinary tour through Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown.

Budget - Wise

Obviously, Mandarin Oriental is in the luxury category so expect to pay a premium for that, but it was well worth every penny or dollar that we paid. We had a room that was looking out to Petronas Towers, again those rooms charge a bit more. Others not facing the towers are slightly less. I will be posting more on the hotel. It was a birthday treat so totally justified, I guess. For a list of hotels in Kuala Lumpur head over to this list of hotels in KL.

Location Location Location

Location of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Kuala Lumpur doesn't get any better!  You are bang in the middle of it all. If you are after a hotel near KLCC then this is the place for you! Firstly you have the 10 restaurants inside the hotel, then the major Suria Mall within Petronas Towers next door. You have stores from luxury to sensibly priced stores. So from your Gucci, Fendi, Chanel to H&M and all the gadgets shops like the Microsoft, Samsung and Apple stores. I couldn't resist, I managed to come back to London with a gold and shiny Samsung A8. Exclusive to Asia, so I feel pretty chuffed that only a few people in the UK might have it. The hotel is perfectly located with plenty of sights are your finger tips. Also, perfect for anyone short on time but wanting to get the most out of your stay. You won't have to go very far to see the sights.

26 April 2016

Kuala Lumpur | A Culinary Tour Through Chinatown

Kuala Lumpur | A Culinary Tour Through Chinatown

Exploring a new city is not just about the tourist sites. Food is very much as the heart of cultural explorations. When it comes to Kuala Lumpur, its got it all! Kuala Lumpur is a city that never sleeps and at the heart of it, you have the lively and bustling neighbourhoods of KLCC, Bukit Bintang and Chinatown. Having heard great things about China town it wasn't long before we were hunting down Petaling Street, where Chinatown is based. Day or night this part of town is bustling with food stalls, shops calling out customers for nail and massage services. We were too famished for grooming sessions, so we skipped the nail and hair salons and got right down to business; the food!

Famous for its street food and the beauty of it is that majority of it is cooked right in front of you. It's a paradise if you are a lover of seafood or exotic food in addition to the usual Chinese delicates that includes scorpions and other weird and wonderful creatures. As far as entertainment goes, there are folks that pass through and play music next to the dinners outside, there sellers walking around the tables selling selfie sticks, laser pens, and other nicknacks. It's well-known as a bargain hunter's paradise where you can find everything from souvenirs, clothes, electronics to imitation goods. Make sure you up your haggling game as you will find brands like Adidas, Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, Nike, the list goes on!

Even if you are short on time in the city be sure you make time for Chinatown. The best part is that whatever time or day you come it's always lively.

24 April 2016

Cambodia | Exploring Siem Reap's Bayon Temple [Pt 2]

Cambodia | Exploring Siem Reap's Bayon Temple

Yesterday I shared the first installment of my pictures of Bayon Temple on our first visit to Bayon Temple. Being that it was my favourite temple out of all the ones we had seen I had to go back for a second visit. Sadly on our second visit to Bayon Temple, the weather wasn't the best, but we were lucky in that there was some sort of gathering on the day and a lot of monks out on the day. In an around many of the temples, the monks were out exploring much like the tourists themselves so from what I gathered, a  lot of them were also visiting the city as visitors.

Our visit, this time, was a lot more slow paced this time as we visited slightly later in the afternoon so it was much quieter, although there were still tourists out and about. Below are some of our shots from our to my favourite Temple in Siem Reap; Bayon Temple. 

So,  have you been to Siem Reap? What was your favourite temple?

21 April 2016

Bayon Temple | My Favourite Temple In Siem Reap and Why You will Love It Too

Bayon Temple | My Favourite Temple In Siem Reap and Why You will Love It Too

Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O and on that farm he had a duck...and a quack quack here, and a quack quack there, everywhere a quack quack!!! That rhyme seriously reminds me of Cambodia's Siem Reap,  except instead of having a quack quack everywhere, its temples everywhere! Because there are many temples, almost everywhere you look, there is a likely chance you may experience a little bit of temple fatigue. It's best to take your time and see only a few temple a day and then repeat on the ones that you liked. Out of all the temples that we visited Bayon Temple stood out for me. Out of all the temples we passed by, visited, and explored, Bayon Temple came out a clear favorite for me. 

Bayon Temple is distinctive in that it's richly decorated with a multitude of smiling faces in many of the towers of the Temple. Bayon Temple was a state of Jayavarman VII, a powerful ruler in the 13th century. It's sat on what was a center of Angkor Thom, a walled city that served as the capital of the Khmer Empire. Much like all other  the temples, there are carvings around the temple telling stories of the empire, of life of those in around cities at the various times throughout past centuries. The temple has seen modifications having passed through Hindus and Buddhists. This is evident in the combination of beliefs and representation through mythological, historical scenes around the temple as well the notable marks where carvings were later removed as and when different leaders were in power and depending on their beliefs(whether following Hindu or Buddhist) some motifs were removed.

Out of all the temples, Bayon Temple stands out, it's different from all other temples which seem follow a rather tradition or classical style and perhaps that makes them appear roughly the same. Bayon temple, I guess makes you fall in love with it as it smiles at you from every direction as your explore. So much so that I wouldn't be surprised if you revisited this temple twice more. We managed to visit and walk around twice as well as passing by it several times during our stay in Cambodia.

I will share more pictures from our second visit to Bayon Temple. The tips and ticket details I shared in the Angkor Wat post in that your should bring with you some water, something to cover and protect your from mosquitoes as well as sunscreen or an umbrella, especially during the crazy summer season.

19 April 2016

Cambodia | Quick Guide On Where To Stay In Siem Reap

Cambodia | Where To Stay In Siem Reap

Tales of ancient civilisations, unique landscapes, and now UNESCO World Heritage sites. So you have decided on temple running through Cambodia's Siem Reap, but where do you stay in Siem Reap? Siem Reap serves as the gateway to temple ruins of the Khmer Empire.  It's a bustling city and you will want to be right at the heart of it, in terms of accessibility to restaurants, entertainment, and accommodation.  Siem Reap or Cambodia as a country for that matter is one of those places that you can surprisingly find a bed to sleep on for the price of a London Latte. Yes, I was just as surprised as you are right now. Yes, beds in a hostel can be as little as £3.75, which is great for those on a super tight budget. Fear not, for those with supercharged budgets as luxury hotels and villas, are a-plenty!

When I book hotels I can be a little fussy and sometimes I tend to opt for smaller hotels simply because I want a more peaceful stay without hordes taking up spots for the poolside lounge. Having scoured the internet and booking and cancelling places, we finally settled on Kiri Boutique Hotel. We booked this via Booking.com. You can check out deals on hotels, villas, and hostels in Siem Reap. You can also check out other sites like Agoda, Trivago, or Expedia.

Palm fringed villas and gardens, all surrounding inviting pools, with even better service are the makings of a perfect stay. In the land of $5 hour-long massages, you know you will be in for a relaxing stay. The beauty of our stay at Kiri Boutique Hotel was that in addition to the cheap and worth-every-buck massages you could get in the city, the hotel could arrange these in-house and have the masseuse come to our hotel room if all the temple running has got the best of us. Below I have listed a few spots covering most budgets just to get you started on your search if thinking of heading to Cambodia's Siem Reap.

17 April 2016

5 Things People Dont Tell You About Angkor Wat

 Angkor Wat At Sunrise/Sunset | What People Don't Tell You

Many people dream of seeing the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the beautiful pictures that we see floating around make it seem so serene and a peaceful and calm. That is until you actually get here and the place looks like a zoo for humans. Okay, there are times when it's not so crazy, providing you avoid the place at certain times. Below are some of the things I wish people would have warned me about, which I hope will help you. Also, note that this post is only intended to assist in setting your expectations when you visit and perhaps prepare you for it. There is no doubt that this place is magical but would be even better without the things mentioned below.

1. The Moat Is Artificial (Fake)

We have all see those beautiful pictures with a beautiful reflection of Angkor Wat towers and palm trees reflecting off the water. Well, guess what the moat has dried up and now has to be artificially filled with a pipe connected to the water supply from the main moat at the entrance of the temple's outter entrance from the road. The scenery itself was beautiful and the reflection perfect but to stand there while also in clear view of this large blue pipe that was supplying water to the moat so that these tourists who have paid hard earn money for to view the world famous Angkor Wat sunrise reflection can get their money's worth and that money shot reflection picture. Well, let's just say I felt cheated a little. I arrived in the summer so maybe it does dry out and refills during the rain season, but just the thought of this thing being filled up while we were there, rubbed me the wrong way.

15 April 2016

Travel Essentials | 6 Tips and Tricks on How to Look Refreshed After Long Haul Flights

Last year saw me travel a lot more that I usually do and with the majority of my trips long haul  travel I thought I would share some tips that help me look and feel refreshed after long haul flights. As well as share some travel essentials that are staples in my carry-on. My trusted pink Longchamp has been to Hong Kong, Australia and all over Europe and still continues to survive the trips and the contents I tend to throw in it. This simple and little bag is unbelievably durable. This coming from someone who will pack everything but the kitchen sink and that straps are still intact!

In addition to having a magazine, book or the iPad I have always packed items that I can easily access once I get on the flight. Items that will allow me to easily relax and rest. Below are some of the tips that help me and will hopefully help you feel more refreshed after long haul flights.

1. H2O - Drink Plenty of Water - Travelling can be dehydrating, especially during long-haul travel. Dehydration can also mean dry pasty looking skin when you land so drink as much water as possible before and during your flight.

2. Get Some Sleep - If flying long haul I tend to pick flights leaving at night but even if you leave in the morning or afternoon. Try and get as much sleep on the flight as possible to help you align your sleeping patterns to the destination time zone. Getting some rest on the flight also means reducing the effects of jet-lag when your arrive. Details of This Stuff Work Lavender spray below in the carry-on essentials.

13 April 2016

Siem Reap | Exploring Angkor Wat Temple At Sunrise

Wild, mysterious  and beautiful all at the same time. I have been wanting to visit Cambodia for such a long time. Last December my boyfriend and I decided to embark on a month-long trip traveling around this part of Asia. Our first stop was to be Cambodia. On my list were the many temples of Angkor. I will try not to refer them all as Angkor Wat Temples as is the case with most blogs. Angkor Wat simply means City Temple( Angkor means city and Wat means temple, or city of Temples in Khmer), which is the one shown in the pictures below. All the other temples although siting within the Angkor Archaeological Park are not called Angkor Wat like commonly referenced on blogs. Each has its own name. I will be sharing more pictures of the other temple with tips on these in the coming days.

Angkor Park is a world heritage site and compasses 400 square kilometers and more than 1000 temples. Some are just piles of rubble as a reminder of what was. Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. Originally constructed as a Hindu Temple for the Khmer Empire but was later transformed into a Buddist Temple. Having explored the temples and ruins of temples, it is by far one of the best preserved among them and a prime attraction for visitors heading to visit Angkorian temples. 

12 April 2016

5 Tourist Activities You Should Stop Taking Part In Now!

5 Tourist Activities You Should Stop Taking Part In Now

So you may have read my rant about the direction Instagram is taking(in my opinion) and how I believe Instagram has zapped people of creativity and individuality in their quest for being liked and followed. We can argue that there are many people true to themselves and just how creative are, let's leave that argument for another time for a moment or take it to that post I published. In this post, I wanted to discuss something else that has been bothering me. There are a couple of tourist activities that seriously make me cringe. We are in an age where almost everyone has The Internet. Certainly true for those that travel, otherwise how are they booking their tickets to travel. Those are the people this post is targeting. It's no longer an excuse to play the ignorant card. When I travel I research where I am going,  the activities I want to do in the city I am visiting and all sorts of things. With that, I also love at reviews about what people think of those activities.  Which ones are good, which are just a waste of my money, which ones are free? So with all that is involved in planning travel people cannot just pretend not know what why they shouldn't be participating in certain activities.

We all see these posts in Facebook groups where people are posting pictures riding on elephants, selfies with tigers or throwing live squid down their throats. Almost with a total disregard for the suffering of these animals. Have we become so self-absorbed, and numb to the suffering of others and animals that we take these pictures for the sake of Instagram shots and Facebook profile pictures that we no longer care or want to address the cruelty these animals have to endure just so you can post a "cool shot" for your social media? I also notice that the more people post these pictures the more people want to do them because "hey that would look cool on my *insert social media outlet*".

Below are 5 of some the tourist activities that I think people need to stop engaging in or better yet do enough research and ensure you are going to actual sanctuaries. Ask yourself if you can honestly say the animals haven't been harmed, drugged out, overworked, chained or beaten just you can take that photo. Can you honestly sit and take this photo knowing the animal is suffering just so you can create this memory? Also, stop using these crazy excuses and trying to deflect with statements like its the same as eating meat. We should all be vegan and such(yes, I have even seen a vegan trying to excuse his participation in elephant rides with similar statements). My post my lack eloquence but hopefully my point is clear enough, in that we can do better by these animals and just think about these activities and ask ourselves these questions before taking part. Don't do it for the social media, knowing your participation is causing harm.

11 April 2016

Paris | The Colours of La Defense

Paris | The Colours of La Defense - www.itsallbee.com
The Colourful Le Moretti

La Defense in Paris is a major business district. I would liken it to London's Canary Wharf and because it's there are mainly offices there, tourists tend to not go there so much. Unless you are into architecture photography that is. Don't cross it off because you assumed there is nothing to see there. It offers great views into Paris. You can see the Eiffel tower from La Defense. You can also see right through Arc de Triomphe from La Defense. The architecture is beautiful here, not to mention that because it's a business hub, there are many places to eat and shop to cater to those working and spending a majority of their time in this location.

La Defense is also the site of the Grande Arche, one of Paris' modern and imposing landmarks. This was the place the Charles de Gaulle concentrated skyscrapers, rather than changing the character of the Parisienne buildings with large and modern commercial buildings. Many of Paris' tallest buildings can be found here.

If you are a lover of modern art then you will love the remarkable pieces of modern art in this part of Paris. The business district of La Defense as small as it is it boasts 40 statues, sculptures, and monuments in its 400 acres. One monument that sticks out  is the beautifully colourful tower called CheminĂ©e Moretti or simply Le Moretti. This is a 32-meter high chimney composed of 672 colourful strands of fiberglass tubes. Running at a total length of 22km in 19 different colours. I haven't been in La Defense at night but apparently once the floodlights at the top a lit, it allows the colours of the chimney to be reflected on surrounding buildings.

Getting there: It's the last stop on  line one but can also be reached via line A of RER.

Where to stay in La Defense:
Pullman Hotel, Renaissance, Mercure, Novotel, and Movenpick. All located in La Defense. 

Places to eat in La Defense: There are plenty of places to eat not to mention that each of the hotels mentioned above will also have a restaurant and bars to entertain the many people who visit this district for work.

It's not too far from the city so if you are in Paris and looking for a new vantage point to see the city, definitely check it out.

10 April 2016

Brunch With A View Atop The Best Kept Secret In Paris

Paris Rooftops | Weekend Brunch At Printemps Rooftop Terrace

Who would dare say no to a quick brunch with 360° of Paris? No one! On my last trip to Paris before heading out to Australia my boyfriend and I decided on a weekend visit to Paris before I disappeared off to Australia for two weeks. Having skipped breakfast in the morning it wasn't long before we needed a caffeine break from exploring Paris' beautiful streets. What was to be a quick stop at Printemps turned out to be a long brunch as the views on Printemps Rooftop Terrace are just breathtaking. Right in the heart of Paris you can get a bite to eat, drink and have the best view in town and all 360° of it. 

From Printemps'  Le Deli-Cieux Rooftop Terrace Cafe you can see Montmartre, Eiffel Tower, Opera de Garnier. If you haven't been to Au Printemps then it's high time you added it to your list. It's pretty big, taking up about 5 buildings with an endless list of designer levels set on 6 storeys of the building. From Women's Fashion to Men's and everything you can possibly need for your house, cat and dog all housed in this beautiful spot in the city. With a rambling stomach and major pangs for coffee, shopping was far from my mind. 

8 April 2016

Printemps Terrace | Best Kept Secret In Paris

Au Printemps is well known to every Parisian and to every fashionista visiting Paris, but what many don't know about is that is has a beautiful rooftop terrace with endless and uninterrupted views of Paris. Au Printemps is one of the biggest department stores in Paris, with everything one could possibly want. Au Printemps is pretty huge, taking up a few buildings in the neighbourhood, with floors of high-end fashion for women, men, kids as well as household items. It's only a question of whether one can afford it, but there is something for everyone. You can shop till you drop and when you are done you can head to the Printemps rooftop Terrace and drink in the views of Paris.

Most places offering such views come at a price while you can simply navigate your way around Au Printemps lifts and escalators and find yourself in this sweet spot in the heart of Paris. Views of Montmartre, Eiffel Tower, Paris de Garnier, Sacre Coeur and many more of Parisian iconic structures can all be seen from the rooftop terrace. If you are hungry for a little more than just the view there is also a cafe here. With an impressive 360° view of Paris, you will be sad you hadn't known about this place all along but yet don't want to spread the news for fear of being overcrowded the next time you visit.

Au Printemps: 64, BOULEVARD HAUSSMANN, 75009 PARIS

6 April 2016

Tips On Making The Most Of Your Layover/Stopover | Exploring Lama Temple In Beijng

In my last post, I shared tips on making the most of China's 72-hour visa-free transit, allowing you to explore a little bit of China without having to pay for the expensive visa. This time, I am sharing tips on making the most of your layover in China. These tips can also be used for any other country you may have a layover in. Layovers or stopovers, can be an inexpensive way  to travel to more destinations for less or getting an intro to a city without investing too much time or many. A layover/stopover allows you to stay in a connection city for greater than 24 hours but less than the duration of your planned trip. Planning in advance means that you can add an addition country or city with ease. Things like making sure you have an idea of how long the journey is from the airport to town, having a little bit of local currency will make sure you can get exploring quickly without using up your layover time queuing up for currency exchange booths.

Below are some tips on making the most of your layover in China and any other country you may have a layover in.

Tips to Make The Most of Your Layover In Beijing

1. Pick One of 2 Things/Activities

Of course, this is a city with the world famous Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Sq, Temple of Heave, Forbidden City and many more interesting places that are I am sure on many a bucket list. With a short layover, though, you cannot see everything. So pick one of those places that you can fully take in and enjoy without rushing around. You can also book tours for the Great Wall of China but I would advise you to at least be on a 10-hour Layover or more before doing this tour as the drive to and back takes a while, also factoring in the traffic in China. It would not be wise to miss your flight on the 72-hour Visa as the Chinese immigration officials will not be understanding about that. 

2. Research The Best Way To Get To The Chosen Location

On this occasion, we thought best to visit Lama Temple during our layover in Beijing. We looked at the closest station to Lama Temple. From there on we looked at what train line that station was on. How many times we needed to change trains to get to Lama Temple as well as the train from the airport into the city.

5 April 2016

Tips on China's 72-Hour Visa-Free Transit

China 72 Hour Visa-Free Transit

Let's face it, visas for those that don't so-called "most valuable passports for visa-free travel" can be a costly affair. When I heard about the 72 hour China Visa Policy, I thought it was the perfect way to make use  of our layover in China while my boyfriend and I were on our way to Cambodia in December last year. I still have to get a visa while my boyfriend qualifies for the new visa policy. Great that at least we don't have to blow £200 on visas, instead only pay for mine. I have been to China before so it was a great way to show my boyfriend around Beijing on his first visit to the country. At the moment, only 51 countries around the world can use the new visa policy. I would normally have to get my Chinese visa in London while he qualifies for the new 72 Hour Visa in China. Mine doesn't take very long in London. They offer a one day service or one over a couple of days for about £90. When I visited Hong Kong a couple of years ago I also managed to get a Chinese Visa from there and that was sorted out within a few hours  as well. Just note that if you use an actual visa processing place they charge a reasonable price compared to some hotels that may way charge you 3 times as much to process the visa. While I processed my visa in London, I used China's 72 Hour Visa Policy to sort out my boyfriend's visa for our visit in Beijing. Below I have tips on what to expect and what your need to arrange the Chinese visa as well as making the most on your city layover, whether that is a layover in Shanghai, Xiamen, or Guangzhou. You can also check my explorations of Guangzhou on my last visit to China.

The Cities In China Using The 72 Hour Visa Policy

At the moment, you can only utilise the new visa policy from a few of China's main airports. Currently, you can only use this new visa policy if you are from on of the 51 countries listed below or if you are arriving through one of the 18 cities that have adopted this new 72-hour visa policy.  Also bear in mind that where you are allowed to visit also depends on your port o arrival. If you arrive in Beijing, Chongqing, Harbin, Guilin, Guilin, Xiamen, Tianjin, and Kunming, you cannot live this administrative area of your transit city. In other words, if you are transiting in Beijing, you have to stay in Beijing and exit from Beijing. So if you want to Visit two cities just ensure you double check that you can move on to another city within the province. Besides not that the 72-hour visa is enough to do that anyway. Some cities like Shanghai allow you to arrive in Shanghai and exit from another city. This also means that if you arrive in Shanghai, Zhejiang or Jiangsu, your 72-hour visa becomes 144-hour visa. Note that these visa policies only apply if entering China by air and not other means like, say if you were driving from another city or country and entering China that way.  Currently, the cities allowing use of this 72-hour visa policy are: Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Harbin, Shenyang, Guangzhou, Dalin, Xian, Guilin, Kunming, Wuhan, Xiamen, Tianjin, Nanjing, Qingdao, Changsha and Hangzhou

Countries That Can Use China's New Visa Policy

As my boyfriend has dual nationality but also holds a British passport, so he qualifies for this new visa policy. We also found that we didn't have to contact the airline and notify them of our desire to have a layover in the city. Most posts online say you have to do this, but in fact, DO NOT have to tell your airline, especially for Beijing. If travelling to other Chinese cities, feel free to mention it at check-in but it wasn't necessary when we travelled to Beijing. If you hold a passport any of the following countries you will qualify for the 72-hour visa and therefore, do not need to get a visa before travelling to China for a layover.

4 April 2016

10 Ways Instagram Is Killing Creativity and Individuality

Am  I the only one that sometimes looks at Instagram accounts and thinks that some accounts look so similar if not the same with people continuing to take the same old pictures copied from one Instagram  to another then another. Before we know it everything looks the same! Where is the creativity or showcasing of individuality? There was a time when being a creator or new ways of photography, a great eye for detail, showing viewers new ways of looking at the same image. I rarely see those things as people have become so hungry to have followers that creating content with substance, thought-provoking, inspiring, captivating has seems to take a backseat for photos of self-absorbed selfies, or shots of the latest Chanel purse that people are pretending they just bought when it was gifted exchange for exposure brand exposure. All kids and teens thinking the only way to get followers is to take half naked selfies for the world to see and perhaps those that are so desperate for followers that they are trapped in this cat and mouse game of follow for follow then unfollow then repeat. The whole think has become rather sad and sad that Instagram has now become that way. So I thought I would highlight those Instagram offenders that are lacking or killing theirs and other people's creativity/individuality.

1. Be a leader and not a follower