Author: Corinne

Things to do in BANGKOK!

Things to do in BANGKOK!

Bangkok is a bustling, sweaty, smelly but very vibrant metropolis…..and we LOVED it! Bangkok is CHAOTIC but at the same time has a tranquility running through its veins.

There are many areas to explore, sights to see and foods to try and this is our first experience of this great city.

                                  CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET

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An extensive market, held only at WEEKENDS and selling all that you could imagine, Chatuchak Market is a MUST.  With over 8000 stalls Chatuchak offers a huge variety of merchandise, foodie treats and indulgences such as Thai Massage. The quality on offer at this market as well as the prices, rivalled most we came across during our visit to Thailand. The market stalls are nicely spaced out and the vendors are not intrusive. We LOVED the day we spent perusing this market.It is an easy stroll from Mo Chit Station, BTS Sukhumvit Line.

                                                           KHAO SAN ROAD

Khao San sure packs a PUNCH! An assault on the senses it comes alive at night with plenty of bars, restaurants, street food vendors and market stalls. 

                                                               SKY BARS

There are so many Sky Bars to choose from in Bangkok, some formal, some more relaxed, some featuring in Hollywood. Offering STUNNING views across Bangkok, you can watch the sunset over this great city, cocktail in hand…

Above Bar Eleven, Sukhumvit Soi 11, had a great CASUAL atmosphere, pumping music and great cocktails. It is not the highest Sky Bar but the views are still amazing and it is a great way to kick start your Bangkok adventure!

WAT PHO

Wat Pho, is home to the famed Reclining Buddha, 46 metres long and covered in gold leaf. An amazing site to see and a must for the first time visitor to Bangkok. The temple complex is extensive and a really peaceful, pretty and ornate place to explore…

Wat Pho is also home to the leading school of Thai massage where you can head for a range of treatments at very reasonable prices.

Entrance fee is to Wat Pho is 100 Baht. Make sure that your shoulders and knees are covered, otherwise you can rent or buy sarongs just outside the temple for a small fee of 250 Baht.

CHINATOWN, YAOWARAT ROAD

Chinatown is a BUSTLING hub, somewhere not to miss with a CONTAGIOUS vibe that will leave you wanting to return. Shoppers fill the streets by day but it is at NIGHT that the streets come alive with street FOOD vendors serving up delicious cuisine…

SHOPPING MALLS

If you like to SHOP a trip to Bangkok would not be complete without spending some time in the shopping malls. They are HUGE, air conditioned complexes with floors and floors of merchandise…

You will find fashion, electronics, speciality stores and lifestyle amongst others. They also have big canteen style food courts where the choice of food on offer is plentiful and the quality good, a welcome pit stop to refuel your shopping bonanza…

WAT SAKET

Also known as The Golden Mount, Wat Saket is well worth a visit. Climbing the 344 steps to the top…

…rewards you with STUNNING views across Bangkok

There is a modest entrance fee of 20 Baht.

We by no means exhausted all there is to see and do in Bangkok during our first visit but taking each day as it came these were our highlights….and after all it’s always wise to leave something for NEXT time.

Hotel Indigo Wireless Road Bangkok

Hotel Indigo Wireless Road Bangkok

We arrived in Bangkok with dark skies looming, hopped off the BTS which was supposed to be a moments walk from our hotel and stomped meanifully in……the wrong direction!!! Realising, we turned around and began lugging our cases back the way we had come. Those looming dark skies did not let us down and within minutes we both looked like we had stepped in the bath with our clothes on!! To our delight we soon saw the alluring glowing sign of our chosen hotel….

Straight away the quality of the service hit us with a bang. We were met with umbrellas; once inside the foyer we were brought towels to dry ourselves with and two iced Thai teas were placed on the counter infront of us. Wow! We already felt spoilt and we hadn’t yet checked in! The check in process was swift and we left our cases for the hotel porter to bring up to our room. Off to the 18th floor…..

We had researched (as we always do!) our hotel choice very well and I was so excited to enter the room and discover what it had to offer in the flesh! Hotel Indigo did not disappoint on attention to detail, style, comfort or the “wow” factor.

The bed was large, comfortable and dressed with high quality bed linen…

……which always makes for a good nights sleep…..!

There was a lovely area to chill and put your feet up….

If you need a desk to work from, well I’m not sure how much you would get done with this view….

The bathroom was so swish with gold fixtures….

….a sink and vanity area with anything and everything you could ever need or want!

….and a spacious, powerful shower with luxurious toiletries….

The creme del la creme for us has to be our own private balcony with seating. What could be better than sitting out here soaking up the thronging vibes of Bangkok City…..

…..with views to die for….

Now the price of our room was around £100 per night which you could say was expensive in Thai terms but this is a 5 star boutique hotel in a great location in Bangkok….including a breakfast. I cannot tell you with enough emphasis how cheap this really is if you compare that to what you would get for £100 in London….which almost certainly woud not include a breakfast of this quality and choice if at all! Now…..lets explore that breakfast….

This was one of Adam’s plates from our 4 night stay and as you can see it is brimming with fruit, rice, cheese, beans and bread….

…he followed this up with some scrumptious poached eggs and hash browns….

My offering was some delicious pancakes with fresh and griddled banana, honey and cream….yum!

There was so much choice for breakfast at this hotel and the quality of the food and service of the staff was simply outstanding. There were all types of condiments, cereals, breads, yogurts, meats, cheeses, salads, fruits, milks, curries, rices…..and that was just the buffet! When seated you are brought a small shot glass of juice (different each day) and then asked if you would like tea or coffee. Aswell as the buffet there is a hot Western, Thai and Indian menu which is given to you at the table. Truly amazing.

One final but truly special element of this hotel which we sampled was the infinity pool overlooking the city…

We have now stayed at two Indigo hotels, the second being in Liverpool, UK. Both times we have felt indulged with the style, service and attention to detail. We highly recommend staying with Hotel Indigo if you are ever lucky enough to get that chance.

Hopefully we will be lucky enough to return ourselves, afterall it has now made it in to our top 3 hotel choices across the world!

Please swing over to YouTube and seek out Jamesyboy Experiment for a detailed room vlog also.

Until next time…thanks for reading :)….

 

 

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway – Los Angeles to San Francisco

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway – Los Angeles to San Francisco

We had read about it, dreamed about it and now we were realising it. Sweeping turns, beautiful changing landscapes, a drive of a life time. What I am talking about is the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) or State Route 1, an iconic stretch of road which hugs most of the Californian coastline and runs from Dana Point, Orange County to Leggett, Mendocino County totalling 655 miles. The section we would cover would be Los Angeles in the South to San Francisco in the North.

We would travel in October which is said to be the best time of year for the clearest days, we were least likely to see that pacific coast fog rolling in which can envelop all in its path like a mysterious swathe, making the beatiful scenery invisible and driving conditons treacherous.

We had researched this drive to death, we had 400 miles to cover, on what was said to be slow, winding, traffic clogged roads. Wanting to make the most of the trip and for it to be as relaxed as possible we planned four sleep stops along the route.

Having just spent the last five nights in Venice Beach we packed up Sally (the obvious name for our Ford Mustang convertible!) ready to leave. We were soon out on the Pacific Coast Highway heading north towards our first destination, Santa Barbara, 95km away.

On the way we pulled over at Elo Carrillo State Beach where the first scene from Grease was filmed. We wandered along the sand and gazed out to sea watching surfers catching some waves, pretty cool.

To our surprise the roads were much wider than we thought and with much less traffic. We cruised along, top down, swiftly arriving at Santa Barabara which did not disappoint. Exploring we discovered the pier….

….and habour, where we saw some star fish chilling…

….and the most gorgeous sweeping beach with blue sparkling sea and the Santa Ynez mountains as a backdrop. We felt like we had arrived in the Mediterranean. It felt like heaven, it was amazing.

Santa Barbara is a fantastic place to visit. So relaxed, the people are friendly and it offers a good selection of places to eat and shops to browse. We stayed at the Franciscan Inn which is perfectly situated just a moments walk from the sea. Our room was cosy, comfortable, nicely decorated and had everything we needed – check out the link below (supplied simply because I loved this place!)

http://www.franciscaninn.com/

The following morning we were headed to San Luis Obispo, our next stop on this trip and 110 miles on.

En route we wanted to take a slight detour to find the Chumash Painted Cave. A small cave of sandstone containing some of the most amazing art created by Chumash Native Americans estimated to date to the 1600’s and earlier. Leaving Santa Barbara via Highway 154 we turned off along Painted Caves Road. The cave is about two miles up this steep, narrow road.

It was incredible to see these blue, red and white paintings and the way they were perfectly preserved.

Moving on we passed through Solvang, stopping only for some lunch. A Danish town situated in the Santa Ynez Valley and famed in our world for its connection to the movie Sideways!

Heading back towards the sea we arrived at Pismo Beach, a cool, retro windswept seaside town with traditional arcades, cafes and bars from yesteryear. It had a massive pier….

….and another pretty amazing beach. Flat, soft sand stretching out to the glistening waters edge. Just incase you are wondering what I am looking at through the binoculars I am guessing you will be pretty wowed to hear that they were Humpback Whales feeding out at sea.

Just inland from Pismo Beach and we had arrived in San Luis Obispo. Our accommodation for the night was the Madonna Inn, an iconic American motel open since 1958.

A very grand place, the picture only showing one wing of the motel housing 110 uniquely designed rooms, set in the most beautiful surroundings…

Unfortunately we were not there long enough to enjoy the many hiking trails.

We spent the evening in San Luis, which had a good vibe, great choice of restaurants and cool independent shops. We also stumbled across Bubblegum Alley a touirst attraction famed for the accumulation of used bubblegum on its walls!

We ended the evening sitting in the dimly lit ballroom of the Madonna Inn supping on a cocktail or two, watching couples dance to live jazz being played on the piano.

The following day Monterey beckoned, 140 miles north. This would be the longest stage of our four day Pacific Coast Highway drive.

Getting an early start we pulled over at Moonstone Beach, Cambria which is named after the pretty, colourful stones that you can find amongst the pebbles and sand. We had a stroll along the beach…

and caught site of some amazing Turkey Vultures devouring a seagul carcass…yum!

Now at this point I would like to tell you just how good the road on this journey is. After research we were left thinking that the PCH was going to be a narrow, nail biting ride with lots of unsafe twists and turns. We were very pleasantly surprised. There are good barriers….

….loads of pull over places of ample size which will park many cars….

….and the roads are not narrow at all….

Leaving Moonstone Beach behind we pressed on and were soon cruising along the Big Sur itself, a stretch of California’s central coastline between Carmel and San Simeon, the Santa Lucia Mountains to the east and the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean on the west. The scenery is rugged, the road twisting and turning.

Both of us feeling pretty damn happy that we were finally here, doing our dream drive in our dream car, taking in this awesome scenery with only each other for company…

Adam has a huge connection with the Big Sur due to his hero Jack Kerouac and now spralling out infront of us was Bixby Bridge where Jack stayed in the canyon below in solace, trying to gain a grip on reality and escape the frenzied days of San Francisco. The bridge completed in 1932 is one of the most photographed bridges in California due to its design and magnificent setting, wow is all that is needed!

Not too much further and we had arrived in Monterey. The Monterey Bay Inn would be our base for the night and it was pretty neat. Room on the top floor, with a balcony and view out to the bay.

We explored the town and walked by Cannery Row, famed by John Steinbeck’s novel…..

The following morning, after enjoying breakfast on the balcony which had been brought up to our room, a cute little tray of delights…

….we were all set for our next adventure, a whale watching cruise. We booked this on line with Santuary Cruises, https://www.sanctuarycruises.com/ and they were awesome. Marine biologists on board with indepth knowledge and vying to get their customers the best wildlife sightings possible they did not disappoint. Even just cruising out of the harbour we saw a Sea Otter chilling….

…..and again with his mate the Sea Lion…!

….and a whole bunch of Brown Pelicans which I call the turtles of the sky….they look so chilled when they bob along in the air!

Out at sea we were lucky to see a Humpback Whale feeding and a school of Risso’s dolphins but I was too in ore to catch any pictures…sorry! Arriving back at the habour after four hours at sea and feeling satisfied we had squeezed all we could out of our short stay in Monterey we climbed back into Sally and hit the road to Santa Cruz, a mere 45 miles away.

We loved Santa Cruz. Awesome old school hippy vibe. Relaxed and friendly. Made iconic by the movie The Lost Boys where it is known as Santa Carla. The downtown area was cool with lots of independent music, comic and clothes shops. Great choice of restaurants and bars. We walked along the front, playing in the arcades and Adam hoping to ride the classic wooden roller coaster but due to being out of season the boardwalk theme park was closed….maybe next time..

We chilled while the sun went down and strolled along the pier. Tomorrow San Francisco.

With San Francisco as our base for the next four nights we had the opportunity to take a road trip north of the Golden Gate Bridge continuing on the PCH to Bodega Bay and Point Reyes Lighthouse. The scenery felt vast, ruggest and wild.

Point Reyes Lighthouse was cool to explore once you had climbed down the 300 steps that lead to its door. It was so cool to stand where John Carpenter had filmed The Fog over 35 years ago!

This trip was what dreams are made of. It lived up to all our expectations and more. We truly recommend anyone to do it. The biggest surprise to us was just how good the roads were, well maintained and as we were slightly out of season not clogged with traffic at all. Sometimes fog, snow or rock falls can make the road unpassable in places so it is worth checking up to date local information for the route.

Finally one question we came across alot during our research….do you drive the Pacific Coast Highway north to south or south to north? Well we did the latter, although for scenery the former is supposed to be the best as you are closest to the ocean. Our opinion….it does not matter. It would be awesome whichever. There are so many pull over places along route you will never miss the opportunity to capture the truly awesome sights that the Pacific Coast Highway has to offer. The only reason that North to South may edge it is that you can enjoy the temperature rising as your journey unfolds. Either way we felt pretty stoked that we had achieved our dream.

 

 

 

 

 

Quick. Cheap. Fun. Easy. Our wedding in Las Vegas!

Quick. Cheap. Fun. Easy. Our wedding in Las Vegas!

Adam and I had been together nearly eleven years. Happy, having fun, no need to change anything.

To drive the Pacific Coast Highway, especially the Big Sur, in a convertible, had been a long term dream of ours.

Januray 2016 came and our dream became a reality when we booked our flights and began planning our trip. We would fly into Las Vegas and out of San Francisco, taking in a massive road trip inbetween.

During the months leading up to “take off” I joked about getting married in Las Vegas but never even thought it was something we would actually do. Until one afternoon whilst sitting in a pub in Norwich I asked Adam if he would marry me and the reply came…..”I AGREE!”

Image result for cartoon of a woman proposing to a man free

Now we had a whole new chapter of our holiday to research. The choice of wedding options in Las Vegas is endless. There are so many chapels to choose between. Checking out their websites it was clear to see that they all offered a variety of similar packages from the lavish to the most basic. Some offer themed weddings or services in alternative locations such as the dessert. Packages can include photo’s, limousine service from your hotel to the venue, dress hire, flowers, music, chapels can even provide their own witnesses if you will be having no guests. Some venues offer a walk in service and some offer weddings 24 hours of the day! There are also chapels in the strip hotels. We even found a company who offer mobile weddings, marrying you out of the back of a converted van in the location of your choice – crazy! Any of these things can be booked, arranged and managed on line. None of them however were for us.

We had four main criteria when deciding on our wedding, it had to be quick, cheap, fun and easy!…oh and maybe just a little bit cool! All these things led us on to our final decision….a DRIVE THROUGH wedding! Yes you drive to the venue and do not leave your car! We would be hiring a car for our entire trip afterall. We researched and noted down the addresses of two venues. Made a note of their most simple package price and the opening times. Only two things left to do, order our marriage license and choose and buy our rings. Although we intended to marry on our first night in Las Vegas we did not book a date and time for our wedding, keeping things entirely optional.

A little information for you…..

Ordering your marriage license on line is a simple process of filling out and submitting  a form on the Clark County website. This saves time as it will be ready to collect from the Clark County Marriage License Bureau in down town Las Vegas, (201 E Clark Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89101). You pay the fee on collection ($75 when we married) and applications are held in their system for 90 days. There is no waiting period either – you could get married in Las Vegas as soon as you arrive! The link below will take you to the marriage license application:

http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/clerk/Services/Pages/MarriageLicenses.aspx

Be sure when researching wedding package prices that you determine whether Minister fees are included or will be extra, whether witnesses can be provided (if this is something you will require) and what the fee will be and expected gratuities as this will not be optional!

With all this knowledge on board we were ready to be wed!

We touched down in Las Vegas on the 24th September 2016 at quarter past one, straight from the airport to collect our car….a convertible Ford Mustang in dark grey. Check out that cool dude below!

After checking into the Aria hotel we were straight back out to collect our marriage license, all went smoothly and then on to get married, still in the same clothes we had been wearing for the past twenty hours and me with no make up on! By this time it was around eight o’clock!

We pulled up outside A Special Memory Wedding Chapel, our first choice, then parked up beside the wedding window…eek! We waited for the secretary to come to the window and asked can we marry now? Yes she replied, I just need to call the Minister to come. The Minister arrived within ten minutes and appeared at the window ready to perform our ceremony.

We sat in the Mustang with the top down, engine off. Our vows were simple and service short but it was meaningful, touching and perfect for us. I was completely choked and knowing Adam as long and as well as I do I could see he was emotional too – I will never forget that look on his face, it meant so much.

A few moments later and we were Mr and Mrs. Wow!

We drove off back to the strip laughing.

Quick, fun, cheap and easy it was and most definitely super cool. We opted for no photo’s and no frills, just us and a few badly taken selfies as you can see!

We then got spruced up and took a taxi to the Stratosphere, up to the Sky Lounge for some celebratory drinks and to take in some views of Las Vegas at night.

Then back to the Aria hotel for a well earned rest. We had been up for 27 hours after all!

Point A Hotel – London Liverpool Street

Point A Hotel – London Liverpool Street

Location, price, comfort and cleanliness are the four things this hotel does not disappoint on. The price of our double room with a city view was £78 not including breakfast. Having travelled and stayed in London many times we are familiar with the steep prices for no frills accommodation. Paying only £78 we did not have extremely high expectations. We were however pleasantly surprised.

This branch of Point A is located on Folgate Street which is lined with awesome old buidings, within easy reach of Liverpool Steet Station (as the name would suggest!!) and Brick Lane. Lots of restaurants, pubs, cafes and nightlife nearby.

Our room stated city view but it was more just a view of Folgate Street below which was fine. The window opened (some do not in London hotels – if they have a window at all!) which is great for us or there was the option of air conditioning. Below are some pictures of our room….

The bed was very comfortable. Lighting had various options so could be bright or ambient. The hair dryer was powerful and located beside the mirror. There are no tea/coffee making facilities in the room but there is the option to purchase coffee at reception.

The bathroom was compact and clean with a powerful, hot shower. Only one towel each but these were extra large.

The furnishings are not luxury but the design is simple and the room was clean, light and very comfortable.

We did not get breakfast but we saw the spread which looked varied, well presented and tasty. 4 items plus one hot drink was £7 which is good for London hotel prices.

We would definately recommend and stay again ourselves. Point A also have other locations in the city.