CON Air (Zanzibar, Tanzania)

CON Air (Zanzibar, Tanzania)

We boarded the plane at Paris, Charles De Gaulle, ready for our 8 hour flight to Zanzibar via Nairobi, Kenya. It was to be my first time in East Africa, and Josh’s first time in Africa so naturally we were both excited and a little apprehensive too as we didn’t know quite what to expect.

Getting to this exotic destination off the beaten tourist track was a bit of an ordeal: our commute was over 15 hours in total, and required changing planes 3 times, then it would be another hour and a half journey by road once we arrived in Zanzibar.

Once we had settled into our seats, we immediately commenced our usual routine of choosing the film/s we wanted to watch for the duration of the flight. We settled on Logan as my brothers had assured me it was a really good film and then I decided that should I feel awake enough afterwards then I would watch Wonder Woman. Again. 🙂

Despite the dauntingly long journey ahead now we were ready, or as ready as we were gonna be!

No sooner had I put my travel socks on, spritzed my face with Liz Earle facial toner and applied my moisturiser in preparation of the journey ahead, did we suddenly hear the back door of the plane fly open and then a woman towards the back of the plane, about 4 rows behind us, began screeching at the top of her lungs:

“Nooooooo, Noooooo!”

“Leave me alone, I do not want to go, I don’t want to goooo!”

“Je ne veux pas y retourner! Je ne veux pas y retourner!”

“No, I will not go, leave me alone, LEAVE. ME. ALONE!!”

I whipped my head around to see what on earth the commotion was all about and with growing horror I saw this large African woman being physically restrained by two men at the back of the plane. At first Josh and I just assumed that they were perhaps friends of hers and an argument had broken out between them, but as it became more physical and she became more vocal, it soon became clear that she was infact fighting them!

The 2 slight Kenyan men who were accompanying her were trying to force her into a seat at the back of the plane. She was resisting them with all her might and her protestations were getting increasingly louder. I could only look on in shock. By now the entire back of the plane had turned around in their seats to see what was going on.

Why was this woman being restrained? What had she done? Why were the staff just standing there doing and saying nothing? Why is the woman being so hysterical? I wondered to myself.

And most importantly, What ON EARTH is she doing on my flight?!

All of these questions were whirring round and round in my head as I tried to process what it was I was seeing.

The woman’s cries became increasingly more urgent and she began to beg for help from passengers nearby who looked confused and uncomfortable: Nobody knew what to do.

She begged passengers to help her in French and English:

“Please help me” she screamed.

“Help me please. PLEASE” she pleaded.

I really wanted to help her but I didn’t know how I could. Or even if I should. The men started to get rougher with her as she fought them with an intensity and ferocity that left me speechless: This woman was FIGHTING FOR HER LIFE.

I didn’t know whether she was being illegally deported (meaning, these men were not police officers and were infact taking her against her will), if she was a criminal or whether she was being deported from Paris back to her country of origin. I had absolutely no idea what was going on because whilst this commotion was in full sway and the plane remained grounded delaying our take-off as a result, the staff made NO ATTEMPT WHATSOEVER to explain what was going on to anyone. They never tried to intervene nor to acknowledge the commotion in any way.

Josh and I looked at each other with growing disbelief as we saw these men trying to handcuff this woman to the middle aisle seat at the back of the plane and she wasn’t having a bar of it! Her screams went up an octave.

The sound of this woman’s wails, screams and laments reverberated in my heart as I recognised the unmistakable sounds of genuine human anguish, pain and acute terror.

As I looked around me I could see some people staring blankly forward as if if they merely glimpsed this woman being manhandled they wouldn’t be able to remain calm. They simply REFUSED to look at her. Tears prickled at the corner of my eyes as I saw that this woman was fighting with everything that she had. Whatever the reason that she was being detained was, it was humiliating and painful to see another human being being treated in this way. And I did not see why I should have to be subjected to it!

Multiple times passengers, angry because no information had been given as to what was going on or how long it would be before we took off, demanded that the woman be removed from the aircraft. But this fell on deaf ears: The air crew simply ignored them.

“They will kill me!” she screeched out to anyone who would listen to her plight.

“No, I don’t want to die. PLEASE, I don’t want to die! Je ne veux pas y retourner! Je ne veux pas y retourner!”

My eyes widened in horror upon hearing these words. Die? I thought. Did I just hear DIE?? Just what the bloody hell is going on here? Who IS this woman? I wanted to know. I didn’t sign up to be party to these kinds of shenanigans!

The plane had now been grounded for well over 30 minutes with no announcement from the pilot as to why we were being delayed and no apology from the staff about the noise. I was horrified. I really couldn’t believe what it was I was seeing and hearing. I had NEVER been on a delayed flight where the pilot didn’t give frequent information as to the reason for the delay and an approximate estimation as to how long the delay would be for. This, in my experience, was unheard of.

“Noooooo” she wailed. “Nooooooo!”

I looked over at the staff in disbelief that they could continue pretending as if they couldn’t see or hear the commotion that was happening in front of their very eyes.

My sense of unease increased rapidly as I saw this woman struggling with all her might to resist the chains that they were trying to bind her hands with. My anxiety and sense of helplessness was becoming more and more acute as the time went on. It had become clear by now that these were plain clothed policemen so it seemed this woman was going to be handcuffed to her seat and brought along for the ride whether I liked it or not. Well I DID NOT LIKE.  I was utterly furious and felt powerless to do anything to stop it.

When the woman began to flail her arms around wildly, making it dangerous not just to her immediate passengers, but also to herself, things really began to take a serious turn. All the while she was screaming at them to leave her alone and that she was going to be killed in her country. Babies on the plane started crying in unison.

An hour later and we were STILL stationery, waiting for this woman to be removed from the aircraft. As far as I was concerned, she was a liability. And quite frankly, I was starting to feel traumatised watching this woman being manhandled by these men. I didn’t want her on my flight, end of story. I didn’t pay for this shit. Neither did I agree to share my flight to Zanzibar with a deportee.

The airlines arrangements with the authority’s to deport someone on their commercial flight had nothing to do with me as a paying customer as far as I was concerned and I would never willingly agree to be a participant in the removal of someone, particularly when said person was unwilling to be removed and was being extremely vocal about it!

It’s not as if she was like a normal paying customer, she was essentially being REMOVED from the country, and that is something very different.

After an hour or so of this things really began to escalate when I heard the back door open and saw 2 French policemen enter. I knew that they were police immediately because they were hench, wearing police uniform and had a ruggedness about them that looked as if they were used to dealing with VERY SERIOUS situations (such as terrorists and the like)

I looked on in shock and horror as these militant looking policemen along with the by contrast very gentle looking Kenyan policemen proceeded to try to get this woman under control but she was stronger than any of them could ever have anticipated and she wasn’t going down without a FIGHT!

After another 10 minutes of struggle, which not only had them heavily perspiring but the woman too, FINALLY they got her strapped to her chair. Soon thereafter we heard her panting heavily and we could SMELL her body odour from where we were sitting: She smelt of defeat, pain and broken dreams.

The woman now brought her screaming up to blood curdling loud levels and I was really struggling to hold in my tears. The sound of her deep sorrowful sobs were hurting my heart. I found the whole thing utterly inhumane and deeply disturbing. I couldn’t believe that THIS was the start of my holidays. Was this to be the sign of things to come??

Now handcuffed to the seat, she promptly began smashing her head with full force against the seat in front of her. The woman in front of her whose seat she was banging her head against and who was visibly getting more distressed, immediately burst into tears, as did children halfway down the plane. It was absolute mayhem.

How they could allow this delay to occur when it was completely within their control was beyond my comprehension. How they could sit there pretending that nothing was going on when a woman was literally begging for her life really was beyond my understanding. Why they felt it was acceptable to allow this woman to continue this level of disruption that was causing passengers including children to cry and people to demand that they remove her immediately when we know that they divert planes for MUCH less was beyond belief. And why they never went around apologising profusely to every passenger who was being affected by this horrendous episode and tried to put them at ease for what already is for some people quite a disturbing thing (flying) whilst this unacceptable drama played out was to my mind, UTTERLY UNACCEPTABLE.

Eventually, after they had moved the crying passenger sitting in front of her, I summoned one of the air hostesses who had been trying in earnest to pretend that she didn’t see what going on wasn’t going on, and I asked her directly “What IS going on?!”

And she told me (though I noted that she never bothered to apologise), that the woman was being deported. Simple as that. No further details. No apologies. And STILL no announcement by the pilot!

My nerves were frayed and I didn’t know whether this woman would start an even bigger commotion whilst we were in the air so I couldn’t relax. And fundamentally, I did not agree with them bringing their “prisoner” onto MY flight that I paid my hard-earned money to be on!

Now they brought out the big guns and the woman’s wails became repeated daggers to my heart. I turned around to see them produce a head strap – yes, you heard me correctly a HEAD STRAP, which they then proceeded to attempt to put onto her head to stop her from harming herself!

WFT is going on here??

These delusional people were so insistent that she was going to travel with us that they were actually prepared to put a head strap on the poor woman!

Well, she really began screaming now and it was unbearable. Again, people asked repeatedly for her to be removed from the plane, but they were patently ignored. I decided that I just couldn’t look anymore. Realising that they were determined to keep her on the plane Josh and I asked to be moved to another seat but were ignored. It was agonising to hear her let alone see her.

Concerned passengers began filming it on their phones but the French policemen (who for the first time seemed to suddenly realise that passengers were indeed present and watching everything that was going on!) went around DELETING footage from people’s phones telling them that they couldn’t film it.

Deleting footage you know! BUT WHY? You ask.

Why couldn’t they film it if what they was doing was perfectly okay and above-board? Who knows?

After almost an hour and a half of this I decided to be smart and at least try and get some audio of the commotion for future evidence. Because if this airline thought that I was just going to let them get away with this with no recompense then they were SADLY mistaken. As far as I was concerned allowing this woman to remain on the plane was putting EVERYONE on the flight at risk.

Eventually I managed to record audio of when she was much calmer then the hour or so before, but it is still damning evidence that proves how much disruption this woman was causing to passengers and I knew without a doubt that grounded or not, anyone else causing a disruption like this would have been removed without a moment’s hesitation.

Suddenly I felt the engine starting up (I couldn’t hear it of course because the woman was still screaming at the top of her lungs), but I could feel it beneath me. But to my absolute horror the safety announcement started playing DESPITE the fact that this woman was still wildin’ out.

I couldn’t hear a bloody thing! She was so loud that I couldn’t hear it and neither would I have been able to concentrate on it even if miraculously she had stopped screaming because I was still traumatised by the whole experience.

Once the engine had started up and the French policemen had helped to strap her head and hands to the seat they promptly left via the back of the aircraft. I recorded the audio of our ascent and the safety announcement whilst the woman was making her presence felt. It all felt quite surreal, like a nightmare. And STILL I was yet to hear the pilot make any kind of announcement regarding the commotion.

Whilst we were still in the air I could hear the woman crying, though it was gradually getting lesser and lesser, but then all of a sudden I heard nothing and I looked behind me to see the woman with a blanket thrown over her head, and I suddenly knew that she had been sedated.

It didn’t make me feel any less uneasy or anxious to know that she had been sedated for I knew that she could wake up any moment during the 8 hour flight and kick off again. But more importantly, everything in my body told me that this was wrong. This woman was being treated like an animal – she had essentially been tranquilized like one!

Perhaps they thought that she was? After all, they used to display African bodies as animals in their Parisian zoos in the not so distant past. That would have explained the lack of a need for them to apologise to people as to why they thought it was appropriate to bring her along. VILE. In the woman’s exertions she was sweating profusely, the stale, pungent, sweaty smell of her body odour wafted down to us every so often to remind us that here was a body being disguised as if it wasn’t even there. My heart hurt with the inhumanity and injustice of it all. And still I could do nothing.

Despite my concerns, the woman never woke up for the remainder of the flight: She remained heavily sedated and hidden from view.

During the flight my fury reached PEAK LEVEL when after had experienced a little bit of turbulence (a natural phenomenon that is to be expected), the pilot had the audacity to suddenly CROP UP on the microphone to APOLOGISE for the 20 minute turbulence that we would have to endure. Yet he made absolutely no mention whatsoever of the utter chaos caused by the passenger/prisoner that had delayed our flight for over an hour.

He didn’t attempt to explain or better yet to apologise about putting a plane load of passengers through something that was 100% percent within their control to diffuse! Unbelievable.

I was even more knackered than I would have usually have been after such a long flight. I was now MENTALLY exhausted too. I couldn’t erase the visions playing over in my mind of a woman being wrestled into submission.

We arrived in Nairobi to be greeted with intense humidity and extreme disorganisation. Though our bags went directly on to Zanzibar (and I was praying that they would arrive in one piece), we still had to check in at Nairobi Airport for the onward flight to our final destination and the staff at Air Kenya were pretty shambolic I have to say. Such a basic thing such as checking in 2 passengers really should not have caused such confusion.

I mean, it wasn’t like I was asking for them to provide something that hadn’t already been booked and paid for, or asked them for a product that they didn’t sell: They sold flights and I had paid for one. Surely not rocket science.

So, not a great start. What also wasn’t a great start was the level of professionalism which was severely lacking. BUT, they got us there in one piece, so I was thankful of that at least.

Zanzibar Airport

If I thought that Kenya Airways staff was bad, then I was soon to be left in utter awe of the Zanzibar Airports systems, which were utterly non-existent.

Travel from the UK to Zanzibar required a visa. This hadn’t even occurred to us when we decided we were going to travel there so to find that we needed a visa to enter the country last minute came as a bit of a shock. Luckily, there were 2 ways to obtain one: Either apply for one in advance by getting it from the embassy or get one upon arrival (for a fee of course). When we were travelling to Indonesia and Thailand we had to get visa’s for both countries and it was a reasonably complicated (or at the very least time-consuming) enterprise. But that was kind of understandable since we were intending on being in both places for longer than a month, but in Zanzibar we were only going to be there for 10 days, alas it didn’t matter to them how long we intended on staying in their country for they wanted their visa money ($50 to be precise), and they wanted it now!

Zanzibar airport was small and in disrepair. The staff weren’t very impressed to see all of these (mostly European) tourists trundling through their airport and they didn’t pretend to be. In short: They weren’t very friendly. But such is the case working in an airport where you see thousands of faces on their way to begin their holidays and you are stuck stamping passports in the heat with no chance of escape. I get it. But at the same time, if you are a third world country, and people are making the effort to come to visit it, experience your culture and as a result prop up your tourist economy, it would be nice to at least acknowledge that with a smile. Or maybe just not a scowl. Alas maybe that’s not very realistic *sigh*.

We’d read online that we would be required to queue up once we got to the airport in order to get our visa forms processed but there was no signage to make it clear where we should go to get one. Thankfully it seemed that we were travelling with people who had been there before and knew where they were going so we followed them to a hall with tables that looked like they had lots of white forms on them. But upon closer inspection we could see that this table with its abundance of papers which were literally spilling over everywhere had lots of different forms.

The heat was oppressive and it was literally impossible to know which one of these forms we needed to fill out as there were about 7 different ones there and they all said “visa” on them. And to make matters worse there were no pens and no staff to help with any questions. We were hot and bothered and absolutely knackered after travelling for 15 hours plus the hour and a half of drama we had to endure at the start and I simply did not have the brain matter nor the energy to work out which badly written form I needed to fill out.

After eventually choosing 2 forms and starting to fill both of them out with pens that Josh had in his bag, a French lady suddenly took pity on us and shoved 2 completely different forms in our hands for us to fill out instead!

The forms were a joke, wanting to know everything there was possible to know about us and our stay. I couldn’t remember the Indonesian and Thai visa’s being this complicated and some parts of the form was written in Swahili and there was nobody there to translate. Ridiculous.

Finally, after wasting unnecessary time filling out the wrong forms we went to go and queue at security as we assumed we’d need to hand our completed forms in to them but no, we were told by a security guard (only after we asked, because of course there was no signage or offer of assistance), that we needed to go into another queue first and hand them in there.

Once we got to the front of that queue all the sour looking woman did was put her hand out for the forms (which she didn’t bother to check), and put her hand out again for the collateral.  We then took ourselves back into the security queue where we waited for an outrageous amount of time (as these security guards didn’t seem as though they knew what they were doing), before we FINALLY got through. By this time we were the VERY LAST people on our flight to go through.

We had arranged our transfers through our hotel and as a result of the CON Air situation plus the farcical of Zanzibar airport we were delayed coming out but thankfully our driver was there waiting. We tried to explain to him the diabolical visa form situation but his English wasn’t very good so he didn’t really understand us. I decided that I would shut up for now as my body was rapidly starting to shut down.

It was now around 3:00 am in the morning and almost pitch black outside.

Instinctively I worried about the cockroaches and mosquitoes that would undoubtedly be lurking with dastardly intentions to crawl, flutter, creep, slither, sting and bite me. It was NOT a very nice prospect. Unfortunately though, I couldn’t spray any insect repellent to deter them because it was locked away in my suitcase and it was far too late to be fiddling about with locks. So I just hoped that these creatures of the night would leave me be, at least for a couple of hours.

The air was heavy with humidity giving me a sense of how warm it would be the following day and I began to get excited with the prospect of waking up the next day in Zanzibar, ready to explore.

The journey started off well enough with a relatively smooth ride and from what I could see, quite an uneventful landscape, but I knew that we were at least an hour and a half away from the coast so I wasn’t really expecting to see anything spectacular until we got closer to our hotel. A couple of times on the journey due to my extreme mental and physical exhaustion I began to nod off but I soon woke up with a start gasping in shock when the car careened straight into a ditch!

My intention wasn’t to have survived the last 15 plus hours of travelling from London to Paris to Kenya to Zanzibar only to die in a ditch in the middle of nowhere, alas almost as soon as we went down on the ditch we jolted back up again only to go back down again in a spectacularly violent fashion. The roads were full of HUGE ditches, potholes and mounds of rubble, so many infact that it was impossible for the driver to avoid them so he didn’t bother trying.

The roads were in a state of disrepair that would have been laughable if they weren’t so awful. I almost went flying forward, cracked my head against the side of the car and lurched onto Josh’s lap such was the force of the jolts. And this guy had a 4 wheel drive! The roads were shockingly bad.

Alas, we survived the journey, but by now I was so exhausted that I could barely walk. All I wanted to do was sleep. Like forever. I couldn’t care less what the hotel looked like at this point. I just wanted it to have a big, clean, mosquito free bed. That was at my top priority. Thankfully, the hotel (from what I could see at this late hour), looked pretty nice.

Though our commute had been indescribably bad, and I was still traumatised from the episode on the plane, I started to feel my body slowing down and switching to a lower gear and by the time we walked through the beautiful tended gardens, felt the heat caressing our skin, listening to the bewitching sounds of the crashing waves just steps away I sensed that perhaps we were going to be okay here afterall.

From the little that I could see of the place it was tropical with lots of green foliage, huge coconut and palm trees and beautifully designed with authentic African interiors and also, scrupulously clean. And for a woman like me who isn’t afraid to say that I simply CANNOT DEAL with creatures that was a huge relief.

We chose to come to Zanzibar because it was a little off the beaten track, wasn’t an obvious holiday destination therefore was unlikely to be overrun with children or beer louts, it had the weather, it had the culture, and being situated in East Africa on the Indian Ocean, had some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

I was intrigued with this place they called the “spice island”, and after researching its history I learned more about its unfortunate participation in the slave trade by Arabs of Africans, about its world renowned spices which it used to trade with the rest of the world, the abundant nature and endangered species like green turtles and red colobus monkeys, not to mention its spectacular sunsets, beautiful unspoilt beaches, it’s unique Arabic, Indian, European and African influences and being the place where Freddie Mercury was born.

I also learnt that Zanzibar was 98% Muslim (which probably meant that the other 2% was Christian, since it was highly unlikely that any atheist would dare to attempt to survive here), and as an atheist myself, and a reasonably outspoken one at that, I was a little worried that my views on religion and god would be exposed thus putting my very life at risk!

I suddenly had visions of me languishing in misery in a cramped Zanzibari jail, a tiny window providing a small slither of light, measly food rations and scrawny rodents scurrying across my bony mosquito bitten feet. No, I did not wish to be arrested in Zanzibar thank you very much. I realised that I’d just have to keep my views on the mental slavery of the masses to myself!

It being a Muslim country also meant another important thing: I would have to dress conservatively. That meant that in 30 degree heat I would need to walk around in full length clothing in public spaces – making sure my shoulders and knees were covered. This was a little bit of a problem for me as this was supposed to be a beach holiday, I didn’t actually HAVE any clothing that was suitable to such a climate that was that modest (as I rather liked getting a tan!).

Which basically meant that I now had to go out and buy some new clothes, and I did not relish the thought of purchasing clothing that I wasn’t likely to wear again. Thankfully after some research I managed to find a few suitable and reasonably priced things on EBay and Amazon.

The Z Hotel

The Z Hotel, where we would be staying for the next 10 days, was an award-winning boutique hotel located on Nungwi beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Zanzibar. With only around 50 rooms, the hotel was English owned and English run, and had been designed by world-renowned French interior designer Philippe Starke, who incidentally also designed the eye droppingly beautiful Delano Hotel in Miami that Josh and I love so much. He is a most accomplished and brilliant designer.

I was initially a little surprised to discover that he had designed the Z as I didn’t think that it would be his style afterall it was in Africa not Europe, but the flow, attention to detail, feel and cultural sensitivity of place was distinctive.

It was colourful, with lots of wood, traditional African prints and playful references to the safari throughout, such as quirky monkey light features and animal sculptures hidden throughout the grounds. The infinity pool was in the perfect location for people watching and watching the sunset was the amazing from the rooftop cocktail bar. The hotel was situated in a prime location on the beach as it was a little set back and received much less of the “attention” from the locals trying to sell their wares then many of the other hotels in the area.

Our room when we got to it, was small but beautifully designed with African print wallpaper, decorative wooden furniture and a luxurious wooden four poster bed with an ingenious mosquito net that covered the top and pooled onto the floor to provide extra protection. I’d never seen one like it before and I could easily see how it could work to provide protection from mosquitos and other crawling and flying insects. Since I have recently found out that I have skeeter syndrome (an allergy to mosquito saliva), I REALLY didn’t want to take any risks!

Thankfully, the room was spotlessly clean and I could see no indication whatsoever of any creatures lurking about with intentions of crawling on, flying to, or sucking me which was a relief.

And then there was the view…

Room with a view

Our balcony which was very spacious with 2 beautiful (and super comfortable) wicker chairs perfectly placed to gaze out to sea, had a prime position overlooking the beach where we could people watch, listen to the sound of the waves and see whether our favourite beach beds were free. I could only imagine how wonderful it would be the following day when the sun was out.

Naturally, I do like a well-designed and well-appointed room but the most important thing overall for me will always be cleanliness and a lack of creepy crawlies and this room had top marks for both. It was a little on the small side but it was perfectly positioned to hear, smell and see the sea and watch the beautiful sunsets so I was very happy!

The bed however, left alot to be desired. That very first night we slept on it we realised that after the bed in our apartment in Chiang Mai, Thailand, this was the second hardest bed that Josh and I had ever slept in. It was ROCK SOLID. I woke up the next day aching from head to toe.

The Z Hotel Library

Tropical Gardens at the Z

Breakfast at the Z was a slightly disappointing affair. Not being a fan of buffet (for breakfast or otherwise) I just hoped that the quality of the food would make up for it, but the selection of food available to eat didn’t leave me with any enthusiasm as it was pretty unimaginative: fresh omelettes (which was generally pretty good though it would have been nice having a little more of a variety with the fillings), cereals, croissants, toast, waffles, pancakes, and fruit. There was also a traditional Swahili option which required eating with your hands, and I really wanted to try it as everything else was western, as were the guests that were frequenting the hotel, but the eating with my hands business I decided would have to wait until I had the courage to embark on such an adventure. Perhaps at the end of my stay!

The staff were all locals and they seemed very friendly and well trained. I liked the baby faced boy who made the omelettes in particular because he reminded me a little of my brother. However his omelettes weren’t as good as the older woman who done them on Thursdays and Fridays and she seasoned them properly and added a generous amount of cheese!

Nungwi Belly

After a day or two of languishing on this paradise of an island, we both started to feel a little bit out of sorts. For me, it wasn’t an intense need to go to the toilet or anything but occasionally when I did have the urge to go I had diarrhoea. For Josh, it was a little more sudden and he not only had the diarrhoea but a sensitive stomach too and as a result felt pretty drained. As a result of it not being that serious (I had really bad food poisoning in Ghana and Ian had it in Egypt so we both knew how bad it could be), we weren’t holed up in our room or anything but it did mean that we needed to make sometimes frequent and sudden trips to the toilet!

The Z Hotel had a beautiful layout with the garden rooms situated around the pool which was hidden by trees and foliage that felt very private, with 2 restaurants, a rooftop bar, a library and a computer room (which it seemed nobody really knew was there apart from us), a spa, an excursion booking office and a boutique shop. We even saw a few cheeky monkeys roaming about! So cool.

There was a variety of beds around the pool from which you could lounge, sleep, relax, read, laze, people watch, you name it, there was a bed for it, and of course, should you want to people watch in complete privacy, then there was always our lovely sea view balcony from which to do it from.

We met the manager Julie who was an English woman originally from Swansea (such a peculiar contrast!), and she recommended a few restaurants to us to visit whilst we were there, aswell as told us about how it was she came to be in Zanzibar. She was very friendly and told us that she had been there for 8 years. Put it this way: she didn’t look like she was in any rush to go home!

When we looked at the programme in our room we found out about all of the activities we could do in Zanzibar aswell as about the ridiculous pot holed road situation that was so bad that it probably meant that drivers were having to change their tires every 2 months!

Never a dull day

Beach Bliss

Let’s be perfectly honest: we came to Zanzibar for the beach.

The last time I had been to a really great beach was a year ago when we were in Koh Phangan, Thailand. We don’t do many beach holidays as on their own they can be a little boring and European beaches don’t count because though they can be quite nice, they are usually rocky, the water is cold and they do not have soft white sands and turquoise blue water. However they also don’t have deadly box jelly fish like south-east Asia does so perhaps there is a trade-off there, lol.

Alas, there were no box jelly fish here, no fish at all really from what I could see but I knew that Zanzibar had a lot of coral reefs. The beach was picture postcard perfect and unbelievably clean, the sand was soft and white with a powdery texture, with no seaweed or nastiness in general, shallow until very far out (so perfect for children though thankfully there weren’t any there!), and the water was as warm as a bath with an aqua blue hue that simply didn’t look real. Coupled with the fact that the beach was devoid of “Brits Abroad” it was almost perfect.

There wasn’t many Brits but there sure was a large influx of German nationals, aswell as Italians and Russians. Infact everywhere I went apart from the locals who spoke Swahili, all I could hear was Italian, German and Russian (which seemed to be a VERY peculiar combination). But Italians were by far in the majority, and apparently they even had their own hotel! I didn’t know what the obsession with Zanzibar was for Italians but aside from Italy, I’d never seen as many of them anywhere else in the world until I arrived there.

African Paradise

Nungwi Beach

After breakfast our daily routine was pretty much to go back to our room to get changed into our beachwear, then traipse down to the beach at a leisurely pace where we would look for some nice sun beds (ideally 2 in the sun and 1 4 poster bed in the shade), we would then spend the rest of the afternoon alternating between the pool, the bed, the shade and the sea. It was a glorious routine that never got boring, and for a bonus we would go back to our room for an afternoon nap, before waking up and going in search of food: Simple pleasures.

We went to dinner at a local Indian restaurant which was accessible via the back of our hotel via some walkways. You could also get there via the beach but the tide was forever changing and sometimes it would be all the way in so you couldn’t walk on the beach at all. The restaurant was big and overlooked the beach, and along with serving food also had entertainment: African singers with a band and dancers. Initially we didn’t want to sit too close to the band because we didn’t know whether they would be any good and we were starving hungry, but when they performed their traditional African music, with the drums, beautiful harmonies and catchy beat, we really enjoyed it. Occasionally (and I assume for the benefit of the mostly European tourists), they attempted to perform popular western songs too like R Kelly and Beyoncé which I did not like at all.

Listen: if people are going to travel all the way to Africa and expect not to experience Africa then that’s up to them, don’t cater is what I say.

I don’t mean don’t cater at all, as it’s nice to have a bit of variety (particularly when it comes to cuisine), but most people can’t sing like Beyoncé so what makes them think that someone from the bush in Africa will be able to complete the task satisfactorily? I don’t think so somehow.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with African music and culture and I for one went there to experience it. Eating Indian food in Africa you may think is weird, but this island shares a history with Indians as it does Europeans and Arabs too, but it is also important to showcase the uniquely African food and music too.

Despite this, both the food and the entertainment was really good, both Josh and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A particular song came on and I couldn’t help but to get up and film. I felt the urge to dance too but it wasn’t that kind of place. The tune was so catchy and they had Zanzibari dancers showcasing their unique wining skills. Such fun!

Thus far I hadn’t been bitten once by a mosquito. This I really couldn’t believe. Of all the things that had concerned me about travelling to Africa, the presence of creepy crawlies and ones of giganticus maximus proportions no less, was freaking me out and in my mind was just a guarantee. It did not occur to me that I wouldn’t have to overcome my fears on a regular basis to deal with the abundance of spiders, giant ants, cockroaches, gecko’s and other unidentified crawling beasts for the duration of my stay here. But as the time went on, I was AMAZED to find that not only didn’t I not even see one cockroach, spider or mosquito, I never got bitten either. Not even once!

Considering I have been eaten alive in almost every hot country I’ve been to (Thailand and Croatia being the worst), I was very surprised that here in Mother Africa, the Mother Ship, the Motherland and beginning of life of our species I didn’t encounter the very biggest, the very ugliest and the very deadliest that Mother Nature had to offer.

Rather than staying in our hotel which we don’t really like to do and have really only ever done that once at Swept Away in Jamaica (which we loved far too much to leave), we decided to go to a different place every day for lunch.

Our “Nungwi bellies” were still in full sway causing us not to stray too far from base control, but it wasn’t enough to stop us from enjoying swimming in the glorious sea which was doing wonders for my skin with it’s high salt content. Along with the warmth of the sun which was consistently in the early to mid-30’s and an ice cold cocktail, I really couldn’t complain.

Josh and I walked down the beach to find a restaurant serving better (and cheaper) food then our own. It was needless to say packed to the rafters with Russians and Italians which was starting to become a bit predictable, but we had a lovely Greek Salad and Spaghetti Bolognese there.

Beach Boys

The “beach boys” as we liked to call them, were a little bit annoying. They would make a beeline for anyone who was clearly not from Zanzibar or who was coming out of one of the hotels, and they would keep on trying to persuade you to purchase one of their water sports packages or cheaply made wares.

What made it feel quite intense at times was the fact that there was so many of them, and once they had learned which hotel you were staying in they would have you marked and would basically hound you until you relented. But to be fair to them, at least they weren’t just guys begging people on the beach, they genuinely had something to sell. Problem was: the things they had to sell I didn’t wish to buy!

Josh, getting tired of being harassed to purchase their brick-a-brac, had resorted to just telling them straight up that he didn’t like what they were selling, lol.

We did want to do some excursions, such as maybe going on a traditional Dhow boat sunset cruise, to Stone Island or snorkelling, but we weren’t all that keen on purchasing these excursions from random boys on the beach. Each time we left the comfort of our hotel to venture down to the sea for an afternoon of sea frolicking, we could see these beach boys out of the corner of our eyes making a beeline for us. Unfortunately for us, we were at probably the most noticeable guests due to our respective hues and insistence on venturing beyond the confines of our hotel, so we were definitely a target. They also seemed to think that we had been there for ages, they kept saying to us:

“Wow, you’re still here!”

Well yes, we are. We’re on our holidays!

By this time we had learnt to say a few greetings in Swahili. Karibu meant “Welcome” and Hakuna Matata (which before arriving here I honestly assumed was just a part of The Lion King and not an actual phrase, lol), meant “No worries”. And we could also say “Thank you very much”: Asante Sana and slowly: Pole Pole (though we didn’t have much need of that word as we were already moving as slowly as we physically could!)

All of these phrases helped us a little to get to know the locals (who could speak very good English aswell as some German, Italian and Russian too for obvious reasons), and it meant that we would accidentally find ourselves getting into long, detailed conversations with the beach boys about a boat cruise that we never had any intention of booking whilst we were trying to make our way to the sea. Nevertheless, the Zanzibari beach boys were never aggressive (unlike in Turkey, and from what I’ve heard, Morocco, India and Egypt too).

The beach was long and wide, with huge rock formations framing the beach, with tall coconut and palm trees swaying gently in the breeze.  What I loved about the beach aside from seeing flawless black skinned Maasai warriors strolling on it casually with their long sticks by their sides in their beaded handmade body adornments and distinctive red clothing, was the fact that it was forever changing. The tide was forever changing. Sometimes it was all the way in, and you could just about walk through without getting completely drenched, and other days it was all the way out and you could seemingly walk right out to sea but the water would only be knee-deep. I loved the unpredictability. And I don’t know what it was about the sound of the sea, but it was so hypnotic and calming, that despite the excruciatingly hard bed we were sleeping on, I felt more relaxed then I remembered being in a long time. I was really starting to understand why this place was known as mysterious. It definitely had a magical allure.

 The Maasai Market

We walked down to the furthest ends of the beach and along the way a tall Maasai warrior with short twisted hair and beaded jewellery approached us. He had the slim, elegant looking physique that all of the Maasai had, with skin as dark and silky as the darkest cocoa. He made casual conversation with us asking us how we were finding Zanzibar, where we were from, whether we had done any excursions yet (we hadn’t), and whether we supported any football teams (they are football MAD in Zanzibar, and English football in particular). He was unlike the beach boys in that his approach was more conversational than anything else. He wasn’t simply trying to sell his wares, but of course he did have to make a living. Baring in mind the Maasai are from a long and proud tradition of being African nomads and fearless hunters it was a real privilege to get the opportunity to speak to him and even more so to see them in this very unique and beautiful environment.

Alot of the Maasai now work as security guards for the hotels around the island, which in some respects was a far cry from their ancient history and customs but it provided them with a way to make a living and also retain their culture. The Maasai told me about the beautiful beaded jewellery he was wearing, a bracelet of which said the name “Alex” (which I doubted very much was his actual name), and he said that he was a seller in the Maasai Market, a few minutes’ walk away a turning off of the beach.

Josh and I told him that we weren’t really in the market for shopping that day mostly due to the intense heat which was beating down on us relentlessly, but then I figured that this opportunity, offered to us by this very friendly Maasai warrior, was perhaps the only chance that we might have to do something like this and we had planned on getting a few gifts towards the end of our holiday anyway. So we followed him down a rocky dirt track road. I didn’t see many other tourists there. By this time my skin was so hot you could fry an egg on it and both Josh and I were sweating profusely. This man on the other hand didn’t seem to sweat at all!

The heat was extremely oppressive, turning what was supposed to be a nice trip to meet the local Maasai people into quite a bit of an ordeal. It was obvious that he was keen on us coming to his stall so that we could buy from it, but in a way I couldn’t blame him. Around us were lots of stall sellers, both men and women in traditional dress selling everything from handmade bracelets and earrings to bowls, ornaments and bags and in order to get people to visit it they had to bring them to it.

When we got to his stall I asked him if he had made the things that were on display and he pointed to the colourful beaded jewellery, such as the ones he was wearing, saying that he had made it all himself. The women at the stalls, who were busy sitting cross legged on the dusty floor making a variety of different things, also had children with them, and I couldn’t help but to wonder whether they were making enough money to sustain their families, but despite the fact that alot of the stall sellers were pretty much selling the same things I knew that if I had the money I would have given it to them gladly, because even though these people were clearly making a modest living, relying mainly on tourism to pay their bills, and feed and clothe their families, they retained a distinctive pride and sense of self that I really admired.

These weren’t people with their hands out waiting on charity or begging on the street, these were a people trying to adjust to their new modern reality, trying to make an honest living, yet holding fast to their customs and traditions. I bought a few things from “Adam’s” stall, namely some beaded bracelets for my Mum, sister and I and I told him that we may come back again another time, but it was becoming far too hot to concentrate so after 15 minutes or so we said our goodbyes and left the Maasai market.

A Touch of Magic

Sleeping on the bed of rock was not a very pleasant experience. Everyday I woke up with aching bones and a bad back. I didn’t suffer from back problems so it was acutely obvious to me that this definitely wasn’t something that my body could get used to long term but despite this, I still felt amazingly relaxed and chilled since arriving here. It might perhaps have been the appearance of the sun, perhaps it was the comforting, lulling, hypnotic sound of the sea, the birds, the musical and gentle sounding Swahili language, perhaps it was the feeling of safety and extreme comfort that this place evoked, who knew, all I knew was that my body had moved into a very low gear of almost sloth like proportions, and I wasn’t sure that it had ever reached this level of deep relaxation before.

On the horizon we could see Mnemba Island, a small and incredibly beautiful island accessible by boat from Zanzibar, with deep, soft white sands and shallow crystal clear waters with coral reefs that was perfect for snorkelling which we planned to do at some point during our stay. The beach was big enough to never feel overcrowded or busy, and people tended to keep themselves to themselves, so we were able to easily find places to sunbathe where we felt as though we had the beach all to ourselves.

I had personally never experienced sand this warm, white, soft and luscious before and Josh agreed that the beach here was very similar to the more popular Seychelles (another of the Indian Ocean islands) that he had been to, but since this one was a part of Tanzania, and therefore Africa it had a little more authenticity, was bigger and offered a little more then just sunbathing to it’s visiting tourists. Though I must admit we did do ALOT of sunbathing, lol.

Blue & White

Me strolling along the idyllic and picturesque Nungwi Beach

The sun was having it’s effect on my skin and I was loving it, as was Josh who had been complaining about the level of pastiness he was exuding back in the UK (it had been back in September when we last saw the sun in Provence afterall).

The sea was absolutely glorious. There was hardly any seaweed at all, the sand underneath my feet was silky soft, I couldn’t see any questionable things in the water, it was clean, clear and very salty (the perfect remedy for bad skin). Josh and I were blissfully happy when we were frolicking about in the sea, and from where I was laying, I couldn’t see how it could possibly get much better then this.

One day I saw 2 sharks swimming near the shoreline, just as a girl was doing a hand stand in the sea. I wondered briefly whether they would bite her to smithereens but they didn’t seem particularly bothered about her at all. They were quite small and I doubted very much that they were dangerous so after seeing them that day I forgot about them.

Profiling and extreme vanity was taking place at an ever-increasing level by the Italian and Russian tourists, in particular the women, who were prancing about trying to get the perfect Kodak moment of them in the surf to show to their social media contacts. It looked pretty pathetic to me.

One woman in particular was on the beach whilst we were having dinner at a restaurant having picture after picture after picture after picture of herself taken by her boyfriend and she didn’t seem to care in the slightest that the entire restaurant was looking down at her on the beach flicking and tossing her hair about in the wind, rolling about in the surf and raising up on her tip toes desperately to try to make her legs look longer and more shapely.

But it was when I saw grannies posing for pictures with their visible cellulite, protruding belly’s and varicose veins when I was REALLY shocked. What on earth is this profiling nonsense all about??

Sunset Rooftop

Everyday our hotel had half priced cocktails on their rooftop bar, and everyday I would get my favourite drink, a rum based cocktail with lemon and pineapple aptly named “Reef”

The rooftop was mine and Josh’s favourite part of the hotel. It was so relaxing sitting there after a hard day of sunbathing. The only thing that I could fault them with was the music they played. Sometimes there would be chilled house beats but other times they would play pop music (no thanks) and one evening we went there and there was an acoustic musician, a young local boy who was performing popular music.

Listen, I didn’t travel all the way to Zanzibar to listen to pop music, and cheesy pop music nonetheless, sung by a boy with a voice as soft as snow (NOT a good thing). It was dull beyond belief. What they should have had in keeping with the style of the hotel was to have a local performer performing local music, which to me surely was superior to hearing all of this cheesetastic nonsense.

“Ashante Shana”

One of the pool boy waiters at our hotel insisted on trying to confuse us.

One of the very first words we learnt when arriving in Zanzibar was how to say thank you: Asante and thank you very much: Asante Sana, and we had been saying them both religiously for a good couple of days now.

However this pool boy in particular INSISTED on trying to correct us everytime that we said thank you by highlighting the word ASHANTE (as in Ashanti the singer? Josh cheekily asked me) SHANA. So basically he was putting 2 h’s in there that did not exist. Even if you were to write the word down his pronunciation of thank you very much in Swahili doesn’t exist so I had no idea what this guy was playing at and I wasn’t going to allow him to trick me by saying the wrong words when I knew that we had it right the first time!

In the end I asked one of his colleagues and they confirmed that I was indeed saying it correctly. However when he came over later to serve drinks the couple lying on the bed next to us I overheard him correct them again telling them that thank you very much was pronounced ASHANTE SHANA. All I could do was shake my head in dismay. How can it be that the man can’t even speak his own language?? Goodness gracious!

Sunset was the most popular time of day because it was the time when the locals came down to the beach: children came straight after finishing school and adults after work, to socialise, play sports and relax. The beach boys were much more relaxed too, preferring to mingle with the locals instead of hustling them to purchase their wares. Sundown was the perfect time to go to the beach because it was much less hot, the sea was still calm, the sky was lit up in beautiful shades of red, pink and amber, people were in a good mood, after having a thoroughly relaxing day lounging on the beach, drinks in hand, experiencing life in all of it’s beauty and simplicity on Zanzibar island. What’s not to like?

From our perfect viewing post on the rooftop, Josh and I were able to see the beach gradually coming to life – local children playing football on the beach, adults building bonfires and talking with the tourists, banging on bongo drums, swimming in the sea, people exercising on the beach, walking, running and children practising their somersaults, their laughter ringing out with purity and joy.

The Maasai, with their elegant red robes fluttering in the breeze, strode forward with purpose, looking magnificent against the stunning natural backdrop: the kings of this land.

I wished I had taken a picture of them but my picture taking skills are limited (I have to make a concerted effort to remember to take them when I’m travelling), and I knew that it was considered rude to take pictures of the locals without asking first.

Still, these beautiful sights wasn’t something that I was likely to be forgetting anytime soon.

Sunset on the beach


I knew that this airline had probably hoped that they wouldn’t be hearing from anyone on that fateful flight, but they were sadly mistaken. There was no way in hell that I was going to allow them to get away with treating us in the way that they did, especially considering the extreme unprofessionalism of the staff on that flight. The day after we arrived in Zanzibar we went to the computer room to write a lengthy complaint first to Expedia, who we had booked it with (who promptly offered us a £50 voucher), and then a 5,000 letter of complaint to the airline directly. I tried to upload my audio too, but we could only upload video files (which smartly, the police officers on board had made sure that nobody could do by deleting their files!)

I was relieved that since arriving, apart from having occasional spouts of Nungwi belly, we hadn’t had any other dramas in Zanzibar, and after that despicable experience on the plane I really don’t think that I could have taken much more. I was super relaxed, but I still hadn’t forgotten what had happened, and I was determined that it would get dealt with, or else I had said to myself that I would be prepared to release the audio, on social media, to the media, to the ombudsman, whatever was necessary to call out such an atrocity. I had also done some research on other deportations on a commercial line, which wasn’t very common but apparently did happen and I found something quite horrific.

Due to the level of stress that was involved with detaining a passenger in this very public and humiliating way, there were reports that deportees had actually DIED on these flights. I felt awful knowing that there was a possibility that this woman could have possibly be one of them. Afterall, I never saw her again.

I never intended on being one of those tourists who “stayed on the complex” but after our transfer from the airport, Josh wasn’t keen on the idea of doing any journey on those roads again apart from when it was time to go home. Stone Town was Zanzibar’s UNESCO heritage site, a place of historical and artistic importance due to it being the centre of Zanzibar’s spice (and slave) trade and as such I felt it was important to visit there.

With Arabic and European influences from their history of colonisation by the Portuguese, Omani’s and British, the architecture reflected this unique melting pot of cultural influences. But Stone Town was back near the airport, at least an hour and a half’s drive away, so I did understand the reasons why Josh wasn’t keen to go back there again. The whole journey from England to Zanzibar had been traumatic for us, and neither of us were keen to experience those horrendous roads again anytime soon.

Considering this part of Zanzibar was a popular tourist location, it did seem very hard to believe that the authority’s would have been happy to leave it in such a terrible state, alas, perhaps it was just one of those places where people would be prepared to travel to because of it’s difficulties rather then in spite of them.

Tasty Tasty!

The manager had recommended a French restaurant to us that was nearby. She said that it done incredible food and on her days off she would always dine there. So far we had found no reason not to trust her word so we booked a table at Le Macis for later on that evening. I had checked the reviews on TripAdvisor for this restaurant and had been reliably informed that this was the best restaurant on the island.

When we arrived we were eventually shown to a secluded table beside a tree in a garden. The restaurant had a very rustic feel to it but I was left comforted with the knowledge that everyone that was dining there seemed to look very happy with themselves.

The menu, despite us assuming that it would be French, was infact not French at all but a mixed menu, with some local sounding dishes and some European, but it was definitely not French, the restaurant merely had a French chef. But I was still encouraged with the knowledge that it had received many glowing reviews. Josh and I soon realised however, that we were more then a little overdressed.

I was finding it a little difficult balancing this modesty wear lark, along with beachwear and appropriate going out clothes, and even though this was considered to be a fancy restaurant, it was fancy Zanzibar style not fine dining restaurant style.

Alas, I thoroughly enjoyed the food – I had a fish main course with potato dauphinoise and for dessert I had a cinnamon crème brulee which was delicious (if a little on the small side).

We infact very much enjoyed the food and wine so much that we booked to go back again!

The Spa

The spa in our hotel was very small being just a room that offered beauty treatments, so we decided to go to the spa at the hotel we’d had lunch at a few times instead. When we walked in there the women at the reception desk greeted us as if they were surprised to have guests: not a good start.

Alas, they were offering a couples spa experience for $100 which seemed pretty reasonable to us. The spa could have been better, for instance they had someone still cleaning out the pool when we arrived there for our private pampering session, the steam room had seen better days, it hadn’t been heated up in anticipation of our arrival and the spa therapist didn’t come to collect us from the steam room when our time was up (we were only supposed to be in there for 20 minutes), but we thought we’d give them a bly.

The important thing for me was the deep tissue massage, which hasn’t really been up to par for me anywhere else other then Thailand and Jamaica, but thankfully, the masseuse really put some welly into it and I felt suitably floaty and sleepy once she had finished.

The place was certainly in desperate need of a renovation but it did still have African charm, and the oil that they used on my skin was DIVINE. I was kicking myself afterwards that I didn’t purchase one to take home with me.

The aptly named Kilimanjaro Water

Nungwi Town

I was determined to experience as much of the Zanzibari people and their culture that I could. Due to mine and Josh’s Nungwi belly, which was mostly okay but was definitely still lurking in my system, we were being very careful with what we ate and the thought of trying the traditional Swahili breakfast didn’t fill me with much excitement but I did want to go and see the local area so the following day we took a stroll down to the village to see who we could meet and what we could perhaps buy as presents.

The first thing that struck me was the ditches in the road which I knew would be there (as we had travelled through), but even seeing the cars on the road going down into a ditch was scary business, as the car would jolt and wobble about precariously looking like it might completely topple over! They were dirt roads, and plumes of dust would swirl about and whoosh into our faces as we walked making it hard to see where we were going.  Instantly, my carefully cultivated tan was being threatened with fumes and dust.

Knowing that we were going to be venturing into the local area where the locals would undoubtedly not take kindly to seeing westerners traipsing about in inappropriate wares (which for them meant someone having their shoulders and knees out on display), both Josh and I made sure to dress accordingly as we did not wish to offend. However even though we saw signs requesting that people respect the local customs and dress modestly, we still saw that the few westerners that had made it away from the alluring beach, were brazenly wearing immodest clothing with seemingly no awareness.

We were not very impressed. I mean how difficult is it for people to respect the laws of the land? They really are not asking for much.

I looked around to see a very stark contrast from the white sands and blue seas of the beach. Here was a very real poverty, a dusty land with hardly any greenery, with ditches in the roads, dilapidated buildings and lots of hump back cows roaming freely. Also there were children following each other obediently in groups, with their entire heads and bodies covered. I was dismayed to see that religion had yet again had taken a strangle hold of young children.  Child indoctrination was alive and well here. How many more must be brainwashed into submission? I wondered.

We heard the unmistakable sounds of a school as we passed by. I wondered what these children were being taught. And if they had any potential at all here? Were the little girls being taught to be submissive and go home to their husbands and be a good wife? Was that the supposed pinnacle of their self-worth? – The thought that these beautiful little girls, with a world full of possibilities was being denied to them socially and financially was upsetting.

I daydreamed about setting up my own school here, in this beautiful, mysterious part of the world, where I would teach children critical thinking skills, understanding and appreciating nature and science and the values of empathy, justice, equality and kindness: Humanism, in a nut shell. No need for magical masters. Surely THAT is what those children should be learning, but somehow I didn’t think that’s what they were.

There were shack like stalls with metal roofs on either side of the dusty road and inside them were people selling almost identical things to what we saw in the Maasai market but out of politeness we went into their shops to look at what they had for sale. The people seemed very happy when we went into their shop, even if we didn’t buy anything, and were it not so dusty and hot we would have went into every shop there, but we did get to go in the majority of them, talked to the people, greeting them in their own language and we even bought a few things so it was definitely a trip worth making.

Beautiful African Artwork

Raw Fish

Now I do like raw fish (well, sushi), but I do NOT like being tricked into eating raw fish, particularly when my belly is feeling a little sensitive, and when I ordered the cooked variety.

We decided to go to one of the seafood restaurants that the hotel manager had recommended. Since she’d done such a stellar job of recommending the (French) restaurant to us, we thought that it was a good idea. Zanzibar had lots of fisherman so I was really looking forward to sampling some fresh seafood.

The restaurant was located on the beach and had a very romantic setting with small tables with white tablecloths spaced wide enough a part so that you could have a private conversation. I was feeling really hungry but not as hungry as Josh who had had Nungwi belly pretty badly early on in the day so had opted to not eat any lunch in order to prepare his belly for dinner.

There was a couple sitting next to us. Clearly a young looking local girl with a much older foreigner who was trying in earnest to impress her. I shouldn’t have been able to hear their conversation but due to his high level of desire to get his leg over that night I could hear every bloody word. By the end of it I knew where he lived, that he had a daughter, how old she was, where she lived, what happened to his relationship with her mother, that he wanted (more children), what he did for work, what he did last week, and so on and so fourth. And despite my very best efforts in drowning him out (even though Josh and I were having our own private conversation), I could not. He just would not stop yapping on!

There were lanterns on each table which looked really pretty but in practice they weren’t giving out much light at all.  When our food arrived (we had both chosen bbq’d fish dishes), we were a dismayed to find that the bbq part (which we had assumed would be the marinade for the fish), came in a separate container which we were then expected to pour onto our fish to give it flavour. What on earth is that all about?

And to make matters even worse, the sauce just tasted of tomato ketchup and chilli, there was no indication that it was bbq flavour. Rubbish.

Neither of us could actually see what it was we were eating but I could taste it, and from what I could taste it so I knew that the fish wasn’t fresh. Ironically enough our waiter had said to us once he seated us that this was the best restaurant, which we thought was an odd thing to say at the time, but we figured that perhaps we were going to experience something so amazing that it was worth mentioning.

And afterall, it was supposed to be a seafood restaurant, which is their speciality.

But no, my fish was most certainly one that had been languishing in the depths of the freezer only to be bunged on the grill for 2 seconds before being served and Josh, as it soon turned out, had been eating raw fish. Yes, his fish had not been cooked properly and after commenting on the texture to me which he said was “weird” he then used his phone to look at it in more detail (because we couldn’t see a thing) only to find that the fish was completely raw in places. We were horrified and sent dishes promptly back to the kitchen. Talk about “best restaurant” how about “food poisoning?!

Josh was rightly worried that his Nungwi belly as a result of eating fish that hadn’t been cooked properly would get worse, so we both ordered a simple pasta dish of spaghetti with pesto, garlic, and sundried tomatoes as a replacement.

Our favourite lunch spot

Salty Seadog

The second dish was even worse then the first. I didn’t think that was even possible but it was. The pasta was bloody AWFUL. Salty, with a very strong, almost briny flavour that really turned my stomach. It tasted like they had put about 10 tablespoons of salt in it, plus the juice of a ton of mussels, garlic and garlic butter. After just 1 mouthful I couldn’t continue.

Josh didn’t like his either but he hadn’t eaten since breakfast and so was starving.

When the waiter came back to ask us if we were enjoying the food I told him flatly no, I was not. Josh managed to take a few more mouthfuls and again we sent the food back to the kitchen. We left soon after.

Josh was still hungry so we stopped by at a local Italian restaurant to get some pizza. My appetite was gone but I decided that I did have space for Tiramisu. The pizza was decidedly average.

I still had not been bitten by a mosquito. As we were dining out every night, and spending the majority of our time outside during the day even when the mozzies were due to be out in full force I assumed that we would but neither Josh nor I got bitten. Neither did I even see any creatures. Sure, we had the occasional wandering ant in our bathroom, but they were normal sized ones not the super-sized jungle ones that I had envisaged.

But other than this, no creatures, no crickets, no spiders (aside from the gigantic ones we saw who had made a web home in a tree), no cockroaches, no spiders, no bats and certainly no tokays. All of which we had seen IN ABUNDANCE when we were travelling in Asia. This came as a big surprise to me because I was expecting to see all sorts of creatures, alas I saw none and our hotel was always scrupulously clean.

It felt safe.

We met no person during the 10 days who we felt threatened by in any way and even the beach boys, who were trying their best to get us to purchase one of their water activities were increasingly annoying, but completely harmless. You could walk the entire length of the beach at night and not be worried about anybody threatening you. Nobody was rude, sure some people were a little on the miserable side (though not as miserable as the staff in the airport), and people seemed to really appreciate the fact that we tried to speak the language. Also, we still hadn’t encountered many Brits there, it didn’t seem as though Zanzibar was a popular destination for them and that was pretty cool though it was a little hard going having to listen to stern sounding German conversations so frequently.

The food needed improvement. The hotel had a lovely feel and design, was well run, clean and in a good location but they need to sort out their food offerings. I do not know where I got my Nungwi belly from but clearly it wasn’t from eating fruit. It could possibly have been something as simple as food preparation since you can’t drink water from the tap there and they may have been preparing the food in unfiltered water.

Also, pizza is not African cuisine, and though it’s good to still offer it in a tourist destination such as this, I do not think that it should be the only type of food on offer. They need to serve the local cuisine or better yet serve fresh (with an emphasis on fresh and cooked) seafood. They have tons of it right on their doorstep afterall!

Beautiful sunsets, stunning wide beaches, calm, blue seas perfect for swimming (and taking pictures in judging by the Russians), lots of activities, and of course the opportunity to do safari in the mainland Tanzania.

We booked a snorkelling trip for the day before we left but that morning there was a horrendous storm and it remained windy and stormy allday so we cancelled it.  Later on that morning I actually had a bout of Nungwi belly and I decided that tumultuous seas would have done me in so we were quite relieved that we couldn’t go in the end.

The airline did try to call us whilst we were still in Zanzibar and we told them to call us back when we had returned to the UK. We compiled a list of things that we wanted to highlight to try to prevent them from attempting to scam us by trying to assuage us with a measly apology and now we await their call.

After the atrocity of CON Air, an apology wasn’t going to wash with us, sorry.

Josh and I before we were poisoned with raw fish!



Weeks 3 & 4 in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Weeks 3 & 4 in Chiang Mai, Thailand


We came, we saw, and for 4 wonderful months, we lived.

To say that the 4 months we have spent travelling through Southeast Asia has gone fast would be a lie. To say that we have spent it in the way that most travellers do would also be a lie. We haven’t. We have spent our time travelling in exactly the way that we like to travel, at the pace we like to travel at, no more and no less. So ultimately for us it hasn’t gone quickly – it’s gone just as quick as we expected in the time that we have had, but we have had lots of amazing experiences (and challenges) along the way and many a fond memory of specific places and situations both good and bad that will keep us smiling for a long time to come!

It was never our intention to be backpackers. The backpacker lifestyle (though there’s certainly nothing wrong with it) is not the lifestyle for us, but it seems that from some  people’s perspectives, if your not “roughing it” then you haven’t had the full travel experience. Well I disagree.

Travel doesn’t have to be done on the cheap or spent at the lowliest of places. Travel can and should be luxurious! Afterall, travelling isn’t about how many places you can cram into your time, or about collating meaningless bucketlist locations to brag about on Instagram, it’s about experiencing different places, fully immersing yourself in the country, culture and customs you visit and seeing the world anew. And what better way to do that then by spending an extended amount of time in each destination?

In our 4 chosen locations (Ubud in Bali, Canggu in Bali, Koh Samui in Thailand and Chiang Mai in Thailand), we got to live alongside the locals whilst not foregoing the luxury’s that are important to us such as staying in a decent standard of accomodation, and going to nice restaurants and spa’s. We also did not want to have to keep packing and repacking all the time and as I do not travel light it was out of the question to move anymore frequently then we did.

All in all, when you factor in the 2 shambolic places we stayed at in Bali (Uncle Tom’s Rotten Cabin and the Akmani) where we left both promptly, we stayed in 6 different locations overall in our travels. Travelling to 6 places in 4 months meant packing and unpacking 12 times! 12 times! There is no way that I would want to pack and unpack anymore times then that.

 I think that what was most refreshing about our time spent away was that we were operating from our own clock. There was no alarms to be set or anywhere in particular to be. We arose each day to decide what we wanted to do and where we wanted to be  and found that mostly, even though we had the luxury of spending every waking hour on the beach topping up our tans, we didn’t necessarily want to. We found that even though we could have spent our time experiencing every possible thing that Indonesia and Thailand had to offer, we did not want to. The touristy things that we did do we considered carefully before doing them, weighing up whether these experiences were unique to that country or not.

So overall we have had a pretty varied experience in each place – we spent some days lazing about on the beach, some days at home, some days travelling, some days in cafe’s, some days shopping, some days getting pampered. Spending so much time in each location afforded us the luxury of doing things at our own pace and it was a very delicious indulgence indeed.

Songthaew Life

Getting a Songthaew here is easy. And since we live very centrally it’s even easier – you just wave them down as you would a black taxi on the street. Granted, you do sometimes have to negotiate the price with the driver as occasionally (especially late at night), they try to charge you more then 80 p a ride, and even though you know that what they’re charging is bloody cheap you still don’t want to pay more when you know that 80 p is the standard rate. But these Songthaews are surprisingly endearing as each one is unique. The drivers “pimp them up” to reflect their individual style so sometimes you will get ones that are decorated with Thai ribbons hanging from the roof, sometimes you will get decorative patterned seats to sit on, some have an interesting interior colour scheme and some even have flashing disco lights installed in them to get the party started!

But the Songthaews have competition on the road, as there are also Tuk Tuks, which are basically converted scooters that have the added capacity to take passengers in the back. I call the Tuk Tuks the “Pimp Mobiles”. They each only take two passengers so you never have to share your ride. All of them are decorated so that they are noticed wherever they go, whether that’s with a kick ass sound system, flashing lights, bells and whistles, blankets and furr interiors – you name it, they have it. And with their flamboyance they have the driver to match.

Unlike the Songthaews, which are mostly driven by the older generation, the Tuk Tuks are mostly driven by younger guys, who have better English, know more of the up and coming hangouts and are far more cheeky. The Tuk Tuks also go faster then the Songthaews so if you’re going somewhere in a hurry then they are perfect, but both of the sides are open and the temperature in Chiang Mai drops at night so it can get quite chilly when you’re driving through the city at pimp mobile speed. Also, they are more expensive then the Songthaews so most people try to avoid using them. This makes the drivers of the Tuk Tuks naturally a little more aggressive as they have to fight to get people to pay the measly 40 p more to ride with them!

There are hardly any pavements here and no traffic signals for pedestrians whatsoever. It is becoming a bit of a challenge trying to cross a 6 way junction with no green man for pedestrians and tbh I’m very surprised that I haven’t witnessed a fatal accident in the time that we have been here. It is bloody dangerous and also extremely polluted in Chiang Mai. Never mind Indonesia and volcanic ash, these people are suffering from petrol fumes! I’m sure that my lungs have noticed the difference since arriving here.

Home Alone 

Josh’s friend is also in Chiang Mai at a Kung Fu Training Retreat in the mountains. If it sounds ideal then perhaps you need know that as part of his training which incorporates not just the practical side of Kung Fu but also the philosophical side too, he wakes up at 4:00 am each day to begin his training. There is of course no drinking or smoking allowed (and he does both with regularity when he’s back home), instead, he is required to meditate daily. The Kung Fu Master is originally from England but has been living in Thailand for over 30 years and has won various Kung Fu Awards and was chosen by the previous master for his skills so clearly this is no joke business. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that Josh’s friend had planned to attend the retreat for a month as I knew that he partied pretty hard. He contacted Josh and said that he was going to be staying in Nimman for a night before he went onto Phuket to meet his girlfriend who was flying out from the Isle of Man (where they both live) to join him, and then he was going onwards alone to Japan and China (now THAT I was envious of!).

Josh organised to meet him one night for dinner and I didn’t particularly fancy being a third wheel so the plan was for me to eat early and then stay at home for the rest of the evening whilst he met up with his mate. Staying home was my preference as we usually went out for dinner each night so I figured it would be a welcome change, but it was also a necessity as we only had one key fob to get into our apartment and indeed our whole building as for some strange reason, the woman who rented us the apartment didn’t think it necessary to give us 2 key fobs despite her knowing that there was two of us staying there. And she didn’t even live in the country! Ridiculous.

The security in our apartment block was intense as it was one of the nicest developments in one of the nicest areas: Nimmanhaemin. This meant that we needed the one key fob we had between us to access the lifts, to get up to the floors and to get into our apartment. In reverse, this meant that you couldn’t enter or even leave the apartment without it, therefore I was essentially “banged up abroad” whilst Josh was out socialising.

Before Josh went out to meet his friend I went to a local pizzeria which I had never tried before to pick up a pizza to take home with me. The pizzeria we had been to before in Chiang Mai, which had come so highly rated, turned out to be average and after having such exceptional pizza in both Bali (Spaccanopoli) and Koh Samui (Coco Tam’s) respectively, I did not wish to eat an average pizza. So I thought I’d try this other place out. The pizza, as with everything else in Chiang Mai, was cheap beyond belief. £3 for a pizza! Just unbelievable. And even though it wasn’t as good as the others I’d had – it was at least better then the other pizza I had had in Chiang Mai and for £3 I really could not complain. I didn’t really understand how these people (the owner was Italian) could be operating a business – a bricks and mortar retail store selling their pizza’s at just £3 a piece but this was the reality living in a place such as this!  

After Josh left to go and meet his friend (and I told him to film his friend doing his newly learned Kung Fu moves!), I chilled at home watching Netflix. Yes, Netflix and Chilling, lol, but alone. About an hour later my phone started ringing – it was Josh saying that he had just got to the hotel where his friend was staying but that when he text his friend to tell him that he was waiting downstairs in reception he text him back saying that he had the wrong day. They were supposed to be meeting up tomorrow! Well he couldn’t believe it and neither could I. How could he have got the day wrong for goodness sake?

Anyway there was nothing that could be done about it now. But it dawned on me that him getting the wrong day also meant that I would have to do the home alone thing again the following night because I didn’t have a key fob to get in or out!

What kind of foolishness is this??

The next day came and I went back to the same pizzeria (because I really couldn’t be arsed to find anywhere else) and the Italian man there was very happy to see me (likely because he assumed that I must like the pizza so much to be back the following day!) so I had to lie to him and tell him that the pizza was really good. He had no idea that I went there out of necessity because I knew that I was soon going to be “banged up abroad!”

When Josh left I done the same thing that I done the night before – Netflix and Chilled and thankfully he didn’t call me an hour later telling me that he had the wrong day. But it did occur to me as I was sitting there in the comfort of my cosy little home that due to this ridiculous policy of needing a key fob to get in and out of the building and not seeing any fire escape on our floor (though I’m sure there must have been one), had there been an actual fire in the block, I would have been burnt to a frazzle because I couldn’t actually get out!!

Not a Chiang Mai Grenfell

I didn’t want to perish in our glamorous but bijou apartment in Chiang Mai. And I most certainly could not read any of the fire documents which were all written in Chinese. I hadn’t seen any fire escape notifications and was completely unaware of what to do in the event of a fire or indeed how to exit the building at all. I was essentially a sitting duck.

When I had heard about the Grenfell fire in London a few months before I had been utterly horrified and angry. I seriously could not believe that something as horrendous as this could have happened and I was furious to think of it possibly being premeditated by anyone, let alone a government conspiracy. Do I think anyone would do such a thing? you ask. The answer is yes, though please do not ask me who done it or why because I’m not a detective but where there is motive, there is a criminal and what better one then one who can make money out of tragedy? Afterall, most of the poor people who lost their lives in that fire were not valued members of society. They were just poor people. Tis sad but true. 

Anyway, I do not wish to dwell on such painful things, it’s just that it did occur to me, whilst I was “banged up abroad” looking out to the mountains ahead and the mist filled sky, that if the building were to go up in flames then perhaps I would too, because there was nothing in this small apartment to throw out of it in order to break my fall if I jumped from the balcony, nothing apart from our mattress that was, and we all know about my mattress don’t we..

Hard as a Rock

I have never in all my days slept on a mattress so hard. It takes my breath away, both literally and figuratively to believe that such a hard mattress exists. Because this thing is so hard that we wake up every morning winded from almost having our ribcages crushed under the magnetic weight of it. Aching from the pain of how hard it is and with a backache because it is so very uncomfortable. So when I think about throwing out the mattress in the event of a Grenfell fire in Chiang Mai not only am I sceptical that I will even have the strength to lift this 50 tonne mattress out of the apartment onto the ground but I also very much doubt that I would survive the jump as mattresses are supposed to be firm but soft but this one was firm and hard. VERY HARD. I think that if I jumped onto this mattress it would literally break my legs. A terrible thought indeed.

Birkenstock Awe

I’m so glad that Josh managed to convince me to buy a pair of Birkenstocks. They have been absolute lifesavers during my travels. I never thought that I would wear a pair of shoes so frequently but he was right when he said that once I got into them, I would never want to come out of them! They are unbelievably comfortable and have got even more comfortable as time has gone on. German Engineering has allowed me to walk the streets of Bali and Thailand without my feet aching at any point in time which I think is incredible. Unfortunately for me, the luxury of wearing such comfortable shoes does not extend to England as it’s far too cold to wear them there but if it wasn’t, or they had a closed toe version that actually looked good (they don’t), then believe me I would be wearing them there too. Highly recommended if you go travelling and want your feet intact!

The Miserable Pork Balls seller

They are crazy for Pork Balls over here. Pork Balls are round bits of Pork (like sausage meat), on a stick that they fry for you on the roadside by the boat load. I don’t know what it is about Asians and pork but they absolutely love it. I guess the same could be said for Caribbeans and chicken and Africans and fish but Pork is the number 1 seller here and Pork Balls are King. You can get them for 30 baht (around 70 p) from the street sellers and they seem to do very good business (especially with the Chinese). We saw this Pork Balls seller outside Dom’s, getting prepared for his Pork Balls debut that evening, and he looked bloody miserable. I couldn’t work out what had happened to this guy for him to be so miserable looking but as people walked by glancing occasionally over at his balls he seemed to get angrier and angrier and by the time I dared to look over at him he was positively furious. I was unsure as to who would DARE to buy a Pork Ball from him when he was glaring at everyone in his line of vision. The man looked so vex it was as if he wanted to chop everyone in their neck back. He was bloody terrifying.

Thankfully for us, we weren’t in the market for Pork Balls, whether they were being sold on the roadside or elsewhere, so we didn’t have to go anywhere near him.


We went to Favola for dinner which is an Italian restaurant inside the Le Meridian hotel in the centre of the Old Town. I was desperate to find somewhere, an actual restaurant, where we could have a nice meal. I was fed up of this casual eating thing. I was seeking some glamour!

Unlike Bali and Koh Samui, which had glamour in abundance, Chiang Mai seems decidedly lacking where fine dining restaurants were concerned. People seem to like crowding the streets, sitting outside decidedly average looking restaurants or eating from sellers dishing out sticks of meat from food vans on the extremely polluted roadside. But that was not my thing at all. All I wanted was to find a restaurant, with nice decor, good service and tasty food in Chiang Mai. Favola looked to me to fit the bill, though from the pictures I’d seen of it online, it still didn’t look as nice as some of the other places we’d been to. But the food was rated highly which was promising.

When we arrived at Le Meredian I immediately saw a cockroach scurrying past the entrance and I hoped and prayed that this wasn’t a sign of things to come.  

The cockroach turned out to be just an unfortunate reality of living in a hot country. It thankfully wasn’t a reflection of the shoddiness that lied within because Le Meredian was actually rather glamorous inside. A typical large chain hotel, but a nice one nonetheless, the smell that was wafting out of the vents and into my nose was a delight. The staff, who were very friendly, escorted us personally up to the restaurant, which we had made a reservation for, but when we arrived we could clearly see that we needn’t have bothered, for it was almost completely empty, aside from a couple sitting in the corner and a big table of Chinese people who as time went on, and they got drunker,  became increasingly louder.

Clearly, street food is all the rage here and all the fancy restaurants stay empty! But the restaurant itself was lovely. The decor was suitably glam, with neutral tones, an open kitchen where you could watch the chefs preparing your food, beautiful lighting, tasteful furniture and a huge wine cabinet behind the Chinese contingency who were getting so loud I could scarcely hear our waiter repeat back our orders.

The food however turned out to be a success. We both ordered a risotto to share as our starter which was delicious, and then I had an artichoke ravioli dish in a tomato sauce and Josh had seabass, both of which were richly flavoured and well cooked.  


“Marble” chocolates at Favola 

I was determined to get gifts for people to commemorate this once in a lifetime experience travelling around southeast Asia and we were best placed to get some after dinner as the Old Town Night Market was on every evening from around 16:00 until 23:00 and they sold everything under the sun. After traipsing around for a couple of hours we returned home knackered but had managed to buy a gift for almost everyone in our families plus a few extra treats for ourselves. Josh really liked the look of the “Karen Hilltribe” trousers, and judging by the amount of sellers who were selling them it look like it was a very popular choice. Even more popular then those though, were the baggy elephant pants and almost every tourist in Northern Thailand had picked up a pair of those alas even though we liked elephants we did not like the trousers with them on them. They looked like pajama’s. 

But I got myself a few pairs of these roomy, culotte looking trousers and Josh got about 3 pairs of the Hilltribe versions which really suited him. They are too odd looking and too summery to wear in England but if we have a good summer then perhaps they will make an apperance afterall!


Josh and I wearing our Hilltribe trousers

We went back to Fern Forest for one last time before we left Chiang Mai to attend their Sunday Jazz event. Every Sunday, they have a live jazz band playing in the gardens and since Fern Forest had become our favourite place in Chiang Mai we decided that we just had to check it out. When we got there we were immediately greeted by our favourite waitress, who always remembered us and made sure she reserved us the best seats and was always very sweet and kind to us. Since alot of the time we went there to work she always asked us if the wifi was okay and if it was a little iffy then she would disappear to go and fix it for us. She was very attentive to us. When we arrived as we suspected it was packed but we managed to find some good seats, close to the area where the band would be playing. The only problem was that it was very very hot that day and eventually, once I could feel the energy draining from my body, and recalling the time when I fainted in a restaurant in Kingston from heat stroke, we decided to ask our waitress if we could move upstairs instead.

By then the band had already started playing, and they were pretty good but not even they could keep me there any longer. We went upstairs to a large, bright and airy dining room with french doors that overlooked the garden and the jazz band below. Utterly stunning in typical colonial style, the dining room was decorated in white and had marble tables, huge windows letting the light stream through from all angles, a big flower centrepiece, huge chandelier and floor length curtains. It was both glamorous and tranquil, and the beauty was that similarly to Clear Cafe in Bali, they didn’t allow anyone to wear shoes in that part of the restaurant so it felt very much like you were in someone’s elegant home. From there we could both see and hear the band very well but we had protection from the intense sun. It was a glorious day.


Fern Forest Cafe 




A day with the Monks

We visited some buddhist temples and it was great. Temples can be found all around the city so even if you haven’t been into one it’s quite easy to appreciate their glamour and opulence without having to actually venture into one. But when we came across this collection of temples in the middle of Chiang Mai city we couldn’t resist. Turns out that like in Bali, they do not take kindly to women being in their temples whilst menstruating (like as if that’s a carnal sin!), but rather then them asking women to refrain from entering the temple whilst their in their time of the month they don’t allow women to enter at all! Like, ever.

I must say, I would have expected better from the Buddhists. Alas, it would seem that sexism is alive and well even in the humblest of places. The temples and statues were amazing to see up close and we even got to watch a ceremony performed by the monks in the temple, which was impressive in both size and sight.


Me outside a buddhist temple in Chiang Mai






One Nimman

The new boutique shopping centre complex near our apartment, One Nimman, is still not fully open but as the Chinese New Year is approaching it is looking more and more ready to receive visitors and it really is an impressive sight. Comparible to the most elegant of shopping centres in London, Paris or New York, One Nimman is punching well above it’s weight. With it’s huge courtyard with twinkling fairy lights suspended between the buildings, beautiful stone used to build the clocktower centrepiece and all of the shops surrounding it, lots of stunning boutique shops, none of which I’d ever heard of before (and a Pan Puri fragrance shop opening up soon), it is enviably gorgeous. We walked through there and found a brand new coffee shop called Graph, selling really fancy coffee’s, a perfume shop which I was too afraid to go into as it looked so lovely and I knew if I ventured in there I would have had no choice but to buy some, a huge canteen area selling lots of different types of food, a creperie, and a brand new restaurant called Ginger Farm Kitchen.

This Ginger Farm Kitchen must have only been open a couple of days as we had never noticed it before. Decorated with a theme of an abundant summer garden (a theme I like very much), the place definitely had the wow factor. Plants and flowers were everywhere. Sitting on shelves, hanging from the ceiling, on the walls, tables and even in our food! Colourful and thoughtfully done, the Ginger Kitchen had clearly been put together from someone with a very good eye and an attention to detail.

Painted a pea green with enormous windows looking out onto the courtyard and the busy Nimmanaheim Road, the restaurant was light filled and sunny, with colourful cushions on the chairs and a colourful menu featuring mainly vegetables and flowers. They had some meat dishes too, but this was not the main feature here – beauty and colour was.

Both the drinks and the food was a winner. They are going to do really well I think and should we return we will definitely go back.

As we were leaving to go home and pack (boo hoo), we past another new business at One Nimman, it had no name and looked as if it wasn’t even properly open yet but the place looked amazing. It was perhaps a cafe of some kind as we could see a coffee machine on the counter as we walked by, but it also featured a huge variety of stone busts on tables, shelves and on the floor, along with comfy sofas and chairs amongst lively green plants. The place was like a living, breathing art studio/cafe. I was dying to go in there, I KNOW that it would have been right up my street alas it is not open yet and we are leaving Chiang Mai tomorrow. 

It is Valentines Day today and as I write this we are on our way to Singapore where we will be spending the day before going onwards home.


The stunning garden like interiors at Ginger Farm Kitchen




Singapore, the city of modern architecture

 When we arrived at Singapore Airport we found out that we could do a free tour around the city. We were on our way home but we had an 8 hour stopover in Singapore so we thought that it would be fun to do the tour in a city whose airport had been voted the best in the world for 5 years in a row and was STILL expanding. This airport was a monster! – with a cinema, swimming pool, spa, free massage chairs, sleeping cabins, shops and restaurants galore, flower gardens and even a butterfly museum.

We joined the tour group and after taking an age to get through customs we finally arrived on the streets of Singapore where we were bustled onto an awaiting bus. My first impression of Singapore was that it was clean. Like, spotlessly clean. When we started driving through the city, and listening to the guide tell us the history of the city, I was reminded again of how empty the place was – there were quite a few cars on the road but hardly anyone was on foot. It was another sprawling city, but unlike cities like New York and Bangkok, it was green, clean and almost devoid of people. And the architecture was impressive.

Undoubtedly, when it comes to modern architecture, Singapore is king. Almost all buildings there have been designed to reflect the forward thinking, ambitious modernity of the city. And rather then it just be all concrete tower blocks, they have invested heavily in landscaping so that all around the city there are an abundance of trees, plants and flowers. They even have parks dedicated to flowers that are free for tourists and residents to visit, such as the famous Flower Dome and Gardens by the Bay.

When we got closer to the Flower Dome where in a few days time they were going to be holding a celebration for Chinese New Year, the city suddenly got busier. I was surprised when the bus stopped and we were allowed to walk around the marina as technically we were just on a tour and didn’t have a permit to enter the country, but I was eager to see what it was all about. We strolled around the marina, which showcased the legendary “boat hotel” which was a hotel that looked like a skyscraper with a boat shaped top and was absolutely packed with tourists and residents alike, and then we were taken to the gardens, a stunning feat of architecture, botany and artistry with some truly amazing sculptures made from flowers.

We were in awe of the originality of some of these centrepieces, which were clearly designed to wow, but what we were not in awe of in Singapore was the distinct lack of vibe. It appeared to us that this city was a manufactured one, lacking in soul or energy which comes from the people who live within in. It was clear to me judging by the fancy hotels and restaurants I could see, that money had clearly been spent here and people were living well here (materially anyway), but that even that wasn’t enough to provide the sense of life and vibrancy that a good world city needs. In the end, I was happy to have seen it, to see what money buys you, how good it can make your city look. But ultimately, a place without vibe is no place at all.

So we have come to the end of our travels, and naturally the feeling is bitter sweet. We did not wish to leave, well not to go home anyway as we could have easily have gone on for another 2 months, alas it is what it is. We take home our memories, our stories and our pictures of which we took a few, but of course not nearly enough.

But what it has done for us, is to cement what we’ve always known: That we love to travel and we will making plans to do it again!


Josh in Singapore


The famous “Boat Hotel” in Singapore 



The Good, the Bad, The Ugly, and the Busted

The Good

Particularly in Chiang Mai, things are so cheap that it is hard to believe that people are actually making a living out of selling things at this price. When you pay your 80 p to be taken to the other side of town, it makes you think of London and what an absolute scam it is to live here. And when you think about what is going on with the rise of Uber, and the determination of the black taxi drivers to drive them out of town because they are more competitively priced then them it makes you even more angry. Because Uber drivers aren’t even cheap, they are just cheaper then the alternative. But I can tell you this: I have never, ever paid a mere 80 p to be taken on any journey in London. Whether that’s by cab, train or bus. I think it costs something like £2 at the moment to go just one stop. AND you are sharing that journey with hundreds of other people with their germs and questionable habits. So the affordability of living in Chiang Mai is definitely a plus.

That goes for transportation, food, clothing, accommodation and entertainment, alot of which is free. The food in Thailand is unbeatable, and though it did get occasionally boring, as anything does if you have it too often, it was still fresh and tasty with bags of flavour though it was far more challenging finding vegetarian or vegan meals here and they haven’t even heard of gluten free!

The Night Markets in Thailand are great. Nightmarkets are such a distinctively Thai tradition and are so much fun to see even if you’re not buying anything (which I don’t think anyone could possibly do as they have a little something for everyone).

The weather, particularly in Chiang Mai was incredible. The best weather we have ever had anywhere. It never went much below 25 degrees but it was slightly chilly night which gave us a respite from the heat. There were no mosquitoes in Chiang Mai but plenty in Koh Samui so it’s pretty much even where that’s concerned, and again with the gecko’s and the tookay’s, which were terrorising us whilst we were in Koh Samui, but who we hardly ever saw in Chiang Mai.

The beaches in Koh Samui are some of the best of the world, and I found my favourite beach of all in Haad Thong Reng on the island of Koh Phangan, which was just magical.

Our day spent with elephants was something that I doubt either of us will ever forget in a hurry. Thailand remains a number 1 travel destination because it really does offer something for everyone and the Thai culture is so rich and colourful.

The Bad

The gecko situation in Koh Samui was unbearable and unacceptable. In the month that we were living there I was literally EXHAUSTED from trying to think up ways to get rid of these beasts and I couldn’t sleep at night for the noise of them. Bloody awful.

The perves – unfortunately I have come to realise that these Western perves are probably all over Thailand. After visiting Koh Samui again I found that they had increased in number but they are also in Chiang Mai too so I think it’s safe to say that these reject Westerners are all over Asia and in Thailand in particular.

The Chinese – I’m sorry but I have to say the presence of them in Thailand, and in Chiang Mai in particular was overwhelming. Partly it’s because of the sheer number of them as they seem to travel in groups of 10 or more. Partly it’s because their vanity and obsession with technology knows no bounds (the women take pictures of themselves incessantly and the boys do the same but also play computer games incessantly too). Partly it’s because they don’t seem to have any spacial awareness (they take up half the road when you are trying to walk down it as they seem to like congregating in one big cluster with no acknowledgement of others trying to go about their business). Partly, I don’t like this umbrella business because I know that if they were carrying them because they didn’t like the heat then they could just choose to go to a colder country and not come to one of the hottest, and I do not believe it’s simply because of the strength of the sun. I believe that they are desperately trying in earnest not to get darker. I know this because of the products they buy to lighten their skin that are sold on the open market and which they feel no shame about buying. 

And partly, it’s because they are far too loud. I don’t know whether it’s because they are deaf or whether their volume increases when they have had a drink but they are bloody loud and if you are in a restaurant trust me you are going to know about it!

The Ugly and the Busted

I don’t think there is a busted part of Thailand (apart from Bangkok perhaps, lol). Overall Thailand is a place with a rich culture, beautiful landscapes, good food, friendly people, amazing beaches and an abundance of things to do. The only part I really don’t like is the sex tourism which is tacky beyond belief and not particularly pleasant to encounter and the stray dog situation but other then that I think that Thailand is a wonderful destination for anyone to visit.

But I guess the ultimate decider is whether I could live here? Whether WE could live here?

Well we’ve been to Thailand twice now and I know that there are still many other islands to discover but from what I’ve seen so far, no, I wouldn’t want to live here. Koh Samui is too touristy, and Chiang Mai is even more so and I wouldn’t live there because it’s too busy, too noisy and too polluted. It’s a city, a unique city undoubtedly but I’m just not interested in living in a city longterm.

But Bali however, and Canggu in particular..Yes. We could live there happily (if our families weren’t so far away).

We have had many amazing experiences in our travels, and these are just a few!

#walkedwithelephants #playedwithmonkeys #swaminthesea #dancedlikeabalinesedancer #sunbathedonthebeach #hikedupawaterfall #modelledinbali #dinedinatreehouse #massagedonthebeach #dancedinthesea #visitedamidnightspa #fireworksonthebeach #sailedwithdolphins #bathedinaflowerbath #survivedanearthquake #dodgedavolcano #dinedinthesky #spentchristmasonthebeach #shoppedatthenightmarket #dinedlikeaqueen #spaintherainforest #visitedabuddhisttemple #watchedamuaythaifight #dancedatabeachclub #watchedmonkspraying #sawfiredancersonthebeach #drunkkombucha #visitedmyauntinbali #ateveganinbali #partiedonthebeach #visitedsometemples #livedamongstricepaddies #sunsetonthebeach #massageinthejungle #daytriptokohphangan #dinneronthebeach #sawmysisterinthailand #scammedabillionaire #rodeinasongthaew #spentvalentinesdayinsingapore

Places of Note:

Zazen – a magical place. Hidden away from prying eyes, once you meander through the maze like Japanese gardens your heart stops a beat you and find that you have fallen head over heels in love. Like I did. Twice.

Saffron – What better way is there to experience Thailand then from the stunning views overlooking a private beach cove? And transportation by golf buggy will be an experience I will always remember.

Service 1921 – Despite the owner being a questionable individual who seems to take pleasure from siphoning off as much as possible from the local communities his opulent hotels are located within, his restaurant Service 1921, fashioned from a colonial style secret service was top knotch.

The Jungle Club – Incredible views from one of the highest points in Samui which overlooks the whole island and offers one of the most zen like atmospheres to be discovered there.

Coco Tam’s aka Coco Piss – For the nightly fire shows that can be seen from your seat at their restaurant which offers the tastiest pizza in town!

Beach Republic – A firm favourite. Beautiful beach, great food, chilled out vibes and serious tunes. A winner.

Haad Thong Reng Beach, Koh Phangan – The sheer beauty and tranquility of this beach was astounding. It moves into first place as being my favourite beach in the world so far.

Dom Cafe – Everything in Dom’s is tasty and uniquely presented. We went to Dom’s almost everyday for a whole month and I never tired of their Steamed Chicken Bun or Coconut Rolls!

Fern Forest – We were surprised at how busy and touristy Chiang Mai was when we first arrived but what better place to escape the craziness then Fern Forest, a tranquil cafe that looks like it’s within an actual rainforest.

The Ethical Elephant Sanctuary – The best place to see elephants who have been saved from a life of servitude. Elephants who are well looked after, not ridden by humans and who live simple but happy lives in the northern Thai mountains.

Peace Tropical Spa – I had the best Thai massage ever here. Despite the paradise like beauty of Karsa Spa in Ubud, or the tropical abundance of the Anantara Spa in Bophut both which I loved, when I arrived at the Peace Tropical Spa in torrential rain I wasn’t convinced that I was even in the mood for a spa treatment but the massage I had ended up being so wonderful that I was almost floating when I emerged from my thoroughly relaxed, zombie-like state.

Week 2 in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Week 2 in Chiang Mai, Thailand


Now that we’ve settled into life in Chiang Mai a little more, I can see why it would be very easy to live here. For one thing the weather has continued to be glorious. The sun has been shining everyday but it is not humid at all – it’s dry and rather spring like. There are lots of restaurants, bars and cafes etc.

 Now that we have seen the elephants and we are approaching the end of our travels, there has been a natural anti-climax. Infact spending the day with those amazing animals seems quite a long time ago now but thankfully I have some pictures and videos to remind me of what an amazing and surreal day it was.

Despite the fact that Chinese New Year is in mid February – the Chinese have swarmed this city like a plague so I can only imagine what it’s going to be like when Chinese New Year arrives. Being in a city – walking on concrete pavements, with no beach or nature in sight as such is a little wearing, and despite the ease of living here, I don’t find Chiang Mai much different from living in any other city. We loved Bali in particular for the fact that it was so natural but also had a uniquely Balinese atmosphere.

We have exhausted the shopping mall and the night market and have no real interest in going shopping anyway. We have almost exhausted the fine dining restaurants here because there aren’t many to choose from to start with (most people seem to eat in casual restaurants or from the street food sellers who have their food carts posted on almost every roadside). Many of the tourist attractions include the mistreatment of animals in some way – whether that’s riding elephants, making monkeys do tricks, putting on a show with drugged up tigers or teasing crocodiles. None of which I am interested in experiencing.

I have no interest in seeing anything that is cruel to animals so we have made a concerted effort to avoid doing any touristy things here that exploits them in any way. That leaves extreme sports, such as white water rafting, bungy jumping and zip lining still available but apart from zip lining, and perhaps quad biking, none of those things really appeal to me either, partly because they can be done in most places in the world. And I have seen enough temples to last a lifetime. So basically, what I’m saying is, we have kind of run out of things to do! The highlight of our trip thus far has definitely been seeing the elephants at the elephant sanctuary and I’m not really expecting to be able to top that but I would have at least expected to find some interesting things to do here other than visiting imprisoned animals and going shopping.

We haven’t tried out any of the spa’s yet here so that’s something we are going to do very soon, and then there’s the national parks, of which they have plenty of and which look amazing, but other than that, there’s only so much pounding of concrete I can do and afterall, I’m from London, we have plenty of concrete to pound.

We went to the cinema today – the one that is in the shopping mall. Surprisingly, the cinema was almost empty, despite it being their discount cinema ticket day and despite them hyping up this film that I didn’t know the name of or what it was supposed to be  about. It was an American film with Thai subtitles so needless to say, it was another ultra commercial American blockbusters with special effects up the hoo har type of film. Not my kind of thing. But they were advertising the new Black Panther film which is coming out on the 15th February which was cool. Before the film started, before the related promotional films came on suddenly everyone in the auditorium stood up and on screen a picture appeared of their since deceased King (who died last October I believe and who they are partly still in mourning for), and unbelievably, everyone there (including us_ was required to stand and listen to the kings song which was played with an accompanying film of him standing very solemnly whilst people bowed and bestowed blessings upon him for about 7 minutes. It was very odd I have to say.

Food here has been a bit of a challenge. We are walking distance from lots of restaurants in theory but most of them are Thai restaurants and I have been having Thai food almost everyday for 2 months so I’m getting kind of sick of it. This means that we have had to go to the shopping mall for food which has it’s own food hall but most of the restaurants are Japanese (which is fine if you want sushi everyday but we’ve had it twice already since being here). The other restaurants in the mall are just peculiar – the menu’s are either not in English, but in Thai or even Chinese sometimes, or they don’t have a list of the ingredients in the foods they are offering. Instead of knowing what is in the food, you have to look at the pictures provided and guess what might be in it. That does not appeal to me and of course, being in Asia, they do eat a lot of questionable things such as Duck Lips for instance (trust me that IS a thing).

My eyebrows need doing and I can’t find a salon that does eyebrow threading. Thankfully my beauty regime is minimal at the best of times and even more so here as even though my skin is probably the worst it’s ever been in the 4 months been here (due to the fact that we’re in the city which is full of pollution and despite the glorious weather are spending more time indoors due to the fact that it’s both busy and noisy outside), I have been able to keep it in check with my trusty Liz Earle skin regime, but the eyebrow thing is beginning to annoy as I can only seem to find salons here that do eyebrow waxing but not threading.

I walked into the only salon I could find the other day that advertised that they did eyebrow waxing and finally after much towing and frowing as the lady couldn’t speak a word of English and had a mouth mask on (very popular here in Asia due to the pollution), I finally understood that she wanted me to follow her to another salon. I didn’t really understand why as the sign outside said that they done eyebrow waxing there but I was so desperate to have it done that I decided to follow her. About 4 minutes walk and we arrived at another salon (which looked new as it didn’t even have any signage up) and I followed her inside. I wasn’t sure whether she was dropping me off so that another person could do my eyebrows or whether she would be doing it herself but after asking me to follow her into a private room I understood that she would be doing it.

Since I hadn’t planned to go to the salon that day I was still wearing my eyebrow pencil but I assumed she would just wipe it off as all technicians do but she didn’t. This woman was by far the most gentle I have ever experienced doing this technique, which by rights should hurt as it’s removing hair from it’s roots in one yank. But everytime she pulled the waxy strip off my skin she apologised and patted the sore area as if to ease the throbbing. I couldn’t work out how she could possibly do a decent job when she hadn’t even removed the eyebrow pencil that was still on my eyebrows – how could she see what needed waxing even?

But I was left assured that she was infact fully committed to doing a good job when I felt a cooling gel being gently applied to my eyelids to ease the soreness and rose water being dabbed on my forehead and above my brows, the sweetness of which filled my nostrils and magically seemed to numb the pain. She was so gentle that I couldn’t even feel the tweezers plucking the stray hairs or the scissors trimming the unruly ones but by the time she had finished I was delighted and surprised to find that she had done a good job – a great job infact, better then many I’ve had in England – my eyebrows were neat, she hadn’t touched the eyebrow pencil at all – it was still in one piece and I now smelt like of a bed of roses. Happy days.

Whilst I was having my eyebrows done Josh was at the local barbers having his hair cut but rather then coming out looking like a well groomed Josh, his hairstyle came out more closely resembling Kim Jong Un’s, lol.

When I get back to the UK, which is in a mere 2 weeks would you believe, I am looking forward to seeing my cats of course, getting my house back in order (as I have had 2 strangers living there for the past 4 months and have no idea how they have left it), seeing my family  – of course a big highlight, and then believe it or not I am going to need to prepare myself for work as I will be back to work on the Monday and I also have my perfume workshops to prepare for as despite me not doing any advertising whatsoever whilst I have been away I have sold out almost 3 of my workshops.

Chinese Picture Taking

There are a couple of things I have noticed since being in Asia for a substantial amount of time and that is the clone like way of the Chinese who seem intent on looking exactly the same and doing exactly the same things. Tis annoying enough having to dodge their umbrella’s for fear of them getting darker but there is another thing I find annoying too, and that is of course their constant picture taking. It is something that I noticed first when I was in Santorini, Greece when literally swarms of them turned up with camera’s, tripods, selfie sticks and phones and took pictures from dusk til dawn, allday everyday of themselves mainly, but occasionally of the staggeringly beautiful surroundings. I found it odd then and I find it odd now that they seemingly are unable to function without either of these devices especially when it’s pointed at themselves. They are on their phones taking pictures of themselves incessantly, and it doesn’t matter whether they are alone or in a group, infact they scarcely talk to one another if they are in a group asides from to show, take or share pictures. It is both predictable and a little sad I have to say. For if everyone you know is doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time always, how do you become an individual? If you all share exactly the same interests with exactly the same tastes, how can you be different? I would say it’s fascinating but I don’t find it to be so really. I find it more than a little peculiar and a little bit sad.



Monks lose their way too 🙂

Songthaew Commuting 

Songthaews are the main local mode of transportation in Thailand. Unlike in Bali, when we got around using our motorbike, and in Koh Samui, when we hired a car, we have been commuting via this very popular and regular mode of transport in Chiang Mai. These vehicles are like converted lorrys/buses with the windows more like slightly wider slits that you can barely see out of, the back where you enter has no door and rather then having individual seats facing forwards they have two long seats adjacent to each other where about 7 or 8 people can get in either side. There are lots of them around the city and you just hail them like you would a black taxi. The difference of course between them and the black taxi’s are that the ride isn’t as comfortable and you share it with others who the driver picks up along the way BUT the price is UNBELIEVABLY CHEAP. CRIMINALLY CHEAP. INSANELY CHEAP. For a mere 80 p you can basically be taken anywhere in the city you want to go and most of the time because there are so many Songthaews in the city, you don’t have to share yours with anyone. It just makes you realise how expensive things are in the UK and ultimately, how much we are all being ripped off!

Asides from being a reliable and cheap way to get around we have also got into conversations with a couple of tourists in the Songthaew too. For some reason, despite the fact that it’s so cheap, the locals do not seem to use the Songthaew. I guess most of them have a scooter but for all of the other tourists in Chiang Mai is seems ridiculous not to take advantage of something this reasonable and thus we have met and got talking to people all the way from Canada, to Sweden to Bangkok. And they all have the same story: They’re here to escape the winter!

Since being here I am pleased to say that I still haven’t seen ANY stray dogs whatsoever. I’ve seen a few gecko’s but none in or around our apartment and despite me not wearing any insect repellent at any point in time whilst arriving here I have literally only been bitten once on my ankle. Other then that I have been mosquito and therefore Skeeter Syndrome free! Usually I am terrorised by mosquitoes so this really is something special as it’s very hot here and I haven’t been wearing any protection. Unbelievable. It must have something to do with the climate, which as I’ve described is very hot but also very dry and quite chilly in the early morning and evenings which is when they usually come out to munch on people.

Fern Forest

Despite my love of Dom’s Cafe, with it’s tasty steamed chicken buns and coconut rolls, I was determined to find another cafe that we could go to so when I came across one called Fern Forest Cafe, near the Old Town, which had a rainforest theme, surrounded by trees and plants in a pretty and quaint courtyard, I was sold. When we arrived to see the dappled streams of sunlight coming through the trees with the feeling of being in an English country garden in spring I was very happy. I had been searching for a place like this in Chiang Mai. Somewhere that was in the city but didn’t look or feel like it was in the city and here it was. Off a busy road, hidden from view, we arrived to find a natural, leafy sanctuary, surrounded by fern trees within it’s own walled garden. Within it there was a waterfall and steam being gently pumped from a multitude of hidden mechanisms which created the look and feel of you being within an actual rainforest. The sound of birds relax you and the service is friendly but calm. It is a magical and tranquil place. Fern Forest is definitely our favourite place in Chiang Mai thus far and they have live jazz on Sundays too which we look forward to checking out!


Fern Forest Cafe – a rainforest in the city!





A Fern Forest special -pancakes with fruit and cream


Dom’s Cafes legendary Coconut Roll Cake

Reject Westeners

I thought I’d left the perves behind me in Koh Samui but it appears they are here too, in Chiang Mai. The amount of Western men who are here with their Thai brides or seeking Thai brides is staggering, and I’d like to think that this is mostly a perfectly normal union but alas I fear it is not. Most of the Western men I have seen here are with Thai women who are far younger, and far more attractive then them, understandably can hardly speak a word of English (and vice versa it’s fair to say), and similarly to what Trump (who is a big fool) said of the Mexicans “They’re not bringing their best”. Well I can certainly confirm that the men here, waltzing around with their Thai women are most definitely NOT the best of the West. Infact I could say that in most cases from what I’ve seen, they are the worst.

The worst how you ask? Well put it this way, the men I have seen here, are not the most attractive, not the most intelligent, not the most interesting, and not the most well to do – so they are indeed some of the dregs. They are the ones that that the Western women do not want and therefore they come here to be welcomed with open arms by the Asian women who either do not know any better or who have been brainwashed into believing (as have most of the world), that any white man equals a prize to shout about. It does not. Sorry. Some of these men are bloody awful! I have seen them, I have heard them and all I can do is shake my head. A terrible, terrible state of affairs.

The Bed of Rock

The bed in our apartment is bloody uncomfortable. It is so hard that it actually gives us aches and pains when we wake up in the morning! I couldn’t tell you the last time that I’d actually had a restful sleep – it was probably back in Bali at Sense, Canggu where the bed was huge and luxurious, not to mention creature free. In our villa in Koh Samui I slept badly too as I was constantly awoken by the sound of gecko’s and tookay’s running rampant and now our bed is so hard it hurts. Not great!

Saturday Night Market

I thought I was all nightmarketed out but we heard about yet another nightmarket, called the Saturday night market which was supposed to be one of the better ones so we decided to check it out. We arrived late but still we could see that it was far better then the ones we had been to previously because we could actually walk as the streets the stalls were posted on seemed a little less narrow, the sellers were selling some original things lots of which we’d never seen before, and of course it was huge. We didn’t get to see all of it but we did get the general scale of its so we concluded that it would definitely be worth going to earlier and checking it out properly. Whilst we were there we went to a cafe for dinner where our meal cost £6 (TOTAL not each) including alcohol. These kinds of obscenely low prices is why Chiang Mai is so popular! The food was delicious too.

On our way home we came across two stall sellers, a couple, and they had 2 adorable dogs with them, one of which was a Pomeranian (the breed of dog I’ve always wanted) and one of which was white, smaller and fluffier breed that I didn’t recognise. They were utterly adorable, and just sat on their designated areas – a box for the fluffy white dog, and a chair for the caramel coloured Pomeranian who was wearing a fitted checked shirt. These dogs were clearly pampered pooches but unlike the pampered pooches that I usually see around town, these two were very well behaved! They didn’t bark, they didn’t mind people oohing and ahhing over them as you couldn’t help but do, they didn’t mind being stroked and they sat obediently on their respective posts. They were so cute it was painful! Especially the boy in the tailored shirt, who had been groomed to have a big fluffy head and a short haired body. He looked like a mini fox. A cute mini fox I hasten to add!


The fluffy one 


The adorable Pomeranian

The Pong that Ponged

Whilst we’ve been in Thailand we have had a few massage treatments, though not in Chiang Mai yet, one of which was a herbal compress treatment which incorporates the use of a bunch of herbs, specially chosen for their health benefits, bound tightly in a woven fabric which is then emersed in water and heated then applied to the skin and massaged with. It is said to relieve tightness and relax the muscles and I had tried it myself in Koh Samui and thought it was great but I wasn’t a big fan of the smell, afterall it was herbs and not necessarily supposed to be olfactorily pleasing. So when we came across a seller selling these herbal balls in various sizes at the market I wasn’t inclined to buy any but Josh has been suffering from a bad back for the past couple of weeks and said he wanted to buy one to see whether it worked to ease his pain and afterall, it was only a pound! A pound I tell you! I said I would be interested in trying it too since my Mum suffers from a constantly aching arm so perhaps she might benefit from it so we got one.

The following day I used the herbal ball on Josh and I got the shock of my life. The thing was POTENT. We had to sprinkle some water on it first and then put it in the microwave to heat it up but when I opened the microwave door a pong such as I never believed could be produced from such a harmless looking thing rushed up my nose and almost knocked me out. This thing smelt like weed and Cerasee, a vile tasting bush plant that’s grown in Jamaica and is drunk to cure ailments, and suddenly our whole apartment stunk of the stuff. I gave Josh a massage with the thing but the smell was so intense and getting steadily stronger as the herbs were released with each kneading stroke it that I had to cease breathing through my nose and switch to breathing through my mouth and Josh, the patient himself, was also getting a whiff of the stuff and said that the fumes were making him high, lol.

As I had done the massage on our bed I was dismayed to later find the smell of the herbs had permeated the bed all the way down to the mattress and I was convinced that had anyone walked past our apartment at that very moment, they would have thought that we were growing weed up in there! I’m not sure that I can transport this thing back to the UK!

Calm Massage

A massage at this perfectly sweet place called Calm Massage is as cheap as £11.00 for an hour so needless to say Josh and I were only too happy to pay that to get 60 glorious minutes of  authentic thai relaxation. And I did feel very calm afterwards. Positively lightheaded infact!



Week 1 in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Week 1 in Chiang Mai, Thailand

IMG_0856 (1)

As soon as we arrived in Chiang Mai we were greeted with a sun so intense it almost scorched both our eyebrows off. Before we had left Koh Samui for Chiang Mai we had been warned by various people there, including our villa’s cleaners and the staff at the Anantara hotel in Samui, that Chiang Mai was cold at this time of year so we were a half expecting to have to purchase coats when we arrived but as it turned out it couldn’t possibly have been hotter.

When we checked the forecast for the coming week all we could see was wall to wall sunshine on the horizon and it was due to be even hotter then the time we spent in Koh Samui and Bali combined! Woo hoo!


I hadn’t done much research on Chiang Mai before we arrived there so I didn’t really know what to expect. All I knew was that it was a very popular destination for travellers because of it’s temperate climate, had an abundance of things to do, and was even cheaper then Koh Samui. And I also knew that this was the home of Thai Elephants.

Seeing elephants, up close and personal in their natural surroundings, living their lives happy and free, was something that I always wanted to see whilst I was in Thailand. And in Chiang Mai, because it was located in the mountains, there was an abundance of elephants, lots who had been taken into good and into not so good care by sanctuary’s once the law was passed a few years ago that they mustn’t be used for work. But many of the sanctuary’s, indeed the vast majority of them in Asia, used the animals instead as ploys for tourism and allowed these beautiful, intelligent creatures of majesty and awe to be ridden. Not only did not I not want to ride an elephant, I also did not want to even see them being ridden as the thought of an elephant, so graceful a creature, being used in this way for our cheap human titillation made me feel very sad. So Josh and I had decided that the only way that we would want to see an elephant in Thailand is if it were free, and by that we meant no chains, no ropes and NO RIDING.

Our accommodation whilst we were in Chiang Mai was in the heart of the city. This time I knew that we had picked the right location for our travels as our condominium was located just a few minutes walk away from the very glamorous MAYA shopping mall, and just off the hugely popular Nimmanhaemin  Road, considered to be the most upmarket area of Chiang Mai with it’s abundance of boutique shops, bars, spas, restaurants and luxury condo’s and though our condo was not as new as two of the other properties we had stayed at, namely Pumpkin Village in Ubud and Bali and Sense in Canggu, Bali, The Nimmana, where we were going to be staying for the next month, was one of the newest condominiums in this part of Chiang Mai, which meant that we were one of only a handful of people to stay in our apartment which we had booked directly through the owner on Airbnb.

Chiang Mai itself I soon found out was actually a very busy city. It offered access to the mountains, vast national parks and temples but it was still a city with lots of traffic and noise and absolutely no beaches but I was thankful when we pulled up to our new apartment that it was largely shielded from the noise. The Nimmana was a high rise building, with around 350 individual private apartments. With high security posted at the entrance 24 hours a day and key card access to the lift, rooms and floors, it felt very safe indeed. Along with it’s great location on Nimmanhaemin Road, it also had a huge pool, a sauna and a gym, which for Josh and me, meant that we would have to find yet another reason to evade exercise, lol.

Our apartment was on the 4th floor and in stark contrast to our previous villa in Koh Samui, was a bijou 1 bedroom apartment which was ultra modern, extremely clean and had a balcony that overlooked the pool area. The owner was Chinese and perhaps had never even stepped foot in the property judging by how immaculate the place was and the choice of glamorous interiors. Perhaps she had just purchased the apartment as an investment and hadn’t even lived there.

After being what was seriously beginning to feel like being under siege by the steady stream of gecko’s that were waltzing brazenly into our home back in Samui, I breathed a sigh of relief as I knew that now, finally I could get some undisturbed sleep as I realised that somewhere as clean and new as this was extremely unlikely to have any gecko’s at all. And I was right. There were absolutely no gecko’s to be found! And unlike in Bali and Koh Samui, though admittedly Bali was far worse, since arriving in Chiang Mai we had seen absolutely no dogs whatsoever!


Our apartment at The Nimmana in Chiang Mai 





The feeling of Chiang Mai, when we dropped our bags in our apartment and went for a walk couldn’t possibly have been anymore different from how it felt to walk in Koh Samui. It was very busy, with people, cars, bikes and taxi’s everywhere and it had a real buzz about it. The climate was dry and intensely warm, like the best summers day in England you could possibly imagine. It was nothing like Bali’s climate, which was very humid, and nothing like Koh Samui, which was generally overcast for our entire stay. Instead here it was sunny, warm and dry – almost spring like. The weather was ideal – I couldn’t for the life of me work out what on earth the people in Koh Samui were talking about – it was by far the best weather we had experienced so far!

Strolling around we could already see why Chiang Mai had such a good reputation and why there were so many people walking around with backpacks (who were clearly travellers like us). It was because it had a distinctive vibe about it, wasn’t overly commercial but it had lots of shopping centres, cafe’s, quirky little shops and restaurants serving everything from Japanese to Iraqi cuisine but it was still very Thai. The highly rated MAYA mall, when we got to it, looked to me like a smaller version of Westfield back in London and it was very glamorous indeed. Infact I was quite shocked to see how much money had clearly been spent on this shopping mall, and the surrounding area. MAYA looked like a huge crystal maze and another glamorous new shopping centre named One Nimman that was due to be officially open looked like Thailand’s version of Covent Garden. It was lovely!

These establishments clearly had some money behind them – they looked far better then any shopping mall I had been to in Koh Samui, infact right now, Chiang Mai was putting Samui to shame!

We checked out the mall which was a multi-storied extravaganza of floors selling a minimal amount of clothes (compared to UK stores) on the 1st floor along with makeup and fragrance, on the second floor there was sports ware, some clothes shops and homewares, the third floor the entire floor was pretty much dedicated to electronics everything from phones to camera’s, the fifth floor had a food hall, where we popped into a Japanese restaurant called Fuji to have some sushi  – so good! And then on the floor above that was an arcade, a social hub/co-working space, a cinema that was also showing 4K movies, a normal gym and a Muay Thai gym where you could sign up and learn Muay Thai in just a month. And the best thing about it was that even if you didn’t want to learn Muay Thai you could just sit there and watch them spar. So cool! And then on the floor above that there was rooftop bars that were only open in the evening.

London had a lot to learn when it came to the variety of shops available in it’s super duper shopping malls as far as I was concerned. In particular, when it came to providing places for people to work, such as this co-working space which almost took up half the 6th floor of the MAYA mall. It was amazing. Lots of break out spaces and private meeting rooms aswell as desks and benches to work from and it was open 24 hours a day allday everyday.

On our way back down the escalator we almost walked smack bang into an Anantara Vacation Club presentation table. When Josh saw it he pointed it out to me and we had a private chuckle amongst ourselves but again, the lure of the free gift vouchers proved to be too strong and by the time we had arrived back at our apartment we had decided that we were going to go again meaning, that we were going to approach Anantara pretending to be yet another couple (for the third time in our travels) in order to try and get some more of these vouchers. We decided that tomorrow would be the day!

We had a clear plan in mind. All we wanted was to get the free Anantara vouchers and for that we knew that we would have to sit through another one of their presentations only this time, we would have never been to the Chiang Mai Anantara before so we didn’t need to worry about being spotted (unless of course the Koh Samui branch had alerted them of our scam), lol.

The way we saw it was we were just claiming what they were offering though of course to claim what they were offering we would still need to pretend to be someone else then who we had been previously, lol so when we approached the Anantara desk in the mall casually as if to enquire about their Vacation Club out of interest, we gave them the names of Vanessa Thomas and Rob Jackson, a mixup of my mums maiden surname and my current surname and his brothers and my sisters first names to allow us to remember them more easily, and a new address etc and then they booked us in for the presentation the following day. Since we didn’t have any transport yet and we were staying in an apartment not a hotel we knew that it would be fine if they picked us up from our apartment this time since the security guards at our apartment didn’t know the names of who was staying in the condo’s. Once again, so far anyway, our audacity had taken us through to the next stage and we were feeling very confident indeed!

Ginger & Kafe

That night we went to a Thai fine dining restaurant in the Old City called Ginger & Kafe, which was in a part of the City that still retained some of the earlier Chiang Mai before it was rebuilt and expanded. The restaurant was very quirky and colourful and the food excellent. It had come highly rated and I could certainly attest to the quality of the food and the thoughtfulness of the interiors. It also had another more casual restaurant attached which looked pretty good also and there was a garden which looked like it might be a nice place to go for afternoon tea in the daytime.

Anantara Part 3

The fact was that we quite enjoyed hearing these presentations. Well I did anyway. Partly, I was interested in luxury travel and that was what they were selling, partly, I really liked the brand, partly I was amused by William and his antics and partly I wanted those generous vouchers again. Since they were picking us up from home and dropping us back, offering us tea and coffee and taking us around the resort to promote the Anantara brand, I thought that it was a pretty good deal for a couple of hours of our time. And at no point in time were me and Josh in the market for signing up to a Vacation Club anyway even if it was one of the more appealing ones. Still, when we arrived I felt the familiar buzz of anticipation, both with the excitement of possibly getting found out, wondering what kind of sales person we might get and what they might say as it seemed to me so far that every presentation was different depending on who you got. The first girl wasn’t very convincing at all, the second guy was better and we were given more information about the vacation club then the girl had provided. We wondered who we’d get this time?

We got an English man. As soon as I saw the guy I started to feel slightly uneasy for if there was going to be anyone to sniff out our identity’s then this guy would be the one to do so. He seemed nice enough though so I told myself to just relax and keep to the story of me being Vanessa and Josh being Rob and we’d be alright.

He began the presentation by trying to find out a little more about us, our travel habits, our holiday plans, our holiday budget. I had previously been warned by Josh to let him doing the talking since this being our third time it was likely to be a little more tricky with the details. I was under the impression that since there was no possible way for this man to convince us to sign up to his scheme it didn’t really matter what I said, but I vowed to listen to Josh. I would keep it zipped. It didn’t take long before I think we both realised that this guy, coupled with the fact that he was a native english speaker from our own country and so naturally had more in common with us then a Malaysian salesperson, he was actually pretty good.

So much so infact that by the time he got halfway through his presentation, despite me hearing this presentation 2 times before just a few weeks ago, despite the offer being pretty much the same, and despite the fact that we were only there for the vouchers and were not in the market for a timeshare at all, I was almost ready to sign up. And so was Josh! But surely he was just telling you what you had already heard? I hear you ask. Well yes and no, he was throwing in a few extra’s but also, more importantly I think, he showed us ways of getting the most out of our “points” and scamming the system that was trying to scam us in a way, he showed us more options then we knew had existed before and also he took us around the hotel grounds and to a show apartment to give us an example of what we would be getting if we signed up and of course I liked it very much.

The show apartment, which highlighted both the spaciousness and the distinctive Asian inspired Anantara style, was great, and getting access to all of the facilities in the hotel was a bonus. Perhaps to the salesman, whose name was Julian, it was starting to look as if he was wearing us down and maybe he was, well me anyway, as when I thought about all of the amazing locations the hotels were located in, many of where I’d never even considered going before such as Abu Dhabi and Mozambique, coupled with the ones I had such as Sri Lanka and Brazil, it was starting to make sense to me.

Did we like this brand? Yes. Could we afford it – technically yes if we were able to pay in installments. And the key question from him to us: Would there be anything that would stop you having a holiday within the next 5 years time? – this is where I had to keep schtoom because I knew in my heart of hearts that there was literally nothing that could keep me from travelling within the next 5 years time but I knew that Josh didn’t want to be backed into a corner by this guy as though he was also feeling the pressure with the deal looking more and more impressive by the minute, he was the logical one and had no intention of signing up to this club. But when Julian went to go to the toilet Josh admitted to me that if we hadn’t fraudulently used different names in order to get the free vouchers then there was a very strong possibility that he would have considered signing up. But now obviously we could not.

When we walked out of the Anantara with our third lot of vouchers in hand, this time we felt a little differently then the times before. It didn’t have the sense of naughtiness and excitement attached to it, perhaps in part because we’d played this game a few times now and maybe had gotten used to winning. But it was also because we felt that an opportunity had been missed that though expensive yes, would have opened up new and exciting possibilities for Josh and I in our travelling life and thus we have decided that when the time is right we will revisit the idea again for the purpose of seriously considering it.  So in that way, maybe they will win afterall!

IMG_1458The Anantara at night: Schmancy even then!



Night Bazaar

The night bazaar is a huge area spanning 1 kilometre of food stalls, craft sellers, clothes, art and trinkets. You name it – the night bazaar has it. Open every night from 18:00 till around midnight like Fisherman’s Village the stalls can be browsed for literally hours in a continuous succession of shoppers delight. It is infact so big and so spread out with side streets here there and everywhere, coupled with live music, restaurants and spa’s vying for attention, that it almost impossible to deny yourself the lures of the things being sold even despite the fact that many of the same things are being sold just a few tables down. Night markets are a hugely popular part of the Thai culture and the tourists just love it. Strolling around Josh and I almost (almost!) managed to ignore the pull of the stall sellers but then I saw some pink fisherman’s trousers that I liked so I bought myself a pair and Josh got himself some blue ones. These are the kinds of things people buy here in Thailand knowing that they are probably never going to wear them again once they get home but I really like mine and they were only £4. Bargain!


Tasty, healthy food from The Salad Concept

Soul Singer Kim Jung Un

We arrived at another part of the night market called Ploen Rudee Night Market to find an area filled with food stalls and benches which wouldn’t have looked out of place in England. It was obviously very popular as it was packed to the rafters with people from all over the world and then a band came on who apparently was going to entertain us with Soul Classics. Normally that would suggest something like Stevie Wonder or Michael Jackson, which though I had nothing against, I really would like to hear some proper soul music and not the predictable kind. So I was left left surprised and I have to say quite amused when a small, innocent looking Thai guy who looked very much Kim Jung Un, came along with a full band and started belting out the likes of Earth Wind and Fire, Roy Ayers and Rick James! And though he didn’t have an amazing voice and the backers were clearly struggling to do the harmonies that were required, I was very impressed with his attempt at singing such obviously soulful tunes that many people wouldn’t dare trying to sing and he was singing with true conviction – the man was loving every minute of it! I loved Kim Jung Un.

Chiang Mai is a huge city. There doesn’t appear to be a “centre” per say but there does appear to be a lot to discover as we have done just driving through the city. It’s a fascinating place.

Service 1921

Service 1921 was Anantara’s secret spy themed restaurant fashioned after the British consulate which the building actually was at one stage in time. The vouchers they had given us this time around they had cleverly only listed tours on the island and businesses they owned such as their spa and their restaurants but thankfully we wanted to go to their restaurant anyway so we booked a table there. Chiang Mai is a funny place as it seems quite difficult to find “fine dining” restaurants of the abundance and level that we can find elsewhere but thankfully Anantara’s Service 1921 was supposed to be one of the finest. And it was. A combination of Thai, Chinese and Japanese cuisine we had our most amazing meal there by far since arriving in Chiang Mai and the setting was suitably ambient. We used our vouchers so we didn’t pay a penny for our 3 course meal with cocktails but we enjoyed it so much that we will definitely be returning!


My delicious and impressive “Gold Leaf” Cocktail at Service 1921


Lip smackingly good!


Menu’s are given to you in a spy like folder to keep with the secret agent theme 🙂

There are Chinese people everywhere here! Everywhere I tell you! Infact, there are so many Chinese people that I’m beginning to think that there’s more here then Thai people, they seem to be in the majority by far and that I guess would explain the investment in the area. We had a walk through One Nimman, the new shopping area that’s not officially open yet though alot of the shops there are and it looks amazing. It’s very high end and almost all of the shops in it are boutique brands that I’ve never heard of before including a fragrance brand called Pan Puri which I have discovered since arriving here that I’m a little obsessed with (though I refuse to pay their ridiculous prices). I refer of course to the branding itself and not the smell of the products as thus far from what I’ve smelt I haven’t been very impressed with their scents but I appreciate their eco credentials (they only use essential oils in their products) and have utterly captivating names and scent descriptions. I am definitely going to take some inspiration from them in my own business!

 But back onto the Chinese. There’s loads of them. This is clearly their number one travel destination outside of their own country and judging by the number of them in our apartment they are either living here or own properties here. Most of the businesses have signs in Thai and English but also in Chinese too which I don’t think I’ve even seen before and on some occasions there is only Chinese writing, no Thai at all! In our apartment we have a list of all the people who have stayed here and they all appear to be Chinese too like the owner.

The Chinese seem to travel en-mass, like a multi-generational group of people as if none of them have been on holiday before and what makes it more apparent when they travel in such large groups is the fact that there are hardly any pavements here (yes, no pavements), which means that you have to dodge them and their umbrella’s when you are trying to walk down the street.

The Business of Bleach

Is it raining? I hear you ask. No, it is not raining. It is infact the dryest, hottest and most pleasant climate I have experienced in a long while. And though it can get quite chilly in the evenings and early morning during the day it is lovely but these people, mostly Chinese but a few Japanese and Thai’s too I have to say, walk around with umbrella’s because they are afraid to get darker. They have an obsession with protecting their skin from the sun not because of any health reasons of course or else they would just wear sunscreen. No, they are absolutely terrified of getting darker and for a proud brown skinned lady such as I, I not only find this ridiculous for if they don’t want to get a tan then don’t come to a hot country (duh!) but also offensive, as both Josh and I have been trying to cultivate our tans and see it as a sign of good living and being well travelled, not the opposite! Some of these girls look so pale they almost look as if they are deceased. Why are you seeking the look of death? Why do you wish to appear as if your life has come to an abrupt end? WHY?- I honestly do not get it.

Of course this obsession with staying pale we all know is not just restricted to our Asian counterparts because in the black community we are just as bad if not worse, for over here, this kind of white seeking is the social norm, whereas we perhaps have not quite admitted it and overall like to pretend that we are proud of what we are whilst lusting after the opposite and buying under the counter face lightening creams – prevalent in both Nigeria and Jamaica not to mention other blessed brown places in the world.

It is upsetting to me. And utterly pointless. In almost every shop I have been in here from their small local shops to Boots they have skin lightening ingredients listed in almost every one of their products, proudly being displayed on the packaging as a benefit to the product and infact Josh has found it hard to even find a men’s face cream without the dreaded skin lightening ingredient in it. This isn’t being sold under the counter but very much on the counter, on brazen display and even in advertisements on gigantic billboards around Chiang Mai.

But what of I? – am I to also feel ashamed of my skin? Something that is a continuous battle in my own community, in my own country and certainly in the wider society? OH HELL NO. I do not seek the look of death and I would suggest that if you do that you do it in your own time and not try and force this completely un-natural nonsense upon me. For the sun is there to give you energy and colour to bring vibrancy to your skin and to your life. To hide from it is the very definition of self hate not to mention the fact that it’s not healthy to do so (in moderation of course) and I’m not down for it. Bring on the sun!!!


Bleaching L’Oreal products for men found in Boots would you believe?!

Dash Teak House 

We went to Dash Teak House for dinner and it was great. I did try and make a reservation on the phone first but they wouldn’t take my reservation – they just told me to come down so we jumped in a taxi and went. Located down a dark and dingy, and quite frankly questionable alley with the perves of the foreigner variety, there with their short skirted Thai brides who were there scouting for more perves of the foreigner variety in small and distinctly looking seedy bars, we finally arrived at Dash.

Had we not been following our Google Maps, with the guarantee that Dash, one of the best restaurants on the island was located there, we would almost certainly have turned back as this particular road, with it’s dodgy looking unattractive English, American and French men sniffing around the much younger, and much more attractive Thai women, was not the kind of location for me. I felt dirty just venturing down it to be honest but finally we arrived and we could see that the place was heaving with people with a large Chinese contingency of about 10 people vying to get in, not to mention 6 other people in front of us but the guy at the door told us it would only be 20 minutes to get us a table so we went to the local bar and got some cocktails and less then 5 minutes he was back telling us that our table was ready.

The place was buzzing with live blues being played upstairs. We were seated in the garden so we couldn’t see the band but we could hear them and they sounded pretty good. As we had come to expect in Chiang Mai the food was both delicious and cheap! I was starting to think it was really quite criminal for food to be this cheap. It was certainly starting to become understandable why people made a life here. High quality of living and cheap as chips!

We encountered 2 cafe’s in our search for cafe’s where we could both work, one was open for 24 hours and was called Tom Tom’s fashioning itself off the Costa Coffee brand but it was huge and had actual meeting rooms in it! And then there was Dom’s, a uber cool cafe/dessert place/coffee place serving up some of the tastiest and most unique desserts I had ever seen! Things like Honey Toast with Milk Ice Cream. It is multi-level and has lots of places to sit and work and indeed we saw lots of people there with their laptops out doing just that. Reliable internet, great decor and great food, including their amazing Mulberry Cheesecake and Coconut Cake which are both to die for! What more can you ask for?


Salmon Teriyaki, Miso Soup and Caramel Macchiato at Dom’s


Some of my favourite snacks 

Elephant Dreams 

Finally our dreams came true and we made a plan to visit the Elephant Sanctuary. We walked into a local tour office on the high street and enquired about their Elephant Sanctuary’s whereby of course they immediately produced about 5 which allowed you to ride the elephants. I was insulted but soon realised that that is exactly what the vast majority of unthinking tourists wanted to do, and infact it was quite rare to find ones that did not allow any riding of the elephants whatsoever but that is exactly what we wanted. I did not come all the way to Thailand to see the abuse of these amazing sentient beings. Perhaps people don’t know that riding them hurts them. Perhaps they don’t care. But I do.

After finally explaining to her that I wanted a sanctuary that did not allow the riding of their elephants finally she produced some options. And it didn’t take me long to find the one I wanted to give my money to. The Ethical Elephant Sanctuary is a charity committed solely to the preservation of these amazing creatures. A family business passed down from generation to generation and providing employment to the Karen hill tribe, the elephants there have free reign, with their own personal mahout to ensure the happiness and welfare of each elephant. Local, ethical and a place that knows and cares deeply about the animals they look after. That is where I want to go. So we booked to be picked up the following day from our hotel for the almost 3 hour journey into the mountains to visit the elephants. The elephants who were truly free.

For some peculiar reason, they couldn’t give us an official time to collect us from our hotel. All they told us was that we would be collected somewhere between 6:30 am and 7:30 am in the morning for the journey into the mountains. Now that is bloody early and even earlier when you factor in the reality that for more then 3 months I haven’t been getting up any earlier then 10:00 am on average which has been really quite delicious, lol. Anyway we were picked up around 6:45 am by a fluent speaking Thai guide who so it wasn’t too bad and then we made the journey to pick up other passengers before making our way to the hills. Half way we stopped off at a local market, where we were told that we could go to the toilet and buy some food and drink if we wanted to but by the time I had seen the state of the place I decided that there was no way that I could eat there. I could just about make it to the toilet I was so freaked out that a rat or something would appear out of nowhere.

The journey into the mountains was treacherous indeed so I was very thankful to have such a skilled driver in charge of taking us there. And what made matters even worse was the fact that there was cyclists everywhere navigating the almost vertical roads on some adrenalin junkie business that I just did not understand. It was so steep that I could see that there was no way for them to stop for a rest otherwise they would just roll back down the hill, lol.

With a mixture of genuine excitement and anticipation I went to meet the elephants, for though I knew these were gentle giants I didn’t know whether today might be the day where one might decide to buck me with it’s huge head, afterall they are wild animals. But most of all, I was utterly terrified of seeing one being mistreated. I of course had never met an elephant before so wasn’t sure what to look for but in my heart I believed that I would just know and if I felt as though they weren’t being looked after and loved to within an inch of their hugely loving lives, I feared that my heart might burst with sorrow. Humans have done such harm to the world, to ourselves, the planet and to animals and I have kind of seen it all before where we’re concerned but harming an innocent animal is one of the most despicable and evil things that I can think of as they cannot protect themselves.

Thankfully I needn’t have been concerned for after we all changed into a traditional hill tribe shirt (so that they could recognise we were there to visit them so we were told), we were introduced to around 8 elephants of varying sizes and ages with 2 itty bitty babies which were the cutest things I’d ever seen in my life. And they were FREE! There were no chains, no ropes, not even an indication of any of these things and they looked both happy and healthy and very used to visiting humans. Indeed, they were the gentle giants I had imagined and hoped them to be. Thinking, feeling beings. I could sense it and my heart soared with joy. There were around 6 men and the guide there to watch over them and they spoke to them in Thai, which unbelievably the elephants seemed to understand! They were very well looked after, of that there was no doubt.

Soon we were given big buckets filled with banana’s and we were instructed to feed them one by one. A few of them were so big that I was a little afraid for I realised that if one decided to stomp on me he could very well do so without a moments hesitation and I would be done for, but I soon realised that all they wanted was their banana’s, and even though they were huge and could clearly do damage if they wanted to, when you reach out to them to hand them banana’s I could sense both the gentleness and strength in their grabbing of the banana from my hand. I didn’t like the wet, slightly rubbery feeling of their nose grabbing the banana from my hand but what did I expect? These were animals, it wasn’t going to be a clean, sanitised experience, lol. The more banana’s I gave them the more relaxed I was with them and thus they were with me. Of course I was in love. Who could not be?

After the feeding, which was surprisingly civilised considering they can eat up to 10 % of their body weight every day we were allowed to meet and stroke them including the adorable babies who were as cute and naughty as could be. Unfortunately before one of the elephants had been rescued it’s foot had been injured in a landmine incident on the border with Burma but other then that all of the elephants looked very well and relaxed. Their mahouts who stood by to play and interact with them aswell as ensure that nobody got hurt including them, and they seemed to have a wonderful and close relationship with them.

After feeding and meeting the elephants we followed them down to a mud bath where we were instructed to get in the stream with them which was filled with mud and wash them. When I envisioned bathing the elephants I had imagined it perhaps being with clean water but perhaps that was a little naive of me. Elephants loved mud of course. And it was good for the skin so after some reluctance I got changed into my bikini and got in there with them! Realising that I could get crushed between these huge beasts who seemed to be loving every minute of being in the water and having us splash them with it and rub them down with mud, I made sure that I checked my footing. The baby in particular was having an absolute blast! He loved it when we chucked water all over him and submerged himself completely in the muddy water wailing and kicking his legs as he went. He was adorable.

Afterwards we followed them into a river where we continued washing them and I was enjoying myself very much until I saw 5 gigantic lumps of doo doo floating towards me. That was when my foray into nature came to an untimely end. I had just about got with the mud situation – realising that they loved it, it was completely natural and was probably good for my skin but a doo doo bath I simply could not do!

Today I walked with elephants and I was left humbled. Truly this was one of the most memorable if not the most memorable experience of our travels thus far. 


Baby loves his banana’s! 

IMG_0856 (1)

Standing next to Gentle Giants 


They love the water! 


Who couldn’t love these amazing animals?



Josh with the little one 🙂 




Week’s 3 and 4 in Koh Samui, Thailand

Week’s 3 and 4 in Koh Samui, Thailand


The night before my sister arrived in Thailand we were still hunting for the giant lizard that was on the loose in our villa.

We still had not found the tookay who had seemingly set up permanent residence in my sisters bedroom, and even though we could clearly hear it scratching about and running up and down the ceiling late at night, his long talons clinging, scaly tail swooshing about as he went, we simply could not locate him for love nor money and so in the end we had to call in the assistance of our villa manager Khun Tor.

When Khun Tor arrived we explained to her that Josh had sighted a tookay in my sisters bedroom more then a week ago, and we could hear it clearly every night around the same time seemingly running across the ceiling but despite our efforts, we still hadn’t managed to find him. Khun Tor went onto tell us that there had never been a tookay in the house before (as if we somehow had invite him in!), a tookay in the home was considered to be good luck by the Thai people (no thanks!), but she said that she would look for him herself.

I knew that there was no way that she was going to find him as as we had clearly stated in our text to her, we had already supposedly confined him in the bedroom but we had checked it multiple times only to find he wasn’t there and the cleaners had looked for him too and hadn’t found him, plus we had recently discovered a hole the size of a letterbox in the overhanging coving in the ceiling which he could probably fit through.

It appeared that the stupid builders had thought it a good idea when they built the villa to leave a hole in the ceiling where the ceiling light’s wiring went and it was big enough to allow tookays and gecko’s alike a perfect place to hide. This also made sense as it sounded to me as if this beast was running up and down within the ceiling as if he were trapped there or something. No, this was a job for the professionals, and by that I mean lizard removal men! Alas Khun Tor didn’t listen. She was determined to locate him herself.

She got a ladder and took it upstairs into the bedroom to attempt to peer through the hole in the ceiling to see if she could see him, to no avail. 10 minutes later she comes downstairs. It appears as though she had no idea that there were large holes in the ceiling and says that she will call someone out to come and have a look. In our short time here in Thailand, Khun Tor has impressed us with her ability to fix almost any situation with speed and ease. She seems to know everyone in Thailand and we have had a succession of cleaners, tookay hunters, pool men, gardeners, electricians, scooter rental and car rental reps at our door within a matter of minutes after alerting her to an issue. Undoubtedly she is a very busy woman, but she seems to enjoy her job and is very good at it. Though she doesn’t seem to ever respond to text messages, her command of English is very good, far better then most of the service people she deals with.

Minutes later a very small man arrives, along with one of our cleaners (the one who couldn’t find the tookay the last time), and an adorable baby girl in a pink Hello Kitty outfit who she holds on her hip. Standing next to Josh, who is 6’2, this little man looks ridiculous. What on earth will he be able to do? Yet it is him who is able to stand on the top of the ladder and almost climb right into the hole because he is so small. Plus being a local I’m sure that he has come into contact with these little critters before!

STori, Mother of Dragons, Guardian of the villa

Thankfully, whilst we were waiting for the professionals to arrive Khun Tor actually heard the tookay for herself which made me very happy as I realised that by now I was probably starting to sound as if I was going mad! Yet despite the little man, despite Josh, despite the cleaners, and despite Khun Tor, nobody could locate this bloody tookay!

By this time, with the arrival of my sister getting closer and closer I told Josh that under no circumstances could we remain in this villa if this thing was not found. Was I prepared to move again? you ask. Yes, I most definitely was. Even though we were really enjoying staying in the villa and were very comfortable there I was simply not prepared to share my home with a dragon.

So these people best find it!

Josh and I had already decided that unless they physically saw and removed this beast we would have to sleep in the main house and give up our own bedroom in the small house to my sister. They returned defeated but then seconds later another group of people, this time around 4 guys that looked like actual professionals, dressed to the nines in protective clothing, gloves and a top jaw rope – those ropes with a hoop on the end that they use to catch CROCODILES, arrived. These guys meant business! And since we knew we were dealing with a crafty fellow this is exactly what was required – professionals. The very fact that they came with this piece of equipment to deal with a tookay meant the thing I had heard about them were true: they were potentially dangerous.

Unfortunately, even though they searched the inside and outside of the house thoroughly they still did not find it. But as they were leaving and Josh and I were waving goodbye to them on the porch, with Khun Tor in her usual position talking frantically on her mobile phone, I spotted a tookay crawling gingerly on the outside of our roof as if to attempt to evade capture.  At first it did not occur to me that it could possibly be the same tookay that we had been hunting for almost 2 weeks because that one, I was convinced, was trapped in the house.

Or was it?

I pointed the tookay out to Khun Tor who looked as if she couldn’t believe her eyes upon sighting him and she yelled to the guys who were literally just about to leave that she had seen a tookay! They came back, extended this top jaw rope towards the tookay who looked very displeased to see them and then abruptly, with lightning light speed they threw the loop over his head and yanked him down and into an awaiting sack which they promptly closed and sealed firmly. But this thing wasn’t going to let them get away that easily. Oh no. He proceeded to squeal a murderous squeal before riggling violently and hissing loudly at them. This was no household pet – this was A BEAST.

It didn’t occur to me to think that this tookay, who had mysteriously appeared was infact the same tookay that we had supposedly trapped in my sisters bedroom, because they said that they hadn’t found it when they had looked and as far as I could see there wasn’t a way out, but undoubtedly, it did seem to be a big coincidence. They took the tookay away and then we said goodbye to Khun Tor.

For the next couple of hours we listened out to see if we could hear the “remaining tookay” but we didn’t hear a thing. It was really odd as usually this would be the tookay’s prime roaming time and at the time I just could not explain how it would have been able to get out of the house if it had been trapped in that room so we decided that to be on the safe side we would sleep in the main house for the next 2 nights so that we could assess the situation. This meant that when my sister arrived the next day she could sleep in the small house for the first night so that we could ensure that it was safe for her to move in.

I was a little on edge that night as although we were not sleeping in the room it had been spotted but in the twin bedroom next door, I still didn’t know whether this thing had managed to escape or not. Also, as it was twin beds that we had pushed together I kept on slipping into the cracks, but other than that I can honestly say that it was the most restful sleep that we had both had since arriving at the villa, partly because the bedroom seemed far less frowsy (or musty) then the other bedroom in the small house (perhaps this was because of the abundance of curtains that the owners seemed intent on using in it), it was far less dusty, and there were less places for gecko’s and other questionable creatures to lurch. And the bed’s were far more comfortable than our own!

The following day we got up bright and early so that we could go and pick up my sister from the airport. Since arriving in South East Asia almost 2 and a half months ago, I had had the pleasure of seeing my Aunty Jac in Bali, who had come over for a holiday with my Uncle and now, I was getting to see my sister, who we had invited over to spend some time with us in Thailand. Being a huge family person, and blessed with a close and loving family, it was important to me to maintain those family connections whilst I was away living my dreams, so to have them along with me on my travels at various points was a blessing indeed. I knew that my sister had been suffering from exhaustion back in the UK, both physically and mentally, and was desperate to get away from the doom and gloom of winter in England and get some much needed sun, and I knew that coming to the exotic natural beauty of Thailand would be just the remedy!

When we arrived at the airport we found her flight had been delayed. She had been travelling nonstop for 13 hours, with a stop over in Malaysia so I knew that she would be absolutely bushed when she arrived. I was relieved when she arrived safely and I was very happy to see her but unfortunately we had no suitable food in the house for her to eat since she is diary and gluten intolerant so I suggested that we drop her off at home first so that she could sleep whilst me and Josh went to Tesco’s to pick up some bits. Alas she said that she would rather come along so off we went to do some shopping with my sleepy sister in tow!

When we arrived back at our villa we told my sister about the current tookay situation and advised her to sleep in our bedroom for her first night there. She loved the villa, both how private it was, how well designed, comfortable and spacious it was and said that she would be happy for us to spend lots of time there just chilling out but I had other plans for her!

She had less then 2 weeks with us in Samui and I wanted her to get the very most out of it and what it had to offer. Being that it was now mine and Josh’s second time in Thailand, and in Samui specifically, we knew that we had a pretty good understanding of the very best places to go and the best things to do and I wanted her to go back having experienced a good portion of it, but of course I realised that she was tired so after a leisurely dinner, where we chilled out and chatted about what was going on back home, she retired to bed.

Tomorrow, I promised her, the fun would begin!

Fisherman’s Village Night Market

I had made a list of all of the things that I felt she should experience in her time in Samui, trying to make sure they were as varied as possible and that morning over breakfast, we went through them to identify which ones she really wanted to do and which ones we would do if we had time to and then I set about identifying which ones were weather dependant or needed booking and made the relevant reservations but the first one was really easy, as it was only a short drive away, free, and was where we went most nights for dinner: Fishermans Village.

Every Friday night Fisherman’s Village in Bophut had their legendary nightmarket and tonight was the night.

Nightmarkets were a big part of the Thai experience, and everywhere in Thailand, from Bangkok to Phuket to Samui, were capitalising on their growing popularity. It was something that seemed to be unique to Thailand, and I had certainly not experienced the sheer scale, variety and originality of this anywhere else in the world. And in Koh Samui, the Fisherman’s Village nightmarket, was the best one of them all.

Transformed into a pedestrianised street, stall sellers selling anything from dried crickets to fake handbags, handmade soaps to Bob Marley t-shirts were sold on the Fisherman’s Walk and surrounding roads by the locals. The variety of items on offer, even if they were not to my taste, or not particularly of a good quality, were still mesmerising to see in such unbelievable abundance. And the vibrancy of the streets lit up with live music, restaurants and spa’s all heaving with customers and seeing people from all over the world, who came to touch, smell, look and haggle with the local sellers over the various items for sale was quite intoxicating. Even if you weren’t there to buy, or had no interest in trying the questionable foods being sold on the food stalls (like us), it was still something worth experiencing, and admittedly the market had a little something for everyone to draw you in. My sister was completely mesmerised by all of the things on offer, and being a slight shopaholic, lol, she set about haggling with the Thai people with ease!

The Thai people are very relaxed about most things in life, and selling fake goods such as designer purses, bags and jewellery was among them. At this market you could buy all manner of designer goods, some which came from the very same manufacturers that made the “designer” goods, on brazen display, infact there were even retail shops in Samui selling fake goods such as these and they seemed to be doing very well indeed!

When we were in Samui last I picked myself up a bag and Josh got himself a watch (which is now no longer working I hasten to say). Alas, it was so cheap that he could afford to buy more then 10 of the watches for the price it would cost him to buy 1 that is why they were doing such good business here.

After escaping the lures of the nightmarket we experienced a bit of Thai hospitality at a lovely Thai restaurant called Krua we had been to before which overlooked the beach.

The tookay that we were convinced had infiltrated the villa and was hiding in my sister’s room never made another appearance, therefore it became clear to us that the one that they had removed was the same one we had heard. The following day I went into my sisters room to double check that there was nothing lurching there and almost immediately I spotted a gecko scurrying across the wall. This gecko was a slightly larger gecko, bigger then the ones that frequent our bedroom but it was a gecko nonetheless.

Could this be the “tookay” that Josh said that he saw? – it certainly made sense.

  1. The tookay they removed from the property had clearly been the same one that we had been hearing on the roof running, scratching and searching for prey as since that night we hadn’t heard a dicky bird.
  2. We never actually found the tookay that Josh reported seeing despite confining it to a bedroom, where it was too big to hide and a literal army of people searching for it. 
  3. This was a gecko that perhaps upon initial sight could have been perceived to be a tookay when infact I could clearly see that it was a gecko.  

I pointed it out to Josh and my sister and Josh got rid of the unwanted by using his favourite weapon: Dettol.

Of course I’d like to say that this gecko murder wasn’t neccessary. That I would be able to coexist with the beast shitting all over our house, scaring the bejeezers out of me everytime I opened a drawer or went to the toilet or chirping above my head whilst I was in the middle of a deep sleep, but that just isn’t true. This gecko business was starting to become unbearable. And since they did not want to take their cue that the outdoors is where they should reside and NOT my house, we had no choice but to take action. Did I feel good about giving Josh the go ahead to eradicate this critter from my life? No, I didn’t, infact I felt very sad about it as I know that it was essentially a small and defenceless creature but that doesn’t mean that I must be forced to live with it. I want it to live and I want it to thrive but NOT IN MY BATHROOM. Alas, it had to go.

On a positive note however: now that we had finally identified what the unbearable noise was that we had been hearing, seen the professionals remove the tookay from the property and dealt with the roaming gecko, my sister could now move into her room with no stress, and we could move back into ours.

Lamai and Muay Thai

We had stayed in Lamai in our previous time in Samui and though it wasn’t as quiet as Mae Nam it was still pretty lowkey in comparison to Chaweng, asides from the nights when it had it’s own nightmarket and it’s Saturday night event: Muay Thai Fighting.

The beauty of being in Thailand of course was not just it’s beaches and stunning landscapes, but it’s buddhist temples, amazing food and of course: Muay Thai. In Samui, as I’m sure all over Thailand, they were big on Muay Thai, and you could see the big fights in a huge local arena almost every week here, however I knew that they had a tradition of selling tickets to tourists at “tourists prices” and I didn’t particularly fancy sitting there watching 12 other minor fights whilst waiting for the big one to begin therefore when we found out about a Muay Thai fight that you could go and see for free, in the middle of popping into a local restaurant for a Pad Thai or perusing the local stalls for various unnecessary goods, we were sold.

The last time we saw Muay Thai fighting here it had been between young children (who seemed to be somewhere between 8 and 10 years of age) and girls, interspersed between ladyboy’s dancing in between the fights but this time, though there was a fight between young boys again (one of whom was far too cute to be fighting I thought), there was also a fight between older boys (teenagers really), young men and girls. Of course the fighting between the girls was the most enjoyable. For some reason the butch and ugly looking one seemed to believe that she was a winner as she had a very aggressive style of Muay Thai and had seemingly a large portion of the audience rooting for her, but I was rooting for the other one, who to me though less aggressive and explosive, had a more unique fighting style which if used right would certainly be the victor.

At the end of the rounds the butch looking girl started yelping and jumping up and down as if she had won but I don’t know why she thought that as the other girl clearly had the edge on her. You lost love! 

With the combination of the tasty Thai food, the variety and excitement of the nightmarkets and the Muay Thai fighting, free for all on the streets, my sister was certainly hitting the ground running with her authentic Thai experience and she was loving every minute of it.

Beach Republic

Beach Republic was one of the few beach clubs in Koh Samui, and in my opinion, the best one. It was located on a seemingly private stretch of beach and had a really cool, laid back, chilled out vibe about it. We happened to stumble upon it when we were in Thailand before and had liked it so much that we went back a further 2 times so now that we could verify both it’s quality and consistency, we decided to take my sister there. Beach Republic was great firstly because of it’s location. On a picturesque stretch of beach in Lamai, it was both private and peaceful and had an eye catching colour scheme of red which was splashed liberally throughout it’s sunbeds, beach sala’s and lanterns that were dotted all over the resort. Aswell as being a beach club, it was also a spa and a hotel, but it was so laid back there that each time we had gone there despite them telling us that the beach sala’s were reserved for hotel guests only they had allowed us to use them, and the sala’s had a great invention: they had a button on them which allowed you to call a waiter over without even having to move your head or raise your hand: Genius!

We arrived at Beach Republic in time for their Sunday Brunch, which they had every Sunday. For the cost of your ticket you could get a free cocktail and an unlimited supply of their very delicious and abundant beachside brunch. Their brunch options were so vast that it would simply be impossible to try all of what they had but I remembered in fondness how despite the fact that they were putting on essentially a buffet (which I personally am not a fan of), the food was always fresh and delicious. In the main course section you could have sushi, fresh salmon, a Sunday Roast (which was pretty good actually and had all the trimmings), various types of meats, pasta’s, salads, Thai food, fish, vegetarian dishes, rice, noodles, and there was another section where you could get fresh lobster, steaks and prawns cooked for you there and then. The Pad Thai was also cooked fresh with your choice of ingredients aswell as the pasta dishes.

Desserts, which included cheesecake, brownies, carrot cake, fresh fruit, cheese board, pana cotta, chocolate mousse and icecream were kept cool in a temperature controlled room. And the best thing of all was that there was a crepe van there too – a van where a man made fresh crepes from scratch with your choice of fillings and sauces. I chose a caramel, coconut and banana one and it was very tasty indeed. My favourite dessert combination was having a fresh caramel, coconut and banana crepe with a scoop of vanilla bean icecream on it. Deeelicious! For my main course I had vegetables in oyster sauce with egg fried rice and a mojito and I was very happy. I really didn’t need anything else.

After having lunch in the restaurant we were shown to a lounge area with big sofa’s and cushions that we could stretch out on and enjoy the stunning views of the Andaman sea lapping gently against the shore. We had completely unobstructed views but could see other islands on the horizon and with the combination of the chilled out music that was provided by the very talented resident musician who we remembered hearing play the last time, we were completely blissed out. The sea was calm, the sun was shining and it was very refreshing having a leisurely swim in the sea whilst the music was playing in the background. The musician played acoustic guitar (but acoustic guitar that was devoid of the usual cheesiness associated with acoustic guitarists), and once he finished playing the resident DJ started playing (who coincidentally, along with the resort manager was from the UK), and he was excellent. He played a combination of soul, funk and house music and played tune after tune after tune. He certainly kept the chilled out vibe going. And then we had another surprise: A saxophonist came on and played along with him for the rest of the afternoon and he was great! It was such a lovely, unusual surprise but the saxophonist was clearly very good at improvising and was able to play along with every single song even when it was booty shaking house. I loved it.

Since the beach sala was unavailable when we arrived we had been keeping our eyes open for when it was so that we could move onto it as soon as it became available and so when we saw one was empty we retreated there where we continued enjoying the good musical vibes. My sister was enjoying herself so much that she spent an extended amount of time in the sea dancing to the music and then took herself off to have a Thai massage on the beach for an hour and a half. I was glad that finally she had completely left the UK behind, with all of it’s stresses and strains and was absorbing herself fully in the moment. It was a great day. And of course I got to press the service bell which filled me with a totally unneccessary kind of joy.


A chilled out Sunday afternoon at Beach Republic



Beach Sala’s. Ring the bell for service!

Greenlight Cafe

The following day we took my sister down to a healthy cafe we had encountered on the island – one of a very few I’m afraid to say! Unlike Bali, which is very much a health conscious island, perhaps because of the abundance of health conscious Aussies on the island I’m not sure, Koh Samui has an abundance of fine dining results with exceptional cuisine but they aren’t so up on the allergy thing, which means that for someone like my sister who tragically is both gluten and diary intolerant, there are not many places she can go where she will have a full menu to choose from.

But Greenlight Cafe offered peace and tranquility, located down a quiet part of Fisherman’s Village, and health conscious food, a combination of vegetarian, gluten, organic and allergy considered menu and the staff there was very friendly. We both chose the gluten free pancakes as though I am not allergy ridden, I liked the sound of the pancakes that came with fruit and honey and was felt like having something sweet to eat. Josh chose a healthy salad and a fresh shake, which was named “Heaven on Earth” a bold statement indeed, but when he tasted it I could immediately tell that something heavenly had occurred as he refused to share any of it! It contained almond milk, almond butter, dates, cinnamon and cacao and when I did manage to get to sample it I really could not believe how heavenly it tasted either. It was so good it was bad. Surely this cannot be good for you! I thought.

Our pancakes, as expected were very good, but the portion size was ridiculous. As soon as I saw the 2 pancakes, which were big and fluffy and had an abundance of fruit between and on top of them, I knew that I was going to have trouble eating them, especially since they were not buttermilk ones, which tend to be a little less dense and heavy. By the time I had eaten one I was really starting to struggle and so was my sister. The last thing I wanted to do was offend these people by sending it back because it was very good but portion control was clearly not happening here as Josh’s salad was huge also. Josh managed to finish his salad but my sister and I got about 3 quarters of the way through our pancakes before we had to give up.

Chaweng Beach

The weather was glorious so we decided to take ourselves down to Chaweng Beach, the best beach on the island, for a leisurely beach day. Samui had many beaches to explore but Chaweng is the finest one of them all. It is well developed with lots of resorts and restaurants on the beach but is big enough to take them all without it becoming overcrowded or too commercialised. You could still find a lovely stretch of beach without anybody on it, plus the sand was a soft, powdery white and the sea an aquamarine blue, with almost no seaweed or floating rubbish whatsoever. I’m not a fan of swimming in dirty sea water but thankfully the sea here was crystal clear, clean and warm. It was so glorious that it was extremely difficult getting out of it and my sister certainly did not want to leave at all!


Chaweng Beach and their £5 an hour massages 

Dinner was at a Thai restaurant in Chaweng called Red Snapper. Chaweng High street with it’s vibrant nightclub, retails shops and massage spa’s a plenty was not renowned for it’s food but Red Snapper, a Thai seafood restaurant, served some very delicious and fresh seafood including the best starter I’d had since we had arrived here: scallops and prawns on a vegetable pie with a creamy, spicy sauce. It was really really good!


Scallop and prawn starter at Red Snapper 

The Anantara vouchers we had managed to scam so elegantly, we had decided to use in one of the most expensive restaurants, infact perhaps the most expensive and certainly the most highly rated on the island: Tree Tops. Essentially a small collection of private treehouses with their own butlers serving an extortionately priced Mediterranean menu from it’s perch above the trees and overlooking the beach and tropical gardens of the Anantara Hotel, Tree Tops was described as being the most unique dining experience Samui had to offer.

When I had come across the restaurant before and looked at the price to dine there my jaw had literally dropped. I simply could not believe that Thailand were trying to ask for more money then many of the best European restaurants, even despite the fact that it was supposed to be a once in a lifetime experience, but when I established that it was another William Heineke establishment as Tree Tops was actually a part of the Anantara Resort brand and was located on the grounds of their Chaweng branch, coincedentally which is where we went to get our second round of vouchers, I wasn’t surprised anymore as William is on a scam!

The price to dine there was so high that even our vouchers (worth just under £250 in total), was not going to cut it.

I made our reservation for a couple of days before we left the island and I sincerely hoped that they blew me away with their offerings because I had not been frequenting shoddy establishments and I knew what quality such monies should give me!!

Dr Frog’s

Dr Frog’s, despite the name, was not a French establishment serving up frogs legs, but an Italian restaurant in Lamai.

It was one of the most popular restaurants on the island for it’s food, which was fresh, good quality, authentic Italian, and it’s scenery, which had a backdrop of staggering beauty with uninterrupted views overlooking Lamai beach and the sea beyond.

Dr Frog’s also happened to be somewhere that we could use some of our vouchers at and after our disappointing experience with Happy Elephant I really wanted to use them somewhere worthy. We arrived around 17:00 just before the sun went down and we did indeed have wonderful views. My sister in particular was very impressed with how beautiful the island was in this light and we got to see a lovely sunset as we were having our cocktails. I remembered the head chef, who seemed to make a point of going over to each and every table (there were only a few occupied), and making small talk with them. He was an Italian man, and despite the many years he had clearly been working and living in Samui he still had an impressively strong accent. This gave me hope regarding the food as the appearance of him to me solidified my assumption that we were going to get some authentic and hearty Italian food. 

But instead of him going back into the kitchen to begin rolling my spinach and ricotta pasta parcels he just stood around looking bored as if he had nothing to do. But he did have something to do: My pasta! Now I was worried. Had this man fallen out of love with cooking now? Did this mean that he was getting a Thai chef to cook his authentic Italian menu? Was I going to get inferior food??

Unfortunately, yes. When our food arrived (we had all ordered various pasta dishes as we thought that they would be cooked the best), it was a disappointing experience. Josh could even have sworn that they had given him a reheated lasagne! Unacceptable!

The head chef didn’t even bother to go into the kitchen during the period that our food was being cooked to check on the quality or presentation of it. He didn’t seem even remotely bothered and instead kept on walking around with his hands behind his back, belly protruding forward whilst a Thai chef tried in earnest to follow his Italian Grandmothers recipe!! This will never do I thought: Get back in the kitchen!!

Alas, the man refused to go into the kitchen. And thus the food was average. Perhaps average was a little strong- it was still tasty, but it was without a doubt far better the last time we had been there and that was a damn shame.

Firedancers on the beach

The following day we had dinner at Coco Tam’s, the beach bar and pizzeria on Bophut beach. It’s a great place to chill out because of it’s strategically placed position on the beachfront with a view of the firedancers who performed on the beach nightly. So far we had seen them perform around 4 times already, but they changed up their routine so that it was new each time and it was always great fun and a spectacular show.

The pizzeria was a new feature of Coco Tam’s and seemed to be doing very good business. It was packed each time we went there and on a few occasions when we had wanted to eat there we couldn’t because they had no available tables and they had only been open for a couple of weeks. The pizza there was unbelievably good – my favourite is Margherita, always has been even before I stopped eating meat, and this one was unbelievably tasty. The base was fresh and perfectly cooked, the tomato sauce on the pizza was juicy and the cheese was both buttery and salty. So good!

After dinner we moved to the beanbags on the beach to watch the firedancers do their thang. They had a few new routines, some that didn’t go so well but overall it was an awe inspiring thing to watch and completely free! If this was in London they would have charged alot of money for people to see it yet here we were on the beach watching firedancers for free.

Big Buddha and the climb of death

Now that we had ticked off a few things off our list we wanted my sister to experience the more cultural side of Thailand. One of those things was going to see the Big Buddha statue and visiting Numuang Waterfalls, one of Samui’s most impressive natural waterfalls. Both of these things we had seen before, but though we told my sister that we had personally found the Big Buddha statue underwhelming, my sister still wanted to see it, which we completely understood if someone hadn’t seen something like that before, so we planned a trip to visit them both on the same day.

When we arrived at the site where the Big Buddha statue was located we were left underwhelmed again as similarly to at Tanah Lot, though perhaps not quite as desperate, there were sellers of various cheap and nasty wares posted up around the site ready and waiting for the tourists who had come to visit what was supposedly a sacred site. I was struggling to understand the correlation between the monks, who were there dishing out blessings to individuals who paid them for it, and who insisted on visitors covered up their arms and legs up before making the climb up the stairs to see the big gold Buddha and not adorning themselves with items depicting Buddha because it was offensive, and the many retail stores that surrounded the site selling cheap knick knacks to unsuspecting tourists.

Again I wondered about the validity of their claim that it was sacred when they allowed such unsacredness to occur in front of their very eyes. But perhaps they didn’t have a choice in such matters, who knows. All I knew was that once we got to the top of the staircase that lead us to the buddha all 3 of us were left underwhelmed yet again. We could see that he had had a fresh paint job that much was certain, but I could see still the unmistakable sign that he had been painted and thus the mystery remained completely nonexistent. I could see that this buddha had upkeep, I could see that he was within a supposedly sacred sight that didn’t feel very sacred at all and overall, I felt as though it would have been much more believable if he was actually a gold buddha, not just a painted gold one. Overall, I wasn’t very impressed with this tourist attraction and my sister wasn’t particularly impressed either. We left the miserable place and started making our way to Numuang Waterfalls which was on the other side of the island.

We arrived quite late to the waterfalls as the drive was much longer then we anticipated but as soon as we got there we had the pleasure of witnessing a herd of majestic elephants on their walks around the grounds. The last time we had been here we had witnessed elephants chained up in cages and it broke my heart. I love elephants and seeing them outside of their natural habitat, being ridden by humans or being chained up and prevented from living their natural, wise, immensely humbling and awe inspiring life was a painful thing to see. I remember looking into the elephants eyes and seeing a knowing there and elephants have and will remain one of my favourite animals, along with monkeys, because of the depth of understanding and emotion that you can seemingly read in their eyes. They are beautiful animals.

On this site, along with the waterfalls, they also had an area where you could do quad biking, zip lining, elephant trekking and the latest attraction: “taking a picture with tigers” which I was also not very impressed about. I wondered how on earth it was possible to take a picture with a tiger unless it were not operating within it’s normal characteristics and I had heard stories of tigers being injected by people in order to stop them from being their natural tiger selves which was just terrible. No, I did not wish to see a paralysed tiger thank you very much!

The waterfalls were located at the top a very steep hill which I remembered Josh and I had walked the last time we were here but nobody else seemed to bother because they had a contingency of 4×4 jeeps ready and waiting to take people there.

This time we decided the smart thing to do considering it was getting late and take the jeep there rather than walk. So my sister and I jumped onto the roof and away we went up through the surrounding jungle where our heads almost touched the top of trees to the beginning of the hike up to the waterfalls. When we got off we were greeted with an almost vertical climb to visit 2 of the magnificent waterfalls. Josh and I had done this hike before so we weren’t at all concerned about how strenuous the climb might be and  began making our way to the first point of the hike.

Strangely, there was now a rickety looking make shift wooden bridge crossing, that had been put up over the rocks that before we had just climbed over. I wondered what had happened that they felt they had to erect a wooden bridge? Had someone had a terrible accident here? That was entirely plausible since it was quite a treacherous climb, and was certainly not suitable for alot of people since it required climbing up steep inclines, crossing streams and balancing on rocks. But what was most disconcerting was the fact that according to the sign posted up at the start of the bridge, we should only go over it one by one!!

Why was that I wondered? And, was it one by one Asian style or one by one Westerner style? – because we have all seen the size and weight of alot of Westerners and in some cases they are worth approximately 3 Asian people on average. This was concerning. None of us were overweight but would this rickety bridge hold our weight? – we decided to take no chances and crossed it one by one with the stream rushing violently by underneath our feet. Thankfully we made it across it one piece and now we began the real climb, up the side of the waterfall to get to the next level which was hidden out of sight. Once we got there we allowed ourselves to marvel at the natural beauty and power of this water display, which cascaded over rocks with wanton abandon with a stream of sunlight from above illuminating it and tropical, dense woodland on either side. We sat on the rocks for awhile taking in our surroundings. There were a few others there too – a group of French people, who were sat on the rocks taking pictures. But apart from that it appeared that we were late to the party as we had arrived at the waterfalls just before the park was closing so we decided that it would be best to press on.

The last time Josh and I had climbed this waterfall we had done it from the other side of it, which provided a much more user friendly experience, though it had still been strenuous. But Josh, for reasons unbeknown to me, decided that he knew that way to the top of the waterfall and thus me and my sister should follow behind him. There was absolutely no signage posted up to tell us which way to go – not with text, not even with an arrow so we trusted him with the directions implicitly, but when we started climbing up essentially what was a vertical rock face which required my hands and legs to get into positions that just did not seem physically possible, I knew that something was wrong.

Did Josh know where he was taking us??

Something inside of me told me that something was not right. Partly it was because Josh isn’t the best person for directions in this relationship: I am, and partly because I know that he is a little bit fond of getting himself and therefore me into dangerous situations. But he was insistent that this was the way, even when the foot holds became smaller and smaller and further more inconspicuous and even when my eyes could see no end to this evil climb. I was especially terrified for my sister, knowing that if any one of us did have a fall (and right now I could see that it was very possible if not inevitable because this trail was not meant for random tourists), then we would be in some serious shit because we couldn’t even describe where we were.

To top things off, as if they couldn’t get any worse, was the fact that it was rapidly getting darker and being that we were in the middle of borderline jungle, we had already started hearing sounds such as none of us had ever heard in our lives and apart from us, there wasn’t anybody else around.

What kind of sound was that? A silverback gorilla perhaps??

After an especially hairy part in the climb, which required us to grab onto nonexistent rocks buried within the soil in order to hoist ourselves up, my sister had finally had enough. She said she couldn’t go further and I agreed. We seemed to be going deeper and deeper into the jungle and we didn’t even know if there was another crossing. We could just be climbing further and further then how would we get back down??

Alas, when I told Josh I did not think it wise to go any further because I knew for a fact that he was just “chancing it” and didn’t actually know whether there was a way down that way at all, he seemed positively gleeful. He was actually enjoying this! Josh was taking pleasure from our pain!

Rage and Fear

The emotions were rage and fear. My rage and my sisters fear. My fury was growing as Josh, grinning from ear to ear, tried in earnest to convince us to keep going. But my sister could not go any further and I did not want to go further because I knew that he didn’t know where the bloody hell he was taking us!! Sweat was streaming down my face at this point and my thighs were literally shaking they were being put under such pressure. I did not want to scramble further into the darkening jungle just to satisfy his boyish danger fantasies and I did not want to be responsible for anyone of us having an accident which to be completely honest, would not have been me but probably him or my sister because I was far too enraged to fall!

The biggest concern of all was that if we went any further we wouldn’t be able to get back down and that wasn’t something that I was prepared to chance especially since I couldn’t see anybody else attempting this climb but us.

Thankfully, Josh agreed to go on ahead to have a peek up the waterfall for himself to see if indeed I was right and there was no reasonable way up and finally he agreed that we should divert our journey and go across the waterfall instead, via the way of the protruding rocks which the stream was rushing over. Below that was a vertical drop but trust me when I say this was the best way down.  

One by one, we gingerly made our way over the rocks, which required a lot of skill, patience and confidence – and since there was some algae on the rocks we took our shoes off to avoid slipping.

All in all it was a horrendous experience and despite Josh’s enjoyment of the scenario I can assure you that there was nothing funny about it!!


Big Buddha 


Numuang Waterfalls

The following day, after the trauma of the waterfall experience my sister and I decided that we were very much in need of a spa treatment so we booked one at a resort that was nearby and we took ourselves off to Chaweng where we had a walk through the main road, which had an abundance of retail shops and markets, where both Josh and my sister were seduced into buying watches (fakes of course but very good ones!), and after that we started discussing having a spa treatment at one of the many spa’s on the high street. Another thing Thailand is renowned for, asides from their amazing cuisine, Muay Thai and famous nightmarkets are their spa’s, which they have literally hundreds of from bargain basement to ultra luxury.

You can get one in someone’s home, at your hotel, on the beach, and in many many spa’s on the road of varying quality but though Chaweng wasn’t somewhere that I would choose to walk the street looking for one necessarily (because it was a tad bit tacky), It DID have lots of spa’s and I saw nearly all of them occupied with Westerners getting a rub down before or after their night out so I chose the most luxurious and cleanest looking one that I could find and all 3 of us booked ourselves in to have an hour and a half worth of treatments. Such a thing would be unheard of in London as it was approaching 12:00 am midnight at Dusit Spa, which was when they closed. Alas the Thai people are extremely hardworking and are always accommodating so of course asking for 3 massages at 12:00 am midnight was no trouble for them at all!

We were whisked inside and almost 2 hours later – 2:00 am in the morning, we emerged refreshed and feeling limbo. My sister and I had gone for a spa package and had had both a facial and a massage and in comparison to all of my experiences in UK spa’s, the treatments here are far superior and need I say FAR FAR cheaper!!

It seems completely criminal to me that when you go to a spa in the UK, even some of the best ones simply cannot give you a proper massage. It’s almost as if you are being tickled such is the pressure they give you. It’s rubbish! And another thing is that masseuses seem to pass onto you what they themselves are feeling so for instance if they are feeling tired then they will give you a “tired massage” and if they are feeling lazy then you will get a “lazy massage”, but here in Thailand, the quality of the treatments is pretty consistent, so you feel like you always get your moneys worth, even if you’ve only spent £5 for an hours massage on the beach!

Unbelievable. Needless to say, we very much enjoyed our midnight massage and we certainly did need it after our horrendous experience at the waterfall the day before!

The following day we had booked ourselves in for a long and luxurious massage at a more pricey establishment the Peace Tropical Spa in Bophut and then we were going to a meal at one of my favourite restaurants, the wonderful Zazen.

As expected, our massage at the Peace Tropical Resort, despite the torrential tropical rain, was divine. Better then I expected and infact the best I’d had since arriving in Koh Samui. The woman who gave me the Thai massage was expert at kneading out the knots in my back and calves until they had dissipated and I was eternally grateful. I was finding that as the day went on my body, and my thighs in particular, were aching more and more, which was directly related to the strenuous and stressful hike we had done at the waterfalls. In some respects I was glad, as with all of this fine dining, occasional meat eating and minimal exercise I was feeling a little guilty for how lazy I was being, but I knew that the exercise that I done yesterday was worth about 10 sessions in the gym because my body was telling me so!


I was so glad when I found Zazen. When Josh and I went a couple of weeks ago we had loved it so much that we vowed to return and I thought what better time to do it then when my sister was here and on their traditional Thai dancing night which they had every Thursday and Sunday.

My sister, as expected was completely blown away by their elegant but dramatic decoration and the anticipation they had created with the long coconut tree lined entrance that was sparkling with hanging fairylights on the trees.

The magical entrance required a meander through their tropical gardens which were maze-like with their complexity with huge secret doors scattered throughout. Had we not been here before I’m sure we would have lost the way alas we managed to find our way to the restaurant where we were taken to our table to enjoy the show. In all fairness, the traditional dancing seemed pretty poor in comparison to what I had experienced in Bali, and there was a male dancer who was wearing very heavy makeup, including foundation and lipstick who was a little off putting but as far as the decor, ambience and food went: Top marks. My sister absolutely loved it and even enquired about their room rates! Lol. Needless to say, they were pricey.


Crepes Suzette at Zazen


The magical ambience of Zazen

The Jungle Club

According to the weather forecast, tomorrows weather was going to be good so I had booked a table at The Jungle Club, a restaurant/resort located high up in the mountains with magnificent views that overlooked the whole of Koh Samui, but as my sister was leaving in a couple of days she wanted to get one last trip to the beach so we decided to go that day and then go to the beach tomorrow.

The Jungle Club, I’d had no knowledge of when I had been here previously, so it came as a great delight and surprise to me to find that such a place existed here. Located up a very steep mountain, with completely unobstructed views, was a place that had some of the best views I’d ever seen, but seemed completely secret. It was as if only a handful of people knew about this place, but I was so glad I was one of them when I saw how beautiful and tranquil it was. From this height you could see the beach, the sea and the mountains, and because it was so high, there was absolutely no noise, not from neighbours, traffic or even nature. It was almost as if we were so high up that we were above nature. I could have slept there it was so peaceful.

I wasn’t sure that the food would be anything to write home about but I was elated to find, when they brought me my raspberry, coconut and pineapple juice and then my lunch: Chicken Massaman, that everything was fresh and delicious!!

I haven’t had a massaman since being in Thailand as it’s usually made with beef but I’m telling you this one was the best I’ve had. The chicken was on the bone so it retained all of the flavour and the sauce was a rich, creamy and spicy luxuriant curry that I will remember fondly for a very long time afterwards. Delicious!


The staggering views from The Jungle Club



Perve Town

It is most unfortunate to say but there is a distinctly perve quality to Thailand.

I’m sure it is FAR worse in places like Phuket and Bangkok but still, the persistence of sleazy behaviour, cheap women and gold diggers persist and I feel as though it has definitely increased since we were last here. Perhaps these women decided to move to Samui from Bangkok, as more Western men were holidaying here, who knows. All I know is it’s something that you don’t get used to as more and more women seem to be standing on the street corners outside “spa’s” or “massage parlours” wearing next to nothing and even though you don’t quite understand what they’re doing there, their body language is warning women not to approach. Infact, they don’t seem particularly bothered with their own Thai men either: the only thing they seem to want is Western men, and no doubt Western bank accounts, and they flaunt their sexuality openly to get them and of course the men lap it up.

This means that sex is being openly sold everywhere, whether discreetly or otherwise and almost every Western man has a Thai girl in tow, often much much younger then him. The disparity in both culture, age and language is very blatant and I feel that both the women and the men are taking advantage of each other. It doesn’t seem to be a relationship of equals in most cases and it is a sad (and a little sickening I have to say) thing to see. This kind of sleaziness is spoiling Thailand and no doubt vexing the humble local men.

We went to Chaweng beach again but it wasn’t anything like it was the last time we went when the sun was shining and we had beautiful cloudless skies. In reality I really wasn’t feeling it as I don’t see the point in going to the beach when the sea is choppy and it’s not hot alas it was my sisters final day at the beach and she wanted to make the most of it and make the most of it she did! She had a great time splashing about and flirting with the men folk 😉

Afterwards, we thought it would be criminal if we didn’t get a massage on the beach to end our time there so we went to the first 3 masseuses we could find and each got a massage. Unfortunately, after my massage at the Peace Resort, I knew that my masseuse didn’t stand a chance in impressing me, but since it was so cheap I allowed her, however what I did not appreciate, was the strong smell of Vick’s Vapour Rub that was seemingly enthused throughout the bedding and pillow that I was lying on. I was almost choking on the bloody thing. I asked for a Coconut Oil massage NOT a Vick’s Vapour Rub massage! I wasn’t too impressed with her capabilities and method either. 

William’s on a scam

This William guy (William Heinecke), the owner of the Anantara brand, the man with 40 vehicles, and multiple businesses, so we were told by his employee’s, is on a scam. You already know about the ridiculously priced Vacation Club scam that we were so unimpressed with that we decided to sting them twice for. You already know about the Tree Tops restaurant, which is far and beyond what any restaurant should be charging in Thailand, irrespective of whether or not they have a unique location. But what you don’t know is about William’s many franchises. William has franchises of various persuasions. He doesn’t just stick to what he does well: hotels and resorts, he also has retail franchises too, such as GAP and Burger King.

There is no coffee culture to speak of in Koh Samui, perhaps because it’s more of a holiday island, but the one coffee place we had managed to find was called The Coffee Club, an Australian coffee brand which has been franchised in Thailand by none other than greedy William. When we ventured in there to get some coffee’s we were horrified to find that we were being charged over £9 for a coffee and a hot chocolate. 9 freakin pounds! What a liberty! But it did not stop there as William also wanted your passport details in return for internet access! And he only allowed you a measly 45 minutes to use it too!


The owners of Gusto are an Italian man and his wife based in Fisherman’s Village who served up delicious, authentic Italian fare beachside. Since I wasn’t eating meat I was surprised and delighted to find an abundance of Italian restaurants on Samui serving up wonderful pizza’s and pasta dishes that I could have to replace the meat dishes there was on seemingly every other menu. And in comparison to Dr Frog’s, which was a pretty disappointing experience overall, Gusto’s was great. The owners were very warm and friendly and had managed to decorate their restaurant in such a way that it really transported you straight to Italy. Since my sister is wheat intolerant it is difficult finding Italian restaurants in particular who cater for her allergy but thankfully Gusto was only too happy to oblige and we had a wonderful meal there where she was finally able to indulge in some gluten free pasta that actually tasted good!


Unbelievably, we had been without a washing machine in each of our accommodations.

In our first one in Ubud, Bali, we had been staying in a villa where there was no washing machine, and in our second place, another villa – Uncle Tom’s Cabin, he had no washing machine and neither did the following 2 hotels where we had to pay for them to do our laundry and now in our 3 bedroom villa, the largest place we’ve stayed in yet, that sleeps up to 6 people, it too, has no washing machine either! How do they justify not having a washing machine in a villa for 6 people that is big enough to accommodate one? I was so desperate to have ultra clean clothes that I had literally been dreaming of putting on a wash as soon as I moved into the villa but no.

I had been hand washing my smalls and saving my dirty clothes up to take them down to the local laundrette (of which there were many on the high street). The shops on Mae Nam high street are really more like shacks, and it is really hard to decipher what it is they are actually selling in them as they all look pretty much the same so when I saw a big sign that said “Lulu’s Laundry” I told Josh to park up. This was where I would take my laundry. When I walked into the shack like shop I was immediately taken aback by how small and cramped it was in there. There were piles of clean, ironed clothes in plastic bags to my left and to my right was an old, small and lonely looking washing machine.

I was greeted warmly by a middle aged woman carrying more piles of clothes towards me from a room down the hall. It seemed as though this “shop” might actually be this woman’s home. Lulu was very friendly and I took to her immediately. There was something in her genuine nature that reminded me of my late Aunty Cynth.

When I went to pick up my clothes from Lulu the following day at first I couldn’t see her. It appeared as though she wasn’t in the shop. We had agreed a time for me to collect my washing however so I decided to wait but after a few minutes of waiting around and nobody arriving I started to think that maybe she was in her house somewhere. I began by calling her name a few times and then started slowly walking down the passageway, all the while calling out to her as I went, before I heard the sound of a Television. Soon I came to a room and there she was, fast asleep on a bed with the covers pulled over her. I called her name gently a few times and then she roused from what was obviously a very deep sleep. I felt awful. This woman had clearly been up all night and all day washing and ironing other people’s clothes and she was knackered!

What kind of an existence is this? That she should have to live in the same place as where she works because she’s too poor for anything else? And when I heard the price she was charging for my 2 bags full of dirty clothes I couldn’t believe my ears. It was CRIMINALLY CHEAP. Something like £2.50! She was getting paid far too less. After paying her and taking my clothes I vowed to return with more clothes for her to wash and tip her generously.

Unfortunately, the clothes that she had ironed so earnestly, were not completely clean and there were still stains left on clothes that I was hoping she would have got out but after meeting her, and seeing what she was using to clean the clothes I wasn’t bothered about the clothes anymore, I just felt bad for her. The woman needs a new washing machine!

The next time we went to Lulu’s I was with my sister and she was also shocked to see the conditions this woman was living and working in but Lulu lit up when she saw me and seemed touched when I tipped her double and she even gave me a hug so hopefully I brightened her day if even just a little bit.

It was my sister’s last day in Koh Samui tomorrow and I was determined that I was going to make her last dinner a memorable one. So far, in her short time with us here she had experienced multiple massages in various settings, seen breathtaking views at The Jungle Club, chilled out and listened to some great tunes at Beach Republic’s Sunday Brunch, indulged in some retail therapy in Fisherman’s Village nightmarket, been hiking up Numuang Waterfalls, was entertained by Thai dancers, firedancers on the beach and Muay Thai Fighting, was wined and dined at the finest establishments Samui has to offer Zazen and spent days of sun soaked indulgence on beautiful white sand beaches. So I felt she had a full experience of what Samui had to offer and tonight, I was taking her to Saffron, a traditional Thai restaurant located in the hillside of the Banyan Tree’s five star resort.


What better entrance to Saffron’s hillside location overlooking their private bay, then by golf buggy? Josh and I had experience of being transported to a restaurant via golf cart a few times whilst in Thailand and it was always a nice experience. In the main because you know that since it requires a golf buggy to get to it, you are almost certainly going to be rewarded with wonderful views when you get there. And the journey to Saffron was as exciting as it was long, as the buggy went up steeper and steeper up the hill through mysterious, coconut tree lined inclines until finally we arrived at the restaurant.

We were greeted warmly by staff wearing authentic Thai uniform and taken to our table which did indeed have the wonderful views that were promised. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that along with the menu, which was a completely Thai menu (some of the restaurant menu’s are mixed with a few select Western dishes), the restaurant had been decorated with a distinctly Asian style and they were playing traditional Thai music. The food, when it came, was also very impressive – perfectly cooked and wonderfully flavoursome.

We all agreed that Saffron had been our favourite dining experience yet. To finish the evening off we were transported back to the bottom of the hill by golf buggy. What a night!

My sister almost missed her flight as we were having a leisurely lunch at The Coffee Club when we looked at the time and realised that she should have been at the airport around 20 minutes ago and she still hadn’t packed! Time had gone by so fast whilst she was here it seemed very cruel indeed that she should have to leave so soon. Thankfully, she did make her flight in time though and then we went home to start our own evacuation procedure as we were leaving the island of Samui to go to our next destination in Chiang Mai in just a couple of days time.

We returned home to no internet so we had to go back to greedy William’s coffee shop to use the measly 45 minutes he gave to check us into our flights, communicate with our next host regarding our arrival time, plan our route to Tree Tops, which we were going to tomorrow,  and our trip to to the pier as we were going to Koh Phangan the day after, book our taxi to the airport and inform Khun Tor about our lack of wifi situation at the villa. All in 45 minutes. To say it was stressful was an understatement but we done it.

Tree Tops

Tonight was supposed to be the night to end all nights. Tree Tops was the restaurant on the island that everyone was talking about. It had won awards, was in all of the best publications touted as being one of the most unique dining experiences on the island and was charging a ridiculously extortionate price to dine there. Tree Tops, as with most of the places that Josh and I had frequented, was basically a honeymoon destination, as it was far too fancy and far too expensive for the average couple, alas we knew that we would not be going to Tree Tops either if we didn’t have the vouchers so generously given to us by Anantara. The situation with William and his greedy ways, had backfired on him terribly as chancers like us was going to use his gift voucher offer to pay for our entire meal at the Tree Tops as we were determined not to give him a penny!

I was expecting big things from this place. Of course I was. They were charging European prices and I had already been to some of the best restaurants on the island who were charging far less and were comparable to some of the best restaurants in Europe. We had the anticipation of waiting for this day to arrive for a couple of weeks now and had timed it perfectly to coincide with good weather and one of our last meals on the island.

When we arrived at the Anantara in Chaweng, which was where the Tree Tops restaurant was located, we were taken to their “sky bar”, an elevated bar area that overlooked their immaculate grounds below. There we had a cocktail and a sparkling wine, before being shown to our table, located with our own private treehouse that was accessible by a wooden candlelit staircase. We were informed by our private butler that because we had booked in advance the best table in the restaurant had been reserved for us. The view from our spacious treehouse which was above the trees and jutted out over the tropical gardens below, had a perfectly serene view of the beach, sea and mountains and the treehouse itself had been decorated very tastefully with comfortable wooden high backed chairs and gold lanterns. Undoubtedly, it was lovely but was I blown away? No, I’m afraid to say I was not. 

We decided to dine from their “candlelight degustation” menu which was their 5 course meal that came with an accompanying 5 course wine option and cost almost 4,000 baht per person, which is the equivalent to about £100 per person. We knew then that we were going to have to pay William for the privilege as our gift vouchers only totalled £180 and the meal alone was costing more. Nonetheless, we looked forward to the arrival of our food as I had specifically eaten less in order to accommodate it!

Firstly they gave us a shot each, but I still had some of my sparkling wine left so when the first wine and course arrived I started to get a little concerned because rather than giving me a little taster they had given me a full large glass of wine. However I was impressed, more with the wine I have to say, which was a Sauvignon Blanc which went with the salmon perfectly.

By the time the second course had arrived I had already been to the toilet once, which required a pretty treacherous walk in my high heels up and down steep wooden stairs with a low balcony from our treehouse. I figured that if I didn’t go to the toilet and flush out these alcoholic toxins there was a real danger of me getting very tipsy indeed. With the arrival of the second and third course I was getting more and more intoxicated. The food portions were minimal, and though cooked well, they were not sufficient both in portion size and quality to stave off the effects of the alcohol which were taking hold of me. However, despite the fact that I am not a big alcohol drinker, I like to think that I’m reasonable knowledgeable when it comes to good quality wine and these wine pairings were excellent.

For the first time perhaps, I was enjoying the wine more then the food, hence why I was draining each and every large glass they brought me and then wobbling to the toilet afterwards to drain my rapidly expanding bladder. I was now getting drunk. This I knew because the intensity of my toilet needs and my inability to walk straight had me genuinely concerned that I was going to fall from this bloody treetop to my impending death. When the fourth course arrived I was officially drunk. My head was spinning, I was barely in control of my speech and I had tried to call my brother, my mum and my sister to warble nonsense to them down the phone, thankfully to no avail. The call did not connect.

The fifth and final course I enjoyed immensely because it was a wonderful chocolate, peanut and vanilla construction that had been presented perfectly with an accompanying wine to take me over the final edge. I was now DRUNK BEYOND BELIEF.

Thankfully, even though Josh had had the same menu as me and therefore the same wine, he was driving so he didn’t drink all of the wine they gave him but in my drunken stupor, after I had been to the toilet for the seventh time since arriving, and Josh was hit with another £70 in restaurant bill even after the £180 vouchers we gave them, I finally understood what had happened: Bloody William.

This man was determined to make as money as possible, needless to say at the expense of the hard working Thai people he employed since most of his establishments were located within Thailand, and from us, a couple seeking luxurious experiences in exotic locales at reasonable cost. But this was not reasonable. The thing I treasure about being sober, is my ability to think clearly and despite my drunken status, I was still aware of the nonsense I was talking, how I was walking etc, I just didn’t or couldn’t care to do any better. But even in my drunken state, I was aware that though the food was good, and the surroundings elegant, this was not my best dining experience in Thailand.

That award had to be given to Saffron. Or even Zazen. And they both were charging FAR FAR less. But their strategy here you see, was to ply people with alcohol so that they were unaware of this fact, and it might have worked perhaps if people were a little weaker of mind, but I knew that the wine, granted, was wonderful, it went with the food well and the food was good also, but it was not exceptional, and it was Mediterranean cuisine afterall, which let’s face it, cannot compete with Thai food when it’s done well.

I was drunk because they plied me with alcohol when I arrived – a sparkling wine, a shot and then a further 5 large glasses of wine within 3 hours but the food in its portion size was not equivalent to the amount of drink they gave me. Infact, I could have eaten more.

William was greedy but he could not fool me. Despite the fact that we had paid £70 extra which we were definitely not expecting, it was still a small price to pay for the experience, which was hilarious and I will remember for a long time afterwards.


Tree Tops



The view from our “treehouse”


A chocolate extravaganza!

Koh Phangan

The one thing we had yet to do whilst being in Samui was visit one of the surrounding islands. Samui was a fantastic jumping off point as Thailand had other very beautiful islands within close reach with their own lovely beaches and sights and as yet we hadn’t seen any of them so we had booked a trip to Koh Phangan, one of the closer islands, located a mere 20 minutes ferry ride away, and the site of Thailand’s famous Full Moon party, a FULL ON party that thousands of revellers from the world over attended wearing day glo and all manner of tacky wares. Taking the ferry to Koh Phangan required us waking up around 6:00 am in the morning to catch the ferry at 7:30 am from the pier but not only was I feeling completely destroyed from the drunken night before but we had also both had a restless night due to yet another freakin tookay who seemed determined to scratch his way into our abode from the rooftop. It was unbelievably loud and got louder and louder until eventually we had to change rooms (again).

I’m telling you this tookay and gecko business was becoming the bane of my life!!

We were not interested in partying, what we were interested in was their beach, one of the best in Thailand we had been informed, so when we arrived at Koh Phangan pier we booked a taxi to take us straight there.

30 minutes later and we arrived at the beach. Naan Thong Beach, almost entirely deserted by the time we got there at 8:00 am in the morning! was a lovely beach, but I didn’t see how it was better than Chaweng. Despite it being completely devoid of the commercialism that Chaweng was notorious for, with no large hotels or beach clubs in sight, I didn’t see how it could be better then Chaweng when the sea in Chaweng was bluer and the sand whiter. But as the day grew on and the sun grew stronger, casting it’s gaze on the bay, I finally I began to see the magical and unique beauty of this place.

Untouched, unspoilt, and beautifully natural with shallow, transparent coloured waters,  surrounded by mountains on both sides with a view of the misty horizon and rocks protruding from the sea, with hammocks swaying lazily between coconut trees, quiet and tranquil, finally: I understood. In Naan Thong I had found a paradise and by the end of our time there, after I had spent a hugely enjoyable time splashing in the waves, sunbathing on the rocks and burying my feet deep in it’s soft, powdery white sands, I understood: This was my true sanctum.

Tomorrow we move onto to our fourth and final destination in our travels: Chiang Mai, Thailand.


True Sanctum in Koh Phangan 



Week 2 in Koh Samui,Thailand

Week 2 in Koh Samui,Thailand


There’s A DRAGON in our villa.

We were sitting in the kitchen in the main house around 7:30 pm one night, drinking and talking when suddenly I heard a loud scurrying sound go across the ceiling. My heart jumped into my throat.

At first my immediate thought was that there was either a mouse or rat in the house since what else would be scurrying about unseen, but when I listened again closely I quickly concluded that it sounded far too loud to be a mouse or a rat and the scurrying had a sharp, scratchy sound to it – it was as if the creature had CLAWS and A TAIL.

Only one type of creature exists here in South East Asia that loves to infiltrate people’s homes and set up residence there, and they have sharp claws and a long DRAGON LIKE TAIL – and that is a gecko, or more likely it’s larger, more vicious counterpart a tokay, who are essentially miniature lizards AKA A DRAGON!

Oh HELL NO. This beast needs to go!

As you know, I cannot deal with creatures of any kind, be they mouse, rat, creepy crawlie, gecko, or whatever else nature seems to produce with not a moments thought to my health and wellbeing.

So I sent Josh upstairs to investigate.

Josh the Tokay Hunter

By now the scratchy, clawing sound had increased in volume and it sounded utterly terrifying. Whatever it was that was in my house it had to go IMMEDIATELY. My sister was due to come in a couple of days time and she would not take kindly to living with any kind of lizard like creature and neither would I for that matter!

Josh was gone for around 15 minutes and in that time I was worrying about what he was encountering up there and wondering whether I should go upstairs to investigate.

I was far too scared to face the beast myself but what if he was in trouble, or whatever it was bit him? All these thoughts were running through my mind as I tried hard to listen to what was going on up there. One thing was for sure, whatever it was it clearly wasn’t easy to catch! – I couldn’t hear the scurrying noise anymore but I could hear the sound of Josh moving furniture and banging things so my imagination was going into overdrive as I imagined him caving in the head of a giant tokay!

Finally, he emerged from the battle ground looking defeated. He told me that he had some good news and some bad news. In these instances I always ask for the bad news first as if hoping the good news will override the bad news just given. He told me that as we thought, it was definitely a tokay, which is the larger cousin of a gecko, and when he went in there it was on the wall at first but as soon as it saw him it scurried into the crevices of the ceiling and disappeared.

The ceilings in our villa have an interesting coving pattern that though architecturally appealing, makes for the perfect hiding place for these kinds of animals. Also, because the ceilings are so high and the overhang of the coving so wide, it is impossible to see to the back of it and goes too deep to reach.  I asked what the good news was? And he told me that the good news was that he had seen the creature! Some kind of good news that is!

Alas, it is what it is. Josh had at least closed the door to the bedroom (which incidentally was the same room that my sister was going to be sleeping in!) so that the tokay would not be able to escape. If it had been a gecko trapped in there then it would be small enough to fit underneath the door frame but this tokay, Josh reliably informed me, was too big to fit underneath the door therefore it was definitely trapped in there.

Once we had managed to figure out a way to catch the bastard then Josh was going to go back in and try again.


One of our ceiling coves

The weather here has been pretty shoddy in all honesty. When we came here 2 years ago it rained for the first couple of days but after that it was brilliant sunshine almost everyday for 2 weeks however the 2 weeks that we have been here already has seen torrential rains the likes of which we never experienced when we were here before. I’m talking rains that have literally gone on for the whole day which has meant that we didn’t bother to leave the house.  Because of this, it has meant that alot of the touristy things that we had planned to do in Samui, such as visiting the other islands or going to see some waterfalls had been put on the back burner. But luckily for us, we have another 2 weeks here to fully take advantage of what Samui has to offer and of course, many of it we have already experienced when we were last here, however when it does rain consistently in a place like this it’s just miserable. You don’t WANT to go and sightsee, and there’s certainly no point in going to the beach!

Dream Team

We have always worked well as a team. I guess part of being in a relationship is working as a team, alas not all relationships are equal but I like to think that ours is without too much hard work. Really from the start we’ve been good at treating each other as equals, recognising each others strengths and weaknesses and naturally splitting chores. We have also, in our almost 7 years of being together, worked well when seeking special priviledges, upgrades or making complaints, and this particular aspect of working well together is what has set us up to have some pretty unique and amusing experiences over the years.

When we came to Thailand 2 years ago, we called on our ability to strategise and we managed to get to move us from the current property we were staying in to another, better suited property. And this as you know, we orchestrated twice whilst we were in Bali and though it wasn’t easy, it just showed us what we could do when we both put our minds to it!

When I took Josh to Anantara for his birthday we visited their Vacation Club front desk where we enquired about possibly signing up and we were then invited to attend one afternoon to see a presentation. Since we like the Anantara brand we were partly curious about what it was they had to say but what we really wanted was the free gift vouchers that they gave to everyone who attended this presentation whether they signed up for their timeshare or not.

We had previously attended another timeshare presentation last year in London and as a consequence, we are getting a free holiday to Turkey in June next year. I wouldn’t usually pick Turkey as a holiday destination but I don’t turn down free holidays! GET IN!

On the day of the presentation we were both as cool as a cucumber. We had already prepared our strategy, which basically consisted of us looking through their wonderful offerings and then telling them that we couldn’t afford it. We agreed that we were not going to be pulled into their dirty sales funnel unless they were offering us a REALLY good deal, and even then, they probably wanted more buckaronees then either of us were willing to give.

Unfortunately, Thailand had decided to open up the floodgates and it was raining heavily by the time we set out of the house and there was heavy traffic so we arrived around 10 minutes late. We went to reception and filled out a form which basically wanted to know a) whether we were married or in a serious long term relationship and b) whether we could afford it. They didn’t want any households who didn’t earn over £75,000 a year. They also wanted to know which hotel we were staying in as they wrongly assumed that we were staying in a hotel and not a villa. The last time we were there they had offered to pick us up but we declined on the basis that we had our own car so didn’t require a collection.

After we had filled out the form and returned it to reception a few seconds later a young woman approached us and introduced herself to us as the person who would be taking us through the presentation. I think she said her name was Ellie and she was from Malaysia. She took us through to a room that seemed to have a similar set up to the one we experienced in London though the room was much smaller then the other one, the furniture was of a higher quality and overall it was more discreet.

Ellie was very friendly, and offered us both drinks so I asked for a cup of tea and Josh got some coffee and soon a waitress appeared with our drinks.

Ellie began the presentation firstly by telling us all about the owner, who despite the name and distinctive branding of the hotel, wasn’t Asian at all, but American, though he had come over to Thailand when he was a teenager and started his first business in Thailand.

His name is William Heinecke and he owns multiple hotel and resort empires worldwide including the Marriott and Four Seasons brands so he wasn’t doing too badly!

She went onto tell us with extreme excitement (as if any of this information would make a jot of difference when it came to our final decision) how many businesses he had (including franchises of Burger King and Swensons which was not impressive to us at all), and how much money he was worth.

I assumed the purpose of this was to show us how stable and trustworthy the man was, how good he was at doing business and therefore we should trust him with our funds but from where we were sitting it was sounding like the man was a wee bit greedy.

The hotels they showed us, as we had anticipated were impressive. We loved the fact that the hotels were in mostly in exotic locales and had been designed by local designers in their host countries so that each one reflected the style and culture of the place they were in but with the Anantara luxury, mystery and exotism thrown in. This to me was what made the Anantara brand unique.

I particularly liked the look of the China, Abu Dhabi, Mozambique, and Zambia resorts. They were completely different from one another but they all held a certain amount of beauty and charm that completely fit in with their natural environments.

The hotel in Zambia had striking colonial architecture and was set in a safari with stunning natural landscapes and wild animals that you could be amongst.

The hotel in Mozambique was located on a private island that could only be accessed by airplane and it had to most bluest sea with the whitest sand I’d ever seen.

The hotel in China was against a backdrop of mountains and with its traditional Chinese architecture it looked like a fairytale.

The hotel in Abu Dhabi was located in the middle of the dessert and was opulent beyond belief, mimicking a typical Arabic palace. All 4 places I would happily go to but I did not like the price these people were quoting to be a member of their vacation club. At all!

Once we had done the calculations, and believe me they tried their very hardest to confuse us so that we didn’t, we worked out that if we joined their “exclusive programme” then we would get to spend 1 week A YEAR at one of their establishments (not including flights food or transfers I hasten to add) for the better part of £30,000 which we had to pay up front and which would allow us to have 1 week of holidays a year for the next 27 years. What a cheek! I don’t go anywhere for a mere week unless it’s local (i.e Europe) and they aren’t even offering breakfast! Oh hell no!

Anyway, I didn’t allow myself to get too het up as the point of us attending this presentation was not to sign up to their extortionately priced vacation club but to collect these free gift vouchers they were offering which very generously, would allow us to have a spa treatment or a fancy dinner in Koh Samui at their expense. Oh yes!

Despite our horror at the pricetag Ellie had quoted we had still enjoyed the presentation and it had given us some inspiration for other countries that we hadn’t thought about visiting before. She was really sweet when we told her that we wouldn’t be proceeding and essentially agreed with us when we pointed out that with their “points system” we would never be able to afford to go for longer then a week a year without “borrowing” points from the following year, that it basically wasn’t a good deal!

Afterwards she accompanied us back to reception to collect our gift vouchers that had a value of £120 that we could use in a few of our favourite restaurants around the island, tours or spa treatments. £120 is a very generous amount of money to give away and to get that for just sitting there listening to someone talk about luxury holidays (one of our favourite topics) for 90 minutes is even better!

We had already picked out the restaurant that we wanted to go to with our freebie vouchers. I hadn’t realised it before but it was actually an Anantara restaurant and it was considered (alongside the amazing Zazen) to be one of Thailand’s most romantic restaurants. It was called Tree Tops as it was located as you would imagine, high up in the tree tops. And we could now go there for free!

On our way home, happy with our gift vouchers, we began talking about this vacation club business that they were running. These people were milking it!

Essentially they were sitting there giving out vouchers to people left right and centre, £120 twice a day everyday, and who do you think is paying for that? – yes, you guessed it, the gullible people who have more money then sense and signed up for their extortionately priced scheme! I honestly don’t know why anyone would sign up! 2 grand for a weeks holiday not including flights, transfers or food, even breakfast? And the price could go up at any moment as it wasn’t a fixed fee? – I don’t think so love!

Yes it’s nice but it’s not that nice. We are currently staying in a beautiful, private 3 bed villa with an infinity pool and we haven’t even paid that for the month! Jokers.

Anyway when we arrived home it dawned on Josh when he realised that Anantara had another hotel in Chaweng and therefore would be running the same deal, that we could  get more vouchers if we posed as new customers again. He asked me what I thought about that and I said “Lets go for it!”

So we set out again, this time on a mission to get what we were due. Again. lol.

When we arrived at the Anantara in Chaweng I was nervous as essentially now I had to be the one to lead the enquiry. We had read the terms and conditions to be eligible for these vouchers and needless to say they did not allow people who had already seen the presentation less then 12 months to see it again so we were definitely taking liberties. And I had no idea what they would do to us if they found out that we had been lying and would probably die of embarrassment anyway! But we also understood that it could still be done. If we were smart. If we were ballsy and worked as a team.

We knew that in order to prevent people from just coming to collect the free vouchers they held a database with all of their customers details so we knew that we would have to have a new address for the accommodation we were staying in, and a new name (as they said they would require ID), so in order to pose as a completely new couple I gave my full name as the contact rather then Josh’s, put down my Mum’s home address instead of ours, and put Josh down under a different name (and we agreed that if they asked him for his ID then he would conveniently say that he had forgotten it so they would have to use mine instead), plus the new dates of us being in Thailand (just incase they matched us on that), and a new villa name.

When we walked into the other Anantara branch it was extremely busy and I was not keen on just walking up to the desk and enquiring about their vacation club so I used the premise of enquiring about their Tree Tops restaurant instead and then casually remarked about the vacation club afterwards.

Of course these people are keen to get anyone they can in for the presentation who they think might wish to be fleeced so they told us that they could book us in for a presentation on NYE. We said that would be okay. She also remarked that it was policy for them to collect us from our hotel but we weren’t staying in a hotel I insisted (panicking that she would demand the full address of this villa that I had made up) and thankfully in the end she relented and said that we could make our own way there.

Fast forward to the moment when she tells us that we would have to go to the SAME ANANTARA BRANCH THAT WE HAD JUST ATTENDED A PRESENTATION AT THAT VERY SAME DAY.

I was in horrified! This is going horribly horribly wrong I thought to myself. I thought we would attend a presentation here! She has just signed us up to attend a presentation that we have already seen at the same bloody hotel! And I know approximately how many desks there are in that presentation room so it’s an extremely high possibly that we will get the same agent that we had last time who will definitely blow our cover! Or even the receptionist. Infact, any number of people could bait us up.

We took her appointment card and got the hell out of there. I told Josh that there was no way we can go but he says that we will think about it over the next couple of days, weigh up the risks and then make a decision and by the time we had arrived home we have decided that we are going to go for it.

We have thought of a plan (which of course we are praying will work but have no guarantee of), and we have decided that for the sake of £120 that we can use in a restaurant or spa of our choice, it is worth the risk!


We are unconventional. Sometimes we do some ridiculous things but this one really takes the biscuit!

On the morning of our appointment I am feeling under pressure. Being a black woman I cannot take the kinds of liberties that Josh can take and clearly I am far more recognisable then he is. Once they see him, there is a possibility that they may not remember him, but with me, they will know straight away, so we have to take the necessary precautions.

The plan is firstly that we will wear completely different clothing. Since he was wearing cargo pants the first time round, he puts on some jeans and I put on some trousers as I was wearing a dress before. My hair was down before so I put it up and with the addition of some dark lipstick (I don’t really wear lipstick usually), my outfit was complete. I even felt like a different person. Instead of going to the main reception first like we did the last time we went straight to the vacation club reception and we timed it to perfection. I had tried to look up Ellie’s working hours online to find out whether or not she would be working then to no avail so our next strategy was to arrive late again, in the hope that we would be the last to arrive and so everyone (including Ellie hopefully) would be otherwise occupied with other clients and so not notice us skulking in again, lol.

Next, once we arrived at reception I would fill out the form and then pretend that I needed to take an urgent phonecall and go outside leaving Josh to look through the glass doors to see whether Ellie emerged. If she did come out and he was too late or there was no glass partition to see her before she came through then he would pretend to enquire about a pair of lost sunglasses, but if he did see her coming through then he would just vacate the building where I was already ready and waiting to flee if needs be. But if she didn’t come out and another agent came out in her place then we were in business – he would simply come outside and get me and we would go in together! That was the plan.

We arrived late and as if it was fate we had Ellie in our clear line of sight. She had 2 clients with her and was deeply engrossed in chat with them so we knew that whoever was coming was not going to be her and she was unlikely to notice us walking past. I went outside anyway just incase and pretended to take a phonecall and then Josh collected me a few seconds later and we were introduced to another Malaysian guy who showed us to our booth. We had to walk right past Ellie in order to get there but thankfully she was too busy to see us.

This time around the presentation was really quite enjoyable. This was despite the fact that we had seen most of it before just the other day, and despite the fact that I had to remember to lie about a number of things without getting it all confused with what we had already told the other agent. The agent we had this time was very good at his job, and he showed us lots of things that Ellie hadn’t bothered to. We both found it interesting and found him to be a very relaxed and friendly guy. It didn’t bother me at all that we were basically making him go through this presentation knowing that we were only there for the vouchers as the deal itself was simply not good enough – even if we had the money we wouldn’t go for it as we get much better deals when we look ourselves and we don’t want to be tied into anything for 27 years.

Unfortunately for us though, this arriving late thing, which had been a genius idea at first was starting to work against us as everyone else finished up their presentations and we were now one of the last ones left. This left us in a very dangerous situation as now Josh could clearly see all of the staff members loitering at the back of the room instead of going about their business and Ellie was standing with them. It was at this point that I began to panic a litte as I realised that if she didn’t leave the room then we would have to walk right past her and it was almost impossible for her to not notice us when she had no other distractions.

Sure enough, our presentation came to an end and we could stall no longer – we had to walk past her. It was bloody TENSE. I didn’t look her in the face – I concentrated instead on looking out of the window but I could FEEL her eyes on me. Thankfully she didn’t say anything. We went through to reception where again my plan was to pretend that I needed to take an urgent call to avoid the receptionist recognising me as I picked up my second lot of gift vouchers in as many days.

But I am pleased to tell you that our utterly AUDACIOUS manoeuvre, in this luxury hotel, in broad daylight, in the exact same location as we’d been a mere few DAYS before WORKED WONDERS We got the vouchers!!! And now we have £240 to spend! Get in!!


Our Anantara Gift Vouchers

We felt awesome. It took some big kahuna’s to do what we done especially with Ellie standing right there but we done it. Successfully. Afterwards we went to Fishermans Village for lunch where I passed by the toilets and I saw a pair of Vivienne Westwood sunglasses lying by the side of the sink and I was feeling particularly naughty so I took them! Normally I would have just left them there for the owner to find but I was feeling particularly badass in that moment and decided to swipe them! And now they’re mine. Moo ha ha ha ha! Moo ha ha ha ha!

As we were strolling through Fishermans Village, talking about our stroke of good luck, we passed RIGHT BY Ellie, who was with her colleague and was clearly cussing us, telling her how we brazenly came into her place of work and scammed more vouchers! lol!

It was a good day. A great day even, and now the sun had come out!

Not so Happy Elephant

Happy Elephant had advertisements all over Bophut, claiming to be one of the longest standing traditional Thai restaurants on the island. They were bigging themselves up no end and were also one of the featured restaurants that we could use our gift vouchers at so we decided that we would go there for dinner before we made our way to Nikki Beach, for the beach party to bring in the new year. It was a big restaurant and it seemed pretty busy when we arrived in the evening but we were taken to what seemed to be the best table in the house, a table right at the end with a view overlooking Bophut beach.

I think that perhaps this was because we had made the reservation in person earlier on that day but I couldn’t be sure. Either way, I certainly wasn’t complaining.

The menu they gave us was huge, both physically and materially, and despite their claim to be a traditional Thai restaurant I could hardly find any Thai dishes within it. It seemed to have every cuisine under the sun, including Thai, American (if you can even call their food a cuisine), Italian, Mexican, British and every other imaginable cuisine you can think of. Also, there was no dinner menu as such, the menu consisted of breakfast lunch and dinner all in the same menu and it was very confusing. I was concerned. Usually when a restaurant offers everything under the sun with no particular cuisine speciality it is a sure sign of a disaster.  And though it was advertising itself as being a Thai restaurant I could scarcely understand the Thai dishes that were within it.

In short: I was bloody confused. In addition, the table next to us, which was now full of a group of Chinese people was UNBELIEVABLY LOUD. One woman in particular was literally YELLING across the table to her dinner guests and it was becoming increasingly more and more unbearable.  Even the waiter came over to apologise to us because he knew it was too loud in there, alas what could he do? Indeed what could we do when these people seemed to have no spacial awareness whatsoever and no volume control?

The food when it arrived, much like the menu, was a confusion. I ordered as best I could but the food was decidedly average and I was VEX.

How dare these people trick me into eating in their shoddy establishment?!

After dinner we returned home so that I could get changed and then we made our way to Lipa Noi beach, where Nikki Beach’s annual NYE beach party was being held. I had never been to a Nikki Beach party before so I had no idea what it would be like but the other beach club we liked on the island Beach Republic wasn’t doing a beach party for NYE and we didn’t fancy just dinner so we decided to go there instead. The price for hiring a bed for the night and including their “buffet” (sorry love I don’t do buffet) was extortionate beyond belief and try as I might I simply did not see the value in it.

The only thing I cared about was whether or not the music was good, and no bed, and no buffet would save me if it were not and I’m not paying £5,000 in order to find out! We decided to arrive late, bring in the new year there and see what it was all about. I figured that since they were commanding such princely sums they must get some pretty dimwitted and pretentious people attending their parties and I’m sorry but I’m not one of them. I don’t like pretentious, materialistic people and I don’t enjoy fakery of any kind. I prepared myself to encounter many an American and Russian!

When we arrived, we walked through a long blue chiffon archway with fairy lights that looked dramatic and eye catching. It was pretty but when we got to the other side I straightaway started seeing the people that I imagined I would see: FAKERY EXTREME. The place was packed to the rafters with try hard blondes in various try hard outfits. And they all looked the same. The same!!!

Clones Galore

As I suspected, it was packed to the rafters with Russians and Americans with absolutely no taste whatsoever and it was tacky beyond belief. Fake boobs galore, makeup caked on faces like it was going out of business, high heels on the sand, bleached blonde and all manner of Botox and goodness knows what else. They looked either bored with life or drunk – there didn’t seem to be any middle ground. These were not our people.

And as for the music – it was HORRENDOUS. Surprisingly, even though they clearly had the money, after fleecing almost everyone in there for at least a grand each, they had no taste, as the decoration of the venue looked shit. I could have done a better job with a quarter of the budget they had. They seemed to have spent all of their budget on skinny girls who walked around half naked masquerading as “dancers” when they couldn’t dance for shit! What an absolute waste of time and money. There were roped up areas up the hooley too, which no doubt pleased the Russians and Americans who seem to need that kind of irrelevant shit to massage their ego’s. Thankfully for Josh and I we had already half prepared for this outcome and had purchased the cheapest ticket going so we were alright jack but it was bloody awful. They didn’t play one decent tune! Not one!

What an absolute sham. The fireworks were cool and it was memorable being together in Thailand again to bring in the New Year but I will never go to a Nikki Beach party ever again. Infact I don’t even want to hear the name Nikki Beach!


  Nikki Beach Entrance

We finally visited our local beach Mae Nam Beach and it was nice, though very windy. The sand is not as white as in Chaweng and Bophut but the sand was finer and softer then on Bophut beach and it was most certainly much more quiet. It has a kind of rustic charm.


Mae Nam Beach

Finding Afro Hair products in Asia is a non starter. They simply do not cater for the black demographic. This is naturally the same when trying to find makeup products for black skin but since I’m not a big makeup user this isn’t a problem for me. The main problem is of course, that Amazon do not have warehouses in Indonesia or Thailand and you can only get select products shipped to you from the UK/US to those countries with a very high mark up so I made sure I stocked up on my favourite products before I left which included my skincare regime, my haircare and contact lenses. The rest such as my toiletries I knew that I would find in abundance where I was going. But my haircare resources are running low and though I have partially supplemented them with natural Coconut Oil that they have here in the case load there are some things that I just NEED. So I have ordered them on Amazon and my sister, who is arriving in a few days time is going to bring them with her. Result!

Josh has come down with some kind of cold or virus – he has a sore throat, a runny nose and high temperature. We picked up some meds from Boots so hopefully in a couple of days with some rest he will be over the worst of it.

Bamboo Park

There is a place called Bamboo Park near us. It is supposed to be a collection of eateries but I really do not understand the concept at all. Firstly, there is hardly any customers in any of the eateries there. None of them look particularly appealing and it’s not very obvious what any of them even are. Secondly, when you go in there they give you one menu and it has all of the businesses that are within the complex within it so without realising it you can order from another restaurants menu which is just ridiculous. We got caught out one evening with nowhere to go for dinner so we went to this Bamboo place because it was close, and accidentally walked into the cleanest looking one – a German and Thai restaurant the owner reliably informs us.

I’m sorry but there is no such thing. Nobody eats German food asides from German people or tourists if they are in Germany and can’t find anything else to eat but everybody eats Thai food. I don’t know why they are trying to piggy bank on the Thai people’s delicious cuisine as if it is somehow related. It is completely unrelated. Nasty white German sausages are not related to Green Thai Curry I’m sorry. Anyway the owner(who was German) seemed nice enough but I was not happy that I was going to be presented with a white sausage menu. Thankfully, there were lots of Thai dishes on the menu and Thai women in the kitchen. Phew! I thought.

I ordered a vegetable stir fry, which I was quite convinced would be bad to average but it ended up being really tasty. All throughout the German man seemed vex that everybody in the restaurant wanted the Thai food and not his German food but surely he must know that nobody is interested in his curry sausages, white sausages, pickled sausages or whatever other style of sausage he is offering?!

I ordered a drink thinking that it would be coming from the restaurant I was in but then the German man tells me “Okay, I will just go and order it for you” and disappears into another restaurant! What kind of thing is this? – about I’m ordering from every restaurant in the complex! That is pure foolishness. So what, he has to go and walk over to each restaurant and order a drink from here, rice from there and meat from there? – what a ridiculous system. I did not like that Bamboo place at all. It’s backward.

It rained allday today and it was utterly miserable. I didn’t travel all of this way to get rained on and I’m not feeling it at all.

2 Fishes

We passed this new looking Italian restaurant and thought we would give it a try as the owner had come out and made the effort to talk to us. The menu at 2 Fishes was very small (take heed Happy Elephant!), and the owner very amiable, clearly passionate about the food and our enjoyment. Because of this I knew the food would live up to expectations and it did. It’s mainly a seafood restaurant and I haven’t been eating meat but he had Spaghetti Carbonara on the menu, which as you know has bacon lardons in it, and I have had a craving for that for awhile and knew he would do it justice so I ordered it. And it was delicious! Josh had Duck Ragot and it was also delicious. We will return!

We are now in stage 3 of tokay hunter mode. After Josh was unable to locate the thing we notified the cleaners who are locals and know how to deal with these kinds of things and after much laughing at us they promised to find and remove the tokay from the room we had trapped it in. I have heard it scurrying and scratching again so I know that it is still up there and it must be getting hungry by now as the windows are not open for any insects to make its way in there but I want it banished for good. When we returned home our cleaners were gone but the door to the bedroom was still closed so we didn’t know whether she had found it or not. The bed had been made up in there but I didn’t want to assume that it was gone and leave the door open incase it was still there and it escaped to another part of the house so we kept it closed. And here we are trying to catch it again!

We read online that Dettol kills gecko’s and tokay’s and Josh killed one with it yesterday. This is the last thing I wanted and I do feel bad but I cannot deal with the faeces all over the house, the sudden scurrying when you turn the lights on and the freaky chirping sounds above my head in the middle of the night and they just won’t leave!! They run, they hide, they shit and they won’t leave and if the cleaners can’t catch them then we sure as shit can’t, therefore I have given Josh the go ahead to spray Dettol around the perimeters of our house to prevent them from coming in and on them if they do come in.

We caught two yesterday and sadly one perished but the other managed to escape possibly to await his fate in the great outdoors. I’m really not playing with these beasts.

This tokay has infiltrated my house and is steadfastly refusing to get out and I will not be under siege in my own house!!

Josh is prepared and armed with a selfie-stick to see to the back of the coving, a chair to stand on, a stick to prod, a brush to swipe, and Dettol to kill.

Stay tuned to find out the outcome!




Week 1 in Koh Samui, Thailand

Week 1 in Koh Samui, Thailand


We arrived in Koh Samui, Thailand with a great sigh of relief.

Our long transfer between Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok to Suvarnabhumi Airport left us with literally minutes to spare before our plane took off and we were convinced that we would miss our flight.

We had no idea when we booked our flights to Koh Samui via Bangkok that the transfer between it’s airports would be so long and during the what felt like almost 2 hour transfer we grew increasingly more and more relieved that we hadn’t chosen Bangkok as one of our travel destinations because from what we could see Bangkok looked utterly horrendous.

Bangkok was a city that was both noisy, busy, dirty and absolutely HUGE. Not at all what we were looking for.

2 years ago Josh and I had visited the Thai island of Koh Samui and had fallen in love with the tropical paradise that seemed to offer alot more then just stunning beaches. A true taste of Thailand, it was a great spot from which to visit the many other neighbouring islands, see ancient Buddhist temples, sample the world famous Thai cuisine, meet with endangered animals, languish on palm fringed beaches, and experience the centuries old wellness traditions that see Thailand as having some of the best spa’s in the world. Indeed, Koh Samui appeared to have it all.

We have never been the slightest bit interested in visiting Bangkok because it sounded as if it was the seedy part of Thailand. We wanted to experience a much more natural environment and see a more traditional way of life so we had chosen Koh Samui as our first stop in Thailand where we would be staying for a month and then we were off to Chiang Mai, the magical, spiritual place in the mountains.

After our experience with miserable Lena The Cleaner at Uncle Tom’s Rotten Cabin in Bali, I was a little concerned about what we might encounter when we arrived at our new villa in Thailand. In Canggu, we had been staying at a brand new luxury hotel, and being only the second people to ever stay there it was ultra, ultra clean with no creepy crawlies whatsoever. And now that I had firsthand experienced of people essentially LYING about the quality of their establishments on Airbnb I had cause for concern because I knew that I would not be able to deal with any frowsiness or nastiness therefore I was praying that the description and pictures that had been posted online were accurate.

Our 3 bedroom private villa was located in Mae Nam, in the middle of Santiburi Golf Course – Samui’s largest Golf Club. From what we could see of the pictures the villa looked not just huge (it was over 4 thousand square feet!) but lovely too, with lots of beautiful and original features, it’s very own infinity pool, balconies from the bedrooms overlooking the surrounding forest and mountains, a sala (a traditional Thai open pavilion where you can sit and be protected from the sun and rain), tropical gardens and an out-house, where the master bedroom was located with it’s own luxurious outdoor bathroom.

When we had found it we were immediately seduced by the spaciousness, and how clean and immaculate it looked. Also my sister was going to be coming to Thailand to stay with us for just under 2 weeks (yay!) so we knew that we had to get somewhere reasonably big and this villa comfortably housed 6 people so we had plenty of space!

We were picked up from the airport by the villa manager called Tor (yeah I know, lol) who seemed lovely and very professional (not at all like miserable Lena the Cleaner!)

I knew that we were staying in a private residence that was essentially on the grounds of a golf course but this still did not prepare me for the long drive through the forest to get to our villa.

When we turned off of the main road onto the windy road that was to be our refuge for the next month I began to get excited. What an entrance! With gigantic coconut trees lining the path on both sides and the sunshine streaming through the trees it was all very wild and dramatic. Round and round the windy road we went, with the forest getting denser and denser as we went. We passed a few small houses on the way, but the more we drove the less habitation we saw and then I could have sworn that I saw an animal amongst the trees – it looked to me like a bull or something. What kind of location is this? I’m being taken to I began to wonder.

Minutes later and we were still driving through this jungle of a place and I began to get concerned as it dawned on me that Josh and I would have to do this journey everyday! And since Josh was so into this scooter business at the moment then we would have to do this journey everyday on a scooter in the dead of night as this place had sporadic lighting.

Almost 6 minutes later and we arrived at our villa and by then we were so deep into the forest that I couldn’t for the life of me remember the way back!

Our villa thankfully, came as a pleasant surprise. Located down the end of a quiet, residential tree lined street, it had an immediate feel of calm and exclusivity about it. Despite being so deep into the forest, there were clearly many other foreigners who had bought land here and had built their own villa’s in this very remote and peaceful location. You really were surrounded on all sides here by thousands and thousands of Coconut trees that seemed to go on for miles and miles. All you could see where Coconut trees, and apart from the roads that meandered to the various houses scattered among it there were no other roads, therefore no road noise.

And despite the lack of a sea view, it had a magnificent view of the surrounding hills and mist covered mountains that was spellbinding. I needn’t have worried about frowsiness thankfully because the villa was immaculate. Clearly belonging to an older European couple, the villa was crammed full of oriental art and statues, plus it had books for days! The owners had left us a manual, which was both comprehensive and funny, giving us lots of information about the house and the surrounding area.  They said that they lived there for 3 months of the year and we could tell because the place felt very homely though the decor was perhaps a tad dated.

When we arrived we also met the cleaners who had done an amazing job of cleaning the villa and had left us with fresh flowers in almost every room and a bowl full of fresh fruit and a fridge full of drinks to welcome us. And we did feel very welcome.

We took a stroll around the villa and were pleased to find the 2 double bedrooms in the main house immaculately clean with towell decorations and flowers on the beds, plus they both had en suites and balconies with stunning views of the mountains. I was sure my sister was going to be very pleased with either!

The large kitchen was open plan and lead out to the tropical gardens on one side and a generously appointed infinity pool on the other. Seating too was abundant, with a dining table in the kitchen, comfortable sofa’s in the front room, another dining table outside by the pool, cushioned chairs in the sala, chairs on the balcony outside our room, sunbeds beside the pool and chairs in all of the bedrooms. We were literally spoilt for choice when it came to where we chose to luxuriate ourselves!

Our master bedroom was particularly lovely. It had floor to ceiling windows on all sides and though slightly overlooked on one side due to it partially facing a neighbours poolside it was protected by foliage, yet still felt wonderfully private and luxurious. It was HUGE, with a dark wood four poster bed and carefully chosen pieces of art signifying it’s grandeur. But of course for me being the bath lover that I am, and certainly my main reason for me wanting this villa in particular, was the bathroom.

Double doors lead us into a marble floored bathroom which was spacious with his and hers sinks, a seperate shower and a glass partition that lead outside to a stunning outdoor bathtub with a surrounding wall, pebbled flooring and a view of the tall coconut trees swaying in the breeze.

Conjuring up an evening outside in the bathtub by candlelight with the scent of orchids and frangipani’s growing freely in our gardens I felt at ease.

Yes, I considered. I think we will be happy here.


Our 3 bedroom villa with seperate master suite and infinity pool 


Double doors leading into our elegant bathroom


The Master Suite


An outdoor bathtub (yay!)


Pool Access, just like at Sense, but here, we have it all to ourselves!




Balcony view from our villa 

Skeeter Syndrome 

The next morning I awoke to an intense throbbing and itchy pain on my buttocks, my thighs and my legs. The mosquitoes had DESTROYED ME. Realising that when the cleaners were here preparing for our arrival they must have left the doors and windows wide open, the mosquitoes probably sensing new blood (i.e me because they never seem to go after Josh!) had basically ravaged me and when I awoke to see how many times this abominable mosquitos (or indeed mosquitoes) had bitten me I was left in shock. They had literally bitten me about 20 times!!

After Josh checked me over properly he found that it was even worse then we had initially thought – some of my bites had swollen up and were hot to the touch – particularly the one on my thigh. I have had this reaction before to mosquitoe bites – it appears that I am allergic to them. I had felt really hot in the night, partly it was because it was hot (our ceiling fan was not working and we had turned the AC off), and partly it was because I was uncomfortable in this new place. It always takes me at least a few days to acclimatise particularly when staying in a place so WILD.

Since we had encountered so many abominable creatures in Uncle Tom’s Cabin (such as bats, snails, gecko’s and spiders), and caterpillars and even cockroaches in Pumpkin Village, I was on edge at what might lurching in the darkness. Also, I had heard strange noises in the middle of the night. It sounded like it might be a gecko. For this reason I had probably been sweating like woah, and therefore the mosquitoes had probably gone into into a feeding frenzy (since they are attracted to body heat).

The pain and discomfort on my legs and buttocks, despite me using bite soothing cream did not appear to be improving and instead some of the bites began to become inflamed and I struggled to sleep because of the discomfort. These buzzards had eaten me alive and now I had to sleep on my back to try and get some reprieve.

What is the bloody point of mosquitoes anyway?! I ask you.

 Josh done some further research online and he encountered a symptom of mosquitoe bites called Skeeter Syndrome which he immediately diagnosed me with. Skeeter Syndrome is a severe reaction to the saliva from a mosquitoe which produces an enlarged swelling of the infected area (check), that itches, is painful and is hot to the touch (check, check, check). That’s it! Doctor Josh, lol, prescribed me some antihistamine tablets and hydrocortisone cream to bring down the swelling, plus we got some salt to add to a bath to reduce the swelling also which we picked up from Boots the Chemist would you believe?! Yes, there is a Boots here and they have a Tesco’s too which is where we’ve been doing all of our shopping. It’s great! lol

Bathtub Betty

Now that I have been diagnosed with an allergy to mosquitoes we need to be especially careful about me getting bitten. In our villa we have patio doors with internal mesh sliding doors that you can use when you want a bit of fresh air with no creatures (always then!) and once we had decided to sample our luxurious bathtub we made sure to buy lemongrass scented candles (since we couldn’t find any citronella), and have our bath in the early evening before the mosquitoes emerged to try and find their human dinner. The bathtub was big and comfy, and having the gentle breeze kissing your skin, with the sounds of nature whilst you sit in a steaming hot bath with a rose scented bath bomb is second to none.  The bath was lovely but I still think they should have put mesh over the top as creatures can still fly on it and that is not the most relaxing of experiences. At Pumpkin Village we also had an outdoor bathroom with mesh covering and that seemed to work well (mind you they had an infestation of caterpillars!)

*sigh* this wildness really is a challenge!

Fishermans Village

Fishermans Village is a popular, pedestrianised area in Koh Samui, a short drive away from our villa in Mae Nam, with a collection of some of the best restaurants and boutique retail shops on the island. It’s location alongside Bophut beach, featuring free nightly fire dancing entertainment and it’s famous Friday “night market” where locals sold their arts and crafts and street food, made it one of the most popular places for tourists on the whole island. When we had visited 2 years ago, we liked it so much that we visited it a few times and it was always busy and vibrant. Plus, because alot of the sellers were locals you could pick up some really unique handmade gifts for cheap. There was a particular restaurant that we had discovered whilst there which done really good food so we decided that we’d go back there for dinner.

Barracuda was a restaurant in the middle of Fishermans Village offering deliciously fresh seafood and since Josh and I are trying to stay away from meat, the abundance of fresh fish on their menu suited us just fine. When we visited again we were delighted to find that the food was just as fresh and the menu just as original as we’d found it 2 years ago.

Josh’s Birthday 

It was Josh’s birthday the following day and I had booked a spa day for the both of us and then a wine tasting experience and dinner at The Dining Room, a restaurant in Lamai that we had discovered in Thailand in our previous trip and had fallen in love with.

If you’re wondering whether we have spent all our times in luxury spa’s then you wouldn’t be completely wrong as this would be our 8th spa treatment since being in SE Asia. Not bad at all!

Anantara, the giant of a hotel brand that had stunning resorts all over Asia, was somewhere that I knew would be right up Josh’s and my street. It was both mysterious  and exotic, decorated in a luxurious and unique asian inspired style and heavily influenced by nature so displayed by their use of local wood, distinctive lily ponds and coconut tree lined resorts in far away locales. This is where I had chosen to take Josh for his birthday, during which he would experience almost 3 hours of their spa treatment aptly named the “Gulf of Siam”. Comprising a shower, foot bath, royal thai massage, foot reflexology and an Anantara signature facial after which he was then served a light snack, sounded perfect and I was sure that this, combined with the unique location of the spa amongst a tranquil paradise like tropical gardens, with lily ponds, water fountains, coconut and palm trees, and secret passageways would make for an exceptional experience of pure luxury and abundant relaxation. And I was right. We were taken to a large private walled suite within the gardens where we were pampered to within an inch of our lives.

I had chosen their “Journey of Siam” spa package which was just over 2 hours long and featured a floral foot ritual, herbal thai steam, shower, coconut body scrub, another shower and then a royal thai massage and refreshment and I was utterly knackered by the end of it. Each treatment was equally relaxing and equally luxurious, and the showers amongst the gardens made me feel like I was in the Herbal Essences/Timotei advert again!

They used a blend of wonderfully scented natural ingredients that just soaked right into my skin. I could FEEL the quality. My therapist seemed to know every trick in the Thai book of massages. And in my experience they are the best at it. Afterwards I felt as though I was floating in the air and I was so content and literally falling asleep that at one point I think I may have even dribbled! lol.

Josh on the other hand was literally on the verge of a coma when he returned from his 3 hour pamperation. He even LOOKED different. His body and feet had been massaged to within an inch of their achy lives and his face had been transformed into a shiny new (and perhaps younger) version of his self. I hadn’t told him beforehand what they would be doing to him but all the while he said that he was just thinking to himself: How long can this possibly go on for? lol.

I will admit that it did feel like a deliciously long time but I guess you get what you pay for!

Whilst we were there, we took the opportunity to enquire about Anantara’s Vacation Club – essentially a timeshare for staying in their luxury resorts worldwide. Since we were now convinced about the Anantara brand based on the standard and style of their hotels and the locations of their resorts (they were based througout Asia though they also had a few locations in Africa, and the Middle East also), we took them up on their offer to attend a presentation to promote their various “packages”. Really, we were already half convinced that they were going to come with a request for an extortionate amount of money to opt in that we had no intention of paying but we thought we would hear them out anyway and besides, they were offering free vouchers (worth quite alot of money) to use in their spa’s, select excursions and various high end restaurants on the island whether we did or did not sign up so it was a no brainer!

It was a wonderful experience at Anantara but unfortunately it didn’t leave us much time to go home and change before we had to leave for our dinner reservation and it didn’t look like we would make the wine tasting.

On the way to dinner we remembered seeing a sign for a “Shortcut to Lamai” which was where the hotel/restaurant was located. As I was keen to make the wine tasting that was happening an hour before dinner I agreed that we should definitely take the shortcut which was off of the main road. But little did we know what this shortcut consisted of.

Not more then 5 minutes in we start creeping up a steep incline, it was almost as if we were climbing a mountain it was so steep. I didn’t sign up for this! I scream at Josh and we just about make it over one incline and down a sharp hill that we can’t even see over the dashboard and up another extremely steep mountainous like terrain. I felt like I was in the krypton factor or something – some kind of bloody assault course or a ride in Alton Towers. When we looked ahead all we could see was sharp turns and steep drops on both sides of the road. It was by this time getting darker and darker and we had extremely poor visibility due to the insistence of the Thai authorities of not providing lighting in these kinds of remote areas. It was utterly petrifying. A part of me, a big part, was utterly convinced that we were going to fall to our deaths either because of our gears giving up the ghost and rolling backwards to our deaths or by falling over the side of these narrow and extremely sharp mountain ranges. And since we were not driving a 4 x 4 this was a very possible outcome. It was tense. Thankfully we arrived there in one piece but it was not without a calm and skilled level of driving by Josh.

When we got to the restaurant and told them about our journey the waiter basically told us that it was far too dangerous to drive that way at night, alas there was absolutely NO SIGNAGE to tell us this before we embarked on the perilous journey, or even to inform us of the steep inclines of the road (i.e mountain!).

We decided we would not be going back that way no matter how long it took us how to get home. We were very keen to stay alive.

Dinner was wonderful. And as special as we remembered. The Dining Room is the restaurant of a boutique hotel on Lamai beach called Rocky’s Boutique Resort, which in my opinion is a rubbish name that certainly does not convey the unique position it has on the beach that is both romantic and glamorous at the same time. Thousands of red lanterns hang from the surrounding trees and chairs are set up with huge cushions with tables and twinkling lights on the precipice of a rock face where you can hear and see the waves of the Andaman Sea gently lapping against the shore. Food is a mixture of French and Thai inspired modern cuisine which is delicious and the service is both professional and friendly at the same time. Since we had been there before two years ago I was a little concerned that it wouldn’t be as magical as before but it was the perfect place to spend Josh’s birthday. We sat there reminiscing whilst reflecting on our time in SE Asia so far and how much we were looking forward to the future.

We spent Christmas Eve at Fishermans Village where we watched fire dancers on the beach from a brand new restaurant/beach bar called Coco Tams, which was playing simply AMAZING house music and serving great pizza’s (pizza’s that rivalled Spaccanopoli in Ubud even!). The fire dancers perform nightly on the Bophut beach, and it’s completely free to all. Spinning sticks engulfed in flames, blowing flames sky high and creating a fireworks like display of sparkles with unbelievable care and skill was awe inspiring. And being it was Christmas Eve it felt even more special.


An abundance of nature and tranquility at Anantara Bophut








The scene is set at Rocky’s Boutique Resort 


That night when we returned home from dinner we found our resident gecko (who doesn’t deserve a name because I didn’t like him), scurrying around our bathroom like a madman. Clearly the gecko was utterly petrified of us and wished to find a place to hide from us and I can well appreciate this, but the fact remains that I’m bloody scared of him too and I do not want to see a small brown lizardy thing scurrying about my bedroom quarters, oozing white tipped brown poo from his scaly bum, and discarding his crusty scaled tail (as they do) as he goes! I’m not into it!

I understand his strategy: He wishes to seek shelter in our abode whilst trapping small insects in the easiest way possible. And he’s completely harmless to humans – he doesn’t bite, scratch, pounce, anything. Perhaps he’s even safer then many other types of household pets such as dogs and cats who can be vicious or carry diseases but the difference is I choose for them to be in my abode. I didn’t choose him. He snuck himself in and scared the bajeezers out of me when I was trying to brush my teeth, then again when I was going to the toilet in the middle of the night, when I was trying to sleep but was rudely awoken by his distinctive clicking sound, or when I grabbed for the towell that he was hiding under after having a shower.

I do not like this element of surprise and I do not like the idea of him pooing his white tipped poo onto my head in the middle of the night. I want him gone! I tell Josh. Josh suggests that he trap him in the bathroom with a box and a broom and gently try to brush him into it, but this gecko doesn’t want to be swept. He wants to live in our abode but that will never do!

The gecko quickly scurries away and hides underneath the sink and after 10 minutes of clearing the whole bathroom and trying to coax him out of his hidey hole Josh eventually decides to give up this particular strategy. Instead, he suggest, I’ll wait for him to appear again and then I’ll BAP HIM!

Nooo! I say to him. I do not want you to BAP HIM! That’s evil! I want him to remain alive but I want him out of our abode. You’re going to have to find a way to get him out without hurting him. I feel sorry for him since we have closed every available entrance (for other creatures such as mosquitoes who might have been getting any ideas about setting up home here) and thus an exit (for him). He can’t get out even if he wanted to.

Josh says to me again that since the gecko is too fast it will be impossible to get him without BAPPING HIM so he plans to go ahead with his plan but he promises to just BAP HIM to stun him not to hurt him. Reluctantly I agree.

Since then we haven’t seen nor heard hide nor hair from the gecko. He must understand what BAP HIM means, lol.

 The Weather in Samui

Unfortunately we haven’t had fantastic weather since we’ve been here. It hasn’t rained but it has been overcast which hasn’t really made us feel inspired to go to the beach and I feel as though my tan is fading which will never do!

Nonetheless, we have been swimming in our private saltwater infinity pool at our villa and it has been wonderful. And we visited Cheong Mon beach, considered to be one of the best beaches in Samui for the firsttime too. We didn’t think it was all that when we saw it but perhaps that was partly because it didn’t seem to be that big, there was lots of children and it was overcast that day. Chaweng is the most popular beach in Samui because it’s huge, there are lots of beach bars and restaurants etc posted on it and it has some of the cleanest, clearest water and white sand. But because of this it also attracts hoardes of tourists, including lots of Brits but unfortunately, they are not looking the best.

In comparison to Bali, where everyone was healthy, tanned and lovely, the people who come to Thailand look decidedly bloated, and suspiciously red raw like a lobster. Perhaps they are spending far too much time in the sun, eating far too many pies and drinking far too many beers *sigh*.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day we spent at the beach as in the afternoon the clouds decided to clear and we experienced brilliant sunshine for a couple of hours. The beach wasn’t as busy as I remembered it being thankfully, and it was refreshingly devoid of hardly any mention of it being Christmas Day which suited us just fine. The Thai people do not celebrate Christmas so why should they make an exception for Westerners. Do we make exceptions for their religious/important holidays? No, of course not. So I very much enjoyed spending a day without having the commercialism of Christmas being rammed down my throat, the cheesiness of the songs and the tackiness of the decorations. I was very happy! We had a leisurely lunch at The Library, another Thai establishment well known for it’s original, contemporary designed hotel and more specifically it’s red coloured swimming pool which did look very inviting I must say. The food was delicious – we both had vegetarian green thai curry and it was fresh and very very tasty.


Chaweng Beach


The decision to spend our Christmas Dinner at Zazen (minus the actual Christmas menu like all good Thai hotels on Christmas Day) was in part because Zazen had been my original choice of where to take Josh for his birthday dinner before deciding on The Dining Room as it was special to both of us.  Zazen, along with The Dining Room, were both considered to be two of the most romantic restaurants in Koh Samui, and perhaps coincidentally they both featured the colour red prominently in their establishments.

Like Rocky’s, Zazen was also a hotel, spa and restaurant, and perhaps similarly to Anantara, they were all about creating an otherwordly type of experience by combining unique architecture, with natural materials, an exquisite and ultra luxurious Asian inspired decor, landscaped tropical gardens and an impressive entrance. And as it was Christmas Day, even though they were far too high end to be cheesy with out and out Christmas decorations, they still used the combination of twinkly lights to full effect by draping almost every tree in them in the leisurely and extremely long walk up to the main reception through the beautiful natural gardens.

By the time we made it to the restaurant both Josh and I were already sold. The place was simply magical.

But they had more for us. We went for a 6 course seafood menu, and each and every dish they brought us was beyond our expectations. The food, and in particular the prawns which were hands down the best prawns I have ever had in my entire life! was certainly prepared by the hands of a master chef. The prawns were the juiciest, the freshest and the moistest and most flavourful I have had. I don’t know how long they had been marinating in the sauce but goodness me!

The decoration too, was tasteful but simply festive and Josh and I had the pleasure of being sat next to a huge red hued Christmas tree which made it feel very festive indeed. Such an absolutely stunning, stunning place! I was so impressed with the service, the food and the restaurant and hotel itself that I have decided that when my sister arrives we’re going back!

When we returned home from dinner we made sure to Skype both of our families to with them a Merry Christmas. Funnily enough they have seen/heard more from us since we’ve been away!

This Christmas in Thailand has been so special, so very relaxing and stress free that the only thing that has been missing has been our families. If they had been here then I believe we would have easily reached perfection (and we didn’t even exchange gifts!)


Magical Zazen




STori x