Birthday Celebrations

I turned 23 last Wednesday. I can hardly believe it!

As I'm living at home with my parents at the moment, most of my friends live elsewhere so it was a quiet but nonetheless lovely day.

I started out by meeting my friend Laura for a late breakfast - she had a full Scottish breakfast and I went for French toast with bacon and syrup, washed down with freshly squeezed orange juice. (Not-so-)Interesting Fact: French toast is one of the only foods I like in which a main ingredient is eggs.

In the afternoon, I took advantage of the fact that my dad had the day off work and we went to the cinema to see Sunshine on Leith. If you haven't heard of it, it is a musical based on the songs of the Proclaimers. I actually only knew a few Proclaimers songs (come on, everyone loves '500 Miles') but was still keen to see the film - it looked like a light-hearted, fun movie and it did not disappoint. It won't win any Oscars but it is a great way to spend a couple of hours and it will put a smile on your face. Or tears, if you are a sentimental so-and-so like my dad. And of course, it was great to see my second home Edinburgh on the big screen.

I am loving the tartan trend at the moment - this top is from New Look
In the evening I went out for a meal with my parents and Gran. For my main I had seabass fillets in tempura batter with fries, which was good but my favourite part of the meal had to be my dessert: white chocolate and tablet cheesecake with vanilla ice-cream. While I actually couldn't really taste the tablet flavour, the cheesecake was absolutely delicious.

And of course, a celebration wouldn't be a celebration without a wee bit of fizz; prosecco in our case because I actually prefer it to champagne which is generally a little on the dry side for me.

What would your ideal birthday involve?

Happy Book

When I was away on my travels, I was introduced to the concept of a 'Happy Book' by one of my new friends.

The idea is that in your happy book, every day you have to write down at least one thing that made you happy. Of course, it's your book so if you had an amazing day and want to scribble all the details then go ahead! The only rule is that you have to write down at least one thing that made you happy that day.

I just thought this was a great way to really appreciate the things that matter to you, and remind you that even on those days where you feel a bit down or maybe haven't done anything exciting that at least something has made you happy - whether it's settling down to watch your favourite tv show, eating something delicious or having a hug from a loved one (these have all been entries of mine).

For me this has been great, as I've done it since I got back from my holiday and I am currently in a state of limbo, living at my parents and working a part-time job until I hopefully get a more appropriate graduate job. So I have had moments where I haven't felt great, or days where I haven't done too much but every day I have found a moment to go in my Happy Book and I fully intend to keep this up.

I've been writing everything down in one of these cute notepads I picked up from a stall in Bangkok - my first one is rapidly filling up!

What would be your Happy Book entry for today?

Vietnam and Cambodia Round-up

Now you're all caught up on my recent trip to South East Asia. If not, why not have a look at my last few posts? Or alternatively just watch the summary video I made, below. As I mentioned here, I really enjoy making these little videos and although they are by no means works of art they are a nice way for me to remember my trips. I hope one day to be more skilled at video-editing but we'll see.

Just a short post from me today as I'm preparing for an interview I have tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Bangkok: Culture and Condoms

After an early start, international border crossing and 8 hour or so drive, we made it to Bangkok! This was our last night of tour and most people were heading off in the early hours or the next day, but L and I were sticking around for a couple of extra days to see a bit more of the city.

Arriving at the hotel was strangely reminiscent for me as this is where my tour finished last year. We got there late in the afternoon, so ventured into the subway (I love travelling on foreign metro systems - anyone else?) and took shelter from the rain in one of Bangkok's famous malls for a little while before heading back to get ready for our last group dinner!

We went to a restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms and this was easily one of my favourite restaurants of the trip.

This was brilliant for three reasons. 1) The food - I had the most delicious Panang curry, which in typical Thai fashion was very spicy even though I had asked for it not to be! 2) The decor - the outside was beautiful and fairy lights were hanging from the trees, though unfortunately due to the rain we had to sit inside.

And 3) the concept. Cabbages and Condoms was founded by the Population and Community Development Association, and the aim of the restaurant is to raise awareness of family planning & sexual health and to raise money for their projects. They make such a serious topic as fun as possible, giving you a condom instead of a mint at the end of your meal (that was a first!), have a spinning wheel "sex test" and a shop with lots of fun souvenirs. It was an ideal place to spend our last night as a group.

After this interesting experience, a few of the group headed to the Lebua Sky Bar where we were promised amazing views of Bangkok and we were not let down. One thing to note though is that the Sky Bar has a strict dress code - two of the boys were turned away at first as they were wearing shorts (even though they came to the knee and they looked very smart) and one of our friends was given a nicer hotel carrier bag to hide her plastic bag.

We all nearly had a heart attack at seeing the price of the drinks, although in fairness it's probably not anymore than you'd pay in a nice bar in London and it was definitely worth it for the experience alone. True to form, I plumped for a passionfruit cocktail - this time a martini - though I have to say I have never sipped a cocktail so slowly in my life. We realised we'd initially been ushered to the tourist/less-well-dressed-people balcony but had a wander around and discovered a much larger balcony with a view of the building's dome and with substantially less wind. Overall a very special way to spend our last night with new friends and it has certainly made me want to re-watch the Hangover 2, as this bar/hotel was one of the filming locations.

Our last couple of days were quite relaxed after a busy 3 weeks! I had been last year, but only visited Wat Po so this year made sure to see the Grand Palace which is incredibly impressive.

The rest of our time was spent moseying around the Khao San Road area where we were staying, doing some last minute shopping, having mani/pedis and making sure we got our fill of tasty Thai food.

A lovely end to an amazing trip! Have you been on any great trips lately?

Cambodia Part 2: Angkor Whaaat?

As the final few days of our trip approached, we headed for Siem Reap where we would stay three nights.

Free time during the day was spent attempting to swim in the hotel pool before inevitably hopping out to escape a poorly timed tropical rainstorm, and at night we headed into town on a tuk-tuk, where the main street  - aptly named 'Pub Street' - at first glance more closely resembled a resort on a Spanish island than a relatively quiet town in Cambodia. However, with delicious Asian food on offer, traditional Khymer dancing and night markets to explore, Siem Reap shouldn't be judged on first impressions!

The reason that Siem Reap could seem quite touristy and Westernised is of course because it is the town closest to the Angkor Temple complex which was the real reason for our visit. We spent two days exploring just some of the temples with a guide - honestly, you could spend a week there trying to see it all! But we stuck to the highlights and visited the most easily recognisable Angkor Wat (which a bar in town 'Angkor What?' took its name from, becoming quite a catchphrase of the group for a few days), Angkor Thom, Ta Promh (famously used for the Tomb Raider film...which I haven't seen) and others.

 Sunrise over Angkor Wat (worth getting up at 4am for!)

The temples are all around 1000 years old and as you can see are pretty impressive! One of the best things about travelling for me is seeing things you just won't see anywhere else and Angkor is one of those places.

What unique sights have you seen or got on your list?