Hey everyone.

Gosh, I can’t believe we’ve been back over 2 months and I’m only just publishing the last instalment of our Thailand Diaries! It was such a long and amazing trip packed full of adventure it has taken me many, many posts to get it all down! So let’s pick up where I left off and wrap up this journey..

So after spending a week and a half exploring the bustling cities of the north and sweating and swatting mozzies in the jungle we wanted a bit of horizontal beach time. Luckily, if you are looking for white sand, blue sea paradise, Thailand has a lot to choose from! We decided to stick to the west side this time, mainly because the East tends to have a lot of monsoons at that time of year and also because I have already been to the East side and fancied trying something different. We visited two beach resorts in all, staying four or five days in each; Railay Beach and Ko Lanta. Each was extremely beautiful in it’s own way and each had it’s relative merits and not-so-great things, which I’m going to talk you through now.

Railay Beach

Totally cut off from the mainland and only accessible by long tail boat, Railay beach is often hailed as one of the most beautiful and unspoilt beaches in the world. As if the golden sand and glittering ocean wasn’t enough; the beach is flanked by rugged cliffs which make it look like something out of a movie. There are no cars, no ferries and you certainly can’t fly there so actually getting there is a bit of a mission but certainly an experience. Once we arrived in Krabi we took a mini bus to Ao Nang and then took one of the many waiting long tail boats to Railay Beach. As we raced across the sea we couldn’t quite believe how beautiful it was.

First and foremost

I can’t stress this enough, you need to be sensible with your luggage. The long tail boats stop just shy of the shore and you will need to wade in water about up to your knees to get onto the beach. The guys who drove the boats will quite literally chuck your luggage onto the sand. Although it is all part of the experience, I would recommend leaving your Louis Vuitton suitcase set at home.

East vs West

For a small resort there are a lot of places to stay and they are divided between Railay West and Railay East. Although you may imagine that the opposite sides of the peninsula might be a long way apart, in reality it is a 10 minute walk between the two. The main beach is Railay West – so if one of the tip-top luxury hotels there are within your budget then knock yourself out! We decided to stay on the East side however, due to the hotels being more affordable and it having more of a ‘backpacker scene’. In reality, the resorts in Railay East actually have an amazing outlook because they look out onto the unspoilt ocean without any boats or interruptions (as most of the longtails come into the West side), but you need to be aware that there isn’t technically a beach on the East side. To break it down: for luxury resorts, classier restaurants and to be right on the beach – go West, for chilled beach bars, live music and rustic beach huts – East is a winner.

Pros and Cons

The pros are definitely the stunning beach and the lack of vehicles and ferries to spoil it. That’s not to say that the beach isn’t busy though – it seriously is. In fact you’d be hard pushed to find a beach in Thailand which is as yet ‘undiscovered’ by tourism. Other brilliant things about Railay: seeing crazy monkeys up close (don’t take food near them!), amazing rock climbing experiences for all levels and the best mango smoothie I’ve ever had. There are a few cons – the busyness I mentioned earlier: the longtails bring in a lot of day-trippers so the peak time on the beach is BUSY. We also tried a lot of restaurants there and didn’t find the food to be amazing compared to other places in Thailand – particularly in the beach front places.

Do Not Miss!

A snorkelling trip to see the bio-luminescent plankton (as seen in the movie The Beach)! We did a day-to-night boat trip where they took us to islands and snorkelling spots in the afternoon but to be honest we could have taken or left that bit, it wasn’t amazing. The night snorkel with the plankton though is an absolute must! As you move underwater the water around you literally lights up and glitters. Truly incredible.

Verdict

Other than the slightly disappointment of the food, Railay Beach is a beautiful place to visit and I would thoroughly recommend it.

Ko Lanta

After the busyness of Railay we headed over water to the nearby island of Ko Lanta for four nights. Lanta has a more family friendly reputation and is considered less of a ‘party’ place. It’s very built up and outside of the beaches it has every local amentity, shop, bar or restauarant you could want. There are a few main beaches, all of them are long, wide and safe for families. It’s also popular to rent a bike to explore the island as the roads are pretty bike friendly compared to the rest of Thailand! People flock to Lanta for relaxing beach holidays, swimming, snorkelling and authentic Thai food.

The Low-Down on the Beaches

For an island, Ko Lanta is actually quite big and it has several large beaches all with their own resrots ranging from luxury to budget. There are even some budget guest houses situated off the beaches on the main road that runs all the way through the island. Although you’re never far from a beach, I wouldn’t recommend staying in these. The main road is hideously busy, dusty and, in places, dirty. There are plenty of super cheap places to stay on the coast so stick with a beach front resort or guesthouse.  We stayed in the beachfront bungalow and very budget resort of Rann Chalet in Klong Dao beach. The resort comprised of tiny bungalows which were quite cute and served their purpose but not overly comfortable! We didn’t love our beach either; Klong Dao is one of the main beaches and it’s a bit dirty and rocky which makes it not great for swimming. Also, the choice of restaurants and bars was not that great. We visited the next beach down; Long Beach, and that was by far our favourite. It’s clean, much more beautiful and is lined with trendy beach bars and lovely Thai seafood restaurants. If we went again we would definitely choose Long Beach.

Must-Do’s

We really wanted to take a trip to Ko Rok island, a tiny island off Lanta famous for it’s crystal waters and amazing coral and snorkelling opportunities. We chose to go with a slightly more ‘luxury’ company (although still not expensive compared to the UK) – Opal Travel. I cannot recommend them highly enough! We had a wonderful day on their lovely boat exploring the island and doing some amazing snorkelling. You can check out a video I made of our snorkelling adventure here.

Verdict

We loved the vibe in Ko Lanta but we wouldn’t stay in Klong Dao or that particular resort again! For a luxury beach break it would be a beautiful and relaxing place to visit.

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I hope you enjoyed my Thailand Diaries or perhaps might find it helpful if you are planning a trip to Thailand! Have you been to either of these places before?

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It’s not everyday I get to review one of my favourites foods from an exciting new brand, so when I was contacted by Mr Lee’s Gourmet Oriental Noodles I jumped at the chance! Having travelled and lived in South East Asia I am a big fan of noodles of all shapes, sizes and flavours!

A bit about Mr Lee’s Noodles

‘..on a mission to help time-poor people eat better food!’ – a quote taken from Mr Lee himself (who is a real person by the way). I am certainly what you would describe as ‘time-poor’ so I really like this vision statement. Mr Lee are a UK producer of high quality, healthy, gluten free, ‘no nasties’ noodles in a cup.

What I thought

Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of other ‘noodles-in-a-cup’ brands on the market. I’ve never been a fan of Super Noodles or Pot Noodles, I find them stodgy and having been lucky enough to taste authentic Asian cuisine for real I just find those brand’s flavours all wrong. I was excited to try Mr Lee’s noodles to see if it was possible to get all the authentic Asian flavours into an instant noodle pot whilst still maintaining the healthy and low-fat elements.

I was pleasantly surprised and I really enjoyed all six flavours of Mr Lee’s range. The range includes Hong Kong Street Beef, Penang Chicken Curry Laksa, Tai Chi Chicken, Warrior Fighting Shrimp, Dragon Fire Mushroom and Shaolin Monk Vegetables. I did like them all – I must admit, the ‘3 chillies’, extra hot shrimp one was a little hot for me! Other than that I was a big fan of all of them. My favourite was the Tai Chi Chicken which is absolutely delicious! I really feel that this brand have managed to harness real Asian flavours into a dish which has all the ease of instant preparation – just add hot water! Something which I’m sure is not easy. I was impressed by the quality of the ingredients in all the variations, the vegetables were real veg and the noodles themselves (the key ingredient) were really tasty and good quality!

Mr Lee’s Gourmet noodles are perfect for a guilt free lunch-on-the-go or a delicious dinner when you can’t be bothered to cook from scratch. The fact that they are so healthy means you can get all the perks of a ‘ready-meal’ without feeling like you’ve fallen off the wagon eating wise! This is a biggie for me; I really do try with my diet but sometimes chopping up peppers is the last thing I want to do after a long day at work! I’m sure many of you feel the same!

I also believe Mr Lee’s noodles to be excellent value for money. They are available to buy in a pack of six for £17.94, which works out at just under £3 per pot. Yes, it puts them at the higher end of the market for this kind of product but I do think the quality is evident. For example, they are packed full of veg and the meat flavours have real meat in them rather than just flavourings. I also found when eating one of the pots for lunch it really filled me up for the rest of the day.

Hong Kong Beef

Chicken Laksa

So where can I get some?

Well, online seems to be the best place to get your hands on some of Mr Lee’s noodles! Click here to visit their shop where, like I said, you can purchase mixed or single flavour packs of six with free UK shipping! Hurrah! Something which I found extremely exciting is that soon, Mr Lee will be branching out into ‘noodle kiosks’ up and down the country – basically vending machines where you can buy their noodle pots! What a brilliant idea.

You can check out their website here.

What are your opinions of instant noodles?

**I was sent this product for reviewing purposes but, as always, the opinions are 100% my own**

I think most of us will agree that lazy Sunday mornings are literally the best thing ever. Now, I love a brunch date and although sometimes it is nice to pop to a café and have someone else make it for me, sometimes I really don’t want to get out of my pyjamas and leave the house! So lately we’ve been whipping up some delicious home-cooked brunches in our own kitchen.

Instagram friendly poached eggs on smoked salmon and smashed avocado

This is super easy and quick and is equally as scrumptious to eat as it is to look at on your insta feed. Simply spread some ripe avocado on some wholemeal toast and pop some smoked salmon on top. Next, poach a perfect runny egg (this part takes some practice and I usually get Paul to do it for me!) either in hot water or using a poacher. Top with black pepper and a sprinkling of chilli flakes to give it an extra kick. A super impressive brunch which takes less than 10 minutes to prepare.

Guilt free oat and cinnamon pancakes

And they seriously are guilt free! These pancakes contain no sugar, no butter and no milk.  Throw 25 grams of porridge oats in a blender (or Nutri Bullet) with an egg, a banana and a tea spoon of cinnamon. Then accessorise as you please! Blueberries, strawberries, yogurt, banana and honey are all delicious toppings – but we were really naughty once and put apple, bacon and maple syrup on them!

Spicy vegetarian omelette

This delicious and healthy omelette is perfect for even the most discerning of healthy eaters! It’s meat free, dairy free, gluten free – not quite vegan though, sorry! Roughly chop peppers, radishes, spring onions, chills or any of your chosen veg you’ve got at the back of the fridge along with some tofu. Whisk three eggs in a bowl and season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika for a kick. Lightly fry your filling until the tofu is turning brown, add the eggs and cook, flip, fold and make your omelette! Serve with mashed avocado on the side.

 

Greek inspired bruschetta 

These are a tasty savoury brunch idea which were inspired by our time in Greece last year and we absolutely love them. They are so easy to prepare too! Serve roughly chopped ripe plum tomatoes with basil leaves and feta cheese pieces on slices of toasted ciabatta bread. Also, while the ciabatta is still warm rub a cut garlic clove over it for that extra yummy kick. Drizzle olive oil over the whole lot before serving.


The Full Monty

You cannot beat a full English fry up and sometimes – it’s just what you need on a Sunday. Particularly if you’ve had a few wines the night before I find! Anyway, I love cooking up the full monty for us occasionally but we all know it’s not that great for you. There are a few small changes I make to keep it as healthy as humanly possible (but still not healthy!). Firstly, I always use a very, very small amount of coconut oil to cook the eggs and mushrooms, and I tend to scramble or poach the eggs rather than fry them. I also cook the sausages and bacon in the oven rather than in the pan. This reduces the oil and grease content slightly. The key to a good full English is timing and preparation! The final ‘flourish’ of cooking everything only takes about 5 minutes so you have to make sure everything is out, ready and raring to go before it all goes cold! I’ve got it down now even if I do say so myself!

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Wow, my mouth is seriously watering now! I think I better go and get me some brunch! I hope this might give you some ideas for some super easy but seriously delicious brunch ideas to cook in the comfort of your own kitchen. For more recipes and food ideas visit my Instagram page.

Have a wonderful Sunday.

Recently, I was lucky enough to be sent this delicious food package to try from Polish Village Bread. Living in London, we are fortunate to have lots of Polish cafes and restaurants and the food is so tasty! I was really excited to try the food I was sent.

Polish Village Bread is an authentic Polish bakery based in London. They provide all types of Polish food, ranging from bread and cakes to savoury snacks and frozen products. I was delighted to be sent a mixture of baked goods, microwavable meals and prepared meat.

 

First up this berry sponge cake – well let’s just say it didn’t last long! The sponge was light and the fruit was so tasty. It was absolutely delicious!

 Next we tried some of the pancakes. The spinach and cheese ones were really yummy and considering that I don’t usually like spinach I really loved the taste of the filling. So well seasoned and tasty.


My favourite thing was the delicious chicken and veg pancakes. These are packed full of spicy, delicious filling. They are microwaveable but we decided to shallow fry them in oil to get them crispy on the outside. Mmmmm!

We cooked up these three dishes as a meal as we thought they’d compliment each other well. This is dumplings filled with potato and soft cheese, cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and pork and traditional Polish sauerkraut stew. I have never tried sauerkraut but I was pleasantly surprised! The flavour is strong and rustic. I loved the dumplings too, potato and cheese are two or my favourite things and they came together deliciously in a little parcel!

 

We really enjoyed all the polish food that we tried and we love sampling different cuisines from all over the world! We love going on culinary adventures both outside and inside the country. To see what else they have to offer, check out Polish Village Bread’s website here.

 

So, here’s the next installment of my ‘Thailand Diaries’ series – our trip to the jungle! It seems like such a long time ago since we got back it’s really lovely to look through all the photos again and relive the memories!

We decided to visit Khao Sok on a bit of a whim. It’s not really on what you would consider the main tourist routes and not that many people have heard of it. However, we got the idea from our Lonely Planet ‘Ultimate Travel Book’ (which details some of the most beautiful places in the world) – and once we’d looked it up online we were sold! We knew we had to go, it was truly stunning.

We thought it was going to be a bit of a headache to get to and it certainly wasn’t as well connected as the other more ‘mainstream’ places we went to – but it definitely wasn’t as difficult as we envisaged. Khao Sok National Park is reachable by minibus from both Krabi and Phuket if you want to fly in (a few hours drive) or from Surat Thani which is the main rail station in the area. We caught the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok which is 14 hours and really not as bad as it sounds! We paid a little extra (£30 each at the most!) to have First Class which gets you a private lockable cabin and pretty comfortable beds. The train leaves Bangkok in the evening and you wake up in Surat Thani early morning! We found it remarkably simple.  TIP: don’t make the mistake of leaving train bookings too late. Thailand rail are yet to get on board with an online booking system so you need to pay a travel agency in Bangkok to physically get them from the station for you in advanced, and you pick them up when you arrive. We used 12Go Asia who were fantastic and efficient from start to finish.

Anyway, we turned up at Surat Thani station at 5am on Christmas Day slightly concerned we had no onward travel booked and imagining we may have to wait a while for the first bus of the day. We needn’t had worried! Even at that time the station was packed with locals offering taxis, mini vans services and breakfast. We only had to pay 150 baht for the 1hr30 drive to the national park.

Once we had actually got there we needed to locate our hotel – ‘Our Jungle House’, which was located right next to the national park entrance and it pretty well hidden! It was worth the trek to find it though. This beautiful, secluded hotel is right in the heart of the jungle and it’s made up of a series of beautiful rustic treehouse rooms and a quaint wooden building with a restaurant and bar. In the day it was tranquil and relaxing and at night it wasn’t! It was so amazing to be so close to the wildlife and hear the monkeys running about on our roof!!

During our short two nights in the National Park we went on two trips and enjoyed a delicious Thai ‘Christmas buffet’ which was served at the hotel! The rest of the time we went on a few (short) self guided hikes and just soaked up the true wonder of nature. After the madness of Bangkok, Khao Sok is the perfect antidote. The first trip we went on was on Christmas day which was a short excursion to a natural hot springs in the hills. It is popular with both local people and tourists, but luckily the tour operators at our hotel pre-empted this and took us earlier in the day which meant that we missed the hoards and had the place virtually to ourselves.

On Boxing Day we went into the national park on a day trip to the famous Cheow Lan Lake. If you’ve every seen any wildlife or tourism documentaries about Thailand; this lake will be in it. It was absolutely breath-taking and one of the highlights of our trip. Most of the trip was spent relaxing and swimming by the lake, but it also included an hours wildlife spotting hike and a trip to the limestone caves. I’ve always thought of myself as a beach person but this lake was probably more beautiful than any beach I’ve ever seen. The water was like glass and the backdrop was simply amazing. We were lucky enough to have brilliant sunshine that day – but during our afternoon we saw a 30 second rainstorm! It was incredible, literally passed over us in less than an minute and then it was gone.


For more information on where we stayed you can click here. I loved Our Jungle House but if we were ever to go back to Khao Sok I would LOVE to stay on one of the floating bungalows you can rent on the lake. Imagine waking up to that view each day! We had an incredible experience in the jungle, so different from any other holiday we have ever been on! We would have loved to have stayed longer, but I can’t say that we are particularly natural intrepid explorers! We never ventured far on our hikes for fear of getting lost! There are A LOT of creepy crawlies in the jungle so be sure to take some spray and watch out for the mosquitos.  Next time, we move on to the blissful beaches of the South!