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Saturday, 22 July 2017

Hidden Meanings Behind Flowers



Flowers are a beautiful part of nature that are, in some way or another, in everyones lives. Whether you send them to a loved one to express affection or simply decorate your kitchen table with them, they are a lovely way to add a touch of colour and natural beauty to our lives. I have always loved flowers, and only recently has it been brought to my attention that they have actual meanings behind them. Luckily, online flower company Flying Flowers have written an entire guide to flowers and their hidden meanings - including the different colours of roses, why lilies are good to give on birthdays and how daffodils represent creativity.  

I have always particularly loved daffodils because they have a lot of personal meanings to me. Firstly, they are the national flowers of Wales, where I live. I have grown up around many beautiful daffodils - in the Spring they bloom pretty much everywhere in Wales, and sometimes there are even entire fields of them! On St. Davids Day, the day when Welsh people celebrate the life of Saint David, it is traditional to pin a daffodil to your shirt. But... what do daffodils actually mean? Thanks to Flying Flowers, I now know what they represent in other countries too!

The Hidden Meanings Behind Daffodils according to Flying Flowers

Why are they in Britain? 
Daffodils are in Britain because of the Romans - they thought that they had healing powers!

What does the daffodil mean in Wales? 
The daffodil means fortune and good luck in Wales.

What does the daffodil mean in France? 
The daffodil is a sign of hope in Wales.

What do daffodils essentially represent?
New life and the start of Spring.

Thinking of sending someone some daffodils? Here are the hidden meanings behind them: 
They represent inspiration and creativity and they symbolise forgiveness.

So, if you're thinking of expressing some forgiveness or creativity, send some daffodils!

For more meanings, symbols and guides to flowers, visit the Flying Flowers Hidden Meaning of Flowers post.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

What They Don't Tell You About Maya Bay

Maya Bay, the beautiful secluded beach situated in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand, is a must-visit. You may recognise it from the popular blockbuster 'The Beach' featuring Leonardo DiCaprio - the film that brought the entire world's attention to the beautiful bay. The beach boasts crystal clear turquoise waters surrounded by a dramatic mountain backdrop and soft white sands. If I didn't tell you that it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited, I'd be lying. If you are travelling round Thailand, make sure you do not miss out on visiting this incredible beach. However, there are a few things that you should know before visiting... 




1. You must pay 400 baht (£10) to enter Maya Bay.

Maya Bay has National Park status, meaning that there is an entrance fee to visit the beautiful beach. This can seem like a bit of a scam, especially as you will have already paid for a boat to take you over there - but there is nothing you can do and you have to pay it. Make sure you have the money ready and, although it is a lot, it is worth it in my opinion.

2. You have to swim and climb up a net in order to enter and leave the bay. 

This is a very important factor that you are not warned about when going to visit Maya Bay. In order to get to the bay, your boat will drop you off near the entrance and it is up to you to then swim to a big net and climb up it yourself to the entrance. The waters can be a bit rough and I would be lying if I said that the net isn't a bit of a challenge. It is also quite rocky so watch out! If you are travelling with older or younger people, this is definitely something to take into consideration. I personally would have preferred a more elegant and simple entrance, but Lewis loved the exciting and slightly challenging swim to the ropes and enjoyed the adventurous climb.


3. The bay is not enclosed like in the film 'The Beach'. 

In the film the beach is completely secluded and closed off, making it a 'secret' beach. The real beach itself is actually not closed off. The only difference between the film and the real beach is that the filmmakers used CGI to edit a rock into where the bay actually opens out. This really does not affect the beauty or expectations of the beach, though, it is just worth noting!

4. It will be very busy. 

The busyness of Maya Bay is completely inevitable following the success of the film. Don't go expecting to have the bay to yourself, in fact it is worth expecting to have hardly any room to yourself. Everyone visiting Koh Phi Phi wants a slice of Maya Bay (and who can blame them?) so the beach and waters get very crowded and busy. Luckily, we visited in low season which meant that there weren't too many people there - but still a lot.

5. You can only visit Maya Bay as part of a tour unless you pay for a private taxi boat.

There are two ways of visiting Maya Bay. The first option is to take a private taxi boat to the bay, however this is very expensive to do. Most taxi boats quote 1500 baht (£35) to take you to Maya Bay from the main beach in Koh Phi Phi, and then you must pay the 400 baht (£10) entrance fee on top of this. A better option is to visit Maya Bay as part of a tour. Tours are offered and promoted everywhere around Koh Phi Phi. For just 400 baht (£10) each, Lewis and I found a tour that took us to Monkey Beach, the Viking Cave, a few beautiful bays, provided us with snorkeling gear, lunch and breakfast, and finished on the beautiful Maya Bay (I will be writing a blog post all about the tour soon!). This was definitely worth it as we got to visit many other places and also saved a lot of money.

... Maya Bay will, however, be one of the most beautiful places you see in your lifetime and I would 100% recommend visiting to everyone.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Planning on Backpacking? What To Pack


So you've booked your flight, planned your destinations and done some research on the places... now what do you pack? Here is a list of some essentials:

1. Light, airy clothes. The lighter the clothes, the better. Remember you are going to be carrying everything on your back in a bag, so you want light clothes that won't take up too much space or weight. Items like cotton shorts and vest tops, airy t-shirts, baggy hareems, dresses and shirts are perfect. Don't go overboard with clothes - even though you may be going for a long time, you can wash your clothes while travelling. Ditch heavy denim items, big jumpers, coats and don't get caught up with small pointless items like handbags, beach bags etc. A simple bumbag will do.

2. Basic toiletries. It's a good idea to take some toiletries with you as if you are travelling on a budget buying items such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant etc can add up. Take a trip to the supermarket before your travels and stock up on a bottle of shampoo, some body wash (or soap), toothpaste, deodorant, suncream and a razor (for shaving). This should be enough. Girls - it's a good idea to pop some tampons or pads in your bag too as in some places they can be more expensive to pick up.

3. Mosquito spray. I would say it is definitely worth buying mosquito spray before you travel. You can get it cheaply in supermarkets or pharmacies and, again, in some places it can be expensive to buy while travelling.

4. Basic first aid. Stock up on some plasters, a roll of bandage, painkillers, antiseptic, mini scissors, hydration sachets and, to be extra safe, some diarrhoea and constipation tablets (trust me, you will probably need them at some point). Little cuts, blisters, wounds and injures do occur while travelling so make sure you are prepared!

5. A trusty bumbag. You want to get a bag that will stay close to you and be physically attached to you at all times, especially if you are carrying around your money/passport/card etc. Take a bumbag and keep it on you at all times. This is where you can put your money, the key to your room/hostel, bus tickets, train tickets and passes. Bags that go over your shoulder are easy for people to grab or steal, so it is definitely better to go for a bumbag.

6. Documents. Make sure your bring copies of your flight details and travel insurance details just in case. It is always safer to have them with you in case anything happens.

7. Flip flops. Packing a pair of flip flops is pretty much essential - they take up hardly any room and they are perfect for everyday leisure. Make sure you take a proper pair of shoes too in case you do any treks, hikes or long walks. If you have enough room it is also worth packing a pair of sandals too but they are not so essential.

8. A lightweight raincoat (depending on the time of year/season). It is always worth stuffing a light raincoat in your bag for storms, monsoons and just generally rainy days. They take up absolutely no room and you'll be thankful you brought it (it can really rain in some places).

9. Swimwear. Don't forget to pack some swimwear for (sorry to point out the obvious) swimming, kayaking, visiting waterfalls, pools etc. If you have room then it may also be worth packing a light towel, although most hostels and hotels do provide towels.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

What Does Your Horoscope Say About You?


Starsigns and horoscopes have always been something that I have loved and been interested in. It fascinates me that the position of stars on the day we were born can reveal some elements of our personality and traits! My starsign is Cancer, and throughout my entire life I have always been true to that sign - I am literally everything it says on the tin. Sensitive. Intuitive. Emotional. Sympathetic. Caring. Sometimes moody. So, I was very intrigued when I saw that Furniture at Work have made an infographic that reveals what your horoscope says about how messy or tidy you are in the office (or in general if you don't work at an office!). Here is what they concluded my starsign says about me... 

According to the infographic, I am a sign of constructive chaos. I'll take that. As the infographic points out, I enjoy organising things and trying to keep on top of stuff but you won't find anything in alphabetical order or anything too organised. I like to keep my desk organised to a degree - but open the drawers and it may be more chaotic.

What does your starsign say about you? Are you messy or tidy? Head over to www.furniture-work.co.uk to find out!

(This post is a collaboration with Furniture at Work]

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Must-Visit: Koh Rong, Cambodia

Koh Rong, the beautiful island situated just off the South coast of Cambodia, is a must-visit if you are travelling Cambodia. The island boasts beautiful white sands that stretch over 43 kilometres, turquoise seas bursting with marine life and dense, luscious jungle. Koh Rong has only become a popular tourist destination in recent years, with many foreign-run guesthouses, restaurants and bars cropping up all over the island. Although Koh Rong has earned itself a 'backpacker-party' status over the last few years, it is still very much untouched and pristine in places, and definitely worth the visit.


HOW TO GET THERE 

The only way to access Koh Rong is by a speed ferry from Sihanoukville, the closest small city set right on the coast. It is super easy to buy a ticket - there are plenty of small tourist information desks and agencies dotted around in Sihanoukville. You can even book on the day! A return ticket to Koh Rong costs $20, and you have up to two weeks to use your return trip. 
The speed ferry leaves at various times throughout the day, so if you don't fancy an 8am trip then you can catch the one around midday - or even take the latest one, which is at around 3.30pm. 
You simply meet at the agency where you booked your ticket and someone will pick you and the other people catching the ferry up to take you to the pier where the ferry waits. 

WHERE TO STAY

There are so many options of accommodation on Koh Rong, and it is definitely worth taking a little walk around until you find somewhere perfect for you. The main beach (called Koh Toch) is where most of the accommodation is. Accommodation options range from guest houses, bungalows and hostels. 

TIP: Don't bother looking on Booking.com or HostelWorld for accommodation before arriving, just turn up! Many of the guest houses on Koh Rong do not feature on booking websites, and some only show the more expensive ones. It is definitely worth just turning up and checking room rates and prices yourself. 

RECOMMENDATION: Sunflower Guesthouse on Koh Toch
During our time on Koh Rong we stayed at the Sunflower Guesthouse, which was situated just off the main beach and pier. We stayed in a double room with a private bathroom for only $7. We were provided with towels, bedding and a big mosquito net. The owners were very friendly and welcoming and it was a great little spot for other backpackers too - it was close to the bars and restaurants yet slightly tucked out of the way. 


WHAT TO DO 

1. Visit The Beaches

During our stay on Koh Rong unfortunately it did rain quite a lot (we visited during wet/low season in May), making some options limited. There are many beautiful beaches dotted around the island, and all are worth visiting. In total, the island has seven beautiful bays including some which are very quiet - so if you need a break from the backpacker lively areas, you can find some lovely secluded beaches. A great one to visit is 4k Beach, which is around a 20-30 minute walk away from the main beach, Koh Toch. The beach is absolutely beautiful and definitely worth a visit - expect white sands and beautiful clear turquoise water. There is a lovely bar called Nest Beach Club right on the beach so you can enjoy a cold beer and some food. 

Other beaches to visit: 
  • Coconut Beach
  • Long Set Beach
  • Lonely Beach 
  • Nature Beach
  • Palm Beach

2. Swim with Bioluminescent Plankton

A lovely and rather magical thing to do on the island is to see the plankton glow in the sea. Lots of boat trips offer to take you to good spots to swim with the plankton, but if you are on a budget then it is very easy to just find a good spot yourself. If you walk far down Koh Toch beach and go out far enough into the sea you will be able to see and swim with it yourself. It is definitely worth trying, and it's easy to find.


TIP: Try to avoid swimming on Koh Toch beach as lots of sewage and pollution filters down into the sea, making it unhealthy to swim in. It can make you sick, so be careful and try to swim on the more remote beaches instead where there is less sewage. 

3. Have a Cocktail at the Sky Bar 

A nice option is to grab a cocktail at the Sky Bar. Just off Koh Toch beach, the Sky Bar is at the top of some steep steps. It has a great view overlooking the island and the bar provides lots of different board games. So go and lose yourself for a few hours - especially if it is raining! 

4. Watch a Fire Show

In the evenings, the best place to be is on the beach. Lots of restaurants and bars open out onto the beach and provide comfy seats and tables on the sand. Most nights you can catch a fire show right on the beach. The boys who perform them are mostly young, so it is pretty impressive what they can do. It also makes for a great atmosphere! 

5. Eat and Drink

There are lots of different restaurants and bars on Koh Rong, meaning that there are lots of different options for food and drink. Here are two of my recommendations: 

White Rose Guesthouse
Our favourite place to go for breakfast was the White Rose Guesthouse, who offer a great breakfast for a great price. We opted for the English breakfast which came with a free beer (!) - great if you're nursing a hangover... The breakfast was always great and cooked to perfection. 

Bamboo Restaurant
If you want to grab a good pizza, we found the best place to be Bamboo. They have a wood fire oven and whip up delicious pizzas in no time at all. They provide seating on the beach so that you can enjoy a pizza overlooking the sea, cheap cold draught beer, good happy hours and - of course - amazing pizzas. 

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Ladies Day at Cheltenham Races

I am currently absolutely swamped with uni work as it's my final few weeks until I'm finally done for good! I was lucky enough to take some time out, however, for a lovely at the Cheltenham Races. I was invited, along with a few other bloggers, by Ladbrokes to experience the Golden Package on Ladies Day at the races on the 15th March. I couldn't contain my excitement when I received the email asking me if I would like to attend - I had never been to the races before and always wanted to go! And what better way to spend Ladies Day than eating lovely food and placing a few bets?! I was even lucky enough to enjoy the experience with my mum, who is also a blogger, which was amazing as being away at uni means I don't get to see her too much. 

We left the house at 7am (yes... 7am) to drive from South West Wales to Cheltenham for the races. I live in Bristol, however I was visiting home in Wales so decided to drive up with my mum instead. In typical Amy style, I managed to tear the ligaments in my ankle just a few days before the races. It was difficult to walk too much on it and I had to wear a huge bulky support but I was looking forward to the races so much that I decided to go anyway. It meant that I had to sacrifice my heels, though, which was pretty annoying! 

By the time we arrived, the sun was shining and it was really warm - a beautiful spring day. The traffic was very heavy around the area due to the races so we were a teeny bit late, but the parking was very organised and straight forward which was good. 
Our base was at the Festival Restaurant, where we had a table for the entire day. The staff were all really friendly and helpful; the service was super quick and I felt very welcome. The restaurant itself was impressive, with a window overlooking the winner's enclosure and big screens showing the races. The atmosphere in the restaurant was great, and very infectious. So infectious, in fact, that me and my mum bought a lucky dip of bets and decided to get in on the action! The restaurant was buzzing, full of tables and people. Private toilets also meant that we got to avoid the queues! There was also a walking betting service on offer which was a great touch, especially for those who can't make it down to place a bet for every race. 







When I think back to the food, my mouth literally waters. It was so good. For my starter I ordered the Coin Valley Tsar salmon, which was incredible. It was a generous portion and the salmon was done perfectly, served with Cheltenham beetroot and horseradish yogurt and topped with caramelised hazelnuts. It went down nicely with a glass of champagne, too!