For over ten years my last memory of Geneva held strong as a hazy visual from the rear window of my father’s rental car as we sped down the Alps. It marked the end of my first-ever skiing holiday and my inevitable return has since become long overdue.
A lifetime between memories, Geneva completely stole my heart.
Over my recent short-but-sweet stay at the InterContinental Geneve (full review coming later this week!), I had one day to take in as much of the city as I could and managed to fill all of my memory cards while I was at it.
Click through to watch me turn on the iconic Jet d’Eau, visit Laurent Ferrier’s incredible atelier, eat an unbelievably delicious lunch, and explore the beautiful streets of Geneva (there’s even a travel vlog kicking around!)…
The last time I embarked on a road trip from London to Wales I was an excitable pre-teen on her coach-virginal way to visit her Welsh grandparents. Since then, over ten years have passed and two of my Kiwi friends have purchased a giant red van with the intention to travel the country. A celebratory road trip was in order.
After naming said van Clifford and filling all seven seats, we left London for an impromptu road trip to Rhayader.
No, I hadn’t heard of it either. The beauty of Airbnb discoveries.
After crossing borders and slipping into a post-drive coma, the Scooby Gang and I woke up on Saturday morning and headed straight for the nearest spot with caffeine on the menu. The fateful cafe/restaurant – The Old Swan Tea Rooms – was an absolute gem, serving everything from bara brith to Ultimate Sandwiches to welsh cakes (just like my Nana used to make).
For the rest of the day we wound the mountainous roads of Elan Valley (a stunning and time-stopping spread of Victorian engineering), Devil’s Bridge, Cwmystwyth, and Aberystwyth with a number of spontaneous stops stippled between singalongs.
Eight hours later, we returned to our temporary home for shenanigans galore and decided to commit to spend the following morning refuelling at The Old Swan before homeward pit-stops in Builth Wells (my departed grandparents’ town) and Portishead (for obvious musical reasons).
I never expected to feel so proud to be Welsh.
(Don’t miss the travel vlog at the end of this post!)
Our last few days in Bangkok were bittersweet. Over our two week stay, my heart was once again enamoured by Thailand’s culture and diversity. The ferry back from Koh Samui towards two final days in Bangkok was heart-wrenching enough.
As the video suggests, we spent a decent amount of time binging on food and fashion before saying our final goodbyes. We hit up Siam Square, MBK, Siam Paragon (with a special stop for some of the best superfood wraps on the planet at Tossed), Platinum (with a special stop at their spicy-ass food courts), Pratunam, the Thai Food Festival, a bevy of neighbourhood walks around Sala Daeng, and a final stop for kawaii-style nail art at a local street stall.
A booking with GrabTaxi later and it was off to Suvarnabhumi to await the inception of post-holiday stress syndrome.
I have trouble being a ‘typical holidaygoer’. I find it very hard to ‘chill out’, as they say. While many people will rip through hazy romance novels in sun liungers, I read a book while jogging around the shallow end of a pool (I have the wet books to prove it). While even more people can casually wander in and out of the ocean between naps, I have to frolic in the sand with a camera in hand (I’ve done the blogs to prove it).
That is my issue. I cannot wholly ‘relax’ without something to keep my brain and body active.
Knowing the impossible would be expected of me on a remote beach holiday, I balanced the unfamiliar chil out by booking The Manfriend and I an adventure tour on our final day.
If there was one thing I was excited to bring my Canon* along for, this was it.
The Adventure Tour
Starting at the crack of dawn, we were welcomed into the day with a bit of an elephant mingle (where my poor Manfriend was volunteered by someone – ahem – to receive a sexy elephant massage). We then carried on to marvel at the insane intelligence of a few friendly weightlifting acrobat monkeys before heading a short walk away to watch a Thai boxing match.
For a break, our guide – Bo – took us to his outdoor kitchen to teach us how to make traditional som tam (papaya salad); praise the foodie heavens. It might be the best Thai dish there is (can anyone else smell a recipe blog?).
Before heading out of the area, we went for a short elephant ride with our lady elephant’s carer – a very sweet older man who made us jewellery from bamboo leaves and helped us feed the little (‘little’) lady from our bag of bananas.
As midday crept towards us, we jumped in a 4×4 and headed off for Na Muang waterfall. Avoiding the tourist traps and easier, paid routes, we took to the rocky descent like Mr and Mrs Tomb Raider, trekking to the cool waterfall like islanders. Then realising we were absolutely starving.
Hopping not into the 4×4 but now on top of the 4×4, we were hurdled towards the top of a jungled mountain (Pom Mountain) – stopping only for coconuts and congee – before safely placing our feet back on the ground above the Secret Buddha Garden.
The Garden – also known as Magic Garden – is a private Buddhist shrine and a magical combination of art, faith and nature.
Last stop? Koh Tan. Heading back towards Taling Ngam (where our hotel was situated), we stopped off at a nearby beach to board a long tail boat and zip over the the equally barren and beautiful island for a spot of snorkelling.
Major Ariel vibes. A Disney perfect day, altogether.
Watch it all in its full travel vlog glory, above!
So much of my time in Bangkok was spent discovering: neighbourhoods, markets, food, and culture, culture, culture. Before heading off to the islands, the following three activities (used in the very loosest meaning of the word) became blog and vlog worthy…
(You can watch the vlog/video diary at the bottom of this post!)