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Authentic Xi'an Food at Murger Hanhan

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Murger Hanhan was another of my Instagram discoveries; that seems to be the way with everything I've done more recently, not that I'm complaining because this was a great new find. Not only did the food look totally unfamiliar which was very exciting but they are running a ridiculous £10 deal throughout October (three courses and a drink) so I got Georgia on board asap and we headed to their Mayfair branch for lunch. 

The restaurant itself was very cool; dark and intimate of course with an oriental vibe - and well set up for Covid too, there was a mini hand santizer and full length plastic sheet dividers between each table.

The £10 menu gave us the option of two starters, a choice of 25 xi'an noodle dishes and a couple pieces of mochi for dessert - plus any soft drink from the menu.

Georgia went for the veggie starter which were gyozas but as soon as I see something I've heard of on a menu, I'm intrigued. The other option was a murger (or rou jia mo in Mandarin) which they explain as the world's oldest sandwich/hamburger. I can definitely see where that description came from but at the same time, it was so uniquely Asian and just not like a burger at all. The shredded, fatty pork was full of flavour and almost held together like a patty spread was across this strange round bread. It was dense and chewy and just very unfamiliar - but very delicious.

The handmade biang biang noodles were what I was there for and they didn't disappoint. I ordered beef and Georgia went for chicken, which came chopped up but still on the bone - something I got very used to in Southeast Asia but was a bit odd to see in London; it wasn't your typical Chinese restaurant that's for sure. I haven't been to mainland China (just Hong Kong) so I can't be sure but all these new flavours, incomparable to anything I've had before really and a menu full of dishes I'd never heard of, made it feel very authentic. I loved being so unfamiliar.

I wasn't totally sure about the scrambled eggs and soggy tomatoes that were part of my dish, it was all a bit soft and wet but ignoring that, the pac choi, lemongrass and almost.. crumbly meat, along with the intensely flavoursome dribble of sauce at the bottom of the bowl were a perfect addition to the huge hand pulled noodles. They were thick, un-uniformed and had quite a bite to them thanks to the wheat rather than rice, they were made from. Big comfort food vibe. 

I love ice cream mochi so I wasn't worried that it was the only option for dessert. Mango and green tea, both vibrantly coloured with a soft, chewy shell, one sweet and one much more understated and a little bit bitter. Both very good. 

With a few days of the month left, if you're looking for something different, I'd highly recommend you take advantage of this deal and give Murger Hanhan a try.

Sensory deprivation pods | What to expect

Friday, 16 October 2020

I first heard about sensory deprivation pods in London a few years ago and have always been very curious to try them. I guess with Covid doing its thing, it seemed like a great time to give this solitary activity a go. Not only was it as easy way to try something new without being in close contact with anyone but it is also all about clearing your mind and with everything that's going on right now, it was much needed! 

From the moment I walked into Yue Float on a rainy Saturday morning, I felt relaxed. I went super warm and comfy in my fur lined converse, high waisted trousers and aviator jacket. 

The guy at the front desk was so chill - he took our details and then it was off to get started. Very little faffing which was nice. We were admiring the wall in reception and he told us that it's actually a living moss wall which he sprays with water daily. How cool!

Yue float has two pods which were each in their private room, along with a shower, towels, ear plugs etc. The guy showed us to our rooms, explained what to do and then left us with 10 minutes to have a quick shower and get ourselves into the pod before he started the programme from the front desk.

The pods themselves were huge, alot bigger than I'd imagined which made closing the lid and being in the enclosed space, much, much easier. Claustrophobia is a part of my life so it was something I was quite worried about beforehand but alas, not a problem with the almost 8" pods.

Along with their size, the fact that the lid was super light and stayed in whichever position you left it also made the whole experience very easy. It meant I was able to start with a big gap and bring it down slowly as I started to relax. It was fully closed by the time the 10 minutes were up and we were ready to start our hour.


The water in the pods is supposed to be body temperature, although it was a little cooler than I'd have liked. It's full of Epsom salts so you float very easily although its not very enjoyable when it gets into your eyes or mouth - luckily there is a clean water spray to keep on hand in case this happens.

I closed the lid, got into a comfortable position and the lights in the pod faded out.

The first part of the session was great, getting used to the lack of sensations, getting my thoughts in order and just the novelty of being there. You very quickly loose your spacial awareness and track of time. That being said, I was a little bored by the end.

We both felt the same afterwards which was surprising. I was expecting to feel calm and serene but actually, I felt kind of dazed and unsettled, maybe emerging back into the real world was too much for me although it didn't last long at all. We headed straight into Chelsea for brunch afterwards to refuel.


Overall, it was a cool experience and something I've wanted to do for ages so I'm glad I finally got the chance to do so and tick it off my list. They say it's something you need to do a few times to get the most out of it but at £50 a pop it's not something I want to pay to do over and over. It was quite expensive in my opinion.

birthday week 2020: COVID edition

Friday, 2 October 2020

I have always loved birthdays and as usual, this year I took it as a great excuse for a week long celebration; I wasn't going to let COVID get in the way of that. Since I have absolutely no travel content to share with you at the moment I thought what I'd run down what I got up to during birthday week 2020.

My brother lives in Birmingham so he came home for the weekend and celebrations started with family, on the Sunday prior. My mum insisted that I found somewhere with outdoor seating, that we could drive to, rather than getting on the tube so we headed into Shoreditch, which I was more than happy with. Dishoom ticked both those boxes plus everything there is delicious so it was the perfect choice; we even managed to get an awesome table out on their terrace. 

I had had a hankering for a roti for weeks so that was the first thing I ordered, plus a black daahl to dip it in. We had chicken, paneer, fish, two huge legs of lamb and then all the rice and veg as well. Still not content, after a chocolate fondant with a birthday candle, we popped over to Boxpark to pick up some cronuts. 

Monday was Grandparents day so a little more understated - we just hit up Wildwood which is just on our local high street; they were also doing Eat Out To Help Out at the time. We skipped dessert and headed back home where a huge surprise cake was waiting for me! Cute. Birthday cake is my favourite.

Tuesday was my actual birthday and I spent most of it with Georgia. I started by opening cards and presents with my parents at home before a quick gym session in Bayswater. Georgia and I live at different ends of the city so when we get together, we usually pick somewhere new to explore. We did brunch at Darcie & May Green in Paddington since not only want it a new area for me but it was also on a super cool, boat on the canal. Seated out on the deck, I had my first shakshuka; Georgia ordered something very green and vegan looking plus they kept bringing us prosecco which was a very nice birthday treat! We were both very drunk and full by the time we left. 

We opted for Clapham as our next destination, I think the idea of a long last tube ride was actually what swayed us - we both fell asleep hahah. Soon enough, we were drinking more cocktails, outside in the sunshine at Venn St Records.

Wednesday, we had booked to go to an Italian in Mayfair but heading out early, we popped into Amazonico for drinks and ended up staying for food as well. It's my favourite place so once we realised they had tables, it was an easy decision.

All things considered, I had an awesome and very memorable birthday week!

GAUCHO: Going out for dinner post lockdown

Friday, 21 August 2020

Eating out has always been a huge part of my life and before March 23rd, I was doing it almost every other day so having to eat at home 24/7 was particularly hard. It's now been a couple of weeks since bars and restaurants in the UK have been allowed to re-open and I've made the most of it - I've eaten far too much of my own, terrible cooking over the past few months.

I know alot of people are still pretty scared to go out, which is why I wanted to write this post - to share my experience of this weird new world where something that used to be so normal, is now very odd - going for dinner.

black mesh off the shoulder top

Usually, I would double check my bag for my phone, card and keys. Now it's face mask, hand sanitizer and a plastic bag to sit on on the tube. Yes I know that's a bit extreme it but it makes me feel better okay?

Getting on the tube isn't quite as scary as I originally thought. A few weeks into lock down I ordered myself a contactless card because my old school one just wasn't cutting it anymore, obviously, so it's all good on that front and even though the tube is getting busier, I feel safe in terms of social distancing; with my mask firmly on my face and my plastic bag under my butt. I also tie my hair up and am very mindful throughout my journey not to touch anything. 

Sadly, I come across loads of people not wearing a mask.

Gaucho Steak

I got on at South Kensington and headed to Gaucho just a short walk from the station. Not quite full to its normal capacity to every other table, as they were limiting numbers, the place still had its usual buzz. With every other table empty, not only did it feel totally safe in terms of distancing but also a little more luxury than usual with more privacy and space. Being close enough to hear what the next table are talking about is a little pet hate of mine. 

We filled in a track and trace card and then ordered some cocktails! Pornstar martinis and then a little later, strawberry daiquiris. Yum.

passionfruit cocktails

Staff weren't wearing masks or any type of PPE for that matter. They were however, always cautious when getting close or moving things around on the table; not so much that it was a hassle though - just trying to keep their distance which obviously is a good thing right now.

Apart from that, it was pretty normal - just the odd dancing around the tables when walking past people to go to the toilet, but everyone was respectful of each other and we all had a laugh about how strange it was. There were a whole load of Uber eats bags going out through the night so obviously not everyone is as keen to get out just yet.

cocktails and burrata

I can't tell you how good it was to have have a real cocktail (or four), not just vodka and juice from the fridge at home; and also a three course meal. I started with a burrata, which of course was delicious. Then a fillet steak, cooked rare, with fries and mac n cheese on the side. We shared a sticky toffee pudding for dessert and finished up with a fresh mint tea.

By the end of the evening I had forgotten that corona virus was even a problem.

I cant speak for everywhere but Gaucho have done a very good job at maintaining their usual vibe in a safe way.

Have you braved a restaurant yet? 

Wearing my pretty mesh top from femmeluxefinery *gifted

Bicycle Adventures in London

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Now that I've started to settle into the new day to day normal, lack of travel through 2020 has become prominent in my thoughts; and whilst thinking of new ways to fulfill my passion in a safe way, I very quickly realised that there is still so much of London that I haven't explored yet.

I live just east of London, so between work and socialising, I spend alot of my time in Shoreditch, Soho or the city - rarely going further than Marble Arch. London wasn't really somewhere I thought of as an adventure; but I was very wrong there!

As soon as lockdown finished, I decided that if I cant travel (and as such, create content for my blog) the way I used to, then I'm going to make my adventures closer to home. With no choice but to stay put for a little while, I took the opportunity to go a little further out, take a different route and see where I ended up. With trains and buses out of the questions, I grabbed a helmet and hopped on a Boris bike.
Cycling was something I enjoyed so much whilst I was traveling and doing it now means I'm able to see London in all its glory, whilst keeping active (when the gyms were closed) and learning so much along the way. Rather than which station is next, I now actually know how to get from one place to another and what happens in the middle, funnily enough, you miss along when you're underground.

My current route starts at St. Paul's and from there, I head straight down to the river and join the cycle superhighway all the way through to Albert bridge; where I cross over to Battersea park.

Not only are the views on this part of my ride absolutely incredible, along the river, past the London eye and Westminster but this cycle specific road makes biking in London very enjoyable.


Discovering Battersea Park is one of the best things that has come from this whole ordeal. I just love the life inside it and often spend hours and hours there. I dont think I'll ever get bored.

The last leg of my journey is really cool. I found a riverside walkway which takes me all the way though to Wandsworth park and I really enjoy this part. Again, I've never really seen this part of London and I'm finding myself cycle past places that I see on Instagram all the time.

That's about as far as I've got so far but with my laps around the park, I've done as many as 31kms in one trip! I have a couple of friends who live in the area so now that lockdown has been eased a bit, sometimes, my trips are a little more leisurely and finish with a cold drink at the pub!

Things to consider for your first covid trip

Monday, 13 July 2020

As someone who travels as much as I do, this virus has hit me hard. I have now been in the UK since the end of November last year and I am missing the sense of adventure big time. With no plans to leave the country any time soon, it's looking like my next few trips might be more of a staycation; although that's not a terrible thing; I actually think it will be a great excuse to make England more of a priority and see what else my home has to offer other than the hustle and bustle of London.

This past weekend, I took my first trip since everything went crazy and it was pretty great actually. I've got a separate post about what I got up to but it's definitely got me excited for more UK travel and just travel as a whole again, I guess I kinda just forgot about it with everything that's been happening. Now that I've got my first Covid trip under my belt, I'm hoping to see Manchester and Newcastle at some point this year, maybe a cute trip to a holiday cottages in Devon and also do some more coastal trips to the likes of Bournemouth and hopefully back to Brighton again as well!


Here are a few new things we needed to consider for our first post covid day trip!

Drive if possible
Trains have been okay from what I've experienced so far but for an actual trip, rather than just going into London for example, I'd always prefer to go in a car. We rented a hire car for 3 days at £70 which was pretty similar in price for both of us to get train tickets but driving means that you're in your own space and there's no stress with spreading germs, wearing face masks, being scared to touch anything etc.

Plan your accommodation
This is something I don't often do but it's not a smart idea right now. Hotels are now allowed to open from 4th July but just because they can, doesn't mean they all will so it may be harder and more expensive than usual to find somewhere to stay.

Stock up on snacks
Eating wasn't sure a problem as much as eating what I wanted to eat. Not many places were open and all that we could find were greasy spoons and Mcdonalds which was a shame because as you know, eating is a huge part of why I like to travel so much. I was pleased to have snacks on me (I'm always pleased to have snacks on me to be fair) because there were a couple of time where it took us a while to find places to eat. Sadly, it's not as easy as it used to be to pop to the shop or a restaurant to find some food so it's also good to research any particular restaurants you might want to visit beforehand as well.

Research your activities
Most things are not going to be running as usual, some might still not be open at all so make sure you have a look online before you leave to avoid disappointment. We wanted to visit a war memorial and almost had a panic when we arrived; turns out it was just the car park that was closed due to Covid so luckily we were still able to have a wander around once we found somewhere else to park.

Carry your PPE
We did have to get one taxi after our 11km hike and although the driver couldn't care less, I was very pleased to have my face mask in my bag and hand gel for once I got out.

I can't lie, travel isn't the same as it was before and there were a couple of times that I felt a little on edge, mainly because of other peoples attitude towards it but it won't be like this forever and I'm excited for whatever adventure is next!
Are your planning to travel any time soon?

*In collaboration with Hotels.com, but all views are my own.

How I've been keeping busy during lockdown

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Considering I've suffered with my mental health in the past, I was not looking forward to what the announcement of lock down in the UK was going to do to my head. But weeks and weeks have passed and I've learnt the the key to a healthy headspace is keeping as busy as possible!

I have been staying very positive and strangely enough, I've actually been enjoying myself at home - for the most part. This weird situation has meant I've had to be creative and been trying all sorts of things I wouldn't have otherwise even considered.

Exercise

I hardly ever did any exercise at home before this but it's what I've been spending most of my time doing and I've actually seen an improvement as well which is awesome - my body definitely looks different to how it did at the start of lock down! Whether it's a resistance band workout in my room, walking the dog or taking my new skipping rope to the park, it's something I'm really enjoying.

TikTok

Like everyone else my age, I downloaded TikTok just to watch, and I wont lie, I have watched alot; but that lasted all of about 3 hours and now I very much enjoy making my own stupid videos as well. Luckily, I can now spend a whole afternoon learning one dance and have absolutely no guilt about wasting time. I've got just over 1400 followers at the moment and I'm loving learning how to use the app better and better every day.

Here's my first go with outfit change transitions with a new delivery from Femme Luxe


@georginadoes which is your favourite? ##fyp ##fashion ##loungewear ##foryou
♬ Sick and Tired - iann dior




Cooking

Yes, of course I tried banana bread but after everyone got bored of eating that, my brother suggested we try fresh pasta. You know whats fun? Cooking without proper equipment. Can anyone else say they've made banana bread without a loaf tin or ravioli, without a rolling pin? In these hard times, we make do with what we've got... and we had wine bottles so that would have to do.


Knitting 

I have decided to try and knit myself a jumper and this project has been all consuming. I have been taking it to the park with me and with my favorite playlist on, hours just pass by. I picked this lovely, thick yellow yarn and so far as I can see, it's going to make for a very heavy, cosy jumper. I'm excited! Supplies kindly gifted from LoveCrafts.com


feet pics

Debuting my awesome new glasses on the blog too! These were gifted and came they from Glasses Shop who currently have a load of promotions on if you're looking for new glasses

Day Dreaming 

I spent a whole lot of time daydreaming. Of what I want to eat, where I want to go and who I want to see when this is all over.

This is the longest I've been in the country in the past 5 or 6 years I'd say and yes, of course I'm missing my travels. I'd love to visit Cambodia when everything is safe again although maybe 2020 is the year to see a bit more of the UK too.

Sponsored Content*

Going to a gig in a foreign country

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

I've already spent a whole load of time in Thailand but once I found out that Bring Me The Horizon were playing in Bangkok during the dates I wanted to travel, there was no question about the destination of my very last minute holiday! Flying across the world to see my favourite band play live is now something I will always be proud of myself for doing, by myself.

Being in a country where English isn't their Mother Tongue, (that was a bring me the horizon pun guys sorry haha) it wasn't quite so simple; but I wouldn't exactly say it was hard either so I wanted to share my experience for anyone nervous to do the same!



No one in Bangkok center had heard of the venue and a lot of the local taxi drivers refused to even acknowledge me when I asked. Google was also not much help so in the end, I just put the address into Grab and hoped for the best.

We went about half hour out of town but I knew I was in the right place when I spotted a humongous line of people queuing along a road, totally dressed in black. I didn't realise they had such a big Thai following.



The venue itself was awesome. An open air arena; just off of the motorway by the side of a big mall I think. I was just glad that it even existed by the time I got there.

I guess I took it for granted that most of places in Thailand are well catered for English speakers but what I hadn't planned for was the fact that everything was in Thai - I mean I was one of about 5 white people there so it made sense - there was no need for English. I soon realised that if I wanted to know what was going on I was just going to have to ask people - which I did. New found confidence that came with solo travel definitely helped.

This lead me to meet Aida, another girl wandering around alone, also as confused as me - but she was Thai, which was a real help, at least she could understand what was going on. We stuck together for the rest of the night.



I had no idea what was happening when one of the staff ushered us from the back of the very long queue to the ticket pick up point but obviously I wasn't going to stop her. I did have a mini panic when I got to the front of the queue and they asked for ID, which I didn't have but they were happy with a photo of my passport so it was short lived.

We got our tickets and since somehow skipping about a 3000 people in that queue, ran straight up to the front gates of our zone. I was worried about getting stuck in a mosh pit so being right at the front of the zone definitely helped me feel safer - turns out that the Thai crowd are nowhere near as rowdy as Londoners so it wasn't a problem anyway.



For BMTH fans, it wasn't part of the Amo tour so they played a whole load of songs from different albums which was amazing because their new stuff sounds SO different from the older songs. They opened with their new song, Ludens which means I was there for its first live performance. Pretty cool.

Afterwards, Aida and I swapped Instagram's and followed the crowd outside. She took me to the taxi rank and made sure I found a cab before she got a train home which was really sweet.

Getting back to the city center was much easier. After haggling with the driver to less than half of what he wanted, he dropped me off back to Khao San Road and then locked me in the car since I didn't have the right change. Not quite as terrifying as it sounds - he took my 1000 baht note and ran into 711 to get change, smiling and waving at me from the counter.

After giving him some cash, I took the rest of my money for noodles and bubble tea as I walked back to my hostel.

5 Highlights from my recent solo adventure in Thailand

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

My recent trip to Thailand was short; but very sweet. With limited days this time around, I felt like I made the most of each one where as I'll admit in the past, sometimes I took my privileged situation of long term travel for granted. Every day had something fun going on but here were some of my favourite parts.



Seeing One Of My Best Friends 

James was the first person I ever met when I went backpacking and one of the few I still speak to today,. Three years later, like me, he's been forwards and backwards all over the place but we always seem to miss each. He's currently settled in Pai, working at a hostel so I made time to go and hang out with him for a few days.



Thai Festivities

Doing this the first time around was one of my all time favourite travel highlights so having to opportunity to go back and experience it again was a blessing. It was just as magical as the first time. I wrote a whole post about it here.


Pool Day

I'm a big city girl when so I don't spend much of my time travelling, relaxing in a bikini; although a few days into my trip, I started to feel like I was doing too much and burning out a little bit so I took some time off.

I snuck into a hotel and used their gym and then their pool and honestly it was so refreshing just to pretend I was on a normal, relaxing holiday for a few hours. I had the best afternoon and went back to hostel feeling refreshed and ready for the next adventure.



Making New Friends

Meeting people is one of the best parts of backpacking and my favourite night out on this trip was with 4 total strangers who I met during my trip! Three of them I found at my hostel in Bangkok but one of them, August, I met on my first night in Pai so it was awesome to reunite before he flew home.




BMTH Live in Bangkok

Definite highlight, not just of this trip, but of my life. My favourite band, live, on the other side of the world; plus going on my own meant I made a couple of new Thai friends who I plan to see next time I'm in Bangkok.


What are some of your travel highlights?

The Bali Flower Bath: Instagram vs Reality

Monday, 6 January 2020

Smoothie bowls, rice paddies scooter rides and flower baths; did you even go to Bali if you're Instagram isn't plastered with these things by the time you leave?

Flower baths seem to had blown up in 2019 and as I travel blogger, I took it upon myself to go and on a little solo adventure and indulge myself, so I could share my experience here, naturally.

Well let me tell you, they aren't all they're cracked up to be, from my experience anyway; but cute photo hey?



A lot of the little spas that line the streets of Bali offer flower baths but it wasn't what I wanted. I had a scene set in my head and I was going to chase that - for as cheap as I could. I wanted traditional Balinese, outdoors - overlooking the rice paddies and it had to be instagrammable - it's a lot harder to find that you'd expect when you're not willing to pay too much. As flower bath massages go, I went for a mid priced experience although it was the cheapest one that ticked all my boxes otherwise it was a normal bathtub in the back of a salon somewhere.

I came across Sedona spa and it seemed to have everything I was after. It was a beautiful setting, outside in the rice paddies just on the outskirts of the city and I was able to walk there from my accommodation. I also liked that you didn't need to book with them, you could just turn up and get started.

Their treatment list was great too. With a lot of places, you'd need to book a massage and the flower bath part separately and that's why it ended up costing so much. Sedona had a whole section just of these type experiences. All different smells and flavours but all basically the same thing: massage, scrub, bath. 

I went for the Green Tea Bath - RP 210.000 (£11.50)

A relaxing one hour massages using a combination of techniques. Our special body scrub with a natural “Green Tea ingredients follow a natural yogurt and honey moisturizer will refresh, soften & rejuvenate your skin cells. Green Tea contains powerful antioxidants; reduce acne, cellulite and the formation of stretch mark. Finally, you immerse yourself in a bath of exotic flowers. 



After choosing my treatment, I was lead outside to one of the rooms overlooking the rice paddies, made very private but the surrounding greenery and flowers.  

As mentioned, we started with a massage, then a body scrub and then the flower bath but I had a few issues with the experience as a whole and that's what I'm here to share. 


Firstly, I was cold. lol. Bali isn't cold and this was the last thing I thought was going to be a problem but when you're covered in warm oil and there are no walls to catch the breeze it actually gets pretty chilly. 

Secondly, they insisted on running the bath whilst I was having my massage. So for the hour, I had the noise of running a bath in my ear and honestly, it made it really, really hard to relax.

Next, and this one is for the 'grammers. Once my massage was done and she was ready to leave me with my floral bath, she casually dropped that I have 20 minutes. Twenty minutes?! It takes longer than that to set the camera up how I wanted it, let alone take a good photo.

and the last, and probably most annoying thing? The bath was literally boiling hot - like scolding but I came for an instagram photo and I wasn't going to leave without one so I sucked it up and took the plunge. My poor red feet haha


All in, I'm glad I got to do it, and honestly, it did only cost me £12 so no big loss but that being said, I wouldn't go back and do it again, not there anyway - though I am keen to experience it somewhere else and see if they're all similar.

So would I recommend? yes, If you are looking to get your photos for the gram, without spending too much then yes - but just be aware that it's not always as it seems!
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