Visiting Cat Cat Village

Trekking through lush rice terraces, surrounded by nature, encountering local tribal women in traditional dress - this is what I expected from Cat Cat Village.  Oh how wrong I was! 

That isn’t to say that Cat Cat Village isn’t worth a visit.  In fact, it’s probably a ‘must do’ for anyone visiting Sapa. If you don’t have time to travel further out, this will be your one chance to see a ‘local’ village.  If you are spending longer in town, there are only a few attractions and this is one of them! 

Right - so what should I expect from Cat Cat? 
A very commercialised visit to a ‘local’ village.  It doesn’t feel authentic at all (this starts when you arrive only to be told to go to a ticket office and pay for entrance). 

Other blogs have pointed out that this is to support the locals who live there.  At one point I think they opened their houses, but all seemed shut when we were visiting.  It’s almost like paying for entrance to a theme park...kinda like main street in Disneyland.  

But I’ve s…

Is Hong Kong safe for tourists?

'Are you still going to Hong Kong?'
'I wouldn't recommend coming.'
'It looks really dangerous!'

These were just some of the messages my friends sent me in the lead up to my visit.

However, other friends in HK said that it was fine as long as you avoided the protest areas.  I was also heading over to meet a friend's baby - wasn't going to miss that! 

So with some trepidation but mostly absurd confidence I hopped on the plane and set off to what the news made out to be a warzone. 

So how was it?

Completely and utterly fine!  If anything, it was actually nicer? 

It isn't anywhere near as busy as it normally is.  The malls were far more spacious, the restaurants weren't as busy and even better - the hotels were super cheap! 

Sounds fake. 

Well okay it kind of is.  You do see a few signs of the riots that have been going on.  Some of the MTR station entrances are blocked off, and many of them close at 10pm which is irritating.  Additionally, shops in area…

A Weekend at the Green Lung/Bang Krachao

Bangkok can be crazy hectic at times, and being surrounded by traffic and high rises gets tiring after a while. When you need to escape for a weekend you're faced with a painful 3hrs in traffic just to get out of the city, let alone to the place you're going. Well, the solution to you problems is here in the form of The Green Lung! Get off at Bangna BTS and a mere ten minutes later you're surrounded by lush greenery. Read on for a guide to the easiest weekend away...

Where to Stay
We stayed at Bangkok Treehouse as it was the only hotel that showed up when we googled it!  Once we arrived, we found a number of Thai homestay type establishments.  However, we were very happy with our experience and would stay again! 

The ‘rooms’ are actually mini 2 story houses.  The first is a bathroom with an outdoor shower (2 showerheads for the couples reading this) that opens onto some greenery.  The second floor is the bedroom, one wall is made of up windows and sliding glass doors that…

A Quick Guide to the Pingxi Lantern Festival 2020

If you're thinking about heading to Taiwan for the lantern festival, DO IT!  It's a genuinely amazing experience and I can't recommend it highly enough.  It also isn't very popular with western tourists (we saw 5 younger ones during the whole day, then a cruise ship load of 60+ yo/s showed up just for the release, but weren't around most of the time).  There isn't a huge amount of information on the internet and a lot of it may seem confusing (Pingxi?  Shifen?? Different dates?!)   So heres a quick guide from someone who's done it.  If you have any other questions, leave a comment and I'll get back to you ASAP. 

When is it? 
If you've looked about online you'll see that the date changes every year.  This is because it's based on Chinese New Year which moves around (like Easter).  They generally take place in February, the next celebration is on February 8th 2020.

Where is it?
Again, confusing!  The answer is Shifen.  This is a small town in th…

Things I wish I’d known before travelling to Morocco

So heres a distillation of what I know about Morocco, I'll hopefully do longer write-ups on various bits soon.  

Where to go - we did 2 nights Fes --> 1 night Desert --> 2 nights Marrakech --> 1 night Essouria --> 2 nights Marrakech.  I think the ideal trip would have been 2 nights Marrakech --> 2 nights desert --> 2 nights Marrakech. Fes was grim and overpriced, everything it has, Marrakech has.  Most of the sites are only for Muslims so you just trek around the media and shop because you can't go in anywhere.  Pointless.

Getting to/from the airport - try to arrange a transfer with your riad.  Not all taxi drivers will know where your riad is.  You'll pay a little extra, but it's worth it for the convenience.  Going back to the airport doesn't matter as much.  You can get a local taxi and ask him to put the meter on OR agree a price before you get in the car.

Shopping - NEVER pay what they first ask for, even if it sounds reasonable. Start at 25%, w…