18 December 2016

THE STRUGGLES OF EATING IN TOKYO

Of course I had to do a post all about the food in Tokyo, for me, it does influence my feelings on a place and Japan was definitely interesting in terms of food. Chefs tend to rave about Japan and I once read it was a foodie's heaven but I can't say I agreed much! This mostly goes back to the language barrier and we generally ended up winging it when picking food. I should have learnt way more phrases so I at least knew what I was ordering! I'm not a big fan of sushi, seafood or anything with seaweed, which alone makes it really hard to find food but managed to hunt down a few familiar things that we enjoyed.
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14 December 2016

5 THINGS YOU CAN'T MISS IN KYOTO

In love with Kyoto
Kyoto is a world away from what you find in Tokyo. I adored it, with its stunning Japanese gardens and beautifully built temples, it's a perfect place to zen out and escape the technological, modern city life. From bamboo groves to beautiful cherry blossoms...
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11 December 2016

TRAVELLING IN ASIA DURING "RAINY SEASON"

I would have never thought of heading to Asia during the low season but when I began to get really fed up of work, I pushed forward my trip to May, despite originally wanting to go in late October. Of course this meant I was much lower of funds than I wanted to be but I managed to stay comfortable out there. I was really worried about being there during the rainy season, especially since I had a few beach days planned and wanted to enjoy the sunshine but can't believe how little the rain impacted my trip.
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9 December 2016

TUBING IN VANG VIENG: A MUST DO

How tubing will become the best day ever!
I hadn't heard about Laos much before I travelled there but whenever I mentioned it to people, I'd always hear - you must go tubing! Whatever that was...I didn't have a clue what it was but suddenly we were in Laos and it was the most fab place and tubing has now become one of my most favourite days ever! 
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6 December 2016

WHY LAOS?

And why it needs to be your next travel destination!
I'd been to Thailand, heard tonnes about Vietnam and knew of Cambodia but Laos? I'd never heard of it and up until a month before I was due to go, I was still pronouncing it "lay-oss" - embarrassing. I was super excited to visit every where else and was curious to see what Laos was about but nothing can prepare you for how quickly you'll fall in love with the place...
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3 December 2016

SUMMER DAYS IN BOURNEMOUTH

How I miss the summer days. To chill with good friends in the sun. Going through these photos, I'm realising how much I'm missing my friend Annie, who actually took these shots for me. I went to visit her in Bournemouth and had such a great time! It was just one of those times that you don't plan and end up having the best time, including riding her penny board at sunset, a crazy night out, stumbling to the beach for a dip in the sea and four of us squeezing into my tiny car to sleep off the night. 

We head out on a little adventure and found ourselves in the middle of this picturesque country scene. We decided to have a little photo shoot and these were the results.
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29 November 2016

5 THINGS TO DO IN HOI AN

A Mini Guide to Hoi An
Hoi An is a wonderfully, peaceful town doused in culture and beauty. You will find colourful lanterns streamed across the streets, bright flowers flourish over buildings and intricate patterns are laced across buildings. Among the quaint streets, you'll discover Chinese temples, the Japanese bridge and French Colonial buildings; allowing for the charming, historic town to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a haven for bespoke clothing and the perfect retreat for those wanting to unwind. 


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25 November 2016

MY HALONG BAY EXPERIENCE

Vietnam never ceased to amaze me and Halong Bay did not fall short of expectations. I heard a few fellow backpackers along the way say Halong Bay was overrated and 'pretty but nothing special.' 
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20 November 2016

EXPLORING NHA TRANG BY BIKE

Nha Trang | Travel Journal
An early arrival into Nha Trang meant extra time to explore, so we wasted not even a second, heading straight for a breakfast of ice coffee and pancakes before renting bikes to explore the town. I was so sceptical of riding a bike, having not ridden one for years and the thought of cycling along the hectic Vietnam roads was daunting. I want to say that you don't forget how to ride a bike and cycling on the roads was easier than expected but I can't. Nerves took over and I felt wobbly and unbalanced and felt threatened by the endless flurry of cars and mopeds that surrounded me on my tiny little bike.
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17 November 2016

FALLING IN LOVE WITH HOI AN

Hoi An | Travel Journal
Vietnam is a place bursting with culture, beauty and wonderful food and it won't take you long to fall in love. We'd spent less than a week travelling up the country and Hoi An was one of the stops on our route. We arrived in the morning, so immediately, head for breakfast, where I tried a banana fritter-like dish served with honey and I knew straight away, I was going to like it here. The crunchy fritter was warm, with gooey banana running through and the drizzle of honey sweetened it up. Yum! 


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13 November 2016

LIVING LIKE A LOCAL | VIETNAM

The Phuong Ja Homestay

My first night in Vietnam began in the rural district of Châu Thành, where I stayed with locals at the Phuong Ja Homestay. I couldn't have asked for a better welcome into Vietnam - the luscious, green landscapes surrounded us; a river flowed gently closeby, where families could be found floating down in their boats and friendly smiles greeted us from every direction. We got a chance to explore the village, meet and interact with some of the locals and get a glimpse into their way of living. 


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6 November 2016

PLANNING YOUR BIG TRIP | HELPFUL TIPS

So you have finally bitten the bullet and you want to travel. Congrats! You've just made one of the best decisions of your life! There is so much to plan before you go and it can be mind boggling where to even begin. Here are some pretty good places to start to get you on your feet.


What kind of trip is this?
This is a great question to ask yourself. Are you looking to party/experience culture/see festivals/hike nature trails/all of the above? This can heavily influence where you first travel to. Research is your best friend at this stage and once you've written down what sort of things you first want to see and do, it helps you to narrow it down a lot. 

When and how long for? 
If you're working, you might have to figure out how much time you can take off of work or if you can leave and reapply for the job (which is what I did) or you could even just yolo it and quit your job altogether and figure out work life once you're back. I mean, if you have no kids, no house, no real responsibilities, this this is the time to travel! If you're studying, make the most of your time off! Once you've figured out the length of time, it would be useful to consider when you want to go. These two kind of go hand in hand. There's no point in booking time off to go travelling a week after a famous festival or during super busy seasons and have your travel time ruined by excess tourists. Think about whether you're going for a specific event and maybe it would be handy to time it around that. I knew I wanted to be in Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party, so I organised around that. A good book to help you is "A Good Place To Be Today," sharing with you which places are good to visit on certain dates. 

Where to?
This kinda comes down to the budget you have. All of these points come hand in hand - for example, if you've decided you want to do a hiking/outdoors holiday, New York isn't going to be the place to start. So, once you've decided on the trip style, you can figure out where to book that ticket to. Start brainstorming which continent you'd most like to visit and pinpoint the countries in that continent you're dying to see. Doing this can help create a rough itinerary as well and will help you to create a route. Are you dying to go on a safari or swim in waterfalls? Writing down things you want to do can help you find the best destinations for these particular things. 

Budget? 
This can highly influence where you travel to and how long you're able to go for. Don't book a cheap flight without thinking of the living costs once you get there. You might find a cheap deal to Oz but you'll find yourself stuck for cash once you're there (it's pretty pricey out there) and that's the last thing you want since it takes so long to get there, you're going to wanna stay there for as long as you can - make it worth the 24 journey. Whereas, Asia is generally a great place to start since it's affordable to get to and dead cheap to be out there, with meals in Thailand costing just £1 sometimes! Don't forget the costs of moving from country to country - as a travel agent, I have a lot of people who want to do South America and forget the distances between place to place. Whilst living costs are fairly low out there, moving around can add up. And don't forget exit taxes and visa requirements! All boring costs but things you need to take into consideration...

Who with?
This can sometimes be the hardest part of planning a trip! When you talk about it with your friends, everyone is up for going but when it comes to booking time, everyone has an excuse. It's really hard to get everyone's schedules and budgets to sync and it can really get in the way. If you're determined to get your group of friends to go, give yourselves plenty of time and you could create an itinerary, look up dates and flights and agree to have enough money saved by set date. Then when it comes around, no one should have excuses since they have had enough time to take time off work or get the funds. And if they don't, don't let it stop you, travel solo, find a group tour, just go for it! 

It took me a whole year to finally settle on dates and book a flight, mostly down to just being scared. Don't let this be a reason for you. Once you have all the technical bits sorted it just becomes super fun from here on out. I promise!

And if you do need any help planning a trip (from flights, insurance to tour groups & more) - feel free to email me at Sasha.Khan@STATravel.com and I'd be happy to help! 

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1 November 2016

UBUD HOTELS | PONDOK NAYA

Where To Stay in Ubud?

My favourite continent to travel to...Asia! I've never been to Indonesia before and so excited to try the food, experience the culture and see the beauty of it. Driving to our hotel reminds me of why I love Asia so much; the organised chaos of the roads, the street vendors selling food, the stunning architecture, the tropical surroundings, the sticky heat.
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27 October 2016

BUT FIRST, COFFEE...

Our first stop in Bali was actually a coffee shop. They specialise in a certain coffee called Lewak Coffee, described by our barista as "Cat-poo-cino." I love a good ol' pun. The making of this coffee starts with an animal, really similar to a weasel eats the coffee beans and digests it; it then poops the coffee out and it becomes Lewak Coffee. It sounds so vile but it's a specialty out there so I naturally had to try it.
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23 October 2016

5 REASONS I FELL IN LOVE WITH BALI

I wish I had much more time to spend in Bali but I just had under a week - spending half my time in Ubud and the other half on Gili Trawangan. I think I managed to make the most of my time here but I know I'll be coming back one day. This place had me in love from the moment I got off the plane. Here are just a few of the reasons why Bali has my heart.
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19 October 2016

THE "IT" BOMBER


Jacket: Boohoo.com // Top: Brandy Melville // Skirt: Monki // Boots: Bershka
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16 October 2016

MONTEROSSO | TRAVEL JOURNAL & PHOTO DIARY

Storytime!

Having to wake up at 5am is never easy but knowing you'll be on a beach by the end of the day helps a lot. I love flying; the buzz of taking off; the amazement at the ever-changing view; being constantly astounded that humans can be this high up in the sky, looking down over the clouds. After a super quick flight, we touch down in Pisa and head to catch our train to Monterosso - a small island part of Cinque Terre. This translates to 'five islands' and Monterosso is one of them. We had been last year and my sisters and I were beyond excited to return.


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12 October 2016

GLAMPING AT NORTH STAR

Glamping: "a form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping."
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9 October 2016

UK ROAD TRIP: KNARESBOROUGH

I've hardly ever explored outside of London and not really considered it for travelling but it can be a great thing to have adventures in your own backyard, especially when you are running low on money. I've recently started to venture out to more of the UK and I had forgotten how photogenic England can be. 
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5 October 2016

3 SIMPLE STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL UK ROAD TRIP

One of my favourite memories is seeing my mum in the driver seat and my sister up front with a map in hand. My mum has driven us through the UK, Ireland, Italy, America and most recently, Australia. It's amazing to have the freedom to hop in your car and go wherever you fancy.
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30 September 2016

LONDON MARKETS: GREENWICH

Greenwich & Cutty Sark
Home to Greenwich University, The Maritime Museum and The Royal Observatory - oh and that famous ship, Cutty Sark. Greenwich Market and the surrounding area is one of my favourite places for a day out. There's loads to do here, an amazing selection of food (street food is my favourite!) and it's beautiful for scenery. Head to Cutty Sark for gorgeous views of the London skyline and river, the Observatory provides lovely panoramic views of London and Greenwich Park is a wonderful green space to totally relax.
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24 September 2016

WHY YOU HAVE TO TAKE A DAY TRIP TO GOZO WHEN YOU'RE IN MALTA


Surely this photo is enough to make you want to hop on a ferry to Gozo, right? If you need a little bit more convincing, keep reading...


We stayed at the San Andrea Hotel, which is in the area of Xlendi. I think it was an ideal spot, since the hotel overlooks the gorgeous beach, you have amazing sunset views and it's close to everything you need. We went for a lovely meal at a place called Stone Crab, which was less than a 5 minute walk from the hotel and naturally, they served great, fresh seafood plus with a view like this...



Gozo is definitely a great place for the adventurous type; with jet skiing, cliff jumping, quad biking and segway tours on offer, you'll never be bored. Be aware though that activities tend to end at 5pm and since we arrived late, we barely managed to find someone to do a sunset activity for us. We missed the chance to go quad biking, as we arrived in too late, however, we saw some guys on segways rolling around who offered to take us on a quick little tour to Sanap Cliffs. Probably the highlight of the trip, as we got to segway to the top of the cliffs, enjoying breathtaking views at sunset. If you ever get the chance, hire a segway - it's super fun and a fun way to get around if you're feeling a bit lazy. Shoutout to our tour guide, Kevin (from Gozo Segway Tours), who took us on a great tour and kept us laughing the whole time! 


It was mind blowing. Since the tour guide was technically finished for the day, it was just us two on the trip, making for a really personal adventure. Gozo is also perfect for hikes, it's quite hilly and green, making for gorgeous scenic walks, if you're into a calmer type of exploring. 


And finally, the nightlife is pretty sweet. Head to La Grotta, which is basically a club inside a cave - can it get any cooler? It's so underrated and I cannot wait to get myself back to Gozo one day! 

More Travel Posts:
Malta Diary + Brief Guide



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21 September 2016

TRAVEL TALES OF AN INTROVERT

I consider myself an introvert. I don't have tonnes of friends, don't go out socialising very often and am actually very comfortable in my own company. I've always been the quiet one, seemingly shy and will often pick a night in over a night out. So, I shocked myself by finally biting the bullet and booking a two month trip to South East Asia. Alone. As much as I wanted to go with one of my friends, sisters or my boyfriend, school, work or money kept on getting in the way. I thought to myself that I just have to do this now otherwise I'll never do it in hopes of the chance that someone might one day be able to go. 
A week before I'm due to leave, I've finally got myself a backpack and filled it with so many clothes that I won't use, and I'm overwhelmed by a terrifying mix of emotions ranging from utter excitement to gut wrenching anxiety in an instant. Will I make friends? Is two months too long? Will I get sick of being with people everyday?
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18 September 2016

A MALTA DIARY + BRIEF TRAVEL GUIDE



My friend Annie invited me out to Malta with her in April and perfect timing really, as with no further plans as college was coming to a finish, I couldn't wait to get some sun, sea and sand to escape the stress of growing up! 
We flew out for 10 days and stayed in a beautiful villa set up for us by her dad + his girlfriend. So grateful to have such a lovely place to stay in such a great location. We were situated in St. Julians, which is a perfect area for dining in quaint cafes overlooking the bay.
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15 September 2016

PHAT PHUC NOODLE BAR


The unexpected warm weather meant I got to drag my sister across town to Chelsea. I had discovered this cute outdoor noodle bar last time I was here but didn't get the chance to go. It's located on Sydney St. just off Kings Road and is down the steps in a little courtyard surrounded by shrubbery and fairy lights. Too cute for words. It's a Vietnamese Pho noodle bar called Phat Phuc (say it aloud and see if you're as immature as I am), which actually translates to Happy Buddha.
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13 September 2016

LUNCH DATE: SLOANE SQUARE


I decided to wear all black, not realising how warm it would become. Knowing I was going for food, I opted for dark clothing, predicting it would get messy eating noodle soup. I threw on this old season Topshop blazer decorated with skulls and some black distressed jeans from Mango. I thought I'd attempt to add a splash of colour by adding these mirror reflective sunglasses from Quay Eyewear, which have a pink/green tint to them. I never used to like mirrored sunglasses but I can't get enough of them now.
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9 September 2016

TURNING 21 IN VEGAS: TOP 10 THINGS TO DO


Get wet and wild at a pool party
Aim to try and find a promoter who will give you free entry (you'll need to save money every possible way you can here) and it will be one of the best things. There's nothing more fun than daytime drinking in the sunshine with a good vibe and great music. I highly recommend Daylight at Mandalay Bay.
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6 September 2016

PJ SHORTS



This outfit is one of my favourite outfits that I wore in Malta and as the sun comes out in London, I thought I'd throw on these pyjama-like shorts and bare my legs. I really like it with the anklet, which I got from Malaysia last year and now refuse to take off, as it adds a little summin' summin' to every outfit. 
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4 September 2016

NEW YORK PHOTO DIARY

The Big Apple

Being to New York a few times already, I felt like I'd conquered most of the touristy things to do so this visit was to just enjoy the city in all it's greatness. However, this visit to New York left me with a sour taste in my mouth...We arrived into NY at around 8.30pm not arriving at the hotel until 10.30ish after opting for the much cheaper option of getting a shuttle bus rather than cab. Despite how uncomfortable that bed was and how much noise you could surprisingly hear from the 10th floor, I fell right asleep. Our first night was a rocky one, what with rude bus drivers and a creepy hotel choice but the next day we welcomed New York with open arms.


We spent our time shopping around Times Square before making an evening trip to Brooklyn; it was a shame that we weren't there for the weekend, as I had really wanted to check out the famous flea market, however, we still enjoyed the beautiful views of the sunset over the Manhattan skyline. 






The next day was spent predominantly in and around Central Park - we rented row boats and we even found a family of turtles in the lake! It was amazing and I'm so glad I finally got to explore Central Park, as it's something I'd never really done. We met up later that evening with my sisters who were also in New York and had dinner at Red Lobster, where everything we ordered was delicious and I'm not even a huge seafood fan. 


I had a lovely trip this time but won't really be in much of a hurry to visit New York any time soon. I was glad to be surrounded with good company but generally, (and to quote the Kardashians) I'm like, totally over it. 

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1 September 2016

LITTLE DEER


Apologies for the overload of photos but I am super excited to show off these Chanel babies. It was an insane splurge but not impulsive, for once. I had my eye on these for months and months but had never actually seen them in store, so when I saw them abroad, I thought I'd nab them! It was straight after Christmas, so with the extra work bonus money I had saved, it was really a Christmas present from me to me. It's taken me this long to wear them, as I've been a bit too scared to go anywhere with them, in fear I'll get shoe jacked (paha! I know how it sounds but it's a worry factor) and the weather hasn't been too permitting. However, here they are. Happy Sasha is happy - so chuffed to have my very own first ever Chanel purchase!
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1 January 2016

LOOKING BACK ON 2015

Thanks for the memories, 2015!
It's so important to pause and take a moment to appreciate everything you have in life. I try to do this every day just to remind myself of how much greatness I'm surrounded by. It's easy in a world of social media to compare your lives to others and feel discouraged or that your life isn't exciting. But once you stop to think about all you have and all you've accomplished, you'll start feeling really great. As the new year begins, I wanted to look back on my past year, collect and share my favourite moments.

(how perfect is this picture for this post?!)

For me, someone who didn't get a university education or live independently, travel was my way to feel equally as accomplished as friends who were getting degrees. 2015 was definitely my year of travel and finally feeling independent.

I went travelling by myself for the first time
I'm sure everyone is sick of me banging on about this but it's such a milestone for me and something I'm super proud of. Visiting 4 different countries, being away for that long, knowing I'd paid for every single thing myself. Flights, visas, spending money. It was all me and that is one of the best feelings. 

I volunteered with kids in Thailand
I have always been eager to volunteer abroad and knew teaching was one of the best options for me so I got my TEFL certificate and hopped on over to Thailand. It was only for a short period of time but it was great getting out there and seeing how many people teach English abroad and love it. The kids are some of the most amazing children I've ever met (I've worked in a London nursery and it's amazing to see the difference)

I made life long friends
You know when you meet someone new and you instantly click and suddenly it feels like you've been close friends for years. I don't know if it was just the people or if travelling brings you closer to the ones you're with but I'm so lucky to have come home with really great friends who I still see.

I landed an internship in Fashion PR
Whilst I only did it for a month, I was so happy after weeks of applying to finally hear back from a company who wanted me. It was a confidence boost to know that you can still climb your way into the field without a degree and now I have experience on my CV, who knows what other doors will open for me.

I quit my job and went on an Australian road trip
I mean, I only worked in retail and quitting isn't a big deal but now I'm home from another two months of travel and feel as though I'm back to the beginning. It's a scary thing leaving your only source of income and sense of security but now I have the choice to do anything I want and that's super exciting.

And here we are entering 2016. It's only January and I've managed to travel to 3 continents already. Hopefully a sign of how the rest of the year will pan out. Don't be afraid to chase your dreams, live the adventure and always appreciate every moment of your crazy journey. 

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