Two weeks in Thailand

It’s been just over 3 years since the beginning of an amazing couple of years of travel in my life. From doing a football stadium tour of Europe, up until spending 2 weeks at the theme parks in Orlando, days before the world went into lockdown. At the beginning of all this was the 2 weeks I spent exploring Thailand with my partner back in February 2018.

Thailand’s popularity has grown massively in recent years and what was once solely a haven for backpackers and nomads alike, is now often thought of as holiday destination for families. Whether you are looking to visit Thailand with nothing but a map and the money in your pocket or are looking for a well-planned, luxury holiday, Thailand offers plenty to make it an unforgettable adventure. On our Thailand adventure, we wanted to combine a good mix of culture, nature and relaxation (this was a holiday after all!). 

Riding in the back of a tuk-tuk through Bangkok
There’s only one way to travel in Thailand – a tuk-tuk!

I’m going to split the recap of our trip into 3 individual posts, focusing on each area of Thailand we stayed in as each were so different from one another, but for now, below is just an overview of where we visited and what we did there. Hopefully this can serve as useful inspiration for anyone planning their trip to Thailand (when the world is back to normal of course!).

Bangkok

We spent 4 nights in Bangkok and made it our initial stop on our adventure. Bangkok is really easy to fly in and out of with regular flights from across the globe, we flew from Manchester, with a short stopover in Dubai along the way. We were really eager to visit Bangkok as it is one of the most renowned cities in the world and has much to see and do.

Bangkok is easily the craziest city I’ve ever visited! From the bustling markets packed with people and animals, the chaos on the streets with thousands of Tuk-Tuks at rush hour to the tranquillity and serenity of the temples scattered around the city, it’s hard not to be awed by the contrasting environments. Seeing something as simple as seeing a group of monks walking down the street makes Bangkok is a fantastic destination to grasp the culture of Thailand first-hand.

Fruit and vegetables in a Bangkok street market
The colourful street markets of Bangkok

Khao Lak

After a hectic 4 nights in Bangkok, we travelled south west to Khao Lak. Khao Lak is a series a villages in the Takua Pa District and is around an hour and half’s drive from Phuket. Khao Lak is the coastal area which was hit hardest by the Indian Ocean tsunami back in 2004. Whilst it’s infrastructure and economy have recovered, there are still stark reminders in the Khao Lak of the devastation and destruction the tsunami caused in the region.

During our time at Khao Lak, we visited the local national park, went on a snorkelling excursion to the Similan Islands and even visited a sea turtle sanctuary. The resting and relaxation we had in Khao Lak was a welcome break from the chaos we’d just come from in Bangkok! 

The Similan Islands are amazing for snorkelling!

Ko Lanta

We rounded our Thailand adventure off with a further 5 nights in Ko Lanta, an island off the west coast of Thailand. Ko Lanta is a tiny little island, only 25km long by 6km wide and was the most stripped back of all places we visited in Thailand, with very few paved roads and limited commercial development. 

Due to its small size and lack of development, the island is only accessible via ferries at the northern tip of the island. Despite its size, we found so much to do on Ko Lanta! From exploring a mangrove forest via long-tail boat to getting attacked by a monkey over a pack of Pringles (funny story which I will try to explain in more detail!), Ko Lanta was again a nice change of pace from the two other places we visited. 

A crab-eating macaque on the beach in Thailand
Keep hold of your Pringles!

Like I mentioned above, I will be going into more depth on each individual location with specific posts for each, providing tips and things to do to make your next trip to Thailand as unforgettable as ours!

Have you visited Thailand before, or are you thinking about visiting once the pandemic is over? Let me know in the comments!

Life is short and the world is wide

Over the last couple of years I’ve been fortunate to travel to some amazing places. I plan to write some in-depth travelogues to inspire your next trip (once COVID has passed of course), but for now, I just want to give a brief overview of some of my favourite destinations and adventures I’ve been lucky enough to experience.

Thailand

Way back in February of 2018, my partner and I spent 2 weeks exploring Thailand. We started with 4 nights in the crazy city of Bangkok. We then flew south to Khao Lak for 5 nights, before finishing our adventure on the sleepy island of Ko Lanta for a further 5 nights. 

Whilst we only visited a few locations in Thailand, but we got a great glimpse into the culture and beauty it has to offer. From visiting some of the amazing temples to the tropical jungles, we did so much in our time there. It was our first trip to Asia but we had such a good time in Thailand that it won’t be our last!

A crab-eating macaque on the beach in Thailand

New York City

We visited New York in November of 2018 and were fortunate enough to be there for Thanksgiving which was a perfect time to go as we got to celebrate Thanksgiving in America, see the madness of New York on Black Friday and see things transition over ready for Christmas.

New York City really is a unique city with SO much to do, we were there for a week and our NYC bucket list was only 50% complete! The Thanksgiving day parade was amazing to witness, even with the sub-zero temperatures and heaving crowds of people. 

Olaf

Canada

I had always dreamed of visiting Canada and in September 2019 my dream came true! We flew out to Vancouver and spent a few nights there before hiring a car and driving through the Canadian Rockies before flying back to the UK from Calgary.

I can’t even begin to explain how picturesque the Rockies are, with every view literally looking like a postcard. The stereotype of Canadians being the nicest people couldn’t have been more true either – the people we met out there were so friendly and helpful. Out of everywhere I have visited, Canada is definitely where I could see myself living in the future.

Lake-Louise-and-surroundings

Universal & Walt Disney World Florida

Back in March 2020, we visited Universal Studios and Walt Disney World Florida. Again this was somewhere I had always wanted to visit and being such a popular destination I had high expectations, but the magic of Disney and Universal managed to exceed them!

Universal surprised me just how good it actually was and it is undoubtedly a MUST if you are a Harry Potter fan. The scale of Disney is pretty overwhelming with the resort being 40 square miles in size, meaning there is so much to do no matter what your favourite Disney film is.

We were also super lucky with our timings as the day after we flew home, the parks were shut due to COVID. Talk about getting home before the 12th chime of midnight strikes!

That’s a brief snapshot of some of the amazing places I’ve been fortuitous to visit over the past 3 years and like I said, I plan to write some in depth posts for each of these which will hopefully help someone in planning their next trip. 

Looking out on Lake Louise

It’s been a while…

It’s been a while since my last blog post – two and a half years to be precise. Even before then I wasn’t posting regularly. Looking back, I don’t quite know why I stopped blogging – I enjoyed it, was connecting with a number of people from around the world and had big dreams for my blog. In 2017 I made 52 posts and had over 11,000 views from 5000 visitors to my site. 

I feel quite disappointed that I just stopped blogging, I’d made huge progress on my blog from 2016 where I only posted 22 times and had 436 views from 153 visitors. It would have been great to see where my blog was at in January 2021 and the growth I had made. Nevertheless, we can’t dwell too much on the past.

2017 was a great year for my blog!

Surprisingly enough though, my blog still did get a fair amount of traffic since I stopped back in July 2018. Whilst it’s not anywhere near the numbers of 2017, it was still nice to see people had visited my site and read some of my ramblings. The majority of my traffic in this period came from my movie, tv and video game reviews. Thus, thanks to a little new year’s resolution motivation and WordPress stat confidence boost, I am back in the world of blogging!

Given my enjoyment for review style writing and of course my enjoyment for watching movies and playing video games, I’ve created a brand new blog specifically for movies, tv shows and video game reviews. I would be highly grateful if you could check it out and give it a follow – www.thepausemenu.co.uk. I’m planning to post at least 5 times a week on this blog and the content will mostly be reviews of the latest movies, shows and games as well as general entertainment news. 

But I will also be back blogging here on my personal blog. This will mostly be about my boring everyday life, my adventures (when we are out of lockdown) and parting my wisdom to the world through my ramblings. I’m hoping to post at least once a week and rekindling some of that blogging form from back in 2017!

Let’s make 2021 the best year yet and thanks to all of those that have stuck around.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

Mother Theresa

My next challenge

Following on from my failed attempt at earning £5,000 in 4 months, I’ve decided to set myself a less number oriented money making challenge! Whilst I’m not going to set a target figure, basically I have just purchased my first home (WOOOOOOOO) with my partner so we are saving up all we can for that, plus we have a trip to New York coming up in November so we desperately need to save as much as we can for spends!

I’m going to employ the same tactics I did for the previous money making challenge, however I’m going to try and invest some of what I make initially into more money earning ways. Again I’ll be posting monthly updates so you can see if I’m smashing it or well and truly failing! And hey who knows, maybe it will give you some inspiration into earning extra cash as well!

If you are in a similar situation to myself and are a bit cash strapped yourself, one of the easiest methods which I have used to make a bit of extra money is by doing surveys. Surveys don’t pay huge amounts, but doing them a couple of times a week you can easily make around £20ish a month – not loads, but every penny counts!

The survey site I use is QMEE. QMEE is actually a fantastic survey site, it allows you to withdraw any amount of cash you earn via Paypal or via a gift card and is generally really user friendly. The amount you can earn from each survey varies, but QMEE brilliantly tells you how long each survey will roughly take, so you can weigh up whether or not the survey is worth your time.

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I generally do the surveys whilst I have breakfast, on my lunch or whilst watching TV and if you do it consistently, you can actually earn some pretty decent extra cash. Check out the table which shows how much I have earned over the last couple of months.

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I would definitely recommend using QMEE and as an added bonus, sign up using this link which will give you 50p following on from your first Paypal withdrawal!

Check back soon for my first update on my money saving challenge!

World Cup 2018 Predictions – Semi Finals & The Final

We’re onto the BIG games now! As mentioned in the previous post, these predictions are based on who I believe will make it out of the group stage and in what order and then who faces who in the knockouts, but as a general feeling as to who I think is gonna have a good tournament, this is it!
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The first of the two semi finals pits France up against Brazil. Whilst I think Brazil are a definite force to be reckoned with and can understand why they are in fact favourites to win the competition, I think they will be up against it against a well rounded France team. Brazil undeniably have one of the best attacks at the World Cup but I think France can near enough match them man for man and that should see the French through to the final.

The second semi final is a repeat of the 2014 final and this should be a tasty encounter as Argentina attempt to seek revenge! For me however, Germany just seem to have that togetherness as a group whereas Argentina are somewhat reliant on the little magician Messi. Again, this will be a close encounter but I think Argentina will just fall short, setting up for a France vs Germany final.

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The moment you’ve all been waiting for… my predicted winner of the 2018 World Cup final! Sadly I do think it will be back to back final heartbreak for France following on from that dramatic defeat to Portugal at Euro 2016. I’ve said it numerous times, but Germany just have that cohesion which really does count at major tournaments, coupled with their previous tournament experiences, I think it will be back to back World Cups for a very impressive Germany team.

Agree with my predictions? Or think I’m completely wrong and Japan are going to all way and prove everyone wrong? Let me know!

World Cup 2018 Predictions – Round of 16 & Quarter Finals

So you’ve seen my Group stage predictions, now its time for the first of the knockout rounds! Bare in mind that these predictions are based on who I believe will make it out of the group stage!

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I think Uruguay vs Portugal will be the tie of the round and will be an extremely tight encounter and I could see Uruguay just winning it, possibly going to penalties. I think France vs Iceland and Brazil vs Sweden will be formality wins for the former and I do fancy England to beat Colombia!

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I think hosts Russia’s run will come to an end at the hands of 2010 winners Spain. Again, formality wins for Argentina and Germany in their games and in the close encounter between Poland and Belgium, I think it will be Englands group stage opponents who will come out on top!

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Now onto the Quarter Finals and this is where it gets interesting! I think Uruguay’s run will come to an end at the hands of a very strong France team. Unfortunately, I feel the Quarter Finals may be the end of the road for Englands 2018 World Cup run as I feel Brazil will just have that little bit more to get past them. I think we might see some Messi magic as well as Spain vs Argentina looks like a mammoth Quarter Final tie and can see Argentina progressing. In the final Quarter Final game I think again it will be another close game but Germany should have the tournament experience to see them through.

World Cup 2018 Predictions – Group Stage

So the 2018 World Cup is just around the corner and I am more excited than ever! In classic pre-tournament excitement style I’ve made my predictions on who I think is going to go all the way! Take a look and let me know what you think!

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Group A looks like it’s Uruguays to lose. They should have more than enough to win the group and I fancy hosts Russia to do enough to make it through to the next round!

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Group B looks like a difficult group for both Iran and Morocco, however I don’t think they should be underestimated as they have both done well in qualifying so wouldn’t be surprised to see a shock in this group. I do think though that Spain and Portugal SHOULD have enough quality to progress.

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France and Denmark are favourites amongst many to make it out of Group C but I’m going to take a gamble and predict that Australia will make it out as runners up to France. They take take an experienced manager in Bert van Marwijk with them and I think should have enough to make it out.

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Whilst it’s anyones guess who will finish runners up to Argentina in Group D, I really fancy Iceland to repeat their Euro 2016 heroics again at the World Cup. They just seem to have the unity and spirit which really counts on the international stage, as we have seen with Germany countless times in the past.

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Brazil should win Group E with no problems whatsoever and having watched them preparing they do look a force to be reckoned with. I think it will be tight between Switzerland and Serbia for second place, with Switzerland just edging it.

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I can see Germany having no troubles with Group F and similarly to Group E I think it will be close for second place, but my money is on Sweden to make it to the knockouts behind Germany.

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In full on patriotism, I’m backing England to finish as Group G winners. I think it will be extremely close, possibly even going down to goal difference for first place against Belgium. Surely we will have a decent World Cup for once?!

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Group H is the trickiest to predict, it really is wide open. I wouldn’t be surprised if the final standings are the complete opposite to what I’ve predicted but I think Poland and Colombia both have enough to get through.

Peter Rabbit Movie: Review

Peter Rabbit is a 2018 3D live-action/computer-animated comedy film based on the stories of Peter Rabbit created by Beatrix Potter. The film stars Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne and Sam Neill, with the voices of James Corden, Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Debicki.

James Corden seems to be the celebrity equivalent of Marmite – you either love him or you hate him. Personally I think he’s great and I love some of his previous works; Gavin and Stacey is still one of my favourite shows of all time! For me James Corden is absolutely fantastic as Peter Rabbit in his latest offering, and considering he just plays the voice of Peter Rabbit, he steals the show!

Overall the story is very simple, it follows the ongoing feud of Peter and his friends breaking into Mr McGregor’s garden whilst he tries to deter them. I was a little disappointed with this as I thought the story would follow more of an adventure, this does mean however it is easy for younger viewers to follow the story due to the lack of complication. There’s plenty of slapstick comedy as well which younger viewers always love and there are a few humorous moments for the adults as well. One of my favourites was when the fox, Mr Tod, did the ‘walk of shame’ the morning after a party in which his chest hair had been shaved off!

The animation is great for the most part, there are a few dodgy moments, in particular a fight scene between Thomas McGregor and Peter Rabbit, however for the majority, the animation and aesthetics of the characters is pretty flawless. Some of Peter’s friends look fantastic, in particular Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle who must be the most impressive animated hedgehogs I’ve ever seen – in fairness I think this is the only animated hedgehog I’ve ever seen! I would liked to have seen a lot more of the woodland critters in the film, but sadly there are only a couple of scenes which they are present which was disappointing as they feature so prominently in the Beatrix Potter books.

A lot of reviews have criticized the film, I have seen a number of comments saying that the film is an insult to Beatrix Potter, one in particular said the following “Listen carefully, and you can just about hear the sound of Beatrix Potter, turning furiously in her grave.” I think this is extremely harsh and unjust, Peter Rabbit has such a huge fanbase it was only a matter of time before he entered the world of film. In my opinion Sony do a grand job of appealing to a new generation of Peter Rabbit fans.

Go and watch, wait for the DVD or avoid altogether? – This is definitely a film which will appeal to the younger viewers, and with Easter coming up this could be the perfect film to take them to the cinema to watch!

Rating: 6.7/10

2018

How in God’s name are we in March already! It’s been around 4 months since my last blog post and that’s due to the craziest of months I have had!

Over the past 4 months I have been busy with the following:

• Celebrated my 21st Birthday

• Visited Dublin

• Started a new job

• Moved out of my house

• Visited Disneyland Paris

• Moved back into my house

• Christmas and New Year festivities

• Celebrated my friends 21st birthday

• Visited Thailand

• Celebrated my girlfriends 21st birthday

As you can see the past couple of months have been hectic to say the least so blogging sadly went down the priority list, never the less I’m back now and eager to report on my trips!

Also, the challenge of £5,000 in 4 months didn’t go quite to plan, however it was definitely a good starting point in helping me save more money. I will probably be doing a similar (more realistic) challenge in the coming months so keep posted!

£5,000 in 4 months: November Update

I’m going to jump into it and just say it, £5,000 in 4 months is not going to happen, especially after this month’s performance. I’m almost embarrassed to say how much I’ve saved but here goes… since the beginning of October I have managed to save a grand total of £38.26.

Here’s the breakdown:

£10 loose change I found in my room

£12.51 from completing surveys

£12.83 from selling an old Xbox game

£2.92 savings left over from October’s salary

Yep not exactly the £1,250 which was need this month to reach that goal of £5,000, however October was a fairly productive month by all accounts.

I have a brand new job which I started today which is on a slightly higher salary than my old job which means hopefully I will be able to save more than £2.92 from my salary.

I’ve created a neat looking spreadsheet so I can document all my earnings and spending’s and keep on top of what is actually going out – an attempt to limit impulse purchases!

I have started collecting any further loose change in a money box which I am going to open come February (and I know there is roughly around £20 in there currently so hopefully this figure will increase)!

I also have a few good leads on a possible part time role doing some hours over the Christmas period!

So overall, not a great month in terms of savings however there have been some great revelations which will hopefully see a lot more being saved in the coming months!