Cambodia : Siem Reap

Siem Reap is the place you stay at when you want to visit the famous Angkor Wat, and I must admit it was one of my favourite places that we visited in Cambodia, I completely fell in love with the place.

We arrived late in the day and checked into the hotel before walking the short walk to the bustling centre of town, all the lights, street food and market stalls added to the atmosphere. We jumped into a tuk tuk and took a short ride out of town to a G Adventures funded project which was an English school for local children. We all sat on the floor and were served a delicious Cambodia dinner. The chicken amok and the noodles were super tasty and it was such a fun experience to all eat together. After the dinner we played games with the Cambodian children. The children were the friendliest and happiest and I really enjoyed getting to know them all, and some of them spoke really good English. It amazed me at even though these children live in poverty they were so happy and always smiling, it was a pleasure to meet them all.

We then took a tuk tuk back to the centre of Siem Reap and put our bartering skills to good use and bought some elephants pants, shorts, bracelets and souvenirs. We then had an early night ready for the early start to visit the temples.

We woke up at 4am and got ready to meet the group, we met at 4.50 and got on the bus. Our first stop was to buy our tickets for the day, and then we went to Angkor Wat. We arrived at Angkor Wat by 4.30 despite sunrise not being until 5.45, (we felt we got here WAY too early and we could’ve have another hour in bed!), anyway we waited around for sunrise and took far to many pictures! The cloudy weather did not make the sunrise as spectacular as expected but it was still an amazing experience and something I will never forget. Its crazy how many tourists were there for the sunrise. We then met the group for breakfast before heading inside for a tour. We explored the  temple with our guide, which I think was unnecessary as we ended up spending nearly 5 hours here! I would’ve preferred to explored the temple by myself with a guide book.

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Afterwards we stopped briefly for some more food as the group were feeling peckish, I wasn’t very hungry so had a fruit salad and tried jack fruit and dragon fruit for the first time!

The next stop was to the city of Angkor Thom which features the famous faces temple called Bayon. We first stopped off at the bridge leading to the temple and again had to endure a lot of waffle by the guide, which again I thought was unnecessary. We then drove to Angkor Thom and were taken around by our tour guide. Thankfully this time we were given a generous (!!) 15 minutes free time, so we went and took some fun pictures. From the whole day this was my favorite temple, the faces were so detailed and you could wander and study them all day! In addition this temple was less busy which was nicer. This temple was one of many used in Lara Croft.

We then visited our last temple of the day which is famous for all the trees called Ta Prohm. However, by this point the whole group were feeling tired and hungry and also fed up of the waffle from our tour guide. We just wanted to go off and explore this temple, however we had to follow the group. I am sad because I would’ve like to have stayed longer here and visited at my own pace and don’t feel like the visit did it justice. Lara Croft was also filmed here!

We then headed to lunch, however I do not know the name of the restaurant we were taken to. However I ate the nicest Chicken Amok of the whole trip. This restaurant was full of locals which was great and we loved this, and the food was even better!

We then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the quad bike tour (we sure did have jam packed days!). We were all feeling a little dubious of the tour and if it was worth the money. However take my advice, it is so worth the money and one of my highlights of the whole trip. We all got to drive the quad bikes through the Cambodia countryside, zipping down dirt tracks and across rice paddy’s. The whole experience was incredible, and we even got to watch the sunset whilst enjoying a beer! We ended the trip completely covered in dust, and nearly crashed into a cow and I wouldn’t change thing! I would recommend to anyone visiting Siem Reap to do a quad bike (ATV) tour!

We then all went for dinner, the place we were taken to was awful. The service was slow and the food was overpriced and not tasty at all, even the cocktails were not good, and to top it off the whole restaurant was full of tourists (we wanted to get the authentic Cambodian experience and eat like the locals), the whole restaurant felt like a cruise ship especially when the started playing the whole Abba playlist on YouTube!

Some of the group headed for a night on the famous pub street, which is where all the backpackers go. We had such a fun night visiting a number of different bars. I also ate a spider and a cricket!!

The next morning we were leaving to go to Phnom Penh. I opted not to do the optional activity of visiting the floating village and had a chilled morning with some of the girls. We visited a coffee shop for a tasty frappe and then chilled by the pool.

I had the best time in Siem Reap and would love to go back, what a highlight of the trip!

 

– all views are my own 

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Positive vibes only

Positive- A desirable or constructive quality or attribute

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty- Winston Churchill

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We are constantly striving to see the positive in every situation; this is something that can take years of practice but with a bit of encouragement from each other we are doing a pretty good job. When things go wrong it’s important to recognise that life isn’t always perfect and we are strong believers of ‘everything happens for a reason’. Try to see the positive in a negative situation, it can be tough at times but it will make you feel a lot better after.

Every day we surround ourselves with a variety of different people, all of which will have different characteristics. The majority of these will be a delight to be around, they will love, encourage and support the decisions you make in life.  These are the people you can turn to when good things happen like getting a new job or a promotion at work, they will be happy for you, congratulate you and won’t be jealous of your success.

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Closing the door on old relationships can be hard, just because you have been friends with someone for years doesn’t mean the relationship is a strong and happy relationship. If you find yourself making excuses about meeting up or not looking forward to seeing someone this is a good indication of an unhappy relationship. If someone makes you feel bad about yourself or doesn’t respect you as an individual you don’t have to continue the relationship.

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We often become like those we are closest too, look around at your friends and think are they who you would like to become? Do you respect them? Are you happy around them? If the answer is no to any of the above then take some time to think why, it’s hard to live a positive life if you surround yourself with negative people.

Initially it may be hard to stop negative thoughts, be patient with yourself. Every time you have a negative thought try and think of two positive things in your life. So many of us take things for granted for example having a bed to sleep in every night, having access to clean water or having a body that lets us experience life each day.

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Lunch time Pizza Party

Last weekend we wanted to make something quick and easy for lunch. We thought about a few options but decided homemade pizza was the perfect decision. Instead of making the dough we purchased some Kingsmill thins from Tesco and all the toppings!

This is the perfect lunch and can be enjoyed both hot or cold so we will definitely be taking these to work in our lunch box. Let us know if you make these or if you have any other quick lunch recipes.

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Ingredients
Kingsmill thins
Passata with basil
Grated mozzarella
Grated mature cheddar cheese
Selection of cold meats
Red pepper
Rocket

Method
Switch on the grill
Grill the Kingsmill thins on a baking tray on both sides for a couple of minutes until toasted
Spread the passata onto the thins and sprinkle the cheese on top
top with a selection of cold meats
Cook for a couple of minutes until cheese is fully melted
Top with rocket and serve

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Chickpea Cookie Dough Balls

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Who doesn’t love cookie dough? Sometimes when we make cookies we make extra just so we can eat the mixture but shh don’t tell anyone. We decided we wanted to make slightly healthier cookie dough balls and thought chick peas would be the perfect ingredient.

These delicious cookie dough balls taste delicious hot out the oven, they are all gooey with melted chocolate oozing out its hard to stop after eating just one. They also taste just as good once cooled. We would suggest serving them with some homemade ‘nice cream’ or even treat yourself to some proper ice cream after all these cookie dough balls are healthy!

Ingredients
2 Cans of chickpeas
200g Peanut butter
5tbsp Honey or maple syrup
1tsp Baking powder
2 tsp Vanilla essence
150g 85% Dark chocolate

Method
Pre heat the oven 180oc and line a baking tray with grease proof paper
Drain and rinse the chick peas
Dry the chickpeas well
Blend all ingredients minus the dark chocolate in a food processor (we would suggest taste testing before adding the chocolate to ensue the mixture is sweet enough if not add some more honey/maple syrup)
Break the chocolate into small chunks and stir into the mixture
Take small handfuls of mixture and roll into a ball
Place on the lined baking tray
Cook in the oven for 11 minutes

5 Healthy lunch ideas to take to work 

We have got into the habit of taking a pack lunch to work on a daily basis. This way we know the food we are putting in our bodies whilst also saving a LOT of money.

We tend to make our lunch the night before or even bulk make it at the weekend. We all know the saying after all; Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

Below are five ideas that make the perfect lunch! Let us know if you have any other ideas as we would love to know!

Homemade soup- There is nothing better than tucking into some homemade soup in the winter at work. Soup is ridiculously easy to make and you will find tonnes of recipes online, BBC food always has simple recipes to follow. Some great soups to make our: Carrot and Coriander, Leek and Potato, Tomato, Butternut Squash, Pea and mint and so many more!

Homemade Hummus with veggies and wholemeal pitta- Why not try making your own hummus? The only ingredients you will need are chickpeas, tahini, lemon Juice, olive oil & a sprinkle of paprika. Once again have a look on the BBC food website for a recipe to follow. If you wanted to be extra adventurous you could even experiment by making beetroot, sundried tomato or roasted pepper hummus all of which taste delicious. If you don’t have time to make hummus then you can also purchase three mini hummus pots from Tesco. There is a selection of flavour: Sweet Chilli, Lemon and Coriander, Caramelised red onion, Roasted Red pepper, Sun blushed Tomato etc.

Salad- Salad is a great lunch as it is so versatile! We have lettuce, tomato, cucumber, celery, radish and sugar snap peas as a base and then add on whatever we fancy for a topping. Some great toppings are: smoked salmon, tuna, falafel, parma ham, feta cheese, olives, chickpeas etc. Try not to flavour your salad with shop bought dressings as they can be full of sugar. Instead if we are at work we tend to use balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Roasted Veg- Roasted root vegetables are a perfect lunch now the weather is getting a little bit colder. We tend to just cook more vegetables the night before with dinner which will save you time when it comes to making your lunch. The roasted vegetables we are loving at the moment are: sweet potato, butternut squash, beetroot, peppers, courgette, carrot and red onion. Wack it in the microwave for a couple of minutes to make sure they are heated through.

Roasted Chicken breast/Salmon Fillet with Brown Rice- This lunch is perfect after a post run lunch (read our previous blog about lunch time running here). You can roast the Chicken or salmon the night before but we would advise purchasing the 2 minute microwave rice bags as rice carries lots of bacteria so shouldn’t be re heated. You can purchase the rice bags at all super markets.

White Chocolate and Cranberry Protein Muffins

We love experimenting with protein powder with cooking. Sometimes we use unflavoured protein such as one from The Organic Protein Company, or we use vanilla protein powder. We are currently using vanilla whey protein from My Protein.


These white chocolate and cranberry protein muffins are quick and easy to make and taste delicious. Enjoy the recipe below:

Ingredients:

100g blended oat (or you can use oat flour, but we find it cheaper to just bend your own oats!)
100g plain yoghurt
40g whey protein (we used 20g sachet from The Organic Protein Company and 20g of vanilla whey from My Protein)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
50ml semi-skimmed milk or dairy free milk
1 packet of 45g dried cranberries
1 bar of white chocolate chopped into chunks, or white chocolate chips (we used Moo Free white chocolate)

Method:

Preheat the oven to 190 degree fan
Put the blended oats, baking powder and protein powder in a mixing bowl
Mix together the wet ingredients (yoghurt,egg and milk)
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix
The add the cranberries and white chocolate and mix
Spoon into large muffin cases then cook for 15 minutes in the oven

Trail Running- Rough ‘N’ Tumble

Trail running takes place on softer surfaces such as grass and mud in the beautiful countryside. We love putting on our trainers and getting outside, trail running gives you freedom to run, explore and often get lost whilst enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Running on softer surfaces is much better for your body especially your ankles, shins, knees and hips (all of which we rely on greatly).  During the summer months we prefer trail runs as opposed to road runs especially as we both live super close to the woods. As the evenings begin to get darker during the winter months unfortunately we have to say goodbye to our mid week trail runs and return to road runs.

On January 8th 2017 I took part in a 10 mile trail run called Rough ‘N’ Tumble in a little village in Wiltshire called Pewsey. The race started at 11:00am at the Milton Lilbourne Village hall, the locals were selling pre race tea and coffees and had baked lots of cakes.

I hadn’t done much research on the race so didn’t know what to expect which is probably a good thing, before we had even got to the first mile we had to climb up a vertical hill on our hands and knees.

The puddles were so deep there was definitely a Vicar of Dibley moment half way through but there was no time to stop we just had to continue with soaking wet feet (my worst nightmare!). Everyone was so friendly helping each other on the way round which it definitely made the run more enjoyable.

They had drinks stations at mile 4 & 8 where they were also handing out jelly babies. The Locals were all cheering us along which was a great support especially when you get to mile 8 and you have another hill ahead of you.

Once we had finished the race we stuck around to listen to the results before heading home and showering and tucking into the homemade pizza we had made the night before!

I would really recommend taking part in the Rough ‘N’ Tumble it’s not like your usual road race!

 

Oodles of noodles cookery class

We spent one morning in Hoi An at a cookery class which was run by the charity Streets International. They now have schools in Hoi An and also Saigon.

The cookery class trains under privileged children and orphans to cook and also teaches them hospitality and English skills too.We were lucky enough to be trained by the lovely trainees in the class called Oodles of Noodles!

We first learnt about the school that had been set up and watched a video narrated by the couple who set up the school. The school is amazing the the students all go on to work in amazing restaurants and have careers that they otherwise never would’ve had.

We started with a lesson on the different types of noodles, I took a picture to remember what the different types are. They are all made using rice flour.

We then made a banh u’ot each on top of a water bath stove. You take the rice flour liquid and pour it on top of a cloth which has boiling water underneath it and spread it out to make a  circle shape. You then put a lid on for 5 seconds to steam it (we learnt how to count to 5 in Vietnamese but I’ve forgotten already!).

We were then given a rice cracker that had been prepared earlier and you put the banh u’ot on top of the banh trang nuong and hey presto you have a banh dap, also known as smash as you have to smash them together to make them stick! We dipped the banh dap into a selection of dips but it’s traditionally eaten with anchovy dip!

We were then told how you make mi quang, which is a traditional noodle dish with shrimp, prawns and quail egg. We then all enjoyed this dish cooked by the trainees – it tasted divine.

After the lesson was over I bought the cookery book so I can create these dishes at home. I’m sure you will see some of these dishes featuring on our Instagram account and blog in the future!

Healthy & Unhealthy Flapjacks-Deliciously Alchemy 

We absolutely love living an active healthy lifestyle, but we also love to bake goodies for ourselves and our families. Nothing beats getting in the kitchen and baking delicious sweet treats! We bake when we are happy, sad, stressed or just even bored, we find baking very relaxing and therapeutic.

Deliciously Alchemy sells award winning gluten free products such as baking mixes, bread mixes, porridge oats (our favourite) and a selection of granola’s. Follow them on Instagram where they are currently running a share your #DAmorningmagic campaign. Share your breakfast creations with them for a chance to win!

We believe that living a balanced life is the key to succeeding and we don’t think you should restrict yourself from eating sweet treats occasionally. this weekend we decided to bake some healthy and unhealthy flapjacks using Deliciously Alchemy oats. These oats are gluten free but you could also use ordinary oats for the recipes below.

We LOVE flapjacks and the unhealthy version below are the gooiest sweetest most delicious squares of goodness you will ever try! Also you have to take a spoon and try the mixture before you cook them you wont regret it! The healthy flapjacks make the perfect on the go breakfast or they can be enjoyed as an afternoon snack.

Raw Cacao & Banana Flapjacks 

Recipe 
250g Deliciously Alchemy gluten free oats
300g Banana mashed
50ml Maple syrup
5 Tbps Raw Cacao Powder
350ml Almond Milk (or a milk of your choice)

Method
Pre heat the oven to 180oc
Line a baking tray with grease proof paper
mash the banana in a bowl
Add the oats and raw cacao power to the mashed banana and mix together
Pour in the milk and maple syrup and mix until combined
Bake for 20 minutes

Gooey chocolate flapjacks

Recipe
300g Deliciously Alchemy gluten free oats
125g dark brown sugar
125g Butter
200g Milk or dark chocolate
6 tbsp golden syrup

Method
Pre heat the oven to 180oc
Line a baking tray with grease proof paper
Melt the butter and sugar over a low heat
Gradually add the oats and stir as you go
Once the mixture is combined add the golden syrup
Stir in the chocolate
Pour the mixture into the lined baking tray
Bake for 15-20 minutes

My Vietnam Homestay experience

Whilst in Vietnam (long post to follow), we went to a homestay which is exactly as the name describes – you stay in someone’s home. This was a great way to experience Cambodian life in the heart of the country. We arrived by our bus and then had to get off at the edge of the village and walk the rest of the way to where the family lived.

We were greeted by the owner of the homestay who was very friendly and picked our rooms/beds.I was with my 3 other girlies on matressss on the floor!

We then headed straight out for a walk around the village, we stopped to see local houses and ‘kitchens’, which are basically huts with a stove. We saw how the locals grew their own fruit and vegetable and got around by boat or motorbike. We also met some lovely Vietnamese children who were so happy and loved to wave at us!

We returned to the home for some chill time where we played card games.Then the women of the house taught us how to make savoury traditional pancakes which we also got to eat! They tasted delicious and were filled with beef and vegetables.

We then all sat around and ate the most incredible home made feast: pumpkin soup, spring rolls, prawn crackers, rice, green beans, tofu and pork curry. Everything tasted INCREDIBLE!

We spent the evening chatting before heading to bed for an early night. The locals all go to bed 9.30pm latest! We slept with mosquito nets to protect us from not only the mosquitos but all the large lizards and rats! Despite this and sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the humidity I slept very well!

I loved experiencing a homestay and think it’s a great way to experience the local way of living and something everyone should do when visiting a new country if possible.

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