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17 May 2014

One Year On...

With all the excitement of moving country and exploring my new city, I kind of forgot to blog. Oops, my bad.

There was a lot to take in and a lot of things happened. So, in order to get to you up to speed, here's a recap. Are you sitting comfortably? Ok, then let's go back in time...

FEB 2013:
Where I went: I moved to Hong Kong. You know that bit already.
Who I flew with: Cathay Pacific
I flew Premium Economy and it was great! A good amount of leg room for my short legs, noise cancelling headphones, and a super clean toilet! What more could I ask for?  
Where I stayed: Our new home. 
Other info: I started a Project 365 on Instagram, taking snaps of the things I saw in my first year of living here. See the pictures at #jess_a_day




MAR 2013:
Where I went: Japan.
My first trip ever to Japan. Spent a few days in Tokyo and my mind was blown. It was everything I expected and more. Also, I saw some pretty sakura.
Who I flew with: Cathay Pacific
Where I stayed: Hotel Niwa
I would definitely stay there again. It was in a non-touristy area, but I liked that. Room was small but nice, and of course it had a robot toilet!


APRIL 2013:
Where I went: Philippines.  Visiting my family.
Who I flew with: Tiger Air
I don't remember much about this flight except it was delayed leaving Hong Kong.
Where I stayed: With family
Other info: All my life my experience of going to Philippines has been a chore. I mean, I've been travelling from London to Philippines with my parents since I was little. I can even remember when you could smoke on a plane! (I'm so old). Long haul flight, followed by a long drive equals severe leg cramp. Not this time though! The flight from HK to Philippines is now just over an hour AND I get to bypass the crazy drive my landing in Clark and not Manila. Of course, Jollibee was eaten.


MAY 2013:
Where I went: Nowhere! This was the month that friends came to visit. Hurrah!


I went to all the tourist spots a fair few times - The Peak, Big Budhha, Star Ferry, Avenue of The Stars etc. The highlight this month though was seeing my all time FAVE DJ - DJ Neil Armstrong - at The Do Over HK!
Other news: Also, Duck-mania hit Hong Kong.


JUN 2013:
Where I went: The other side of Hong Kong - Sai Kung.
I did my first Hong Kong hike. Almost died due to the heat and humidity. The view was worth it though.


JULY 2013:
Where I went: Nowhere.
We had some down time. I don't think I did much as I was probably trying to come to terms with the humidity. 

AUGUST 2013:
Where I went: Thailand.
We went to Phuket for the first time for our wedding anniversary. It was bliss.
Who I flew with: Hong Kong Airlines
Crazy late flight time so we landed in Phuket at 2am, or something like that. On the flight back to Hong Kong we were delayed, but being 'upgraded' to their version of 'Business Class' made up for it - bigger seats = more comfortable sleep.
Where I stayed: 
We stayed at The Regent Phuket Cape Panwa and I would most definitely live in this hotel if they would let me. 
Other info: This was the first holiday we booked since we moved to Hong Kong, and we actually organised it all using Nicky the Travel Counsellorwho we used to book our honeymoon!
Also, this was also the month that I was put on Instagram's Suggested Users list. It was an honour. If you want, you can follow me on Instagram @Jesso



SEPTEMBER 2013:
Where I went: Nowhere.
Stayed in Hong Kong and experienced my first Mid-Autumn festival. Saw a fire dragon dance - that's not something you see every day. 

OCTOBER 2013:
Where I went: Nowhere. More family and friends came to visit.
This time I knew more about Hong Kong and where to go, but it still meant trips to The Peak, Big Buddha, Star Ferry, Avenue of the Stars etc.

NOVEMBER 2013:
Where I went: Stayed in HK.
More family and friends came to visit. I was super excited as my brother finally came to Hong Kong.
I of course went to... yep, you've guessed it - The Peak, Big Buddha, Star Ferry, Avenue of the Stars etc. I also went to Ocean Park for the first time!


DECEMBER 2013:
Where I went: HOME!
We went home to London for Christmas and New Year. It was amazing seeing family and friends back on home ground. I got to stay for 3 whole weeks - perks of being a freelancer.
Who I flew with: Virgin Atlantic
I've flown Virgin a fair few times, mainly from the UK to the USA. I used to think it was a good airline with good service, but I have to say that recently, I think they're just meh. The plane seemed a bit dated. TV screens weren't working and my seat pocket had a huge hole at the bottom, so everything I put in it just fell to the floor. Annoying. We only chose Virgin as they were the cheapest option, so I guess we got what we paid for.
Where I stayed: With family.


JANUARY 2014:
Where I went: Sai Kung. Camped on Ham Tin Beach, one of the nicest beaches in Hong Kong.
Who I flew with: No one. We got there via MTR, minibus, taxi, and then used my own legs to hike.
Where I stayed: In a tent. You can rent everything you need from one of the beachfront restaurants. Apart from the journey to get there, this really is the lazy persons way to camp.


FEBRUARY 2014:
Where I went: New York
Who I flew with: Korean Air
A different experience from my previous NYC jaunts. Instead of it taking 6 hours across the pond, it was almost 20hrs, or something crazy like that.
I flew economy, and I have to say I think Korean Air is the nicest economy I have ever flown. The seats are a good size, in fact other airlines should take note. Korean Air seat sizes actually fit human beings. They don't try and squash them into a tiny space that makes it uncomfortable to fly.
Where I stayed: First, we stayed at The Hudson, and then we moved to my fave hotel in NYC - The Nolitan. 
I thought The Hudson was ok, nicely designed with a party vibe. Our room was small and the bathroom was even smaller. Our room was on the fifth floor, and at night we could hear the music/bass from the bar below. My brother and his girlfriend though got upgraded to a room on the 10th floor - huge double room, with big bathroom and they couldn't hear the music. So, I guess it just depends on what room you get/request.
As for The Nolitan, this was our second time staying here. I love the design of the hotel, the laid back feel, the neighbourhood - basically, everything!
Other news: Obviously we ate A LOT of food. Oh, and did I mention there was a lot of snow?



MARCH 2014:
Where I went: Phuket. Again. This time for a friend's wedding.
Who I flew with: Air Asia
When we told people we were flying with Air Asia, they all pulled a face. This got me worried. However, the flight was fine. Budget. No frills. But totally fine. We paid extra for the Xpress Boarding and for 1 checked baggage. They say you can't bring outside food on board the plane, as they want you to buy their meals and snacks. You also have to pay extra if you want a pillow of blanket. So if you get hungry, thirsty, or cold, make sure you have some extra cash.
Where I stayed: Angsana Laguna
This was the wedding hotel recommended by the bride and groom. It is a huge resort with everything you could think of - spa, gym, pools, restaurants etc. It even backed out onto its own beach! Every day at breakfast and then again at around 3pm, an elephant would be brought to the hotel so you could have your picture taken with it, if you wanted. This was obviously a hit with the kids on the resort.
Other info: A GREAT tip from the groom if you're going to Phuket. Ignore the taxi booths in the airport and the touts outside. Instead, turn right when you come out of the terminal and head for the yellow booth. Here you can legitimately book a taxi - receipt and all - for about 200 THB cheaper than the other options. You pay the lady at the booth and then get in a taxi to your destination. Easy. This is what we did to get to the resort.

APRIL 2014:
Where I went: Cambodia
Who I flew with: Dragon Air
Our out-bound flight aircraft was lovely and new, with USB charging ports at your seats and modern inflight entertainment. The in-bound flight aircraft - less so. Smaller, no USB chargers, no entertainment.
Where I stayed: First stop - Malibu Bungalows in Sihanookville.
Lovely guest house vibe, super helpful owner who organised so much for us; from the airport transfer in Phnom Penh to Sihanookville, to organising the scooters we used for the next few days. Rooms were basic in amenities but comfortable. The website said rooms had fans and aircons, but I think only the newer rooms had aircons. It did however, have it's own private beach.
Second stop - Monkey Island, Koh Rong
I never went through the backpacking phase as I like mod-cons too much. So, this was a late backpacking experience. Koh Rong is beautiful and about an hour boat ride away from Sihanookville. The beaches are white, the sea is crystal clear, food is delicious and super cheap, as is alcohol.
The rooms here are B-A-S-I-C. Electricity is only available between 5pm - 12:30am, so bring a torch. Also be prepared to sweat, as no electricity means no electric fans. They did say there was solar panel backup, but we couldn't get it to work. Did I mention that running water is scarce? Also, there are A LOT of mosquitos. In spite of this shock to the system, it was an awesome holiday.
Other info: We actually went to Cambodia for two reasons.
1) We were meeting a friend on his journey home - from Hong Kong to America all without taking a plane. Follow him on Instagram @nashker  and his hashtag #asiatoamerica)
2) Our other friend was going to propose to his girlfriend... She said yes! Happy Times!  You can see more pictures from our trip to Cambodia at #BuddiesinBodia.


MAY 2014:
Phew... well that was a long one.
Here we are, you're all caught up. I'm going to do my best to blog regularly, and I might even do some separate blog posts to expand on some of the things I mentioned in my recap.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end. Till next time!

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