Five Reasons Why You Must Stay at Lubd Siem Reap Hostel

Hostels in general don’t have a good rep. This is understandable having come across a few of the nastier ones on my travels, but overall I’d say that I’ve been lucky and hostels are almost always nice (and sometimes even nicer than a hotel for half the price!)

The Lubd in Siem Reap is one of these hidden gems. I called this home for 14 days and here is why you must stay if you’re passing through:

1 – The amazing staff
Travelling on my own might of felt daunting, but I felt safe and welcome throughout my stay. Everyone’s happy at work and seem to enjoy their jobs. អរគុណ 🙂 xx

2- The Superb swimming pool

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This image is taken from their website (because apparently I forgot to take any!)

Not the usual grotty hostel watering hole that leaves you feeling like you need to shower off the weird coloured water… this pool is beautifully clean and inviting, surrounded by sunbeds for sunny days and even has a poolside bar!

3- The clean, innovative dorm rooms

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Here was my little bunk, decorated with cards from the school children

I chose a girls only 10 bed dorm for my stay.
-The bedding and towels are changed almost every day, and the whole place is super clean! – extremely important in shared rooms.
-You each get your own large locker with a small rail to hang your clothes above, so no more ‘crease effect’ clothing.
-There are steps instead of ladders up to the top bunk, and because the beds are so spacious up there it felt like a little room.

4 – The lovely clean bathrooms

– The showers were so much better than my one at home! With large waterfall heads and plenty of room in the cubicles to dry and dress without getting all your things soaking wet in the process.
– There’s also large lit mirrors over each sink in the island in the middle, so you can do your make-up and get ready if people are sleeping in your dorm and you don’t want to disturb them.
– The toilets are very clean – always good to know when booking a hostel on a whim.
– There’s washing machines and dryers so you can do your own washing.
TOP TIP: If you’re a little cheeky like me and need to be careful with your budget, save the tokens meant for drying and instead use the hangers from above your locker and hang your clothes in the warm bathroom overnight to dry. You can then save the drying tokens for an extra wash later on! (Obviously be mindful not to go overboard with too much clothing!)

5 – The delicious food


Not the cheapest food, but it’s convenient and very tasty. My favourite was the stuffed aubergine, and because I was always in such a rush in the morning before going to teach I’d order the cereal, which comes with fruit and a drink.

Here’s an extract from my diary on the day I arrived at the hostel:
Got a tuk tuk to the hostel called Lubd Siem Reap. It’s probably the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in! (Kosta in Bali is a close second) It’s super new and spotlessly clean! Other benefits include:
-They change the bedding and towels every day
-Free drinking water
-Free games
-Great pool with pool bar
-Washing machine
-Nicest showers ever!!
The workers are all really super friendly too. My bed is at the top, but instead of a ladder they have steps up to your bed and I love it because it feels like my own little room! Ironically it’s opposite the other hostel I went to last time I was in Siem Reap, so it’s a shame I didn’t move here then!

Check out their website and Instagram @lubdsiemreap for more photos and reviews!

 

My Art Gallery Trail in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap is steeped in ancient history, famous for its beautiful temples.

Angkor Wat is covered in incredibly intricate detail, and inspires hundreds of people each day. The locals love this temple and even after visiting many times, they still see the beauty in the structure and decoration. Khmer people seem to really appreciate the power and beauty of all visual arts, which is something I loved about their country.

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I come from an artistic background (although sadly life and work has slowly squashed the hours I used to spend drawing and painting) so when I found myself with a day off teaching I decided to use Google maps and create my own art gallery tour.

Here’s a list (taken from my diary of the day) of where I ended up:

1 – Khmer Kids Art Gallery – This is where they teach children art and then sell their work. I met one of the artists, who has this really distinct style of using multiple blending of colours to show form and depth through natural forms.

2 – One Eleven Gallery – This was quite a small international gallery with work from this artist called Christian Develter who takes inspiration from the face tattoos of Myanmar tribes women. The curator working in that gallery was an Australian called Danny.

3 – McDermott Gallery – Lastly after hitting a few wrong turns, and a few gallery duds I ended up here. This was purely photography work from the artist John McDermott, who’s work focuses heavily on Angkor Watt, a lot of which was depicted in black and white.

At the end of my stay in Siem Reap I found the most amazing art shop and school called Colours of Cambodia. Here I bought a beautiful watercolour painting, and was lucky enough to meet the young artist.

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Art is a therapy for the heart and mind, and it seemed like a stronger possibility you could make a living purely as an artist in Asia than in England, where most artists have another job to support their income. Everywhere you turn in Cambodia there’s colour and life and hope. Even the mud on the ground is so rich it looks like it could be used to paint with.

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I’d love to find somewhere to do an art holiday (maybe in Asia) some time soon! So if anyone has any ideas of places to visit, or any organised trips or retreats that include art and/or yoga let me know, as I haven’t found any that inspire me yet!

Also don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for updates on new blog posts and photos from trips! x

My top 5 places to eat in Siem Reap

First of all can I just say how much I LOVE Siem Reap – there’s SO much to do and see, and the people are beautiful and welcoming.

The first time I visited was part of a group tour, where we were only given a couple of days to go round Angkor Wat and see a couple of things. I quickly decided I wanted to come back and explore further, so a month on and I was back as a solo traveller ready to teach English in a village Primary school (& of course try and eat my way through as much Khmer food as possible!)

There’s tons of places to eat and drink in Siem Reap, but here I have looked back through my diary and have picked out my personal top 5 from my visit (+ some fun extras):

1 – SPOONS

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WOW WOW WOW
I went with a couple of the girls from my hostel as a treat dinner, as I’d wanted to go for ages, and it did not disappoint.

Before we ordered, they gave us each a large spoon of chicken curry, and it was literally amazing! Unfortunately it wasn’t actually on the menu to order as a main, which is probably a bit of a missed opportunity, but I guess it’s a gimmick to go alongside the name of ‘Spoons’.

I had the chicken with coconut sauce and it was so delicious! The décor of the restaurant was really nice too.

Spoons is run by a company called EGBOK (Everything’s Gonna Be OK), the company train young adults in the community in hospitality and catering, opening up more opportunities for employment in the future, so it’s a delicious mouthful that also makes a difference. Check out their website for more information.

I should also probably mention Haven at this point – a restaurant with a similar motive of empowering those less fortunate to train and find employment for life. I did visit Haven and it was really nice, but didn’t blow me away for taste like Spoons.

2 – ARTILLERY

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This one’s for the health bunnies out there. A little on the expensive side, but if you want to be nourished then this is the place to go. Artillery is a nice quite place with friendly staff, so I can imagine it would be a great spot to hang out if you needed to get some work done, or just read your book in peace.

I went twice, and would highly recommend their Courgetty with a mushroom and cashew nut sauce, which was delicious.

One downer = the chocolate slice was just a TAD too healthy for me.. not recommended if you’ve got a sweet tooth.

3 – BANLLE

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This sweet vegetarian restaurant is set within a garden. I went for lunch and ordered the brown rice burger and pistachio ice cream – which were both really good.

4 – DAM NAK NEAS

 

A busy local’s restaurant near the river, I went here on my own for dinner and didn’t feel out of place at all. Meat is cooked on a BBQ to give extra flavour and the menu is pretty extensive with something for everyone, including frog intestines and eel. I decided to stay within my comfort zone that evening and ordered the chicken BBQ skewers and rice.

5 – FOOTPRINTS

If you’re missing your Sunday morning home comforts, this one’s perfect for brunch. A cute little café set off from the main town on the other side of the river. I ordered the Eggs Florentine.

The café is filled with books from UK donors (including Cambridge University), which give a warm cosy atmosphere. You are very welcome to read or even buy these books, with all sales helping to generate grants for local communities.

& if you’re still not full…

For desert: try Project Y, a pay by weight frozen yoghurt place. I got a tub of coconut, Nutella and chocolate flavours with Maltesers, honeycomb and chocolate sauce for $5.50. It’s expensive but at least it’s for charity!

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For drinks: visit the G Green Sky Dining. The rooftop makes this place feel special, but it won’t break the bank, and if you’re a girl they’ll even give you a free cocktail during happy hour!
I also had frogs legs tempura and spring rolls here, but would probably only recommend this place for drinks no dinner.

For the experience: You can’t leave Siem Reap without trying at least one insect from the market. I noticed there’s a few insect eating tours around, but there’s literally no need to pay for something that’s already free and accessible to everyone! I had a mini snake, and it was actually pretty good! Just keep a bottle of water to hand, to wash down those cricket legs!

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The Ocean Film Festival World Tour 2018, Brighton Dome

The Ocean covers more than 70% of our world’s surface, and yet we know so little about it.

This year’s Ocean Film Festival brings together a handful of the best emotive short films, inviting us to better understand, respect and explore the hidden depths of our beautiful yet mysterious ocean.

I was lucky enough to catch the tour as it went through Brighton…

Here’s my quick summary of the films:

One Breath: A Life Without Gravity
Freediving couple Christina and Eusebio compare their relationship on land vs underwater, as they work together as trainer and student to break the 100m tandem freedive record.

Freedivers use breathing and relaxation techniques to dive for great depths without the need for oxygen tanks. Inspiring, but I must admit the final dive got me feeling a bit claustrophobic waiting for them to take that first breath on the way up!
Filmmaker: Sebastian Solberg (length 6mins)

The Big Wave Project
Shot over 5 years, this short film follows the lives of the very bravest big wave surfers, chasing the highest waves in the world for a few moments of adrenaline fuelled action.

I loved that many of these men weren’t sponsored, so it was the love of riding the waves and not the money which fuelled their crazy trips.
Filmmaker: Tim Bonython (length 20mins)

Scarlet’s tale
Achmat Hassiem from South Africa had a dream of representing his country in the Olympics, but during training for his job as a life guard, he was attacked by a shark which saw him lose his leg!

The plot twist is this seemingly devastating accident wasn’t the breaking, but in fact the making of his career, as he went on to win bronze in the Paralympics! and even got to meet and make peace with his attacker Scarlet.
Filmmakers: Faine Loubser, Trygve Heide, Khiraad Mathura & Achmat Hassiem (length 15mins)

Touched by the Ocean
The comedy of the evening, 2 Latvian friends Gints and karlis have a (not so well thought out) plan to row all the way to Brazil in time for the Olympics. Do you know what happens when you don’t keep your seat dry then try and row for days on end? Watch this to find out! Both hilarious and shocking all at the same time – be prepared to hide behind your hands.
Film directors: Laura Rozkalne-Ozola & Sandijs Semjonovs (length 30mins)

Kiwi Breeze

For me this was the most inspiring film of the evening. Steve from New Zealand, married an English girl and the pair settled down in Forest Hill to start a family. But Steve had bigger plans, and spent 9 years building a 44ft yacht in his back garden.

The perfect example of never giving up on your dreams, this short film is made up of home footage showing the progress, as their son grows up watching his dad in the garden.

Finally, the vessel is lifted over the house by a crane and taken to the river Thames to start the journey all the way back to New Zealand! It’s a tense few moments as the crane goes over the neighbours’ homes… just imagine if after 9 years the whole thing had collapsed!

It takes Steve 18 months (from what I remember) to sail back to his home country, where the family relocate.
Filmmaker: Ruari Muir (length 11mins)

Blue – With so much focus on plastic waste and protecting our oceans in the media lately it can easily wash over our heads, but this film was a real eye opener to the dangers of plastic (beyond the plastic vs metal straw debate).

The scene which struck me the most was when scientist Dr Jennifer Lavers takes the viewers away from the sea and up on to the hillsides, where we see the effects that plastic is having on our sea birds.

Sticking a tube in to each baby bird’s throat, she starts pumping water in, and soon a whole array of multicoloured plastic shards gush out in to a bowl. This isn’t just the odd piece – this is piles and piles of plastic from bottle tops, old printers, flip flops etc etc. Sometimes things need to be seen to be believed! And this is not something which can be ignored.
Filmmaker: Karina Holden (length 33mins)

FACT = BY 2050 THERE WILL BE MORE PLASTIC IN OUR OCEANS THAN FISH

Comment below ideas on how we can cut down on plastic every day! Recycling is a great idea, but perhaps the obvious solution would be instead to cut our plastic usage to a minimum to begin with.

Click here for more information on the Blue film and project.

The Ocean film festival was an eye opener, and I’d really recommend you try and catch it! & check out Youtube for more clips of the incredible short films mentioned.

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30 BEFORE 30

If you know me chances are I’ve made you do THE LIST

One of my friends introduced me to the 30 before 30 idea a few of years ago. That’s 30 countries before you turn 30 years old. I sat there in the pool in Corfu recalling all the countries I’d been to in my lifetime, and came to the grand total of 15.

15 may sound like a lot, but her list was MUCH more impressive and I was keen to boost my numbers!

My biggest problem was that I’d repeated the same countries several times.

I’ve been to Greece every year of my life! That’s 8 years of living in Corfu, and 20 holidays to follow this. I’ve also been to Spain 4 times (Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Catalonia and Barcelona) so that could also only count as ONE country.

Forward wind to October 2018 and my tally has jumped to 25/30 countries! That’s 5 more countries to go, and just 1 year and 7 months to reach the target! (my friend is now on 42)

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Here’s my list to date – the pencil italics are where I’ve been to a country more than once.

(One country which I’m still questioning is the Vatican. I’ve been but it just didn’t feel anything like another country!)

Want to do your own list? Here’s the rules:

  • You can’t repeat countries!
  • England & Wales count!
  • Stop overs do NOT count (so that cheeky 2 hour layover in Dubai can’t be added to your total sorry)
  • Islands don’t count as a new country (sounds silly but I’ve heard more than one person ask, for example if Spain and Tenerife can count as 2 countries)

Once you’re done send me over your lists! I’m genuinely curious to see them and find out all the exciting places you’ve been!

 

Every Journey Begins With The First Step

Not to be underestimated. Travel gives you the courage to try new things, make new friends, gain the wisdom of others around the world, and put your own life in to perspective. It’ll send you home with an open ♥️ and an open mind, and will change you in ways you never thought possible

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Snorkelling in Koh Tao, Thailand

This travel blog has been a long time coming!! I wanted to start one around 3 years ago, but didn’t think I travelled enough to warrant my own page.. ironic considering I’ve travelled more in those past 3 years than I have my entire life!
& because of this I will admit that some of my posts will be brought out from the archives, dusted off and shared, in the hope you’ll find inspiration for your own adventures, or at the very least enjoy scrolling through some travel photos!

If you have any questions about the places I’ve been or want to tell me about your own travels just click on the contact button to get in touch 🙂 I love hearing about unusual destinations and exciting activities!

If you’d like to follow me on Instagram my pages are:
@shore_to_surface
@katiewalt11

♥️♥️♥️