Boogie Nights at Suzie Q’s- Hongdae. Seoul

Hongdae, is one of my favourite places in Seoul it’s cool, edgy and has a fantastic bohemian atmosphere. This area is a hub for South Korean students and cool kids to shop, be seen and party!  A night out here can very easily turn into the mother of all hangovers so be warned! Hongdae, has some of the hippest bars and there is no where I like to get my boogie on than “Suzie. Q’s.” Perfectly hidden in the madness of Hongdae, this place is a welcome change from the Techno-laser fueled Ho Bars or boring Expat Sports Bars; unlike a lot of places Suzie Q’s has SOUL !

Looking at the door leading to the basement stairs you are unsure what to expect. However, when you walk down and spy the vinyl clad walls leading to the main entrance you know you in for a good night!

The Record Collection.
The Record Collection.

This place is all about the music and it plays some of the best tunes around, if you are into 1960’s “rock&roll,” and “Motown & Soul,” there is nowhere better to shake them hips than here! Playing The Rolling Stones, The Small Faces, and The Supremes along with modern bands such as Kasabian and The Arctic Monkeys; this place is an indie-retro music lovers dream!  No K-pop to worry about in this vicinity that’s for sure!( and my goodness aren’t we glad!) The bar has a laid back atmosphere and has a “dancing in your living room sort of vibe,” with its low key decor, big sofas and vintage band posters.

Unlike many bars around Seoul this place has a personal touch and is ran by “Kyu Nam Jo,” a well- known record collector in South Korea, who even plays each song from his own personal collection! Kyu Nam Jo, himself has become a bit of an underground celebrity among the record collectors of South Korea and coming to this bar you can see why  his collection is MASSIVE and utterly flawless!!!Not only does he put the needle on the record (literally) but he also is the king of multi-tasking and serves drinks too, while his wife is busy handing out FREE POPCORN to all their customers.

A Cheers with Popcorn.
A Cheers with Popcorn.

Suzie Q’s, feels less like a bar but more like a cool house party hosted by South Korea’s very own” Quentin,”( Bill Neigh in the boat that rocked, if you don’t know the reference watch the film asap!) As you bop to “The Beatles,” with your free popcorn and your reasonably priced beer, you can’t help but love it here!!

Request?
Request?

What is even more impressive is unlike a lot of places he is more than happy to play requests under a strictly no K-pop rule of course, in fact he was very impressed when we asked for, “Runaway- By Del Shannon,” My other half has a very distinctive Beatles hair-do no dissimilar to Kyu Nam Jo’s, own and he was loving it!

The Mop Tops.
The Mop Tops.

With his thick framed glasses 1960’s hair and vintage style this guy is very much a person you want to party with if given the chance!!We spent most of the evening here and I can honestly say it was fantastic and one of the best bars I have visited in Asia. It was not relatively busy when we visited which meant we were  able to get on our dancing shoes and we even managed to get a boogie in with the man of the moment.

Get on your Dancing shoes!
Get on your Dancing shoes!

For anyone taking a trip to Seoul, Hongdae is a must see attraction and Suzie.Q’s should be put top billing of places to visit if you are wanting to have an old fashion wiggle to some fantastic music!

The Extras- 

As mentioned its pretty hidden and I have tried my best to find directions and this is the best I could come across:

From Hongik Univeristy Main Gate towards Sangsu Station( near Exit 1.) pass Club Evans on the right and Suzie.Qs,  is on a nearby side street( best advice would be to ask around or try and google map it)

The Introductions.

Hello,

Thanks for visiting my website here are a few things you should know:

I am not in Kansas nor have I ever been I am simply a, Wizard of Oz fanatic a long way from home in the wonderful city of Hong Kong who has finally decided to stop clicking my  heels together and start writing!

Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore...
Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…

Here you will find the must DO’s, The must HAVES and the must EATS both in Hong Kong and from around the world! So keep up to date with my blog to enjoy the latest on shopping, lifestyle and travel. Oh, and maybe a enjoy a teaching tale or two.

Wearing Loafers in the Park.
Wearing Loafers in the Park, left my Ruby Slippers at home.

The Hand Luggage Essentials.

Living in Asia means you have amazing destinations like Vietnam, Japan and Singapore easily at your disposal so who could resist becoming a bit of a holiday addict. Unfortunately, going on holiday means PACKING, something I never seemed to get right. After a lot of over-packing and under-packing, I think I may have managed to crack at least one part of the long and arduous process…. Sadly, I have not figured out to pack an extra three pairs of shoes in your already over flowing suitcase but what I have sussed is the all-important Hand Luggage Essentials.

Packing Perfection.

Whether you are doing a long Haul 20 hour flights or just a quick flit across the Ocean getting the basics of hand luggage right will help calm the nerves, hopefully aid to a good sleep if needed and keep you looking refreshed.

So here are my top five Travel Essentials I will NOT step on the plane without:

Travel Wallet-

The Travel Wallet

There is nothing worse than being at the security desk and holding up a queue while you have a bag rummage through every single pocket looking for them all important documents( tut tut!). Investing in a good sized travel wallet means everything is in one place and easy to hand and there are no hold ups( well at least on your part). For frequent flyers I would suggest investing in a high quality wallet to be sure of durability; I opted for a classic “Fossil Brown leather wallet,” which has stood the test of time for at least 3 years. However, if you want something a bit more lively Kath Kidston, Kate Spade and even for a much cheaper option Primark have a wide range of wallets on offer to choose from. So there are no excuses!!

Eye Mask-

No matter the length or your flight it is always nice to have a bit of a cat-nap and there is nothing worse than a cheap scratchy eye-mask, when you are trying to relax. Now, I have to admit as much as I love a cute novelty number, I am all about the comfort (especially on a long haul). On my last few departures I have opted for a contoured foam eye mask for ultimate comfort which are easily purchased from all good travel stores, I recommended the “Travelon mask.”Click here to buy. However if it’s something with a bit more style check out urban outfitters and amazon for the latest in novelty eye-wear.

Socks-

As soon as I am in my seat the first thing I do is take my shoes off, no matter how long the flight. So SOCKS are a MUST! Now here is where I have fun I usually pick the brightest fluffiest socks to optimize comfort. However, if you are doing a long haul and suffer from any health issues that may lead to DVT, I strongly suggest flight socks, which can be bought from every department store with a great travel section, these socks aren’t known for being fashionable and are usually pretty plain but if you are ever slightly worried INVEST!

Blanket –

There is nothing worse than being cold on a plane and even though they provide blankets it’s nice to have something to wrap around yourself for extra cosiness. I usually opt for a fleece fold away travel blanket that can be easily packed not to take up too much precious space. If you are a little worried about needing your hang luggage for suitcase overspill go for a pashmina, this will take up less space and still be big enough keep you toasty. I must admit I am a little bit in love with my newest travel blanket by “little miracles.”

Comfort Companion.

Its fluffy, cute and doubles as a pillow(what more could you need, have a browse at their range I guarantee you will love it!). Click here to buy.

Sleep Mist-

Sleep my pretties.

Planes aren’t renowned for their soothing smells so don’t forget to pack something a little sweet to help oust any bad odors. I always travel with a calming sleep inducing mist to give my blanket and body a little spritz before trying to get some shut eye. I swear by the Body Shop’s “ Deep Sleep, Dreamy Body mist, with its blend of Chamomile and jujube extract this spray is just what you need to relax. If you can’t locate this one there are a ton of sleep mists on the market, so there is no need for unfortunate smells again! Oh, remember your liquids need to be less 100ml so be sure to check the measurements.

The Extras-

The Small Pot of Moisturizer

Tooth Brush and Tooth Paste( for long Hauls a MUST)

Face Wipes or Cleansing milk – To keep subtle and refreshed.

Entertainment – Ipad, laptop, kindle or old skool book with pages.

Hopefully this little guide will give you a few handy ways to achieve a stress free flight!

In Hanoi, Vietnam.

A florist with a difference
A florist with a difference

Having the privilege of living in Asia means you get to go on some pretty amazing holidays and last year I visited Hanoi a city that has been on my bucket list for some time. Hanoi is a city bustling with life, great food and a lot of MOTORBIKES. Since visiting it has become one of my favourite places to talk about and recommend.

Unfortunately, when I visited the weather was wet and surprisingly cold so I was forced to walk around in a cagoule and the same pair of trousers for pretty much 7 days (I packed for warmer climes…opps).However even with the bad weather Hanoi was probably one of the most surprising places and I absolutely LOVED IT. Now, of course most of you will know about Halong Bay, The War Museums and food; so I am going to tell you about my favourite Hanoi past times which mostly involve walking , sitting, eating and riding a bike…

                                Walking – Having a walk around The Old Quarter

Motorbike Madness.
Motorbike Madness.

This area of town is where EVERYTHING happens so I really recommend choosing a place to stay around here. (word of warning most of my best bits are based around this area)The Old Quarter in Hanoi is one of the best places to experience the chaotic and crazy streets you expect from Vietnam. Here, you can find the best shopping, local cuisine and nightlife. If it’s an atmosphere and nightlife you are after head down to “Beer Corner”( a street that needs little explanation) grab yourself a plastic chair and watch the world whiz by . If Beer Corner leaves you with a sore head in the morning a tried and tested cure is a cream cheese, ham and chili sauce baguette words can’t describe it, just HAVE ONE!

                                           Eating  – Taking a Street Food Tour

Spring Rolls.
Spring Rolls.

Having heard so much about Vietnamese cuisine we decided the best way to tackle it was to take a street food tour. Based around the Old Quarter this street food took us a little bit around the city and helped us sample some of the local cuisine. We booked it through one of the many tour operators and even though it was only an hour and half it was a great way to experience the city with your own personal tour guide. Our tour guide was a young student who was incredibly sweet and even though there was only two of us she made a huge effort to tell us a lot about the dishes.

Beer and  Balcony
Beer and Balcony

The tour was around £20.00 and was well worth it as Hanoi is pretty much a street food place so from here on in our mealtimes were sorted!( now a Bun Cha addict!) . For me the main unexpected delight was the EGG COFFEE and EGG chocolate something you MUST have in Vietnam. This drink is still to this day one of the best things I have ever tasted and without our lovely tour guide there is no way I would be able to have located this tiny coffee house with its dreamy drink.

                                       Sitting – at S.T. Joseph’s Cathedral(Nha Tho Lon)

Hanoi is city that you can’t help but want to sit and watch the chaos. When a rest stop is required its important to pick a good spec! So I suggest choosing a seat with a view and one of my favourites was from “La Place Café,” which looks over St Joseph’s Cathedral. The whole area surrounding this lovely cathedral harks back to Vietnam’s colonial times and has some fantastic colourful architecture which can be seen perfectly from this quaint, quirky and colourful café. The café has a laid back European atmosphere and has a good selection of coffees, cakes and snacks. In you are lucky you can grab a spot on its Parisanequse balcony and watch the tourist takes their snaps and the locals play football.

                                                      Riding a bike-  in Tam Coc

In Tam Coc.
In Tam Coc

Arriving at boat pick up point I didn’t have high hopes due to grey clouds and the prospect of being on a rowing boat for two hours… When we got on the boat our driver was quick to make friends and showed us his rather interesting skills of rowing with his feet. The boat ride took us through utterly fascinating scenes of natural tunnels, local fishermen and the truly beautiful rice fields. Our driver was that friendly he even lent me his hat!

Get on your BIKE.
Get on your BIKE.

My favourite part of the trip was without a doubt the BIKES! Being a bike lover as soon as I saw them I opted for the pink one with the basket and I have to say it did me very well in indeed. Our tour guide took us on an epic journey through the rice fields and a local village which felt like a real adventure serving past cows and motorbikes. This tour will remain one of my favourite days ever and I have to say I got some pretty fantastic snaps as we all know : “bikes + gorgeous scenery =one great selfie!”

So what are you waiting for get booking your holiday!!

The Extras:

A place to Stay“Hanoi Guest House,” comes highly recommended the price, location and breakfasts are amazing!! click here to book

For more information Click here.

Happy Hikers “The Dragon’s Back Hike.”

Now I have to be brutally honest I am not one for exercise and I am certainly not someone who you would call the “Outdoorsy-type,” so when a friend visiting Hong Kong, last month suggest we should go on a New Year’s Day hike, it was panic stations!! Considering I had never hiked before the prospect of walking for hours with a groggy head was not filling me with joy!

The Dragons Back trial,” is one of the best Urban hikes around Asia and super easy to navigate and offers beautiful views. You take the MTR to Shau Kei Wan and then get on the bus No.9 which takes you to the start of the trail and it is really well sign posted. The bus that takes you from to the hike’s starting point is an amazing ride and has some lovely views of Hong Kong Island’s Coastline and more scenic areas. (keep a look out for the starting point sign!) Now, a word to the wise this bus takes you ALONG way up on a windy path so if you are thinking of heading up there with a sore head, be warned you may have a few sketchy moments.

The first steep walk up to the main part of the trail was the tough being both unfit and hung-over and I did being to wonder if this was a good idea. However after a struggle and a brief moan, something amazing happened I was hit in the face( literally) by the sea breeze, the fresh air and the VIEW!  Suddenly, I felt less foggy and like one happy hiker. The views along the trial were lovely the blue waters, yellow beaches and beach houses were a sight to behold.

 The hike has no food on route and I have to be honest this was an issue after an hour in we were starving luckily we brought along a trusty TWIX, which was slightly melted and had to be split four ways…Nevertheless, it gave us the sugar rush we needed to last another 2 hours( so don’t forget a snacks)!  The trail is really easy to follow and has toilets on route but be sure to bring some loo roll and alcohol gel, they are not the most pleasant porta-loos.

This hike was a real eye opener for me and I was surprised how good I felt not only that but it was an amazing way to catch up with old friends. With a head filled with fresh air and no distractions from the usual culprits like facebook (apart from getting the odd selfie snap) it meant we all just talked and walked and enjoyed the view and the company! After three hours we opted however you can walk all the way to the beach if you are wanting a longer journey.  “Dragons Back,” is made for novice hikers so don’t be put off by its scary fire breathing connotations.

This trail hasn’t changed me in the sense I won’t be climbing Everest anytime soon, but I have bought a new flatpackbackpack(there is such a thing)  and I plan on doing a hike once a month before the summer months kick-in. The Dragons Back Hike is perfect for a beginner hiker and in actual fact depending on how rough you are a tried and tested HANG OVER CURE!! So what are you waiting for go get on your walking shoes and go and hike along the Dragons back.  (sounds cool doesn’t it!)

The Extras

Closet Mtr –

Shau Kei Wan, Exit A3

Bus-

No.9 to Tei Wan, Shek O’Road.

Essentials – Water, Suncream, a jumper, a backpack and a twix.

For more info Click here.

Get your HIKE on!

                                                       Get your HIKE on!

Welcome to Hong Kong

Having been a tourist and a resident in the wonderful city of Hong Kong, I can honestly say I adore the place; the culture, the shopping and the sights are at times breathtakingly unique. So for anyone doing a whistle stop tour of this small yet perfectly formed city here are my top FIVE:

1. On the Ground Level there is a VIEW.

Hong Kong’s skyline is one of the most recognizable in the world with its vast array of skyscrapers. Luckily for you the skyline is something that is cheap and easy to do, all you need is an MTR ticket and your camera!For anyone wanting the perfect picture( or selfie…) head over to  Tsim Sha Tsui Station and have a walk along the Avenue of Stars . The harbor front gives you an uninterrupted view of the Hong Kong skyline expect lights, tourists and selfiesticks.

The Extras:

  • The best time to get there is around 7:45pm just in time for the “Symphony of Lights,” this shows runs through to 10:30 and is worth a look.
  • Closet MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui
A view for the afternoon.
A view for the afternoon.

 2. Up high there is the PEAK.

Hong Kong is a city with a view so if you are wanting a vantage point with a more vertical feeling get yourself to “The Peak.” The Peak Tram offers iconic views over both sides of the city and is one of the best known tourist spots so expect queues. There are a few ways to reach the dizzy heights my preferred route is to take the Peak Tram. The most popular ticket is “The Tram Sky pass,”($83.00 HKD)with this you get to ride the tram and gain access to the Sky Terrace. However if you are travelling on a strict budget don’t worry you can take the bus to the top or for the more adventurous you can even walk to the top!

The Extras:

  • If you want to go on the tram but don’t fancy paying extra for the sky terrace tickets Tram only tickets are $40 HKD.
  • Take note of the weather and avoid days with a chance of rain you don’t want fog spoiling your view.
  • Closet MTR : Admiralty

   

Above the clouds.
Above the clouds.

3. In there clouds there is a BIG BUDDAH.

Sitting 34 feet tall the “Big Buddah,” is a site to behold and a great place to experience the more scenic parts of Hong Kong. While at the Buddah you can also visit the Po Lin Monastery, home to many practicing monks this colourful Monastery is a lovely place for a rest stop and has an amazing array of vegetarian dishes on offer to tempt those taste-buds ( try the spring rolls!!) There are many ways you can get there the most breathtaking option is to take  the “Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car,” this 20 minute ride gives the best views and is a great choice for families. Alternatively, if you are wanting a cheaper option there is a bus that takes you right to the top and if you have your walking boots on hand there is a hike( not advisable in the hot and humid Summer months).

The Extras:

  • Keep your eye on the weather if there is a storm a brewing the cable cars don’t run.
  • Pick your dates carefully don’t visit on a Chinese public holiday to avoid large crowd levels.
  • For the fast tracking approach to queues you can pre-book .
  • Closet MTR: Tung Chung Station
Spot the Tourist.
Spot the Tourist.

 4. Hidden away there is HONG KONG PARK.

“Hong Kong Park,” is one of my favourite places in the World this quiet park is hidden away between the high rises of Admiralty.  The Park is perfect for escape and relaxation with its windy paths, coloruful bird aviary and waterfall it is easy to forget you are in the heart of one of the busiest financial districts in the World. Hong Kong Park also houses the “Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware,” and the “Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre”. Even when in a state of zen there is still a need to get the camera out! Hong Kong Park, has a wealth of great photo opportunities whether it be of the turtles chilling on the lake or getting some snaps of its larger neighbouring skyscrapers. The

The Extras:

  • There is a nice little restaurant there but my suggestion would be take a snack as you may end up spending a little longer than you expected.
  • Closet MTR – Admiralty

  

A Peaceful Place
A Peaceful Place

5. Up a Hill there is Lan KWAI FONG

Every weekend LKF has thousands of party goers ready to experience the Hong Kong night life. LKF, is not known for its uber edgey bars like other areas of Hong Kong but what it does have is atmosphere ! Travelers on a budget the great news is luckily for you one of the busiest “bars” is 7/11 so let the street drinking commence!  If street drinking isn’t your bag there are some good bars, for cheesy disco vibes you could pay “Stormies,” a visit and for something a bit more snazzy( loving this word atm…) you could treat yourself to a night with Gordon Ramsey sadly he wont be there in person but LKF is home to his new restaurant in “Bread Street Kitchen,”and it is DELICIOUS(I can personally vouch for the ribs)!

The Extras:

  • To get the full atmosphere and LKF experience head there on a Saturday night!
  • Closet MTR: Central then follow the very helpful signs to Lan Kwai Fong.
The Norm.
The Norm.

Now, time to book your ticket and start exploring !

For more info on Hong Kong Click here.