48 hours in Phnom Penh

I arrived in Cambodia in Phnom Penh airport at around 5pm. I was luckily one of the first off the plane so therefore got through security quite quickly. I had got an E visa prior to going, which was really easy, however I think it’s pretty simple getting a visa on arrival too. 

Once I’d got my luggage I went outside and got a tuk tuk to take me to my hostel, this cost me 9 dollars, which is the going rate from the airport to the area near the river where lots of hostels are. Owen, my boyfriend was waiting for me in our hostel, blues hostel on street 19. It had opened only 4 days before I arrived, however was really nice. The staff there were really helpful and eager to hear our feedback, so they can make improvements on the place. 

The room was definitely no frills but was clean and the bed was comfortable with an ensuite private bathroom with a powerful shower, so to be honest we didn’t really need much more.

Had my first Cambodia beer- then beat Owen at pool (well on the first game but that’s the one I’m counting!) 


On my first full day we went to what seems to be the main attraction in Phnom Penh, the killing fields. Before coming to Cambodia I was completely unaware of the tragic history of the country. In the 1970s there was a mass genocide under the ruling of Pol Pot, where over 2 million Cambodians died. I would not say the experience was enjoyable, though definitely educational and incredibly sad.


Entrance to the killing fields cost 6 dollars and you were given an audio guide which had different points you had to listen to at different locations. Although it was incredibly sad- i was would say this is definitely a must when coming to Phnom Penh.

After that our tuk tuk driver took us to the genocide museum, which was a prison where people who were viewed as enemies of the state were tortured and kept before being brought to the killing fields. Again this was an emotional place to visit. Entrance was 3 dollars without audio guide or 6 dollars with the audio guide. I would definitely spend the extra 3 dollars, otherwise I would not have known what I was looking at! 


On the evening we went to the night market- I love markets so was really excited about going to one. However, I think I have been ruined by going to the weekend (chatuchak) market in Bangkok- this one did not compare unfortunately. I didn’t buy a thing- tho Owen picked up a pair of sunglasses and a watch so wasn’t a wasted trip. Got to see some street food too- but a little weary of eating it here! 




#tallgirlproblems had to walk around crouched down the whole time!

The following morning didn’t actually get out of bed till 11- enjoying laying in, compared to getting up at 6 for work! We went for breakfast and then went for a wander to see the palace.


It was very busy around the palace, i think this was because it was the weekend, lots of local families were out sat in the park with food. 

Overall I think Phnom Penh is worth a visit but to be honest after 48 hours I’m ready to leave and go see something else. 

We’re getting the sleeper bus to Siem Reap tonight so will keep you posted on my travels when I get there!

You can’t out-train a bad diet

When I first started the F45 challenge at the start of May, I was really good with my diet. I was very strict with myself, even to the point of cutting out fruit. However, since I had visitors in the last week of May I have really struggled to get back on track.

A few other things have also affected my healthy eating

  • Ramadan hours at work- working as a teacher in Dubai my hours have been reduced to working 8am-2pm. Therefore have all this time left in the day where I sometimes eat through boredom! 😦

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  • Falling back into old patterns, rewarding myself with chocolate! This is something I really need to get out of the habit as, food should not be a reward! And also should not be rewarding myself everyday!

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  • Coming to the end of term, there are always lots of social engagements! End of year parties and celebrations, where it is hard to stay on track, with lots of food and alcohol!end of year party

 

  • Spending time with friends who you won’t see for the summer. Sounds like a stupid point, however, last night got together with friends and got a takeaway from Wagamamas, I got beef chilli ramen, so it wasn’t the worst thing I could have got. Then I was saying to my friends shall we get some chocolate for afterwards, thankfully my friend Louise reined me in and said, this is not a cheat day! Haha so shamed me into being good but thank god she did!!

Despite all of this, I have however had lots of time to be working out, often doing 2 or more workouts a day. However, as I have titled this post, I cannot out-train a bad diet, so although I’m feeling stronger and fitter, my waistline is not improving! Term finishes at the end of this week (22nd June) so will be making a conscious effort to be sorting out my diet and not indulging too much till then!

Ting Irie Dubai- review

Went to Ting Irie this week for a friend’s birthday this week. It was the first time I have been however, I have heard very good things about the jerk chicken, so was excited to be trying it out.

It was a week night and we opted for the 5 course set menu. This combined with unlimited alcoholic drinks was 295 AED, which is pretty reasonable for Dubai. The place itself I thought was really cool, the ambience was nice with Jamaican music in the back, which gradually got louder as the night went on, creating more of a part atmosphere later on. The waiting staff were very friendly and although I wasn’t drinking they were very good with making sure the rest of the part had their glass full.

 

Whilst waiting for the rest of our party to arrive we were given plantain chips and fried tortilla chips with salsa, which were very moreish- I had to move them away from me in the end or I would’ve eaten the lot!

 

Next we had Jamaican Patties, oxtail sandwiches (think by far my favourite dish of the night) and a green salad. The pattie I thought was a little bit like a pasty you would get from GREGGS, back in the UK, was still tasty. The Oxtail sandwiches were AMAZING! I loved how tender the meat was and the coleslaw and the bread, it was all sooooo good. I could’ve eaten the whole plate! However, stuck to the one each rule, much to my dismay. I knew there was a lot more to come, so didn’t want to get too full!

 

The next course consisted of flaming wings, literally flaming! The waiter came and poured some liquid over the meat and set them alight!! There were also some slider style burgers, which were cooked so that they were slightly pink in the middle, sandwiched in a cheesy bread bun. Very very tasty.

Not sure if it was because I was getting quite full or because there had been so much hype around it, but when the jerk chicken arrived I was left slightly underwhelmed. It’s not that it wasn’t nice, it just didn’t blow me away. I actually preferred the Oxtail sandwich and sliders to the chicken. With this course we also had goat curry, ackee and saltfish and rice with peas. I have to give the bread a mention in this course too. It was soooo stodgy, but I loved it! Again I would’ve eaten more if I could’ve but I might have burst!

 

The final course was the dessert. By this point I was comfortably full but felt it would be rude to not at least sample some dessert! I tried both of them, but my favourite was definitely the french toast (picture on the left). It was really nice and the vanilla ice cream complemented it so well too. The staff also brought out some more french toast and sang happy birthday to Tom, the birthday boy and brought out a big sparkler with it too.

 

Overall I had a great night, I had great food, attentive waiting staff and excellent company. There was sooooooo much food, honestly I feel like when I came out of the place I literally rolled out! Now I’ve done the 5 course menu I don’t think I would go back and do it again, but would definitely go back and order my favourite things off the menu! I hadn’t really had much Jamaican food before, so this was a good way to sample lots of different dishes. I would recommend going here in a group setting as towards the end of the night it is definitely more of a party atmosphere.

Giving Yoga another go…

So after writing my previous blog post about finding your passion, where my housemate Hannah came along to my gym to take part in an f45 circuit class (my current exercise passion), I decided it would only be fair for me to give yoga another go. Which has been Hannah’s passion since we went to a surf and yoga retreat in Sri Lanka.

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The class we went to was at 136.1 Yoga studio in Dubai Marina. I almost wanted to shout at the teacher saying ‘I HATE YOGA, I CHALLENGE YOU TO CONVERT ME!’, however I just awkwardly put my hand up when asked if anyone had never done Vinyasa Yoga before.

So we started by doing downward dog, a position which was meant to be the relaxing position in Vinyasa, but due to how stiff my hamstrings are I did not find it remotely relaxing! However, I must say by the end of the class my hamstrings had loosened off quite a bit, was perhaps to a normal person’s flexibility level! Which is really bad considering I’m an ex gymnast. Anyway back to the class we then moved from downward dog, to a high plank, to chaturanga ( i think that’s what it was called), through to upwards facing dog. I didn’t actually find this too bad as I have quite good upper body strength.

I won’t go through a minute by minute description of the class, as it would probably be quite boring and to be honest I don’t think I remember everything. I do remember looking at my watch 20 minutes in thinking, this isn’t too bad. Then looking again at my watch 40 minutes in, starting to get a little bit antsy now! The worst part of the class for me was laying in corpse pose in silence for 5 minutes. I find being still a bit difficult, unless I’m sleeping and even then I move around a lot! But honestly I don’t really find that time relaxing, the thoughts running through my head are, this is meant to be a workout, why am I laying down??!

I did try out a few of the poses when I got home…

I know yoga is about body and mind, and for many people is a stress relief, however for me I prefer to relieve my stress by working up a sweat and getting my heart rate racing! I have tried again but I really just don’t think that yoga is for me.

I would just like to say that I did really like the teacher at the class and the studio was lovely. My yoga loving friends really like it there, so if you are in Dubai and like yoga, it is a studio that is highly recommended.

I am travelling at the end of June to Cambodia and Vietnam so perhaps I will try it again when travelling, but it will definitely not become a staple workout for me- sorry yogis!

How to brunch without completely undoing all your hard work!

If you don’t live in Dubai you may not be familiar with what a Dubai brunch is. Unlike the rest of the world who basically call a late breakfast a brunch, in Dubai it is slightly different, well completely different. Basically it is where you pay a set amount and eat as much and drink as much (alcohol) as you want for usually around 4 hours. With alcohol being so expensive here you can imagine it is a time when people overindulge! Traditionally they are on Fridays around midday or noon, however there are lots of evening ones cropping up now.

So as you can imagine it can be very easy to completely ruin the body you have worked so hard for throughout the week, through intense workouts and strict diet plans. My tips are to help you enjoy yourself without coming off as that boring person who says ‘sorry I don’t have alcohol or carbs, EVER!’, but also not completely over indulging.

I actually went on a brunch yesterday and tried to follow these tips so will let you know how I got on!

1. Workout in the morning

If you know it’s going to be a bad day, dietwise, make sure to get your workout done in the morning.

I went to my f45 Hollywood session yesterday morning, which is an hour of circuit training, working for 40 seconds and resting for 15, quite an intense session! But always feel glad after going 🙂

2. Drink water

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It is so hot here that you end up draining your alcoholic drinks here in seconds due to being so thirsty, so make sure there is a always bottle of water to hand on your table!

This I did follow, as when I sat down the waiter was straight over to take my order for my drinks, I ordered a gin and tonic, when it came it took me about a minute to drink! So after that ordered a bottle of water and made sure I always had one near.

3. Stick to one drink (avoid beer)

This is more for avoiding a bad hangover to be honest, as if you’re really hungover you won’t be able to workout the next day! Also avoiding beer, which can make you really bloated, or cocktails that are laced with sugar!

This one I did have a slight mishap, I drank gin and tonics throughout the whole brunch. However, when we left and went to another bar, I could not resist a strawberry daiquiri! 

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Ooops- could not resist a frozen daiquiri- even though they are full of sugar!

 

4. Limit yourself to 2 plates

Most brunches are buffets so I would aim to limit yourself to 2 plates, not plates that are like mountains either! To be honest, you learn quickly in Dubai, whether you are going to a ‘drinking’ brunch, where you are more about the alcohol than the food and therefore eat less or an ‘eating’ brunch.  You can always spot a brunch newbie, who has overindulged so much with food and alcohol that they have a slight green tinge about them by 4pm and even up going home!

The brunch we went to was a table service with sharing platters yesterday, so couldn’t really apply this rule. However, I do think with a sharing platter you are less likely to overindulge because you don’t want to look greedy like you’re taking all of the food from the middle!

5. Avoid Bread!

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At many brunches they have a bread station, with so many different types of bread! Crusty bread, baguettes, focaccia, bread sticks, you get the idea. It is like bread heaven! I completely avoid this station, even though I am a bread lover, but just think there are so many other things you could be eating, like nice cuts of meat, seafood etc, why fill yourself up with the bread?

6. Don’t get too bogged down with staying ‘healthy’ that you don’t enjoy yourself!

At the end of a day you’ve gone out to brunch, yes your diet is going to get messed up, yes you are probably to drink your body weight in alcohol! Have a good time and enjoy it! If you are good all week and this is an occasional blowout, do not beat yourself up about it! If its a regular thing you do every weekend and you’re still asking yourself why you don’t have your dream body, then you need to ask yourself which is more important.

When I first moved to Dubai it was hard not to be doing brunches every weekend! Seemed to be the way everybody made friends, or developed friendships with colleagues. However, into my second year here now it’s actually quite rare that I will go out to brunch. Perhaps once every 2 months, if that. Therefore when I do brunch, I do let myself go slightly, however I know that I could not do it every weekend! 

7. Don’t carry on the binge/overindulging the next day

Yes you may feel a little rough, however try not to ruin the next day as well with hangover cravings. Drink lots of water and eat a healthy diet, even add in a light workout if you are up to it. You will most likely feel better for it!

8. Personal target- don’t get a pizza from the pizza place downstairs!

I have a really good pizza place downstairs, which is open till 4am! As pizza is one of my favourite foods it often drifts into my head after being on a night out or if I stay out quite late after a day brunch. So very often wake up with a half eaten pizza in my living room after a night out! I’m pleased to say that I didn’t indulge in this last night, after following, well attempting to follow most of my tips.

So that’s it, my tips for trying to be kind of good on a Dubai brunch! Remember being good all the time is kind of boring and yet I may not look like a Victoria Secret model, I’m fit and healthy and know there is more to life than being a size 0. On the other hand, be honest with yourself, if you’re still wondering why you’re not in the same shape as Alessandra Ambrosio when you are brunching every weekend, be real- it’s just not going to happen!

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Finding something you like…

This is something that I has always been part of my philosophy as a PE teacher. Finding something that every student likes doing, obviously they are not going to like every sport on the curriculum but I’m always keen to find that one area they do. Which hopefully will encourage them to be physically active at least in this area.

Similarly once I’m qualified as a personal trainer (I’ve just registered and have begun studying this week!!) I will be adopting the same philosophy. Obviously if it is an activity that you enjoy, you are going to be more motivated to do it, whether it’s running, cycling, Crossfit, Zumba, finding that one, or few areas that work for you is really important.

passion

Myself and Hannah (my housemate, I’ll probably mention her a lot on here!) are both into fitness and last year used to work together all the time. We both like running, though she is faster than me, so I just plod along behind her! Last year we also used to do a lot if HIIT sessions in the gym in our building. However, this year we have kind of gone our separate ways with our exercise, we still run together (when it’s not too hot in Dubai!), but we have both found a different area we’re passionate about.

In September we went to a Surf and Yoga retreat in Sri Lanka. I had never really done any yoga before, used to be a gymnast, so thought I would like it. However, I was wrong! I did a restorative yoga session that was 75 minutes, where I fell asleep 3 times, discovered I have lost all my flexibility from gymnastics and despaired when the teacher said we would extend the class a further 15 minutes!!! I just felt so bored and hated being still and quiet for so long! On the other hand Hannah was absolutely loving it and feeling very Zen. For the rest of the time we were there I did the surfing and would run on the beach when Hannah went to the yoga sessions.

In the winter we were both training for long distance running events, Hannah did a marathon and we both did a half marathon so our training mainly consisted of running and building up our milage. Which I actually found quite monotonous, not sure I want to do another half marathon!

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Me and Hannah after the RAK half marathon (with my nephew as our mascot, super cute!)

After these events we both wanted to move away from running. Hannah found a yoga studio and joined there. I discovered a new gym which was literally a minute away from my building, called f45. It’s basically 45 minutes of circuits combining, resistance, cardio and functional training.

I love it! The classes pass so quickly and each day is slightly different. Since starting I have already seen a difference in my body, especially my arms. It’s convenient and doesn’t last too long. I know that I could probably create circuits for myself and complete them in the gym in my building, however I am so much more motivated by others and slightly competitive so don’t want to give up!

My gym actually offer a 2 week free trial, so for the last 2 weeks of term Hannah has joined and we are training together again. Halfway through her first class yesterday, she whispered, I HATE THIS!!! as the activity we were doing was a chin up static hold, so not the most pleasant. However, when the session was finished she said she did enjoy it and would be coming back!

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Seeing how Hannah threw herself into something she wasn’t used to made me reflect on my hatred of yoga! It got me thinking to not strike yoga off straight away, maybe if I try a different type I would like it a bit more.

 

When temptation comes….

This week my housemate asked me to do a her a diet plan for the week for us both to follow and until yesterday this had been going quite well. The plan was to stay roughly around 1400 calories and cut down on sugar and only have starchy carbohydrates with our lunch.

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So yesterday I did not have the best day nutritionally (not sure if that’s even a word!). Started off well, did a gym class in the morning followed by a breakfast of half a banana and a slice of frittata. I had my snacks as planned and my beef stir fry, however at work a colleague of mine offered me some chocolate and it all went down hill from there.

I was like the shark Brucey off Finding Nemo, once I had a taste for chocolate I was on one to get some more. Luckily I had a slight distraction as I had to pick my nephew up from nursery, however ran into another bout of temptation when he decided he wanted to pretend it was christmas and bake christmas cookies for santa! He’s the cutest kid every though so I couldn’t resist! So ate one of these too.

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Not the best presentation- however my nephew is 3!

I then went home and was still on the search for more chocolate, so ate a small dark chocolate Lindt orange intense bar. After this I still wasn’t satisfied and was searching high and low in the cupboards for more chocolate or junk food. However luckily, I did not have any in the house! So when people say keep junk food out of sight or do not have it in the house (better for me as even out of sight I would still find it!), it’s actually true I didn’t continue my binge because there was nothing else for me to eat!

Living in Dubai it is more than easy to just order from a supermarket and get delivered, whether you call or there is even a grocery app you can order things off! However, my housemate had already ordered things off the app to our apartment so felt embarrassed to order more, especially when it was junk food to satisfy my binging!

So at the end of the day, my laziness of not wanting to walk to a supermarket and my embarrassment of not wanting to order through the grocery app again, actually saved me from eating shit that I did not need!

Am I a skank?

With working out quite a lot and doing a bit of swimming also I never know how much I should be washing my hair? I don’t know why but my face and head seems to sweat profusely during exercise, so obviously after working out my head is pretty sweating, resulting in quite disgusting hair.

However, I hear so much about not washing your hair too much as it gets rid of the natural oils in your hair, so trying to get the right balance. For example yesterday morning went to the gym and sweated a lot but did not want to wash my hair, as I was planning on going swimming at work during my lunch hour.

So my options were:

  1. Leave it minging and sweaty
  2. Load it with dry shampoo to soak up sweat and grease (best invention ever!)
  3. Wet it without washing, but when it drys it looks totally greasy anyway!
  4. Wash it

I decided to go with option two. I guess I’m kind of lucky in the sense that I’m a PE teacher and probably get away with looking a bit skanky compared to other professions. Also being in Dubai, it’s acceptable to sweat, well I hope it is as I sweat throughout most of the day!

Even when I try to look groomed I fail, plus with living in the heat I don’t really like to blow dry my hair much, so end up it with it being a bit of a curly mess anyway. Which is what I’m like when travelling in the summer anyway!

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Yes there is a snapchat filter on here- because I did not want to scare anybody! haha

Anyway think I went off on a slight tangent there- please comment and let me know if I truely am a skank and everyone washes their hair after every workout or not!

Evening meal at Sicilia, Movenpick Ibn Battuta

So my plan to get on back on track with my diet did not quite work yesterday. It was my sister in laws 30th birthday and we went out for a meal for it. As I am half Italian and grew up with my dad running an Italian restaurant, I have very high expectations of Italian food. It does not have to be super fancy or rich, just needs to have flavour. The food was actually pretty good, if you are based in Dubai I would definitely recommend this place. It is also on the entertainer!

I know I probably should have made ‘healthy’ choices and probably not had the pasta but it sounded so good and the restaurant has a pork license so actually had pork sausage in the pasta, therefore I was sold!

For my starter I has Aberdeen Angus beef carpaccio, which was served with mushrooms, cream cheese and balsamic vinegar. I love beef carpaccio but this one was by far one of the best I have eaten in Dubai.

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My main course, the pasta dish I could not resist, was mezzamanica ‘gentile’ salsiccia and seasonal mushrooms. It annoys me a little how the menu has named their dishes half in English and half in Italian. Why?!? Either have the title in Italian and explanation in English or just all in English! Anyway the taste of the food made up for this slight annoyance! This was my dish, rigatoni in a tomato based sauce with mushrooms and pork sausage, topped with shavings of parmesan cheese.

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If you are based in Dubai and want some pasta with a bit more flair than your usual spaghetti bolognese definitely try it out. There are also pizzas on the menu, which are cooked in a pretty good oven. It has a little window where you can see them make the pizzas, a point of interest for my 3 year old nephew who loved the fire!

Normal diet will resume today, I promise (well sincerely hope at least!)

Cloud eggs

After investing in an electronic mixer after helping my housemate make cloud eggs last week, I was excited to give it a go. It took 3 minutes to whisk the eggs compared to the 20 minutes it took last week!

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Looking so good so far! Whisked egg whites, with bacon, parmesan and spring onion

 

However this week came across a new problem, I thought I would be clever and put all the egg yolks in an ice tray rather than have 1 bowl per yolk, when making 8 cloud eggs would end up with a lot of washing up and I’m far too lazy for that! I watched a video of Joe Wicks using a bottle to suck up an egg yolk, I tried this but was an epic fail! So proceeded to scoop them out with a spoon, however on most of them broke the egg yolk so it ended up going everywhere!

Anyway once cooked they did actually taste pretty good so not going to complain. Just need to work on my presentation, so will keep trying! God loves a trier! Not perfect Instagram worthy but probably the reality for most of us as these ‘simple’ recipes are harder to execute as the videos on the internet would have us believe!

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At the end of the day all ends up looking the same in our stomachs! And with that slightly disgusting thought I will leave you- give cloud eggs a go though, even if they don’t look the best they taste great! 🙂