Author: Katya

A Chef’s Tour: Oldest Market in Bangkok

A Chef’s Tour: Oldest Market in Bangkok

You know that I love food and Bangkok is the place to be if you are like me. The problem is that I do not speak or read Thai, so it becomes slightly more complicated if you want to try  offerings from the street food […]

Katiliya Mountain Resort and Spa: a retreat near Chiang Rai

Katiliya Mountain Resort and Spa: a retreat near Chiang Rai

A lot of people, when they go to the North of Thailand stop at Chiang Mai and  visit Chiang Rai area on a day tour. It is quite exhausting to do this trip in one day, as it is a 3 hour drive one way, […]

Canal Tour in Bangkok with Pandan Tour

Canal Tour in Bangkok with Pandan Tour

While diverse and full of things to see, Bangkok is also huge and full of traffic. To avoid the congestion, consider exploring Bangkok using canal system, which never gets blocked and offers a pleasant refuge from the city heat.

When I was in Bangkok 10 years ago, I went on a canal tour and I loved it so much, I wanted to repeat this experience with my kids.  I googled for canal tours and Pandan Tour looked like a friendly company to go on the adventure.

Pandan Tour offers a variety of options for  families, whether it is a private tour or a group tour. If your kids are small, you may consider going on a shorter afternoon or a morning ride. If the kids are a bit older, a longer 6 hours tour might be a great plan for your day in Bangkok.

I think the canal tour is a great option for families :

you see a lot of things during the day

you don’t need to walk in the heat and push the pushchair

you get to see a completely different life of Bangkok,  removed from skyscrapers and sky train in the downtown. 

Pandan Tour offered  very clear joining instructions,  complete with pictures and phone numbers to call if we are late/lost.  To me,  joining instructions are very  important, as I went on many tours and sometimes you either can’t find the joining place easily or worry that you are going to miss the guide as there are a lot of people around. 

Our day was full to the brim with activities , but also offered some quiet periods to have some family time.

We started off with a relaxing ride to the local temple Wat Paknam, which has a museum inside and a glass stupa on the top floor, where you can also appreciate the view of Bangkok’s  downtown. 

The stupa room has been done recently, so it incorporates modern elements in the traditional temple design.  I could not believe how bright the colours were.

I was also mesmerised by one of the murals, which depicted temple goers with lots of of modern references to details, like brands of shoes, bags or T-shirts. You can spend a good half an hour there just looking at it.

The glass stupa was also something I have not seen before, as it was made from crystal glass and sparkled against the bright background of walls and ceiling. This was definitely one of the best temple experiences for me in Bangkok as there were zero  crowds and atmosphere was serene and relaxing.

Our next stop was at another small temple to feed the fish. A special kind of catfish is considered sacred by Thai people and they do not eat it. Everyone feeds them with dry bread , widely available for 10-15 Baht around any of the temples, which have a river next to them. Basically, once you throw the bread, the water starts to boil, there is that much fish! It was fascinating!

Just before lunch we stopped at the orchid farm to appreciate the beauty and the smells. Some of the flowers smell like a ready made perfume, and our guide Tom was extremely knowledgeable about plants, as his mother used to be involved in the flower business. He has shown us the plant , which will close its leaves if you touch it. Tom also introduced us to the holy trinity of herbs used in Thai cooking: kaffir lime, basil and lemongrass. 

Our lunch was at a floating market and this was my paradise, as you know I am a food lover. There is so much food on offer – you need a week to try all the stalls,  if not more. Tom again offered us advice on things to try and selected fantastic curries and little snacks for the kids, like sweet little pavlovas, and satay sticks. To finish off we had ice cream in local flavours, like passions fruit and coconut.

I did not really want to leave,  but we were heading towards a very special place, called the Artist House. The owner of the space welcomes all artists and there are frequently performances staged.

There is a lovely cafe with canal views, you can sit and enjoy either an art performance inside or watch the local canal life go by. The place was more touristy than other places that we visited, but it did not take away from the charms of the place.

I also went to explore upstairs , there were plenty of Thai puppets on display and other art works which depicted nerby houses and the river. 

And just like that our 6 hours journey with Pandan tour has come to an end. I did not even notice how the time flew by. I would definitely recommend Pandan Tour as it is a family run business and you can see that they care about their customers.

Our tour was hosted by Pandan Tour, but all opinions are my own.

Mini Gardener Afternoon Tea at St Ermin’s Hotel in London

Mini Gardener Afternoon Tea at St Ermin’s Hotel in London

If you ask me to recommend a must do activity in London, I would say it is an afternoon tea at one of the grand hotels.  I have been to a few afternoon teas, and some of the places are not very suitable for kids. […]

Sock Shop: Bamboo Socks Review

Sock Shop: Bamboo Socks Review

Autumn is not far, which means that we will be getting our long-sleeved tops out of the cupboard and start wearing socks again. I love choosing socks, whether it is a colourful range or a novelty design. Last week I had an opportunity to order […]

Glamping Near London: Home Farm Glamping review

Glamping Near London: Home Farm Glamping review

What are summers good for in Britain? I say camping! Let’s take it up a notch:  a proper bed in a tent, dinner cooked by a chef and served at a table and good old camping becomes a glamorous camping, aka glamping. One night in July, we were invited to dinner and also to see the glamping camp at the Home Farm Glamping. 

The farm is located at Elstree and is easily reachable from the train station. We drove and there are plenty of parking spaces for all the guests at the farm. The campground is one big field with strategically cleared walkways, with tents dotted in a kind of a big circle.  Tents are located at quite a distance from each other , so you would not feel like someone is cramping your style!

Each tent has got a double bed inside and there is also a space for 2 extra beds on each side. A family like ours, 2 adults and 2 kids would fit in there perfectly. Jess, the lovely owner, also told us that a whole tent is sometimes taken by 4 girls for their hen do parties. The more the merrier!

By the side of the tent, there is a little deck area,  table and chairs and a wood burner, if you want to roast marshmallows or do story time. Jess told us, that they are not allowed to build any permanent bathroom facilities next to tents, so the showers and toilets are located in a small building, which is just a short walk from tents.

The farm is perfect for families, as you let the kids try camping, but in much better conditions. You will wake  up to the sound of birds or a cockerel, get out of your tent and start exploring nature straight away.

Every Thursday the farm is hosting the supper club “Under the Oak Tree”. We sat at one big communal table, set under the oak tree (as per title!), and had some nibbles before the supper of Thai curry was served. There were two options: chicken and vegetable curry, and if you have any special dietary requirements, they will be happy to accommodate. You can bring your own drinks and start meeting your neighbours at the table.

As there were other families at the table that night, our kids started playing and within minutes they were running about in the field, but because there are no cars and it is too far from anywhere, you can just enjoy your glass of whatever you are drinking.  The fairy lights come on, the blankets are provided, in case you are feeling the chill, and  conversation is flowing.

The dessert was a very chocolatey brownie and fresh fruit, followed by more chatting and watching the fire.

I can thoroughly recommend Home Farm Glamping to all families, as it is an easy way to get closer to nature and enjoy walking , running or just discovering a slower way of life. If you are interested, have a look at the Home Farm Glamping website, which has got lots of ideas on activities  and booking details.

Home Farm Glamping hosted us for dinner as part of their supper club, but all opinions are my own.

Kent with Kids: the Historic Dockyard Chatham

Kent with Kids: the Historic Dockyard Chatham

Seaside and  fantastic countryside in one trip in the UK? You need to go to Kent! Only 1.5 hours from London, the county is full to the brim with seaside towns and beaches, quirky villages, beautiful landscapes and child-friendly activities. We have already been to […]

Sofia with kids: Sofia Zoo

Sofia with kids: Sofia Zoo

I do not know who loves going to a zoo more: my kids or I. When I was preparing for our Bulgaria trip, I discovered that there was a zoo in Sofia,  so we decided to pay it a visit.  Getting there was quite easy, […]

Walking tour in Plovdiv with Audio Guide

Walking tour in Plovdiv with Audio Guide

Plovdiv has been selected European Capital of Culture in 2019 and once you visit it, it is easy to see why. I absolutely loved the place: there were not many tourists around and it is full of historical sites and ancient monuments, which are within walking distance of one another. Plovdiv has a mix of cultures and a hipster area for all your Instagram/coffee breaks/craft beer needs. 

As the city centre is quite compact, I decided to explore it on foot with my daughter Letitia and with the help of Audio Guide Bulgaria, which you can collect in the Tourism Office before you start your walk. 

Together with an audio guide you will get a fantastic map with illustrations. The map certainly makes the walk more entertaining, compared to following your google map on your phone. Hey, when was the last time you explored the city with the paper map?

Once you reach a building you can press the relevant number and listen to the story or additional material, if you want to discover a bit more. The audio guide is very user friendly and you can even return it the next day before a certain time, just in case you want to explore the city in the evening. 

We found that we could just about manage to see majority of the buildings on the walk, but we only went inside two houses, so if you are planning to see more museums, I recommend reserving the audio guide for 2 days,  so you can have more time discovering the Old  and New towns in Plovdiv.

The Audio Guide is not only available in Plovdiv, but in other cities like Sofia and Nessebar or Bansko. It is also available in English, Russian, Spaish, Italian, French, Turkish and Greek.

I want to show you couple of places that we loved most of all on our walk. 

Roman Stadium

I could not believe my eyes that right in the city centre a part of the ancient Roman stadium is readily available for your exploration. And it is free. Majority of the stadium lies under the main street, but there is a post half way up the high street to show where the stadium ends. It is an absolutely massive structure and it is refreshing to see it being in free access.  You can literally touch history by sitting on ancient stairs, like Romans did, so many years ago. 

The House of Hindliyan

The colour of this house is like the sky and it is like a jewellery box inside. The house used to be a residence for a very wealthy merchant family.  Some of the rooms are so full of atmosphere, I just wanted to sit there and imagine, what these rooms might have seen. It is a very human house, so there is no grandeur and majority of the rooms are not roped, so you can walk around and see the views from the windows or admire the paintings in the alcoves.

Artisan Street

In order to preserve the anciet art of crafts , some houses have been turned into artists/craftsmen residences, where you can see them working or admire examples of their work. Again, this was  such a  great introduction to the world of the Bulgarian craft: you can have a chat with artists as they all spoke English, no problem, and they would show you what they are working on, if you ask nicely. 

“Paldin” Restaurant

Unless you have an audio guide with you, it is likely you are going to walk past this place and never look inside. The restaurant used to be a hall for Dancing Dervishes and there are still signs for it everywhere: wall paintings and the way the hall is built. That was really a gem and if you like to stay for some time, you can, as they have lovely open courtyard with comfortable seats. The restaurant is open all day, so you should be able to visit it as part of your tour even outside of food-serving times. 

These places are just part of the 25 places which form part of Plovdiv walking tour, so I urge you, while Plovdiv is still not discovered, to go and see its beauty with your own eyes. 

The use of audio guides was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.

Amiens: Hortillonnages and Art Festival

Amiens: Hortillonnages and Art Festival

During our recent weekend in France, we used the opportunity to explore fishing villages of the Opal Coast and  culture in Amiens. Have you ever been to Amiens? It is a delightful city right in the middle of Somme region in France, and it is […]