OLIVIA ROUND CHIANG MAI & PAI

Known for: Raw nature
Only a short trip between CM & Pai
Northern Thai cuisine
Happy elephant sanctuaries 👍🏼
Adventure activities

Trees covered with burnt amber leaves line the canals surrounding the quaint city, tucked away amongst the wilderness of the jungle and forests. Lose yourself in the tranquility of Chiang Mai and take a good book, adventure spirit and an open mind for the quirkiness the northern city has to offer.

WHAT TO DO

1. Take a trip to Pai.

I know leaving the city I’m recommending is probably not the best way to begin my post, but the beautiful aspect of visiting Chiang Mai is the beauty of taking a weekend excursion to Pai, at only 4 hours by mini van, it would be rude not to!

The chances of you falling in love with the place is highly probable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you even extend your stay. Pai is a cute little hippie town full of likeminded travellers, which creates a lovely melting pot atmosphere in the evening where everyone can hang out, let their hair down and just have a good old time. It’s far from pretentious as there are no trendy stores or fancy restaurants, and the hippy scene isn’t too heeby jeeby either.

Travel tip: I don’t recommend visiting Karen Long Neck Village in Pai. As intriguing as it may look, the tradition has moved away from a proper “tradition” and become a tourist attraction, where women are seated next to tourists and forced to smile for photographs. Many women also aren’t even Thai, instead they have come from Burma to earn some money for their families back home. After talking to our lovely cooking teacher in Chiang Mai about this, she explained why it is not a good tourist attraction to support because she is the only one of her sisters who was lucky enough to not go through the horrible experience. 

2. Visit elephants but don’t ride them.

We hired a scooter in Pai and rode north of our hostel, Paitopia, along the way we spotted some captive elephants that were chained up. It pained me to see this, but we decided to stop and buy them some bananas to eat and have a chat to their owner.

I felt conflicted because it appeared this man really loved his elephants, and I understand that tourism is his business and livelihood, but I still feel strongly against the process that the elephants go through to be “broken” in the first place.

Thankfully, more sanctuaries are opening now where you can walk with the elephants and wash them which is far more humane, but once they have been tamed, there is no going back into the jungle. Just something to bare in mind when making your decision…

3. Visit the Pai Canyon. 

Only a 20 minute scooter ride from Pai centre, the canyon is a lovely shade of burnt ochre, which is extra striking around 5pm as the sun sets behind the cliffs. Take a picnic and your camera to snake a decent spot to enjoy the view.

4. Visit one of the many waterfalls. 

Coming from New Zealand has tainted me when it comes to seeing waterfalls because we have so many magical ones back home, but there is one in particular that you can slide down if the water is deep enough and the rocks are slippery. CAUTION: Please be careful before trying this though, we saw a girl get badly injured because she started from too high up. Test the depth first and start on the lower rocks, be smart!

5. Listen to live music at Edible Jazz bar.

Both Chiang Mai & Pai are really great places for relaxing as the pace is slow, and you’ll find that people are there to just chill out.

6. Take a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai with Thai Akha. One of our favourite experiences in Chiang Mai was learning proper Thai Akha style cooking, and would be something that we could take back home, far more valuable than a some harem pants or a dinky souvenir.

Our teacher Niti was absolutely incredible. She had a witty sense of humour and warmed up the mixed bag of students, bringing us together with her passion for food and one on one mentoring. We started off by making our own vegetable spring rolls, deep frying them one by one and eating them freshly cooked from the basket with chilli sauce… Next was an Ahka style clear broth soup, followed by a pumpkin coconut soup (my favourite). Next we whipped up two different salads and chose a noodle dish and curry that we would like to prepare. I went with the classic Pad Thai and a Green Curry, David chose Red. We smashed the chilli, tamarind, garlic, ginger and lemongrass in a mp to create our own curry paste from scratch, once it turned the desired colour from some decent elbow grease, x okayed our paste and we churned out a curry, and two desserts. Together, we enjoyed our different meals at a big table in her dining room and asked x about life growing up in Thailand, different customs, her views on tourism and she also shared some great cooking tips.

We left the lesson feeling inspired and impressed by how world class the whole experience was. It was definitely my favourite experience in Chiang Mai and I would say if you don’t have long up north, try Ahka Cooking because you’ll learn skills that you will have for life (and that will impress your guests at your next dinner party).

7. Hire push bikes to explore the city.

I should add “at night” if the climate is anywhere near as hot as it was when we were there. In saying that, I would rather be perspiring on a bicycle and see cool sights than miss out altogether. It’s pretty gnarly in some parts, especially if you take back roads through people’s farms, but take an adventure spirit and you’ll be fine… trust me!

8. Visit the vegan buffet and enjoy endless food overlooking the chef’s garden and a temple.

Vegan or not, this place is iconic and not many tourists know about it yet. Keep it under wraps because it’s the best kept secret, but go and enjoy some of the best food and if you’re lucky the lovely woman might even make you up a special dish based on your favourite ingredients. It’s cheap too, around $8 NZD per person.

9. Take a gander through the night markets in Chiang Mai

The Ploen Ruedee night market is insane. Hoards of people bustling through what appears to be broad daylight at 9pm. There’s noise, traffic, heckling, strange smells, exotic food, music and all round good times. The best place to hang out is by the food and live music on hay bales (of course).

WHERE TO STAY

Paitopia

I’m not kidding when I say this place looks like a wedding venue, it’s super pretty with white sashes hanging from the ceiling and pretty drapes everywhere.

It’s all open plan with gorgeous colourful huts. We planned on staying in our little blue hut for one night, which turned into 5 because we made some cool friends, spent evenings drinking dark and stormy’s, eating fruit and playing cards. The pool is open 24/7 which means late night swims are totally acceptable and it’s only a 5 minute ride into the main village.

Aside from the excellent humans we met, there was also 8 puppies and 3 kittens for us to fawn over. How could you leave?

The Dorm

When looking for a cheap and cheerful hostel in Chiang Mai, there is a lot on offer, however many people we met complained about the conditions of their hostels. I think we got lucky with The Dorm as it was relatively clean, safe and quiet. There wasn’t much of a communal vibe, but you can head out to town for that, and the staff were lovely which made up for it.

WHERE TO EAT

Happy Green: We were SO happy at Happy Green. All you can eat vegan food for $8 NZD, and no not rabbit food kind of vegan, I’m talking hearty veggie curries, fried noodles with fresh tofu, colourful salads and black rice. This place is worth raving about. Plus the elderly lady who runs it (and does all the cooking) is an absolute doll.

Coconut Shell: If you want a super cheap meal (I’m talking $1 – $4 a dish) then you want to check out the place that serves curries in a coconut shell. It’s a family run place and loved by the locals.

Siam Pai Bistro: If you’re vegetarian and deprived of a traditional Massamun curry because they are made with meat, look no further than Siam Pai. They do a wicked veggie Massamun served with black rice. That was the only thing we ordered, but we got it three times… it was that good.

Fruit shakes: I would have no idea how to explain the right place to you, but look for the place on Eat Street in Pai that’s run by a mother with her baby son. She makes the best passionfruit, coconut milk and mango smoothies in town. I think we probably bought about 10 from her!

Earth Tone waffles: The cute organic vegan place up the hill by Paitopia is eco-friendly and even has a water refilling station. Go straight for the waffles as they are without a doubt the best seller. While you’re at it, order a scoop of vanilla coconut ice-cream on the side and some berry compote.

The falafel lady: Maybe don’t Google search “falafel lady” as she won’t come up, to those who find her, you’ll be rewarded. We got chatting to some Aussie dudes at the smoothie stall who clearly knew good food, and they led us down the little street off Eat Street to her tasty cart. Super filling and generous servings in a pita pocket with tahini and hummus, they’re vegan and very healthy.

WHAT TO WEAR

 

The further north, the hotter is my theory. Don’t know how true it is, but I spent my days in cotton shorts and a bandeau top, as minimal clothing is ideal! Tevas are good for trekking to waterfalls and up to the canyon.

Love,

Liv x

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The best health insurance if you’re an adventure seeking Kiwi

I had never considered health insurance until I had sinus surgery, followed by a root canal procedure. They say it comes in threes… what’s next, my wisdom teeth?

I think it might be time to get health insurance.

Given my line of work, and travel schedule, I decided it was important to make plans regarding healthcare.

I lead an active lifestyle, and love my adventure activities however when unexpected illness slows me down, my main priority is to get well again to keep up with my busy schedule.

For me, it was important to look into getting health insurance so I’m not hindered from doing the activities I love.

No matter how many superfood ingredients you put in your smoothie, there are some things that pop up in life that kale and kefir aren’t going to fix. That’s why nib Health Insurance is a safe option for piece of mind.

nib is great for young professionals because they provide great value health cover for under $20 a week.

You can start with a standard plan if you’re looking to cover your wisdom teeth, tonsils and sinus surgeries (all applicable to me), right through to premium cover.

As the second largest health insurer in New Zealand, I trust nib to give me the right kind of support to enable me to live the exciting and active life I lead.

So sign up with me by the 7th of August and you will receive a $200 Prezzy Card, after three months of cover!

This post was made possible thanks to nib Insurance, NZ.

Love,

Liv x

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OLIVIA ROUND BANGKOK

Known for: Excellent variety of food
Beautiful ancient temples
Shopping capital of Thailand
Famous party street Khao San Road
Home of the Monitor Lizard
Knock-off stores

Colour, action, beauty, trendy, passion and vibrancy are the words I would use to describe the city of Bangkok. Wander down the waterfront comforted by the blanket of warm air, smell the delicious fried noodles and marvel at the beauty of the temples juxtaposed with the modern high-rise buildings. 

WHAT TO DO

1. Take a walk along the waterfront. Everything is more beautiful at golden hour / dusk, it’s a known fact. Make your way down the narrow alleyways, watch the elderly men and women setting up their little stalls, skippers mooring their boats, cruises floating down the canal adorned with pretty fairy lights and a dull echo of laughter and celebration. 

2. Learn the art of traditional Thai Massage at The Sukosol Hotel. If travelling with a companion, take the lesson in a duo so while one person is the model (a great role if you ask me), the other will be instructed by the massage therapist, then you switch. I found it really valuable to learn because now D & I can give each other massages at home, you just have to keep it quiet that you know the skill or all your friends will be knocking at your door. 

3. Relax by the pool during the heat of the day. It may sound like a cop-out for an adventure travel blogger to say “chill” but it’s so important, otherwise you totally burn out. I make sure I pace myself, and I have realised the importance of taking a day off to enjoy the place you’re staying, especially in 30º heat.

4. Visit Wat Pho Buddhist Temple. Home to the famous ‘leaning buddha’, Wat Pho is situated along the waterfront, close to all the action of the city. The beautiful, gilted gold filigree designs are just stunning and give you a true sense of traditional Thai religious architecture. Entry is 100 baht which is roughly $10, and the temple is also the home to many stray kittens and even the odd monitor lizard!

The best time to visit is during the early evening before closing as it is generally a bit quieter and perfect for picturesque photos at golden hour.

Travel tip: Stop to admire the stunning architecture and detailing

5. Party the night away on Kao San Road. Okay I’ll admit, I’m not the typical bucket mixer drinker (I’d much rather a rum in a quirky old-school underground jazz bar) but I do love a good dance, and everything always seems more lively at night. Kao San is everything you’d imagine from Bangkok city – loud music, bright lights, hecklers, scorpions on sticks, knock-off Calvin Klein underwear and faux Gucci bags. Go there and embrace it. 

6. Walk down Soi Cowboy strip. Strip in this case has a double meaning as it is essentially the dressed up ‘red light district’ of Bangkok. Pak Pong is historically the classic, but Cowboy has the country element which makes it even more fascinating. If you’re afraid of seeing a bit of skin then this isn’t the place for you, but after travelling for years, my eyes have been exposed to a lot, and I actually find the grungier parts of town quite intriguing. I wouldn’t recommend taking too many photos out of respect for the performers.

7. Catch the flower night market. We were lucky enough to stumble upon it one evening after dinner (around 11pm), and the market was just being set up. Row upon row of streets, little shops sell bright yellow marigold bouquets, locals ride around on bicycles running deliveries and both young and old are busy weaving offering baskets.

8. Play with the local animals. If you’ve been following me for a while now, you’ll know that I make a conscious effort to seek out the cutest local animals and hang out with them for a while. Bangkok has plenty of little fury friends to hang out with, you just have to go out exploring.

Travel tip: Monitor Lizards like to hang out in Bangkok so keep your eyes peeled. We saw one by Wat Pho temple.

WHERE TO STAY

The Sukosol Hotel

Enter the lobby to the beaming smiles of hotel staff, gracious greetings and a relaxed atmosphere. The Sukosol staff give an outstanding Thai welcome which was genuine and continued throughout our stay. As I have said in the past, the staff can really make an experience special, and this was one of the kindest welcomes yet.

My birthday happened to fall on a day we were staying and after countless swims in the refreshing pool, hours of playing cards and reading under the trees, I returned to our room to find a delicious moist chocolate cake topped with strawberries and candles! I felt so chuffed that the staff would go out of their way to make my day even more special, it was truly magical. A special thank you to The Sukosol team and my lovely bf David.

The rooms and decor are really elegant and comfortable, and the pool area was so nice that we spent an entire day enjoying it. If you can say that about your hotel, you know it’s good!

WHERE TO EAT

Mango Vegetarian & Vegan RestaurantAfter exploring Khao San Road for a while, we were very hungry and happened upon this exquisite veggie place. After um-ing and ahh-ing over whether or not it would be tasty or another odd vegan place, we went in and sat on the floor and were instantly greeted by a super lovely young high school aged girl and two kittens. We spent a good 20 mins playing with the cats and chatting to Bam before even opening the menu. We ordered the crispy goyza curry with black rice and a veg burger. We also got a mango & passionfruit smoothie which was super slushy and delicious and on our last day we treated ourselves to the molten chocolate lava cake (vegan) with coconut ice-cream.

Inn A Day restaurant: Located right on the waterfront, we found X restaurant through Trip Advisor, and as anticipated, it lived up to the rave reviews. I would highly recommend the vegetarian spring rolls, in fact we decided that they were the best we had ever eaten, ever. The sweet & sour vegetables with rice was tasty too. Such a quaint and trendy little restaurant attached to a backpackers so go there for cool vibes, cold beer and the bomb food.

The Sukosol’s breakfast buffet: Look no further than the best hotel in town. From freshly made croissants, omelettes and waffles, the food is fresh and there is plenty to choose from.

There’s also a lovely bar to enjoy a cool drink in the evening.

WHAT TO WEAR

Visiting on the cusp of peak season, you’ll still experience highs of 30º, which means you’ll be in swimming togs most of the time if that’s your thing. Otherwise lightweight cotton dresses work a treat, and my favourite city sandal, the Birkenstock. Judge away, but when you can walk for hours on end sight seeing you’ll be thanking me for the expert tip.

This was the cool city view from our room in The Sukosol. Bangkok is such a fun city and whether you’re a city slicker or not, there is so much to see and do, I would recommend checking it out and then hopping on a sleeper train up to Chiang Mai.

Love,

Liv x

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Sankara Resort, Ubud

A hidden urban oasis in Ubud is not hard to find, but only those in the know will know that the pick of the bunch is Sankara Resort.

Sankara is an easy walk to the busy Ubud centre, but set back in a quiet neighbourhood to feel like you can totally unwind when you get home.

Top: Zaful • Shorts: Vintage

Step into the home of another Pramana Experience family, as staff shower you with warmth, relieve you of your bags, hydrate you with freshly squeezed juice and settle you into your room.

Dress: Ripcurl

One thing I always check is the comfort of the bed (second is the length of the bath, followed by the room service menu). Sankara, you well and truely ticked the box. But why am I not surprised. You have to experience it to see what I mean.

The hotel is great for travellers who love trying their hand at new activities and the staff share local knowledge and skills in a daily afternoon class. We gave woodcarving a go. While the instructor suggested David should come and work for them, I don’t think anyone was as impressed with my skills, but kindy showered me with encouragement as my cute little lizard looked like what my baby cousin would have made in primary school.

You can also learn the art of Balinese dance (now this is my turn to shine), cooking using special Balinese spices and how to make the traditional offering basket.

I also set my alarm for morning yoga which was similar to Power Vinyasa style, lots of breathing and some tough stretches, perfect to set you up for a day of running round after monkeys at the monkey forest.

Our room featured a gorgeous private pool on the balcony, which was shrouded with lush greenery to ensure privacy.

My boyfriend and I joked that we could dance around like kids and not disturb anyone, which is the great luxury of having your own pool!

For breakfast we enjoyed fresh watermelon juice and pancakes by the pool. This is the beauty of being on holiday in the tropics, fresh fruit is abundant and so delicious.

Top: Zaful • Shorts: Vintage

If you’ve had enough of chlorine, there is a gorgeous outdoor stone waterfall shower in the room, which I certainly made some good use out of.

Swimwear: Tigerlily

The dining area is lovely in the open air and the manager Leon will make sure you feel right at home. We really enjoyed chatting to him about his experience working on cruises and travelling to many different countries around the world. He also shared with us the history of Ubud and how he’s experienced a change over the years due to popularity among tourists.

Another super cute feature Sankara have is a book loan out system – similar to what you commonly find in hostels.

Every part of the hotel is aesthetically curated to perfection, from the walkways to the rice fields, the staff and the ornamentation. It truely feels like living in your own paradise.

When it was time to move on, one of the lovely staff members made me the most beautiful rose out of a paper napkin and told David to gift it to me. I kept it the entire trip because it meant so much to me that someone would go out of their way to make my day.  That is the kind of gesture that sets Sankara apart from other resorts.

Dress: Homemade vintage

If you have any questions about Sankara or any of the other Pramana Experience resorts, flick me a message in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks again to Mr Wayan Wardika for having us visit your lovely villas.

Photography by my lovely boyfriend David Evans & myself.

Love,

Liv x

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Dedari Kriyamaha Villas, Ubud

Tucked away in the forest and off the beaten track you’ll find the hidden gem that is Dedari Kriyamaha Villas managed by Pramana Experience.

Walk into the sanctuary and feel the warmth of the staff as they welcome you with all their heart regardless of whether you look like a supermodel or a drowned rat from a wet and wild motorbike ride… of course we were the latter.

In the traditional Pramana Experience way, you’ll be offered a delicious frozen drink made of mint, lime, ginger + honey while the staff explain the fun activities you can partake in during your stay. It’s not uncommon to want to order the “welcome drink” even after you’ve been welcomed.

We were escorted to our villa under an ornately adorned parasol as the heavy tropical shower hit the thick canvas brim. The friendly concierge led us down a quiet path to our secluded leafy green paradise.

Equiped with a state-of-the-art modern kitchen, you can either cook for yourself or order from the onsite restaurant. We enjoyed dining in the restaurant as it has a lively energy with golden lights and sometimes even a great live duo performing, however when some kids got a little raucous (as they do) the staff offered to deliver our meal to our room which was lovely.

The villa’s private pools are generous in length and perfect for an early morning refresh or evening cool off.

If you’re an early riser, there is a great rice field tour which runs from 8am – 9am. It’s nothing taxing on the body, so haul yourself out of the ridiculously comfortable bed and explore the rice plantation, learn about the harvest, befriend some cows, meet some locals and don’t forget to take some sturdy shoes that you don’t mind getting a bit muddy.

If that’s your exercise done for the day, treat yourself to a complimentary 10 minute massage in the spa and enjoy high tea in the restaurant.

The room service menu is extensive, and having the kitchen handy means you can reheat your toast and noodles later. A Pramana Experience breakfast always consists of a delicious fresh bread and pastry basket, tea or coffee, juice or fruit, muesli or cereal and a sweet or savoury breakfast option. The lunch and dinner menus feature both Western and Indonesian cuisine.

The two features I check first in a hotel is the bed and the bath. Dedari Kriyamaha Villa certainly receives a high score for having two of the best I’ve enjoyed, but you’ll have to try them out for yourself!

Throughout our stay, the staff were friendly, attentive and went the extra mile to make us feel welcomed and at home. I really appreciate this aspect of Pramana Experience as it definitely makes the stay more memorable. Thank you to Mr Wayan Wardika and his lovely team, we wish you all the best and hope to visit you again soon. Suksma!

Photography by my lovely boyfriend David Evans & myself.

Love,

Liv x

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OLIVIA ROUND BARBADOS

Known for: Surfing
Rum + seafood cuisine
Resorts and beach clubs
Scuba diving and water sports
Island life

“You’re on island time now” they tell you. Just remember to look before crossing the road as the average speed limit is… let’s just say it’s fast.

It’s the common joke, for some reason Barbadians are always in a hurry. Hop on a local reggae bus and you’ll be holding onto your seat (and stomach) the entire ride. It’s wild, and they certainly know how to have fun.

Barbados is a British Commonwealth country, and largely owned by expat Brits. There is a UNESCO site and many colonial houses on the island juxtaposed between the seafood and rum shacks populated with locals having their afternoon respite. I loved seeing the contrast of culture, vibrancy of energy and warmth of both travellers and locals alike.

🇧🇧 Still can't believe where I am right now 💙🌊🐚🐠 #OliviaRoundBarbados

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I spent one week on the island, and made many British and local Barbadian friends who shared their top tips for having the best time in Barbados. They told me to pass them on, and to tell you not to ask if they like Bob Marley when you visit, but to say hi and they’ll shout you a rum.

 

WHAT TO DO

1. Go for a Hobie Cat ride. When offered a ride an hour before my flight, I didn’t even stop to question logistics. Instead I bolted to grab my togs and GoPro and hit the ocean for a hair-raising, adrenaline pumping ride.

2. Swim in resort pools. Walk down the beach and take your pick. You may even score a free afternoon tea or BBQ dinner.

🇧🇧 I dived 🙊 #OliviaRoundBarbados

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I love meeting other travellers and got chatting to a man in his 80s who used to visit the same resort every year with his wife who has now passed. He asked if he could enjoy a rum with us and have me take his picture, I obliged and after showing him the back of my camera he chucked, “My, I do look handsome tonight!” beaming from ear to ear. It’s moments like these that I get so much pleasure out of my job.

3. Ride on the reggae bus. There are normal buses in Barbados, and then there are “Reggae buses”. Opt for the latter. Do bare in mind they drive very fast, music is very loud, and sometimes there is a poison substance involved. You’ll see animals, school kids, grandmas, workmen, office ladies, you name it, they all ride the bus.

4. Swim with turtles. The best advice I was given was to head to Lone Star restaurant and head out when there is a snorkelling squad already out. They will be feeding the fish, so there are bound to be flurries of beautiful fish and turtles if you’re lucky.

🇧🇧 So thankful to have the opportunity to visit this place 🙏🏼✨ #OliviaRoundBarbados

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Travel tip: Don’t chase the turtles. Imagine how you would feel being followed by a big goliath 8 times your size. 

5. Give the monkeys some love. Avoid getting scratched (rabies) but you can gently pat the baby monkeys who go for walks with their owners. After talking to some locals we found out that these monkeys are well cared for, which is good to hear given the animal cruelty around the world these days.

6. Visit the colourful village of Holetown. Terribly overpriced, but cute to peruse in the heat of the day. The houses are straight out of Edward Scissorhands.

7. Visit Nancy. Ask any local about Nancy, and they’ll spin you a yarn. She’s known for her hearty meals, few words and a stiff, ice cold rum. In order to visit Nancy, you must do your own research (it’s part of the fun of finding her).

8. Walk everywhere. This tip probably features on every travel list I write, but I can’t stress enough the value of walking. You see far more, get a better sense of the place and you’re always bound to get chatting to locals along the way.

9. Hit Mullins Beach Club for a dance. They played everything from Rolling Stones to Red Hot Chilli Peppers (and we thought it was a jazz night?!) 100% recommend for a fun night out. Don’t be surprise if you get asked out for street karaoke afterwards.

10. Visit Oistins once only and buy yourself a little handmade momento, but trust me, once is enough. My mum bought me a super cute pink turtle necklace to remember our holiday by. I still wear it back home, so it was the perfect souvenir.

WHERE TO STAY

I found a cute little AirBnB house in Paynes Bay, which is honestly one of the best locations to be based in. There are however many great hotels including the Tamarind, Fairmont Royal Pavilion and Coral Reef Club.

🇧🇧 Where the royals stay 🌴👑 #OliviaRoundBarbados

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🇧🇧 Post about Barbados on my website soon featuring lots of handy tips! 💙 #OliviaRoundBarbados

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WHERE TO EAT

Coral Reef Club: Best buffet breakfast I’ve ever eaten. From sweet waffles, pastries, fruit and muesli, to hearty fry ups with hash browns and eggs. I had about 5 breakfasts one morning.

Lemongrass Noodle Bar: This Holetown haunt is not your typical Barbadian cuisine, but it’s pretty delicious Thai food in a gorgeous setting. Beware, it’s super spicy, so not for the faint hearted!

Tamarind Resort: The Tamarind’s restaurant serves up some nice cocktails and lunch snacks. Don’t skip the kumara fries, they’re pretty good. The view is also spectacular. If you ask them nicely they’ll give you some bar snacks to eat by the pool, complimentary.

Travel tip: Have a good supply of snacks to keep your blood sugar up throughout the day.

WHAT TO WEAR

I wore a long shirt in the evenings to avoid mozzie bites, but apart from that minimal clothing is required! Grounds are very uneven and there are little to no footpaths so wear sturdy footwear.

🇧🇧 Tevalicious in Barbados 👍🏼 comfort first always, don't care what anyone says 😉 #OliviaRoundBarbados

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Tevas were my go-to and I was very thankful for them. A light wraps skirt is always a good choice too as you can toss it on over your bikini.

Next stop: London.

Love,

Liv x

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LOVE is when 285,000 travel girls have your back

It’s easy to feel alone, especially while travelling. I know I have, along with the 285,000+ girls who are also members of a Facebook community Girls LOVE Travel. In saying this, life experiences unite us and restore an overwhelming feeling of warmth.

Lara Bothe, an 18-year-old girl from Germany devastatingly lost her father in the 9/11 tragedy in 2001. This morning she posted on the page tentatively asking if someone might go down to the World Trade Centre to leave a token of love in his honour as she was not in NYC.

Screen Shot 2017-04-19 at 7.13.35 AM

The overwhelming response of kind words, gestures and acts of selfless kindness brought me to tears. Although I’m sitting here on the other side of the world in New Zealand, I too could offer my condolences and love along with hundreds of other girls who may have shared similar experiences or just have an open, empathetic heart.

Photo: Jenna Znak

Lara commented graciously, thanking each girl and mentioned that it would be tough going through graduation. A local New Yorker suggested she would even take a photograph of her own graduation cap next to Lara’s father’s name.

One #GLT member couldn’t have put it better, “It’s humanity at it’s finest. There are always more beautiful souls helping than there are who harm. This is a reminder of how much love there is in the world! ❤”

Wise words in my opinion, and a message we must all take away from this story. You never know what your neighbour is going through and extending a little love, even to a stranger can do a world of good. We’re in this life together, let’s stop racing round competing, and instead build one another up with love and positivity.

My thoughts are with Lara and her family, thanks for sharing your story and to the #gltLOVE community.

Love,

Liv x

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How to travel as a VEGETARIAN

In some countries, being “vegetarian” is a foreign concept. “So, you don’t eat cows?” “You eat chickens though right?” “Wait, so how do you survive?”

Following a veggie diet while travelling can be an absolute dream (Bali, Thailand, Australia) but it can also be a nightmare and lead to many hungry nights (Japan, China, Iceland). So here are a few tips to surviving in a meat lovers city, followed by my top veggie haunts across the globe.

What to do when you can’t find vegetables

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OLIVIA ROUND ROME

Known for: Roman history
Basilicas + cathedrals
Foodie's paradise
Ancient architecture
Beautiful art

Push open the shutters, inhale the aroma of rich brewed coffee and look at row upon row of ancient buildings lining the cobble stone streets.

In New Zealand our oldest building, Kemp House, is nearly 200 years old, The Pantheon in Rome however was built in 117AD, and is still used as a Roman-Catholic church to this day.

During a bleak winter week in England, I booked a fly-out-tomorrow spontaneous getaway to Italy, and without hesitation (and a ticking time-out server pressing my deadline) I chose Rome.

WHAT TO DO

10pm Friday night, I checked into a gorgeous BnB called Salotto Monti. When I first arrived I thought I’d booked a dud as there was no signage to be seen and no signs of life.

After bumbling my way through broken Italian, a game of charades with some locals and doubtful thoughts that the streets would be my home for the night – the big wooden door opened and a little head popped over the bannister of a spiral staircase. “You are here!” cried a petite Italian woman. “Buonasera” I replied as I turned to thank the entourage of helpers peering through the doors behind me.

Two days in Rome was not going to make me an expert on the place by any means. However I was content with the amount of activities I fit into my schedule. If you’re only visiting for 2 days also, you might like to follow my itinerary. Continue reading “OLIVIA ROUND ROME”

OLIVIA ROUND OAHU, HAWAII

Known for: Water activities
Island lifestyle 
Traditional Hawaiian culture
Music & dance
Volcano, waterfalls and great hikes

Get tossed around in the enlivening surf in the morning, break a sweat up to a mountain summit, lay under a palm tree in a hammock in the heat of the day and cool off at an Eastern beach, floating in ultimate relaxation in the blue azure ocean. Why would you want to leave Hawaii?

Photo of Diamond Head peak

WHAT TO DO

1. Take a tour with Hoku Tours. Our host Kanamu was witty and knows absolutely everything about Oahu. The trip lasted 11 hours, and Kanamu shared fascinating stories and history the entire time. If you’re going to take any tour, this is the one.

Photo of waterfall in Hawaii
Swimming under a waterfall

Continue reading “OLIVIA ROUND OAHU, HAWAII”