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    Four Fab Things to See/Do in Luang Prabang, Laos

    Boasting a mellow atmosphere in stunning, scenic surroundings, Luang Prabang in Laos is a far cry from the alcohol-fueled mania, which encapsulates the tourist-oriented town of Vang Vieng 6 hours further south.

    Peppered with shimmering temples, outstanding markets and enchanting scenery, this city is the perfect pit-stop in Laos, for a touch of relaxation and TLC.

    Here are my pick of the top four things to see/do in this blissful city:

    4 Fab Things to See and Do in Luang Prabang - Waterfall - My Culture Craving

    Visit Kuang Si Falls

    Located around 30km from the centre of Luang Prabang, Kuang Si Falls is a cascading dream of refreshing turquoise water surrounded by limestone ledges, Tarzan-esque vines and silky green vegetation.

    Spend your morning lulling in the lagoon, followed by an indulgent picnic and a wander around the bear rescue centre next door. What more could you want from a day out?

    4 Fab Things to See and Do in Luang Prabang - My Culture Craving

    Explore the night market

    At around 5pm every evening, Luang Prabang’s authentic night market ‘opens its doors’ to tourists and locals alike. Selling everything from intricate paintings, ceramics and antiques to exquisite textiles, coffee and tea, this market leaves you wishing you’d bought a separate backpack travelling,  just for souvenirs.

    Located along Sisavangvong Road, close to the Royal Palace Museum, this market is a must visit whilst in Luang Prabang, even if it’s just to soak up the surroundings and have a nosy and wander.

    4 Fab Things to See and Do in Luang Prabang - Bike - My Culture Craving

    Rent a bike

    Everyone’s gotta love a good bike ride… and when you’re encompassed by the magnificent Mekong River, ample amounts of admirable temples and quaint, crumbling architecture, you’re going to  need a fast means of transport to ensure you can cover it all…

    4 Fab Things to See and Do in Luang Prabang - Mekong River - My Culture Craving

    Cross the bamboo bridge and relax by the Mekong River

    Whilst aimlessly roaming alongside the Mekong River on our bikes, my travelling companion (big-up to Kristie *she’s been requesting a mention since I started this blog*) and I stumbled upon, what looked like, a rickety bamboo bridge leading to the other side of the river. Intrigued, we dumped our bikes, paid the 50p (approx) entrance fee and wobbled our way across to the other side.

    What we discovered was a ‘beach’ of some sort, where both tourists and locals were relaxing, soaking up the sun and cooling off in the water. We perched on the coarse sand as we watched a group of American’s playing, splashing and laughing in the river with a couple of local children.

    Due to the rainy season, the bridge is only in place for 6 months of the year. However, if you’re lucky enough to be visiting when it is in place, make sure you take time to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre to explore the tranquil parallel on the other side of the bamboo bridge.

    Have you ever visited Luang Prabang? What would you add to this list of fab things to see and do in the city?? Please comment, Facebook or Tweet me to let me know :)!

    Where it all Began – Tanzania, Africa

    The warm wind blew my hair into a bedraggled birds nest, resembling those in the leafy trees above, as we bumbled down a dusty dirt track.

    Encompassed by luscious green foliage and shrubs, which were only disturbed by the occasional cluster of acacia trees, a group of bounding gazelles soaring through the air like flying fish, a vibrant Fischer’s lovebird floating across the milky horizon or a herd of nonchalant elephants in search of their next pit stop, I was in a peaceful paradise in, you got it… Africa.

    Africa - Elephants - My Culture Craving

    Africa - African Safari - My Culture Craving

    It was whilst I was on this safari in Tanzania, heading towards the tranquil plains of the Serengeti National Park, that along with a lot of mosquito bites, I was also bitten by that famous ol’ travel bug we always hear so much about.

    Africa - Gazelle - My Culture Craving

    As this trip was my first experience of travel outside of Europe, I immersed myself into the colourful African culture like a duck or, to stick with the African theme, a hippo to water.

    Africa - Hippos - My Culture Craving

    I found myself intrigued by how other people live.

    After meeting a group of men from the Masai Mara tribe who had only a spear and each other by their sides, it left me… dumbfounded.

    People still live in tribes? People still catch their food using a spear? Do they not have a Tesco Express around the corner? Okay, that last question was a joke, but you catch my drift. I was 15 and, oh so naive.

    Africa - Masai - My Culture Craving

    At that point, I felt desperate to learn, learn, learn. I wanted to understand their religion, their beliefs, their culture, their lifestyle and not just in Africa but everywhere.

    I decided that as soon as I finished school I would take a Gap Yahhh and travel the world.

    After studying hard for my exams to secure myself a place at University and working in a call centre to save enough money for my trip, I was off.

    Blog Image - My Culture Craving

    I backpacked through Australia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, China and India and very quickly realised that I never wanted the journey to end.

    After 6 months away, I reluctantly waved goodbye to one of my favourite countries of all – India – and boarded my flight home. Although I was overjoyed to catch up with my friends and family, it wasn’t long before I was once again planning my next adventure…

    Africa sucked me into the world of travel (excuse the pun) and now I couldn’t be any more excited to be setting off on my next solo trip in December (stay tuned).

    This is where my wanderlust stemmed and flourished… where did yours?

    Africa - Lion - My Culture Craving

    Please comment, Facebook or Tweet me to let me know :).

    My Favourite Moments of Travel… in Pictures

    Whittling down my top moments of travel in pictures has made me realise just how blessed I am to have had the opportunity to travel to so many different countries as well as, how much I need a bloomin’ decent camera (any recommendations??).

    However, without further ado and in no particular order, here are my favourite moments of travel (so far) in pictures…

    Where it all began… on safari in Tanzania, Africa

    Africa - Masai - My Culture Craving

    Because, surely this would make anyone want a life of travel…

    Africa - Leopard - My Culture Craving

    Going to Fraser Island, Australia 

    Favourite Moments of Travel - My Culture Craving

    Bungee jumping in Phuket, Thailand

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Bungee - My Culture Craving

    Riding an elephant in Chiang Mai, Thailand

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Elephant - My Culture Craving

    Going to the Full Moon Partayyyyy on Koh Phangan, Thailand

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Full Moon Party - My Culture Craving

    Cycling around Luang Prabang, Laos 

    4 Fab Things to See and Do in Luang Prabang - Bike - My Culture Craving

    Tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Tubing - My Culture Craving

    Watching the sunrise over Ankor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia 

    I'm Going Travelling in 4 Months - My Culture Craving

    Kayaking/snorkeling on Phi Phi Island, Thailand

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Thailand -My Culture Craving

    Going to a revolving rooftop bar in Bangkok, Thailand

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Bangkok - My Culture Craving

    Attempting to climb The Great Wall of China in Beijing… China

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Great Wall of China - My Culture Craving

    Teaching English to these wonderful children in Jaipur, India

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Volunteering - My Culture Craving

    Going to an Indian wedding in Jaipur, India

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Indian Wedding - My Culture Craving

    Visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra, India

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Taj Mahal - My Culture Craving

    Experiencing the Aarti Festival in Rishikesh, India

    Rishikesh at its Finest - Aarti Festival - My Culture Craving

    Getting the chance to share Incredible India with my lovely Mother…

    You're Never Too Old to Backpack - Amer Fort - My Culture Craving

    Getting festive in Paris, France

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Paris - My Culture Craving

    Enjoying an end of University city break in Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Amsterdam - My Culture Craving

    A fun-filled week in beautiful Hvar, Croatia

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Croatia - My Culture Craving

    Never underestimate your immediate surroundings! Graduating in Canterbury Cathedral, Kent

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Graduation - My Culture Craving

    Gin-fueled fun at Lake Parade in Geneva, Switzerland 

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Geneva - My Culture Craving

    A week of partying in the party capital of the world, Ibiza, Spain

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Ibiza - My Culture Craving

    Cheese porn in Montreux, Switzerland 

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Fondue - My Culture Craving

    My first taste of Scotland in Edinburgh… Scotland 

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Edinburgh -My Culture Craving

    What are your favourite moments of travel in pictures? I would LOVE to see them!! Please share them with me via my social media pages.

    5 Reasons Why Croatia is THE Place to be this Summer

    Last summer, after tantalizing my travelling taste buds during a week-long trip to the Croatian island of Hvar,  I was left yearning for another slice of Croatia’s emerald waters, kaleidoscopic sunsets, awesome nightlife, rustic architecture and panoramic scenery.

    With flights and accommodation costing from as little as £200 and scenery and sites to die for (need I say anymore…), here are my 5 top reasons why Croatia is the place to be this summer:

    Hvar, Croatia - Scenery - My Culture Craving

    The Scenery and Beaches

    From the pristine, bleached stone buildings with vibrant terracotta roofs to the spell binding, turquoise waters, which are enveloped in rocky alcoves, plush pebble beaches, leafy mountain ranges and fabulous, vibrant lavender fields, Croatia’s scenery is bound to leave any traveller, a little breathless.

    With the beaches being pebbled (wooopieee no sand), you can set up camp on one of the many radiant beach-fronts or, stretch out on your own secluded patch of rock. Just be sure to watch out for any luxury yachts, which may swoop past and cause a mini tidal wave.

    We learnt the hard way… RIP flip flops.

    Hvar, Croatia - Festivals - My Culture Craving

    The Festivals

    Croatia is rapidly becoming an avid festival-goers haven.

    With well-known festivals such as, Hideout, Outlook and Croatia Rocks (new for this summer), gracing the country’s exquisite coastlines, it is no surprise that tourists are flooding in the masses to get their piece of festival fun in the Croatian sun.

    Hvar, Croatia - History - My Culture Craving

    History

    Croatia is seeped in an outstanding history and as a result, flaunts some incredible, must-see sights.

    From its awe-inspiring National Parks, monasteries and museums to its majestic forts, palaces and cathedrals, Croatia is peppered in numerous fascinating  landmarks, which should definitely not to be overlooked because of the country’s enticing nightlife…

    Hvar, Croatia - Nightlife - My Culture Craving

    The Nightlife

    Combining the pumping party atmosphere of Ibiza with the boozy backpacker vibe of Thailand, Croatia’s party islands have nailed affordable fun, in a beautiful and clean environment.

    With everything from backpacker bars squished down rickety side streets to swanky, open-air clubs located on their own luxurious islands, Croatia conveniently accommodates people living the high life as well as, us not so lucky, budget travellers.

    Check out The Student Travels guide to the best bars and clubs in Hvar, here.

    Hvar, Croatia - My Culture Craving

    The Islands

    You don’t have to go all the way to Thailand to enjoy a spot of island hopping.

    Croatia is sprinkled with over one thousand picture-perfect islands. From the party islands of Hvar and Pag to the quaint historic regions of Brac and Vis, Croatia offers up a diverse range of equally stunning islands to suit any traveller/holidaymaker/sailor.

    With its hypnotising, crystal clear waters, imposing rocky alcoves, mesmerising caves and nightlife second-to-none, it is no surprise that Croatia has become a prime location for individuals to travel to from all over the world.

    So, jump aboard and soak up the paradise of the Dalmatian Coast!

    Have you ever been to Croatia? If you have, where was your favourite island/sight/club? Please comment, Facebook or Tweet me to let me know :)!

    The Perks of Volunteering

    Whilst backpacking through India during my gap year, I decided to book myself onto a six week volunteer program. As I was travelling solo and was going to be starting my English degree when I got home, I thought volunteering would be a great way for me to meet some like-minded people whilst also, getting experience teaching English to people who really needed/wanted to learn it.

    During my project I taught English to children between the ages of two and fifteen in a Day Care Centre in a slum in Jaipur. It was an eye-opening and unforgettable experience, which I would recommend to any traveller.

    Therefore, if you are on the fence about whether you should book yourself onto a program, here are my top perks of volunteering to push you straight over that fence:

    The Perks of Volunteering - Bedroom - My Culture Craving

    Most projects include food and accommodation 

    Although many volunteer programs can be off-puttingly pricey, most projects include food and accommodation in the price. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about budgeting for these necessities whilst you are there.

    As well as this, the daily meals tend to be cooked by locals, which means you get the chance to sample authentic cuisine that you may not have otherwise stumbled upon.

    The Perks of Volunteering - Swimming - My Culture Craving

    You will meet other travellers

    Whilst volunteering, you are bound to meet travellers from all over globe who have come from completely different walks of life. During my time in India, I made friends with people from Canada, USA, France, England, Poland, Ireland, the list goes on. 

    On top of this, if you’re travelling solo, volunteering is the perfect way to ensure you make new friends (ooooo travelling friends) and find potential travel companions for any other trips you may have planned.

    I was lucky enough to meet a girl from the UK who I ended up travelling around India with for a week or so. This cut down the time I was travelling alone considerably and, meant I had a pal to ‘cheers’ my Kingfisher with at the end of a long day of sightseeing.

    The Perks of Volunteering - Teaching - My Culture Craving

    You will be thrown head first into a country’s culture

    By volunteering you get the invaluable opportunity to be thrown head first into a country’s culture. Although wandering around a buzzing bazaar or visiting a well-known temple gives you an insight into the religion and culture of a country, it doesn’t even scrape the surface of the reality of how many people live.

    Volunteering exposes you to this reality.

    It wasn’t until I approached the slum I volunteered in, weaved my way through the back alleys of the houses where sewage and rubbish cluttered the walkway and entered the dark, box room, which was where I was going to be teaching my classes, that it dawned on me that this was the children and their family’s reality. But they didn’t mind. They were so incredibly happy, friendly and content.

    It is insights such as these, which are not readily available for tourists to see and ones that I feel, are the most important.

    I had the chance to visit the kids homes, chat with their parents about their outlook on the importance of health and education for their children, try staple food dishes, which were cooked and served in an Indian household and even had a sari top tailored by the local seamstress!

    These are all cultural experiences, which I would not have encountered without volunteering.

    The Perks of Volunteering - Culture - My Culture Craving

    You will get to talk to locals

    Volunteering is the perfect opportunity to have a good ol’ chinwag with the locals.

    You can ask them questions about the culture, religion, politics and traditions of their country, which you wouldn’t necessarily be able to ask a stranger on the street and believe me, you’ll probably be surprised by a lot of the answers…

    Favourite Moments of Travel - Indian Wedding - My Culture Craving

    You will get opportunities you might not have otherwise been offered

    It is likely that where you will be living,  you’ll be surrounded by locals on a daily basis – the cooks, cleaners, project managers, translators etc. will all be from the area, meaning, you might get great opportunities, which you wouldn’t have otherwise been offered.

    A few weeks into my program, I had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to go to an Indian Wedding (read about my experience here), which was one of the most fascinating and memorable experiences of my time travelling.

    There is no way I would have been lucky enough to go, if it hadn’t been for one of the project managers inviting us.

    The Perks of Volunteering - Classroom - My Culture Craving

    You will make a big difference to the lives of others 

    So far, most of the perks I have mentioned above have been, to put it rather bluntly, daymmmm right selfish (check out my post on the ‘Philosophical Question of Volunteering’, where I have written about this in a bit more depth).

    And this is why I have left the most obvious and most important benefit of volunteering until last – making a difference to the lives of people in need. Although all of the advantages above are great reasons to volunteer, the desire to help others, tends to be at the root of wanting to partake in one of these programs.

    There isn’t anything more rewarding than helping people who are less fortunate than ourselves… especially when it is so appreciated.

    I came away from my project very teary eyed, but knowing that I had (hopefully) taught the children a considerable amount of English, drummed into them the importance of hygiene and had a lot of fun playing games, singing and laughing…

    SO, have I pushed you over that fence yet ;)?

    If you’re still unsure about whether you want to book onto a volunteer project, please comment, Facebook or Tweet me. I’d love to help/answer any questions you might have! 

    A Night at the Theatre

    Watching a play/musical in London should be at the top of everyone’s UK bucket list.

    With The West End’s chaotic potion of bright lights, excitable crowds, historic buildings, garish, luminous billboards and buzzing bars and restaurants, this area of London is a feast for the senses, before you’ve even set foot in one of its mesmerising theatres.

    This weekend, I was lucky enough to tick the ‘watch a musical in the West End’ box off of my bucket list (woohoo) as my family and I went to watch the upbeat, smash hit musical, Mamma Mia at the Novello Theatre.

    As we approached the theatre in a hurried fluster (we were running a little late…), I still had a chance to admire the intricate detail of its exterior. Decorated in complex carvings,  Romanesque pillars and the iconic ‘Mamma Mia’ posters, which are strewn across London’s buses and tubes, we just about had time for a quick pic before rushing inside to get a glass of vino before the show begun.

    Inside, the theatre was just as stunning. Embellished in meticulous gold carvings, squishy royal red chairs and antique mirrors, which exaggerated the size of the theatre as well as, the animation of the performance, it was awe-inspiring and reminded me of a cute, antique dolls house.

    Then, it was time for action.

    The set was simple. Using a  hypnotizing blue backdrop to imitate the ocean and a collection of  rustic white ‘buildings’, the set transported me straight out of the dolls house and instantly onto a remote Greek island.

    Oozing eccentric costumes, an incredible orchestra, outstanding vocals and choreography and a contagious energy, the performance was a melody of hand clapping, drink spilling, feet tapping FUN, which I couldn’t recommend enough!

    Leaving the Novello Theatre on a musical (and wine) high, we sang and danced our way to our next stop – the Big Easy Bar. BQ. Lobstershack.

    A Night at the Theatre - Big Easy - My Culture Craving

    Offering up a cool, quirky atmosphere, live music, their all-important novelty ‘Big Easy’ bibs (see below) and HUMONGOUS sized portions of high quality, scrumptious food, our meal here, was the perfect end to a perfect night at the theatre.

    A Night at the Theatre - Big Easy - My Culture Craving

    A Night at the Theatre - Big Easy Food - My Culture Craving

    Have you ever been to watch a performance in The West End? If you have, what did you see? Would you recommend it? Please comment, Facebook or Tweet me to let me know :)!