When I lived in Cebu one of my favourite weekend escapes was Hong Kong. I love the city for it’s vibrancy and electric mix of cultures – the British colonial legacies gave me a reminder of home when I needed it, while the Chinese aromas and hectic 24-7 buzz was an exciting change of pace compared to the relaxed lifestyle of the Philippines.
The water in Hong Kong is like the blood in the veins of the city; essential to every part of everyday life. On my visits I preferred to stay in the Wan Chai area on Hong Kong Island – and while the MTR connects it directly to Kowloon, taking the Star Ferry is just as convenient, affordable and thoroughly more enjoyable. During the day you are treated to expansive city vistas, while at night the skyscrapers are covered in beautiful lights which reflect across the bay.
The following photos were taken on my first trip on the ferries in February 2012. Everywhere I looked was picturesque, and while I’d been interested in it before this is the point I started thinking about photographing my travels more seriously. The day was cold and overcast, yet the city managed to stay atmospheric and full of character.
This second set is from my third trip in September 2012 while coming back from Lantau Island. The timing of this journey was perfect as the ferry glided into the bay as the sun was setting, turning the buildings into columns of gold.
While I did use the ferries on my 2nd trip, it was unfortunately too miserable and rainy to have enough visibility to capture anything other than fat raindrops on my camera.
Hong Kong is a city I could see myself spending more time in, there is always something to see and do, and retains a bit of character and a more ‘European’ edge than other major SE Asian cities. And while a city of it’s size can seem overwhelming at times, being able to spend time on the water with such beautiful surroundings maintains and sense of clarity for me while I’m in Hong Kong.
At my job I am lucky enough to work on some fun and exciting projects. We started collaborating with Thomas Cook Airlines in December on how to best highlight the Manchester to Las Vegas route – and one thing that dominated our research into social listening from the last few years was the prevalence of glamorous celebrity parties and the launch of Britney Spears’ residency at the Hard Rock Hotel. This cemented what we knew about Vegas; it is just as much a lifestyle destination as a travel one.Based on this we put together a blogger event, hosted at the Milton Club in Manchester. The theme was ‘Divas Glam Vegas’ – an opportunity for local lifestyle bloggers to enjoy the glamour of Las Vegas first hand.
I spent the first part of the night at the entrance welcoming the attendees to the event with one of our signature cocktails and a pack of Divas postcards featuring facts about Vegas. We also have a Divas Glam Vegas micro site with further information, including the lovely illustrations that were made for the campaign. Once inside the main part of the venue, attendees had the opportunity to take a chance on the roulette table, select from a range of treatments at the beauty station, or take some Vegas themed snaps in the photo booth.
We use Tagboard to present a live stream of activity on social media against our hashtag #divasglamvegas to the bloggers could catch themselves on screen just like divas do!
Our roulette table was a diva suitable pink and purple, kitted out with custom ‘diva dollar’s featuring our bespoke branding. The top earned for the night won a bottle of bubbly for their efforts.
The highlight of the night for me was our Britney Spears impersonator Michaela Weeks. She looked so much like the real thing and even treated us to a performance of Toxic on the bar!
Overall it was an amazing night full of great company. If you want to see more from the bloggers who attended check out the Tagboard below! Thomas Cook offer flights from Manchester, Belfast, Glasgow and London from £205 so being a Diva is pretty damn affordable.
Following on from my previous post about Isla Mujeres, I wanted to go into more detail about the afternoon I spent at Capitan Dulche. This is a unique beach club which mixes relaxation with culture, as it also has a sculpture garden and hosts the only museum on the island.
Like all other attractions from the island, Capitan Dulche can easily be reached by fixed rate taxi or by renting a golf cart for the day. If you order food and drink at the bar the entrance fee is waved and you are welcome to spend all day on the private beach which includes loungers and a volleyball net.
By far my favourite thing about Capitan Dulche is the extremely unique boat bar – you can see the ship’s mast rising up from the surrounding landscape. The style evokes imagery of pirates sailing the Caribbean and the barrels of rum they’d consume.
The beach has a small dock that expands out into the bay, providing a scenic walkway or place to sit and watch the local wildlife.
The grounds of Capitan Dulche also act as a sculpture garden, with maritime pieces and musical figurines dotted on the dock, grass and hillside.
The main building hosts a formal dining veranda that can be rented for events and weddings, while the downstairs is the island’s Maritime Museum. The museum collection includes model ships and items from throughout the local naval history, including details about Mexico’s most famous diver and oceanographer, Ramon Bravo, along with his even more famous contemporary, Jacques Cousteau.
I found Capitan Dulche to be a real treat while on Isla Mujeres as it managed to mix the two things I love most while travelling; beautiful beaches and cultural history.
Isla Mujeres is a small island situated closely off the coast from Cancun. While it’s only 6.8k away in distance, in terms of atmosphere it’s a world away. While I was only on the island for around 24 hours I was able to see many of the sights and get a great feel for the atmosphere.
Isla Mujeres is a short ferry ride from Puerto Juárez, just north of Cancun. The port is easy to reach either by bus or taxi from Downtown Cancun or Zona Hotelera, and a return ticket should be $146.00M.N. (as of December 2014).
The best beach on the island is Playa Norte (North Beach), which curves round the tip of the island by the town centre.
You can walk along Rueda Medina from the port with the white sands of the beach to you left or enjoy the local restaurants and shops on the right side of the road.
Playa Norte is the best place to watch the sunset on the island, as you can see it dip below the skyline of Cancun across the water. Walking along the tip of the island towards the easts gives you the best area to see the golden hour of dusk and how the beach sand turns into soft honey hues. This area is where most of the hotels are, but access to the sand is free and easy, with much smaller crowds than on the mainland.
Walking Through Town
The town centre is the best place to stay and has a personality all of it’s own. Most of the buildings are brightly painted, cantinas open up onto the sidewalk and cheap local food can be found everywhere. One thing I really loved about the island were the massive murals found on the sides of buildings adding even more character.
Things To Do in Isla Mujeres
If you want to more than just enjoy the perfect sand and sun of the beach and atmosphere of the town, Isla Mujeres has plenty other things to offer. To get around either rent a golf cart for the day (Yes, a GOLF CART!) or use one of the many relaxed taxi drivers. Rates are fixed and can be found on the wall by the taxi bank by the port.The buggies are the funner option, but you still need a valid driver’s licence in order to rent one.
- Punta Sur, the southern tip of the island, is a park with sculptures, a lighthouse you can climb, and small mayan ruins
- Captain Dulche’s Beach Club, where you can enjoy a drink or meal from the pirate ship bar, lounge on the private beach, stroll the sculpture garden, and even visit a maritime museum. I loved my time here and will be sharing with you further details in a dedicated blog post.
- Book a day trip to go snorkeling in the Museo Subacuatico de Arte, Mexico’s underwater art gallery, or to the nearby bird sanctuary of Isla Contoy
- Visit Tortugranja (Turtle Farm) to see the conservation of the beautiful sea creatures in person
Where to Stay
- Poc Na is a great party hostel, best for long term travellers who want somewhere cheap to meet others and dance the night away. The dorms are pretty basic relying on fans to keep cool, and some of the bunks are precariously high – but the atmosphere is worth it.
- For high end luxury give the amazingly highly rated Hotel Secreto a go.
- For those looking for an affordable family holiday, Hotel Chac Chi is a good option.
Isla Mujeres is an adorable island I hope to spend more time on in the future, hopefully as part of a long term trip through Central America. However, it’s also a great option for those looking for a beach holiday with a bit of character, away from the crowds of Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Hierve el Agua (“The Water Boils”) is a serious of natural rock formations 45 miles outside of Oaxaca in Mexico. The area visitors can reach is a smaller cliff called Cascada Chica contains natural and artificial pools for swimming.From here the larger cliffs can be seen along the scenic moutainous landscape.
These unusual formations are caused by fresh water springs containing calcium carbonate cascading over the cliffs and into the valleys, creating structures that look like solid waterfalls, similar to how stalactites are formed.
Swimming to the edge in these beautiful infinity pools was one of the highlights of my trip to Mexico, and gave me a welcome break from hectic city to city travelling.
To reach Hierve el Agua it’s easiest to join a day trip that visits Mitla and other nearby attractions. Most hostels and hotels in Oaxaca will be able to arrange this for you as last minute as the night before. Expect to pay around 150-200 MX Pesos for a full day tour, excluding entrance fees.
- Find hostels in Oaxaca such as Casa Angel on Hostelworld
- Read more reviews of Hierve el Agua on TripAdvisor
- Find the best hotels deals for Oaxaca on Expedia