Edinburgh Express: What To See & Do In 48 Hours (Pt. 2)

Edinburgh Express - A City Guide of What To See & Do In 48 Hours



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Rested and ready? Excellent. Despair not at the impending end of your Edinburgh trip for there's time still to see many of the city's sights including another hilly ascent, shopping, restaurants and pubs, and then some.  If you were astute enough to time your flight/train back for the afternoon, you'll even have ample time for wildlife-spotting before the end of your city break. Incroyable, no? I mean business when I say 'Edinburgh Express'.
So strap on your boots, grab that camera, bag some pipes, and let's get crackin'...




March 25, 2016

Edinburgh Express: What To See & Do In 48 Hours (Pt. 2)

PART 2 OF  EDINBURGH EXPRESS: WHAT TO SEE & DO IN 48 HOURS ______________ Rested and ready? Excellent. Despair no...

Edinburgh Express: What To See & Do In 48 Hours (Pt. 1)


Edinburgh Express - A City Guide of What To See & Do In 48 Hours


Make like a Flying Scotsman and

EXPERIENCE EDINBURGH IN 48 HOURS

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Scotland may seem like a landscape of mountains and magic - monsters in the Lochs and Hogwarts castle, for starts - but don't let the mystique surrounding the country intimidate you. Unless you're heading for the Highlands - in which case, pack your walking stick, hip flask, and buddy up with Hagrid. Scotland's cities are very much accessible by foot and their sights easily reached even for prissy urbanites such as yours truly. Case in point: Edinburgh. Though Scotland's capital may be built on different levels - giving this UNESCO site the dreamy appearance of a floating city of clouds - I managed to visit most of Edinburgh's great attractions in just over two days, with little difficulty. That said, all the hill-ascending, close-climbing, and stair-stomping does burn off a great deal of calories - all the better to stuff one's haggis hole with no post-holiday overindulgence-regret-self-flagellation.

 So now you know, there really is no excuse for you to ignore Edinburgh if you are in the immediate vicinity of, um, Europe, especially if - like I am - you're based in London. Getting to Edinburgh has never been easier what with direct trains from Platform 9¾ Kings Cross, although it's actually cheaper to fly there via Easyjet or Ryanair. Either way, you've no reason not to pack your bags and haul ass to Edinburgh for at least a city break, not when I've laid out a guide to seeing the sights and stuffing your haggis hole - all of it easily done in 48 hours. Walking shoes at the ready...

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PHOTOS 14 & 17 BY HENRY RIDLEY-COOK, 25 BY MERCAT TOURS


March 20, 2016

Edinburgh Express: What To See & Do In 48 Hours (Pt. 1)

Make like a Flying Scotsman and EXPERIENCE EDINBURGH IN 48 HOURS _________ Scotland may seem like a landscape of mo...

Edinburgh Eats

7 Places to Eat, Drink, & Be Merry in Edinburgh, Scotland 
Fuel me up, buttercup. Though our trip in Edinburgh be short, this magical capital offered a myriad of sights and thanks to its many slopes all my pavement pounding meant that I was free to sample the city’s smorgasbord of noms. And nom I did - from deep fried Mars Bars,  gourmet Scottish dishes, and copious amounts of Scotch. Follow me, on my short, sweet, but no less illustrious culinary tour of Edinburgh…
March 17, 2016

Edinburgh Eats

7 Places to Eat, Drink, & Be Merry in Edinburgh, Scotland   Fuel me up, buttercup. Though our trip in Edinburgh be short, this mag...

North Bridge Brasserie at The Scotsman Hotel, Edinburgh

North Bridge Brasserie at The Scotsman Hotel, Edinburgh


My first haggis at North Bridge Brasserie, Edinburgh

First and last impressions, the opening and the closing act - those are the moments you take away from an event, the souvenirs from a story. The rest is just filler, as some comedians would say. How fortuitous that the standout moments of dinner at North Bridge Brasserie were the alpha and the omega, those winning dishes certainly made for a meal to remember!
March 14, 2016

North Bridge Brasserie at The Scotsman Hotel, Edinburgh

My first haggis at North Bridge Brasserie, Edinburgh First and last impressions, the opening and the closing act - those a...

Arriving in Edinburgh: The Scotsman Hotel

Arriving in Edinburgh: The Scotsman Hotel

Arriving in Edinburgh: The Scotsman Hotel

From history to luxury: a stylish stay at the former headquarters of The Scotsman newspaper 

“The best winters of my childhood were spent in my grandfather’s mansion in The Highlands,” explained my British boyfriend as he puffed his chest with pride, recalling his Scottish ancestry. “I want to show you how beautiful and magical Scotland is, and thought we’d start with Edinburgh.” That’s how I found myself, my hand in Henry’s, standing in the wood panelled lobby of The Scotsman Hotel where we were welcomed by the tantalising smoky scent of the coal fire and beaming staff with the most charming accents. As far as first impressions went, I felt right at home in the capital of Scotland. 
The Scotsman Hotel was no trivial choice - Henry knows how particular I am about where I sleep, having stayed in dozens of lodgings across the world from industrial-chic treehouses to mansions converted into luxury boutique hotels. My Scotsman chose The Scotsman for three very compelling reasons - one: its unbeatable location -positioned on the North Bridge with The Royal Mile on its doorstep, two: the views - it’s the only luxury hotel in the city with views of Edinburgh Castle, the Firth of Forth, Leith, Princes Street and Calton Hill, and three: the history - the century-old building was once The Scotsman newspaper’s offices, with subtle allusions to its heritage found in details like the crossword motif on the hotel teacups. That The Scotsman looked like Hogwarts didn’t hurt, either. In other words - the boy did good.
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March 13, 2016

Arriving in Edinburgh: The Scotsman Hotel

From history to luxury: a stylish stay at the former headquarters of The Scotsman newspaper  “The best winters of my c...

Idaman House at Janda Baik, Pahang


THE SIMPLE LIFE AMIDST THE RAINFOREST TREETOPS OF JANDA BAIK, PAHANG
Idaman (Malay, Indonesian) - n. ideal, craving, desire. 
How wonderfully fitting, as Idaman House was my family's choice for a weekend of fresh forest air.
The Malay kampong (village) of Janda Baik - literally 'the good widow' - is, according to local folklore, named after a kindly widow of local folklore who tended to a wounded mercenary passing through the town. My party of ten enjoyed similar hospitality - a 5-bedroom villa in the mountains tended to by a staff of three who took care of our every need, leaving us free to relax and enjoy our verdant surroundings.
February 22, 2016

Idaman House at Janda Baik, Pahang

THE SIMPLE LIFE AMIDST THE RAINFOREST TREETOPS OF JANDA BAIK, PAHANG Idaman (Malay, Indonesian) - n. ideal, craving, desire.  How...

Ipoh Bites - Where To Eat In Ipoh Old Town

What to eat & drink in Ipoh that isn't chicken rice or Old Town coffee

While I'm all about the adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" - or rather "I'll fix it if I only need to use duct tape or WD40" - I am not at all adverse to introducing crazy newfangled ideas to areas where the classics have already stood the test of time. So, in the spirit of the 'something old, something new' of Ipoh Old Town's new retro revival and the 'modern treehouse meets historical house of decadence' of Sekeping Kong Heng, I'm rounding up my Ipoh blog posts with five alternative eateries beyond the city's already-established street food and hawker stalls. 

February 20, 2016

Ipoh Bites - Where To Eat In Ipoh Old Town

What to eat & drink in Ipoh that isn't chicken rice or Old Town coffee While I'm all about the adage "if it ai...

Birthday Babies


February 16, 2016

Birthday Babies

Sekeping Kong Heng, Ipoh

Sekeping Kong Heng, Ipoh


INDULGING MY INNER PETER PAN AT SEKEPING KONG HENG, IPOH 

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I've slept around. Literally - I've stayed at 5* hotels, country piles, cruise ships, Airbnb's, and then some. I'd rate myself reasonably well-travelled, even so my recent trip to Ipoh ticked off a first for me - sleeping in a treehouse. A treehouse! You may already know about my dinner party childhood dream plans in progress but what kidult doesn't still nurture Neverland fantasies? Ever since Sekeping Retreats burst onto the Malaysian scene with their dreamy 'back to nature' getaways, sleeping al fresco has never been so en vogue, an especially commendable accomplishment given the tropical climate with all its nuisances.
Sekeping Kong Heng sealed the deal for me when I contemplated making a trip to Ipoh for Henry's birthday. The latest addition to the Sekeping family is a glass and concrete treehouse in newly rejuvenated Kong Heng Square, the heart of Ipoh Old Town's revival. The 3 storey neo-classical building was once a hostel for theatre performers who performed in the adjacent theatre building that was burnt down in the 50s. True to the spirit of celebrating Ipoh's rich heritage and history, Sekeping Kong Heng has preserved as much of the character of the existing building as possible - evident in details like reclaimed colonial shop windows used for the rooms. The result is edgy and hip yet respectful to its surroundings' history: an exhibit you live and breathe - from the heady aroma of white coffee to the cacophony of Cantonese banter between hawkers - in a real Old Town setting. 
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February 12, 2016

Sekeping Kong Heng, Ipoh

INDULGING MY INNER PETER PAN AT SEKEPING KONG HENG , IPOH   ______ I've slept around. Literally - I&#...

The New Old: the Retro Revival of Ipoh, Malaysia

The revival of Ipoh Old Town thanks to the rejuvenation of Kong Heng Square, with Bits & Bobs, Missing Marbles, Burps & Giggles, New Star Salon, Sekeping Kong Heng, and more!

Ipoh Old Town, revived with vintage flair 


I chanced upon the most remarkable sight last November when I was in Ipoh to review The Haven.  
In its heyday, the North Malaysian capital of Perak was an icon of the riches of the Empire. But when the mining boom ended, its star faded as the Town Built On Tin became a shell of its former self. All that remained of Ipoh were decaying colonial mansions and shophouses whose weathered bodies whispered of its glory days of British Malaya. As my father did, many of the city’s young emigrated to Kuala Lumpur for bigger prospects, leaving behind a sleepy hollow seemingly inhabited mostly by those old enough to remember pre-independence Malaysia.  
Ipoh, whose star once shone as brightly as Singapore, was now an Adele lyric: “that town where nothing really happened”. Or so I had remembered from my family’s annual Chinese New Year returns to my paternal hometown - it was usually a stopover between Kuala Lumpur and Penang, albeit one boasting some of the best Malaysian culinary fare. Although in recent years Ipoh has become a family-friendly destination for wellness and relaxation, it was not a place I associated with a burgeoning arts and culture scene, and certainly not with the trendy young. 
I was about to proven so satisfyingly wrong.

February 10, 2016

The New Old: the Retro Revival of Ipoh, Malaysia

Ipoh Old Town, revived with vintage flair   I chanced upon the most remarkable sight last November when I was in Ipoh to re...

Welcome, Monkey!


Gong Xi Fa Cai, Wan Shi Ru Yi! Wishing you all prosperity in the year of the Fire Monkey!

February 08, 2016

Welcome, Monkey!

Gong Xi Fa Cai, Wan Shi Ru Yi!  Wishing you all prosperity in the year of the Fire Monkey!

The Joys of Flying Long Haul




Survive? What is this, Bear Grylls and The Chamber Of Secrets?
Let’s be real - there’s nothing to ‘survive’ on a flight, long haul or otherwise. You’re being fed, watered, and oxygenated; all you have to do is sit down, shut up, and not be a cheese-eating racist. Clickbait articles titled otherwise would have a generation of advice-seeking fliers believe that a long haul flight is an epic journey to Mount Doom when really it’s the biggest first world problem of all: Oh, you’re enduring the indignity of travelling thousands of miles over a relatively short space of time and degree of comfort to an exotic destination? Awww, poor thing, does somebody need a waaaah-mbulance? 
Let’s all not lose our heads but rather count our blessings. Not even regard a long haul flight as a means to be justified by the end, but the reasons why the experience is something to be welcomed as a privilege. 
These are the three things I love about flying long haul (not included - squealing WHEEEE! during turbulence).
February 07, 2016

The Joys of Flying Long Haul

Survive? What is this, Bear Grylls and The Chamber Of Secrets? Let’s be real - there’s nothing to ‘survive’ on a flight, long...