Say Jambo to Zanzibar

For EID holidays my friends and I were deciding where to go. We had narrowed it down to 4 options. Pintrest boards were made as well as a list of pros and cons and the small island of Zanzibar, off the Tanzanian coast came up trump.

Zanzibar is a 5 and a half hour direct flight from DXB. We flew at 4am and arrived at 8am with the time difference which gave us a full day upon arrival. We stayed for 3 nights and had 4 full days to explore the island.

We arranged an airport transfer with our hotel for a set fee. We stayed up North in a little town called Nungwi which is about an hour and a half drive from the airport. Our hotel was a 4* star boutique hotel called The Zanzibari. The manager made us feel very welcome and offered us cold drinks upon arrival. After check in we were taken to our rooms. We stayed on the ground floor of a two story bungalow. The Zanzibari has it’s own private beach as well as pool with a bar and plunge pools overlooking the ocean.

Safari Blue Tour – This was our highlight of our trip without a doubt. The tour consisted of dolphin watching, multiple snorkeling stops, a quick stop on a sand bank followed by a BBQ lunch of freshly caught seafood, local Kilimanjaro beer and the option to climb a fallen Baobab tree.

The Rock – I’d highly recommend lunch at this unique restaurant perched on top of a rock in the middle of the ocean. Refer to my post here.

Prison Island – Our driver for the day who also took us to The Rock, then drove us to Stone Town where you can catch small boats from the beach over to Prison Island. We did not book a tour however we paid our drivers “friend” $40USD plus tip in total to take the 4 of us for a return boat trip. The entrance to the Tortoise Sanctuary was USD$4 per adult.

The lovely English manager gave us a tour with commentary including history about the Island and the tortoises. We even got to hold the baby tortoises which are kept in a locked cage and guarded by security at night to prevent people from stealing them.

Fodrohni markets – Is very popular amongst tourists and locals and it’s where you can buy street food. You can judge for yourself whether you should eat there but we decided to stick to more established restaurants.

Stone Town – If you’re going here in the daylight, I assume it would be fine. We however visited late one afternoon as the sun was going down. I had done a lot of research about where to eat in Stone Town and wanted to head to one particular restaurant. We set off in the winding maze of stone buildings and uneven footpaths.

We asked for help and were shown in many different directions which lead us around in circles. After feeling frustrated and now walking around in the pitch black with motorbikes beeping as they rode past our safety net quickly dwindled and we followed a group of mothers and children right out of there and back onto a main road. Now personally I would recommend for anyone that wishes to go and experience Stone Town to take a tour. As even in broad daylight you are bound to get lost.

Orphanage – On our final day in Zanzibar we spent the morning relaxing on the beach and taking in the stunning view and serenity. We noticed we hadn’t spent as much as we’d anticipated we therefore decided to leave our hotel a little earlier and asked the manager about any local orphanages that our driver could stop at on our way back to the airport so we could meet the kids and make a donation.

It’s sad to know that a lot of these children are without families but these shelters make sure the kids get the love and attention they need. Not to mention food, water, shelter and also education.

Vaccinations – Not essential (I checked with various people) however to be on the safe side I got a yellow fever jab (which lasts for 10 years) and also started taking malaria tablets but I personally wouldn’t recommend taking them as the side effects can be quite bad. Do your research. Instead, load up with highly effective insect repellent and be sure to wear clothing to cover your arms and legs, especially in the evenings.

DO: Take USD. The Zanzibari Shilling is rarely used.

DO: Tip and round up

DO: Book your tours

DO: Your research on the best areas to stay depending on the length of your trip.

DO: Learn the local lingo. Just some basic phrases will get you by.

DON’T: Drink the tap water. Drink bottled water only.

DON’T: Book a hotel that has a non-cancellation policy like we did. As we did find something closer and more affordable however it was too late to cancel. Although in the end it worked out fine as we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at The Zanzibari.

Traveled September 2015

Flights: AED 1740 – You can fly direct from DXB to ZAN with flydubai. They run a once a day service.

Accommodation: AED 1040pp based on twin share in a garden room at The Zanzabri Hotel. Read my review here.

Visa: USD 50 payable upon arrival

Tours: Safari Blue – USD65pp

Spending: I took USD400 which was more than enough. Food is relatively cheap even at 5 star establishments.

Authentic Thai in Dubai @ Zen, Business Bay

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Zen restaurant is located in the Metropolis Tower, in Business Bay. Zen is an Asian restaurant specializing in Thai food and a hole in the wall style restaurant with limited seating.

IMG_7474Zen has been in Dubai for a long time and the owner has established a popular client base. Their take-away/delivery service is very popular with regular customers calling in and the owner casually calling them by name and asking if they’d like their regular dish. (“,)
On this occasion I prefer to let the owner suggest what we should eat, especially since he grew up in Thailand and speaks fluent Thai; impressive!IMG_7467STARTERS:
Khanompang na going: A sesame prawn toast which is delicate and scrumptious. We loved the fact you could actually see the prawns which is never usually the case for other asian restaurants as it’s too processed. Comes with a sweet chill sauce on the side. (Recommended)
BBQ half boneless chicken: Tasty and cooked well. Accompanies the Sticky Rice & Som-tam Salad: A spicy papaya salad with a nice kick to it, whilst remaining light & fresh.
Steamed chicken dumplings: Made fresh – in house. Delectable!
Salt & Pepper Prawns: A nice light & crispy batter with the perfect seasoning of salt & pepper.
Tom Yum Soup: So much flavour! My friend enjoyed it thoroughly and she is a big Tom Yum fan. The perfect blend of citrus and spice. One of the best in Dubai!IMG_7468

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IMG_7466MAINS:
Pad Kra-pao: Minced chicken & basil with a hint of heat.
Gang Khiew Wan: A fragrant green chicken curry with ample slices of chicken
Khao Pad: Thai style fried rice. Light & fluffy rice. We had it with prawns.
Pad Se Yu: MY ALL TIME FAVORITE DISH & Zen did it justice. Soft, sticky flat rice noodles with chicken & veg. Mmmm.
We also had two Chinese dishes.
Beef in black pepper sauce: Tender beef pieces in a light pepper sauce.
Crispy shredded beef with sweet soy sauce: This was a FAVOURITE and a dish I like to cook at home. The beef coating was super crispy with a flavourful sweet and soy sauce.IMG_7475

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And last but not least, the desserts.
DESSERTS
Sticky rice with sweet mango: A traditional dessert which impressed my friends. The mango had just arrived from Thailand that day and was super sweet, with the warm and sticky rice, this dessert was a winner!

IMG_7485Tap tim crob: It’s also a traditional Thai dessert made with coconut milk, water chestnuts and jackfruit. Light and refreshing and a lovely ending to our meal.

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IMG_7484You can tell each and every dish we tried was made with love and how passionate the owner is about delivering quality food with quality ingredients straight from Thailand to provide some of the most authentic tasting Thai food in Dubai.
If you haven’t tried Zen yet, you are missing out.

Zen Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

My Coachella Experience

How often is it that you get the chance to travel with your sibling especially when you live on opposite sides of the world? So when the opportunity arose I jumped on it. After all Coachella had always been on my bucket list.

So first things first, I touched down in L.A from DXB after a 15 hour flight and jumped straight onto google maps to find the closest In & Out burger. We were waiting for our transfer to Palm Springs via coach but first we need our burger fix. Getting a cab from the airport is such a rip off so we decided to walk. About 15-20 mins later just outside the airport is a In & Out burger and it is wayyy busier than we expected. But we order and wait cause were desperate for our fix.

Feeling satisfied after In & Out, we head back to the airport where we will soon board our coach and after 26 hours of travelling I dose off into a deep sleep on en route to Palm Springs.

The next day we arrive at Coachella. At this 3 day festival has it all. Some of the worlds best talent from solo artists, to bands and DJ’s, crazy art installations, food trucks and more.

Day 1 highlights included: Azealia Banks, a bit of AC/DC and a total surprising set from Nero who absolutely killed it.

Day 2 highlights included What So Not, Alison Wonderland, Chet Faker (Australia represent!!!) and Flosstradamus which was mental.

The sunsets are amazing with this skyline and FYI, the ferris wheel is definitely worth the wait.

Drake headlined the final night and made my whole Coachella experience seeing him perform live.

On day 3 of the festival the giant sized caterpillar turned into a beautiful butterfly. The art instalments at the festival are just mind blowing.

It was my first time attending Coachella festival. It’s such a happy place with so many amazing acts to see. I’d love to return again one day even though I felt like one of the oldest people there!

Traveled April 2015

Flights: AED 5,225 economy class – You can fly non-stop from DXB to LAX with Emirates. They run a once a day service.

Accommodation: We had an all inclusive Coachella ticket and hotel package which cost us 1,275 USD per person. We stayed at the Riveria hotel. This also included daily coach transfer to and from the festival. After the festival I used Airbnb to stay in West Hollywood.

Visa: USD 14 – apply online before travelling – Esta (Certain nationalities – make sure to do your research before traveling.)

Spending: USD – Food is pretty cheap depending on where you eat and the portion sizes are huge. If you are travelling with someone you could easily share meals. The shopping is also a lot cheaper than Dubai especially for cosmetics and clothes but don’t forget tax is added at the counter.