The Asian Circle

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KHTravels are working with The Asian Circle on a mission to support vulnerable women in India and South Asia. We are honoured to be assisting with their social media campaign raising awareness of the fantastic work that they carry out daily. Please help spread the word and follow them on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram!

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The Asian Circle is working together with Oxfam in the tribal Adivasi communities in North East India to challenge the social acceptance of sexual and domestic violence against women. Oxfam is helping the government, police and judiciary to apply the laws that protect women. This includes setting up support centres in police stations to provide shelter, legal advice, counselling and launching a state-wide campaign to raise awareness of and change attitudes towards violence against women.

Around the world, 35% of women and girls suffer physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a day dedicated to raise public awareness about this and other appalling statistics and that is what we’re doing!

The Asian Circle Summer Party 

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By popular demand, The Asian Circle are holding their 2nd Summer Party. They are delighted to be hosting the multiple award-winning Comedian and Columnist Shazia Mirza and other guest speakers. We would like to invite our fellow travellers, volunteers and friends to come and enjoy a fun-packed evening including a complimentary drink, canapes, prizes, guest speakers and an opportunity for you to network with some fantastic ladies. ‘The Asian Circle’s Summer Party’ is being held at the Bangalore Express. A special 20% discount has been arranged allowing you to enjoy the Asian culinary delights of Yogesh Datta the UK’s top Indian chef at a great price.

If you are interested in attending the party please get in touch for ticket details.

All ticket donations will go towards the Asian Circle current project supporting vulnerable women in South Asia.

9 Top Tips on Volunteering

We’ve volunteered in five different countries and have a huge passion for travel, charity work and most importantly; change. We’ve therefore combined some top tips and experiences from our fellow travellers and volunteers to help you when planning your volunteering trip. Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start, who to trust and where to go so hopefully this will answer some of your questions.

1) Rox Oquendo; Former Director of Hands on Manila

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“You don’t always have to donate money to make a difference in small communities, your time can be much more beneficial. Contact NGO’s in the Philippines to find out how you can get involved with their ongoing programmes. If you have any special skills you think may be of benefit, for example if you’re a medical practitioner then make the NGO you are volunteering with aware, you may be able to help with specialist missions. By volunteering you’re exposed to the real Philippines and get to explore places off the beaten track.”

Our first volunteering experience abroad was with Hands on Manila and we can’t recommend them enough!

2) Skye Sandhu-Nelson; Community Champion

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“Each person has their own reasons to give or volunteer and you’ve got to have an affinity to the cause your supporting which will be unique to each individual. This needs to be taken into consideration before deciding on where is right for you to volunteer.”

Skye is an incredibly experienced volunteer and as has supported the YMCA, Salvation Army, The Citizens Advice Bureau, local schools and play groups, Womankind Worldwide and many more.

3) Emily Hudson; Explorer

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“All I would say is get stuck in as any little job goes a long way, get to know the locals, learn their ways and work with them to help your cause. Don’t forget to keep in touch even after your time volunteering has come to an end. It’s such a buzz to get updates and see how things are progressing when you’re back home. Also, do some research on how you can continue to support your project from home through online tasks and spreading the word.”

Emily volunteered at The African Impact, Marine Conservation Project in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

4) Sam Rees-Davies; Backpacking Biker

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We met Sam in February 2017 on our first day returning to Our Home Community. Unfortunately it was their last night volunteering there but although we had very little time together we instantly knew we shared the same passion about Our Home.

“Our first and most important tip when volunteering is always plan your route before you set off on your journey. Initially getting to Our Home seemed impossible as we were travelling by bike from Ooty with nothing but road signs! When we finally arrived we were mobbed by so many excitable children. One of the most refreshing things when you speak to anyone at Our Home is that they never refer to it as an orphanage, it is quite literally their home. The sense of community and family is breathtaking. Never have I seen so many children with such a zest for life, and if you need inspiration to volunteer, this is it!

We spent our days playing football, painting, cooking and also took the children on a trip to the local dam. Reflecting on my time at Our Home my biggest advice is get involved as much as you can and think of something new to introduce, cooking macaroni cheese was certainly a first time experience for these Indian kids and it was great I could give them that.”

5) Chloe Leach; Backpacker

“If I was to give any suggestions to someone wanting to volunteer abroad I’d say first and foremost – do your research. There are a lot of ‘volunteer projects’ that are scams, especially in SE Asia. They take your money and it doesn’t go to benefiting the cause they ‘stand for’. Please ensure you look for ethical projects.

I’d also say, GET STUCK IN. You’ll probably be given some tasks that aren’t as enjoyable as others. However, it is what you make it and at the end of the day you’re there volunteering to benefit the lives of others and not yourself.”

Chloe has volunteered at SchoolsWorldwide, a charity that runs volunteer trips through schools in Namibia, and Elephant Nature Park in Thailand where we also had a fantastic experience.

6) Sofia Candy; Backpacker

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Sofia volunteered with the Soi Dog Foundation, Thailand in 2015 and has incredibly now adopted Sansa, a dog they fell in love with during their time there. Sansa has been living in the U.K. for almost a year and is loving her new family life.

“If you wish to volunteer at Soi Dog make sure you contact them in advance to arrange your dates as they get booked up quickly during busy seasons. Take some dog treats with you in a bum bag for when you walk the dogs, they love a treat! Wear comfy shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and smelly … Hanging out with the dogs and cats all day can get messy but it’s an amazing experience and you’ll hear lots of stories about how these animals were saved from torture and cruelty. It’s a fab life experience you will never forget.”

7) Thuy An; Community Outreach Coordinator; YMCA Vietnam

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“Vietnam is a great place to volunteer and have a life changing experience. To make sure you have the most enjoyable time possible and not too much of a culture shock, this is what I would recommend:

  • First and foremost make sure you participate in a voluntary experience that will excite you. This way you will be able to put 100% into everything you too.
  • When planning to volunteer make sure you obtain necessary visas and documents required before you arrive to avoid any problems.
  • Be prepared to eat all kinds of food in Vietnam … the infamous durian and fish sauce is typical for daily meals, if you’re a picky eater or dislike smelly food Vietnam might not be the place for you!
  • Most Vietnamese people are nice and friendly but always be aware of scams and rip-offs when shopping in local or tourist markets.
  • Don’t get run over by a car! The traffic is crazy. When crossing the streets be alert, confident and steady.
  • Lastly, equip yourself with some local knowledge about wherever you go. The Vietnamese people will love that you’ve taken the time to get to know their culture.

Thuy An organised our brilliant voluntary trip with YMCA Vietnam in 2015.

8) Swostik Pandey; Student and Entrepreneur

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“Whilst volunteering in Vietnam I often found myself being so thankful for the opportunity to give back. My main advice for volunteering abroad is to be as passionate as possible. Most people only volunteer once or twice in their lifetime so give it all you have and make sure you don’t forget to embrace the culture. Not only does this teach you about the local people, food and lifestyle of where you are volunteering but it also makes you appreciate everything you have in life. My second tip would be to be outgoing. Being able to create memories is great but always remember the people around you are the ones who help form those memories. Whether it is sharing a smile or attempting to speak an unknown language, every little thing will go a very long way!”

We volunteered with Swostik in 2015 as part of the YMCA Vietnam Overseas Community Project.

9) KHTravels; Blogging & Volunteering Couple 

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Our ultimate tip would be to prepare yourself for the hardships that go alongside the incredible experience you will have whilst volunteering. Volunteering isn’t easy and can be a very emotional journey.

Your accommodation will be very basic with no luxuries; uncomfortable beds, no fans, mosquito bites, squat toilets, hand washing clothes, no TV and no wifi! Culture shock can also be daunting and you’re often in remote communities that may not have seen foreigners before so expect a mixture of responses. These are the first things to come to terms with and the rest will fall into place. We of course do not want to deter your from volunteering but you need to be aware of what you’re letting yourself in for and if this doesn’t put you off, then you’re ready to go!

So there you have it, from some of our most trusted friends from around the world, we hope you’ll find their suggestions and advice helpful. If you still have any unanswered questions then please get in touch.

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The Orbit

orbitThe Orbit was one of the most iconic features of the 2012 Olympics, obtrusive with its red colour it protruded itself against the backdrop of the modern history being made around it. The rumours were rife when it was first built, would it be a viewing platform or a restaurant or a white elephant but we think it might have had the perfect outcome… the world’s tallest tunnel slide!

At £15 a pop and only £10 for children this is not only the #1 thing to do in London but also one of the cheapest! The 40 second slide fills you with excitement and/or fear of death (depending on your love of heights) as you ferociously spiral to the ground.

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There is a viewing deck at the top of the tower but if it’s a view of London you’re after then look elsewhere as other than a Birdseye view of the Olympic Stadium there’s not much to see from here. It’s easily accessible and on the doorstep of Westfield shopping centre. If you’re feeling inspired by your surroundings you could even take a dip at the London Aquatics Centre to step into some Olympic flippers.

We would avoid going on busy shopping days and West Ham matchdays to avoid the chaos of people.

You can book your tickets by visiting the Arcelor Mittal Orbit website.

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Backyard Cinema

Whilst travelling the world, would you believe one of the things we really enjoyed doing was checking out each country’s cinemas. Every single one we visited, from Oz to the Philippines and India, were SO much better than British cinemas. Tickets at less than a quarter of our price, a huge range of snacks all less than £1 and the quality of the  cinemas themselves were second to none.

When we returned home we were not looking forward to paying way over the odds at Vue, or sitting in a hot, stinky room at Premiere. So, when we discovered Backyard Cinema, we were overjoyed! With tickets starting from £16.50  you’re not only seeing a film, but you’re getting a fantastic experience too. The first time we visited we saw Jurassic World in an exclusive jungle themed set up, venturing deep through the jungle before taking our seats in comfy beanbags!

More recently we saw Home Alone in their Winter Night Garden extravaganza, and the set it self was like being in a movie; fairy lights, Christmas woodland, themed cocktails and blankets to snuggle with and get in the festive mood!

If you’re travelling in London we can’t recommend you visit this place enough. We’re super excited to see what ideas they come up with next! You can check out all of the packages and film screenings they offer here.

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Features

We love writing about our travels, whether that’s engaging our readers with tales of our adventures or helping out with travel advice from past experiences. Getting involved with other blog sites is something we’re hugely passionate about. Please see below a few blogs we have featured with:

If you’d like us to write a blog or article for you, please get in touch here!

Natural History Museum Ice Rink

It’s pretty hard to beat Christmas in London and with it being our home city we’re trying a range of different festive activities to recommend to you guys, starting with ice skating at the Natural History Museum venue.

5The outside entrance to the NHM has been transformed into a winter wonderland, sponsored by Swarovski you can imagine how beautiful and glistening it is. The actual ice rink has a great view of the museum and is of a good size, leaving you with plenty of space to skate together… or fall to the floor depending on your skills! The main thing is, it isn’t so packed that you can’t move – which is the problem with a lot of London rinks this time of year.

A cute bonus is the Swarovski skate cam, located on the rink you can pose for a Christmas photo in the stunning setting and collect a print out for free after or download it online. Perfect for H who is a sucker for souvenirs, and we’re sure many of you are too! After your skate relax in the upstairs café with a hot drink and snack whilst overlooking the magical view.

Our only negative comment is that it’s recommended you get there 40 mins prior to your booking time, so we rushed straight from work to arrive early and were given our skates pretty much immediately and were then left waiting around. However, we can expect the closer to Christmas it gets the busier the rink becomes – so take this as you will!

We would totally recommend this Christmas ice skating experience. Reasonably priced, fab atmosphere in truly iconic surroundings- the perfect Christmas date night!

Price: Adults from £12.95

Availability: Open until 8th December

Tickets: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/ice-rink.html

The London Stadium

img_2138Football is considered a language of the world for many people and with over three billion fans worldwide it’s no wonder. The Premier League is considered the greatest league for countless fans across the globe and West Ham’s London Stadium has become its latest addition.

 

The Olympic Park was one of the most iconic features of the London 2012 Olympics with the stadium being the centre of attention. Seating 55,000, it’s a far cry from West Ham’s former stadium in Upton Park. The greasy burger vans and over crowded pubs have been replaced by gourmet burgers and cafe football… It’s had mixed reviews in its early days but after attending two games in different competitions we must be honest the review is the same here… mixed!

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The Premier League

The stadium is a wonderful venue and the views within are good although you are further from the pitch than you’d like to be. Being right on the doorstep of Stratford station means you are well connected no matter where you’re coming from and there is plenty to do in and around the area with Westfield Shopping Centre a stone’s throw away.

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However, being so close to one of the UK’s largest and busiest shopping centres isn’t as idyllic as you might think. Getting to the stadium is easy enough but unless you are willing to leave the match 20 minutes early you will need to give yourself over an hour to get onto your platform, a walk that usually takes minutes.

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That’s ok though because there are plenty of bars and restaurants nearby to kill some time at while the 50,000+ fans disperse though right? No. All fans are directed on a never-ending walk around the shopping centre while being policed by officers on horses and riot gear while being refused entry into the shopping centre.

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Enough about transport though and back to the football. After all said and done and the Premier League is the pinnacle competition in the world. Whether you’re a West Ham fan or not you can’t help but smile as you take in the view from your seat and listen to the crowd singing I’m forever blowing bubbles, the passion on the faces of all those decked out in claret and blue is there for all to see. If you can handle the everlasting queues after the game then it is well worth visiting the stadium for a match, especially if you’re treated to a Payet wonder goal.

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Under the lights

img_2365A weekend game is a nice day out but a game under the lights is a different kettle of fish. K returned to the London Stadium to see West Ham vs Chelsea for a real London derby with both teams vying for a spot in the quarterfinals of the League Cup.

 

There’s something special about evening cup games that can never be replicated in a league match. The excitement between fans has been building all day and for derby games like this one it there’s an expectancy that something special is going to happen.

  

img_2367The game itself finished 2-1 to the Hammers and it was great to be involved in. The fans were singing in full voice throughout although there is still an air of hollowness to this stadium. It might be the circular shape or the distance to the pitch but it does miss that real ferocious atmosphere that some of England’s more traditional stadiums offer.

 

As we approached the last 10 minutes there seemed to be a swarming of yellow jackets in a pocket of fans in the stadium. Seats were seen flying as were drinks and you could see both sets of fans attempting to rile each other. Rivalries are what make football great and it would not be even half as entertaining without them but there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed.

  

Football is one of the few things in the world that can bring thousands of people together from different backgrounds through a mutual love of the game. The London Stadium is a great venue but it’s still having its teething problems. It could become a great addition to English football but only time will tell.

 

You can visit the London stadium by buying tickets from the official West Ham website, prices will vary depending on the fixture.

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Pumpkin Pickin’

This year we decided to get all spooky and into Halloween and were looking for some exciting things to do in the London & Essex area. First thing on the agenda was pumpkin picking, and we found a great patch at Foxes Farm offering this for free in two locations, Basildon and Colchester.

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If you’re travelling in London this is a bit further afield (excuse the pun!) but definitely worth doing and great if you’re on a budget. You can also get direct trains from London to either destination.

We had picked the perfect day for it, beautifully sunny with that cold, crisp winter feeling, and surprisingly we had more fun than we expected! We spent a couple of hours picking our pumpkins, strolling through the corn fields and of course getting some fab photos! You can also grab a wizard burger or eerie sausage roll from the food stall.

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With the pumpkins starting from just £1 we would definitely recommend visiting Foxes Farm this week, it’s fab for families and  couples looking for something new to do! They’re open from 10am – 4pm all half term, and it’s definitely a better experience than selecting your pumpkin from a supermarket!

Happy Halloween Travellers!

Limitless Tuesdays at Sway Bar

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Living in London is expensive, so imagine backpacking here. We know that even as a backpacker you want, no hold on, NEED a few nights of luxury!

Sway Bar in Holborn offers the perfect excuse to get dressed up and have an evening of endless flowing prosecco and limitless pizza, all for only £22 per person every Tuesday in a chic, quirky setting.

We used the opportunity for a cheeky date night in London and were really impressed that it is actually unlimited for the 90 minutes during your table reservation. There are a selection of pizzas they bring out one at a time, until you’re fit to burst, and the prosecco comes by the bottle!

This offer is on until the middle of November, so take advantage and book your tickets here.

Could we BE bigger Friends Fans?!

 

Being away for the whole of 2015 we were gutted to miss Comedy Central’s one and only Friends Fest in London, so this year when we heard it was coming back and touring the country, we couldn’t BE any more excited!

After a manic rush to ensure we got the tickets which were like gold dust, we had a long wait until  the day would finally come at Highlands House. H’s mum joined us too being a fully-fledged friends fan. Pivet!

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Unfortunately, we couldn’t have picked a worse day to go, the heavens opened and it was raining non-stop. Despite the fact we couldn’t make the most of the big screen showing famous friends clips and lay around with cocktails in hand, we didn’t let the dull weather dampen our moods!

Basically it’s a day full of fab photo opportunities, the perfect situation for H! From the Chapel where Ross and Rachel got married in Vegas, Joey and Chandler’s front room, to the opening scene with the sofa and umbrellas, all of the favourite Friends sets are ready and waiting for you to enter! You can grab a coffee (or in our cases the ultimate hot mocolate) from Central Perk, or get a bite to eat from Monica’s Moonlight Diner! Fajitas anyone!? Or if you’re brave enough you can learn Phoebe’s lyrics to smelly cat and Ross and Monica’s NYE dance before performing them live on stage. OH MY GOD!

Let’s face it, this is the ultimate geek day… but as a true Friends fan, you will love it! Unfortunately, tickets are now all sold out this year, but keep an eye out, we’re sure it will be making a return next year … did she get off the plane?

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