A journey to plant based diet.

On 3rd January I decided to switch to a plant based diet. The fact that this was at the start of January, was co-incidental rather than being a new years resolution. This wasn’t something I did on a whim or as a ‘fad’. I had actually been building up to this point for months (years?). For several years, I had been aware that I was probably lactose intolerant. Whenever I consumed a large amount of dairy (particularly milk on it’s own) I would feel nauseous, bloated, have an upset stomach and generally feel unwell – so I switched to Lacto-free milk a long time ago. I think it was probably this awareness of how milk impacted on my body, that initially sparked my interest in plant based diet.

Several friends of mine began sharing information, pictures and details of their plant based diet (and the benefits it was having) and they captured my attention. I am a lover of vegetables anyway, I’ve often opted for Quorn products (over meat) and when dining out I would naturally gravitate towards the vegetarian option. Towards the end of 2017 I met The Holt Twins at an Instagram meet up. They spoke eloquently, openly and convincingly about their journey to plant based – this spurred me to begin researching a plant based diet and to pay attention to those who were plant based.

I was shocked to learn of the impact that meat and dairy has on the human body. I go to the gym regularly in order to keep fit and healthy, so it seemed counter productive to be consuming foods that didn’t provide my body with optimum fuel and health.  It’s shocking how many links there are between milk and diseases such as cancer (sources: [1][2][3][4][5]). Society is aware and understand how bad smoking is…yet are oblivious to the fact that dairy/meat presents a similar level of risk to our bodies. It’s consumed because we are conditioned to do so and because industry wants us to… (or else they will go out of business)!

 

The WHO notes:

Top 10 causes of death worldwide

Of the 56.4 million deaths worldwide in 2015, more than half (54%) were due to the top 10 causes. Ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the world’s biggest killers, accounting for a combined 15 million deaths in 2015. These diseases have remained the leading causes of death globally in the last 15 years

 

Dr. Linda E. Kelemen published a study in February 2005 which reconfirmed the link between meat consumption and heart problems. The study, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, concluded that among the 29,000 participants, those who ate the most meat were also at the greatest risk for heart disease. The researchers also reported that a high intake of protein from vegetable sources like tofu, nuts, and beans lowers our risk of heart disease by 30 percent. Dr. Linda E. Kelemen, the scientist who headed the study, told reporters, “Not all proteins are equal”—while vegetable protein can help keep our hearts healthy, eating animal protein can put us in an early grave. [SOURCE]

I also watched two films on Netflix “What The Health” and “Forks Over Knives”. One is more sensationalised than the other, but nevertheless, these also helped secure my decision to switch to plant-based.

I’m not strictly ‘vegan’ because my driver to switch diet is driven by my health desires, however on switching I am becoming increasingly empathic towards the plight of animals – especially knowing that there is no need to consume rotting flesh and baby cows milk. The more I think about it, the more I find the thought of it repugnant.

To conclude, I am 15 days in and I have never felt better. I have so much energy. I can comfortably complete a days work (often my job is quite physical), a solid hour in the gym – and still have plenty of energy to keep going. I can cope better on less sleep. My skin and hair feel healthier and I am toning up much quicker than I have ever before. I’ve not been hungry once and my meals are tasty, satisfying and quick! The whole process has been quite liberating rather than restricting. Knowing I only need to choose from plant based food groups is far easier for me when it comes to shopping and cooking.

All templed out!

So as mentioned in my previous post, temples are a must see if you’re in Cambodia doing the tourist thing.

Here’s a little overview of the temples from Tourism Cambodia

ANGKOR WAT was listed in World Wonder List

Angkor Wat, in its beauty and state of preservation, is unrivaled. Its mightiness and magnificence bespeak a pomp and a luxury surpassing that of a Pharaoh or a Shah Jahan, an impressiveness greater than that of the Pyramids, an artistic distinctiveness as fine as that of the Taj Mahal. Angkor Wat is located about six kilometers (four miles) north of Siem Reap, south of Angkor Thom. Entry and exit to Angkor Wat can only be access from its west gate

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The entry pass is definitely good value ($62 for 3 days) if you make the most of it and see as many temples as possible…although, having said that its really easy to end up templed out as many of the temples end up looking the same. Ta Prohm is the temple I found the most intriguing as the walls have been over grown by trees in places and its fascinating how nature has taken hold. (Unfortunately I can’t share the pictures from there as I’m unable to get them off of the camera at the moment).

When you arrive at any of the temples be prepared to be hounded by sellers peddling their wares, persistently! They’re mostly adults but children as young as five or six hounded me, relentlessy trying to get me to buy their freshly cut mango & pineapple, postcards, magnets or guide books. Buying from children is a big no-no. It keeps them trapped in the poverty cycle, when actually the best solution for them would be to go to school and get an education (and not to work). It takes quite a lot of strength to resist their charming English pleas, but you must politely decline and walk on by.

Also in and around the Angkor Wat site it is very likely that you will see monkeys (Long-tailed Macque). They are a delight to watch but beware – they will go for humans, especially if they think you have food or water!

Shortly after taking the photo below, of the monkey admiring its reflection in the moped mirror, I turned around to photograph another monkey and felt a jolt on my back, I spun around and the monkey had jumped onto my backpack… Much to the amusement of three children looking on! Fortunately, it jumped off straight away but i definitely wouldn’t have wanted to get into battle with it!

You went to Wat?!

The main staple visitor attraction in Cambodia is the ancient temples, of which there are many, so it was pretty much a given that I’d include these in my itinerary.

The Angkor Archaeological park in the Siem Reap Province contains the most famous Khmer temples – Angkor Wat and Bayon.

I met Mr Thon (To-To) at the hotel reception at 9am and after getting me seated in the Tuk Tuk, he pulled a laminated map from the roof and talked me through the temples – explaining that travel to the main temple area was free as part of my hotel package, but if I wanted to explore further it would be $20. I was more than happy to stay within the main Angkor site. He then explained that there were three ticket options for the park – 1 day $37, 3 day $62 and 7 day $72. I decided to buy a 3 day ticket because I knew that I’ll be visiting again next week as part of my charity trip.

To-To’s English isn’t great (most definitely better than my Khmer though) but he was able to do some basic introductions and explained that he’s not originally from Siem Reap, but he’s moved here because of family and he has three sons. On the way, he would stop at significant spots and give me some tit bits of information such as at the end of the hotels unmade, pot-holed track he felt the need to apologise for its poor state. He’d probably seen me wobbling & bouncing along in the back and was concerned, but I was loving it.

A side note for the ladies here…if you ever feel the need to test whether you’re bra is supportive, then get in the back of a Tuk Tuk on the Cambodian road system and you’ll soon find out! A note to Victorias Secret… If you want an influencer to test & review your lingerie in this manner, then feel free to slide into my DM’s!

To-To stopped beside a newly built, grand, eastern looking building, close to the Angkor Wat ticket office, and explained that it was a newly built hotel. It was part of a chain, with another one in Phnom Penh and they were now extending it further, out the back. I felt that the building was actually quite vulgar in comparison to the other humble and modest buildings nearby… But I’m also aware that tourism is vital in increasing the wealth in this area. Incidentally, the Angkor Wat ticket office is built in a similar style and I was surprised by how grand it was – when I’d read about it previously, I’d envisaged a small, tin roof shed!

The ticket office is modern and very well organised, with separate queues for 1 day, 3 day and 7 day tickets. Each bay has a ‘greeter’ and someone in the kiosk. The greeter checks you’re in the right queue and then checks your nationality. What I wasn’t expecting was to have a mug shot taken! With my hair scraped back, no make up on and still deficient of sleep, the resulting photo would definitely not look out of place on Crimewatch….it actually makes my passport photo look half decent! You have to produce your ticket at every temple, so I was constantly reminded that I look like a suspect throughout the day!

After leaving the ticket office its quite a straightforward journey to Angkor Wat. To-To made one last stop at a road side cart and asked me if I knew what it was on the tray. Having read a bit about Cambodia before I came….and looking at the rather unappealing blobs in front of me, I guessed at snails. I was correct! To-To explained that these carts weren’t great as they had no cover over them, so the dirt and dust gets on them…DAYUM! And there was me hoping to indulge in a bag full!!

Coming up next: The temples and a backpack hitchhiker…

Sleep is over rated anyway!

By the time I arrived at my hotel (Navutu Dreams Resort & Spa) I hadn’t slept for 35 hours, so as you can imagine I was far from a fully functioning human! Even the exhilarating, white knuckle, tuk tuk ride in, hadn’t done much to wake me up. After doing my best to remain compos mentis whilst the receptionist talked me through check in, I headed straight to my room and grabbed two hours sleep.

One thing I had paid attention to when the receptionist briefed me, was that they offered a free community village tour which they run in the morning and afternoon. I decided to do the tour in the afternoon, after I’d slept.

I was met at hotel reception by my guide and also my Tuk Tuk driver ‘To-To’). It had rained during the afternoon and the tour took me through puddle filled, sodden dirt track roads, which weaved through the bustling local community. As we wobbled along in the Tuk Tuk, the guide explained about the people, houses, buildings and land as we passed them. We reached a track which appeared in good repair compared to the one we had just left, the guide told me that the community pays to keep it maintained. We headed out along this track which cuts through the flooded farm fields. Along the way we passed numerous groups of people chatting, cooking and fishing, until we reached the end of the track, where we stood and chatted for an hour, watching the sun set.

My guide (on the left in the photo) told me how he was lucky as he’d gone to live with a monk to get an education, which is where he learned to speak English and it had enabled him to be a tour guide. This allowed him to break the cycle of poverty he’d grown up in, in Phnom Penh.

He shared many stories with me as we stood chatting – my favourite and most touching being how, out of principle, he wouldn’t eat dog (although most of his friends do). He revealed that he had a pet dog when he was growing up, who he was very fond of. He returned from school one day to discover it had ran off, and as he searched for it for days he soon discovered it had probably ended up at the ‘dog market’… Since then he has refused to eat dog. He then told me a tale of how his friends tried to prank him into eating dog. When he left the table, they’d concealed dog meat below his chicken – but luckily he noticed. He said it made him so angry that he wanted to fight with them. It warmed me that, like me, my guide was in awe of the sunset (despite him living here, he didn’t take it for granted). As I snapped away with my camera he was happily snapping pics of it with his phone.

We dropped the guide back to the hotel and following his advice, I asked To-To to take me to the old market to get something to eat and I finished off by grabbing some pics of the wonderful illuminations.

I popped my long haul cherry!

First time long haul flight musings!

This is the first time I have ever flown long haul and it is proving to be an enlightening experience! As I write this, according to the techno wizardry on the screen in front of me, I have flown 2583 miles and I’m currently 37,000 feet above Chelyabinsk (wherever that is?), with 3100 miles left to travel.

1) For weeks I had been suffering ‘anxious, avoidant suitcase attachment disorder’. My mind chewing over what would happen to my precious little pink fella as I travelled between airports from Heathrow > Amsterdam > China > Cambodia. Well guess what…my cheeky little rectangular bag of possessions is making it’s own way there, shadowing me along the route, hopefully meeting me at my destination! How’s about that?!

2) I’m a tech geek kind of girl, so also causing me worry was charging up my various gadgets (the tablet I’m writing this on, my kindle and my iPhone). Well who’d have thunked that in this day and age planes would come equipped with USB charging points… Evidently, not me as Schipol Airport mugged me off £18 for a European power adapter plug!

3) With an 11 hour flight I figured the sensible thing to do, would be to get some sleep… I mean the airline kindly provides a wafer thin blanket, a dwarf size pillow, a scratchy eye mask, ever so slightly reclining chairs, a playlist of soothing and enchanting whale song, seats that only jus accommodate your average size 12 Westener… and luckily for me they also provided me with two adjacent passengers who were more than happy to hog the arm rests for the entire 11 hours! With such comfort afforded to me, I’m sure you can tell I was very appreciative of my two ten minute power naps!

On the subject of arm rests…what’s the deal, because in theatres, cinemas and on planes I always seem to dip out on that front? Answers on a postcard!

4) Nobody needs or should have to endure a hangry Kim. Conscious of avoiding this predicament and oblivious to the seemingly continual provision of free airline meals (having only ever flown budget airlines previously), at Schipol Airport, I decided to grab something to eat. I opted for some unidentified chickeny pizza. Little did I realise I’d get hot meals during each flight. We had two on the 11 hour stretch.

5) …On arrival at Schipol, I was very diligent and checked the departure boards to ensure they married up to the gate information printed on my ticket… ’07’. They did, so I settled myself down for the two hour wait beside ‘Departures 07′, at a charging point (with the aforementioned, gold plated(?), £18 power adapter), to charge my phone and make use of the free Wi-fi. Whilst guzzling down my UI chicken pizza, out of curiosity I thought I’d browse the Schipol Airport website to see what departure information they had for my flight. As I scrolled down, I was immediately perplexed to see that my flight was open for boarding. I looked across at gate 07 and the boards were showing a New York flight.

Confused, I thought I’d look at the airport map. To my horror, I quickly discovered that Schipol Airport was in fact EIGHT times bigger than I’d realised, with gates A through to H! D didn’t actually stand for departures after all! A quick scan of the map revealed I needed G07… Which was over the other frickin’ side of the airport! I hot footed it over there (as fast as one could without looking like a muppet who’d been sat at the wrong gate for the last two hours)! Punctuality is something I pride myself on and I still managed to make it to the (correct) gate with 20 minutes to spare! PHEW! That was a close shave.

6) on a final point….Note to self. China blocks every social media…so no Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp or Twitter for me!! I had to go all retro, old school and people watch there instead!

Going Solo

Anyone who has known me for a long time now, will probably agree that after years single, I have grown into a strong, determined, independent woman…however don’t let that fool you! The prospect of travelling abroad, across the other side of the world, solo, unleashes a contradictory and stomach churning spectrum of emotions. Whilst it’s definitely liberating, thrilling and exciting, I’m not going to deny, it’s also daunting, overwhelming and terrifying! I’m a firm believer in facing your fears, so taking this on is actually quite exhilarating! Looking forward to those butterflies in my stomach and what lies beyond them.

I have four days on my own, before joining up with the other delegates from Edukid. I fully intend to embrace the whole experience.

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF FEAR LIES FREEDOM & HAPPINESS

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GETTING INTO INSTAGRAM. HOW TO GROW YOUR INSTAGRAM PRESENCE: A guide for photographers using Instagram

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The information compiled within this book is designed to help the frustrated and struggling photographers to increase the interaction, following and exposure for the photography work they share on their Instagram account. The book aims to encourage you to get actively involved in the Instagram community by sharing your amazing photographs, connecting with like-minded individuals and interacting with the community. Too often I see people give up and lose patience, so hopefully the tips presented within this book will enable you to streamline your time on Instagram and facilitate a workflow that gets the best for you.