Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Cheap Eats in Melbourne

There's no doubt about it, Australia is an expensive place to visit. It's not the most expensive country I've ever explored (I think Finland might take that crown) but it's far away from almost everywhere so getting here is going to cost you a fair chunk of change and neither accommodation nor food are cheap. Whilst Nick and I were in Melbourne we rented an Air B&B in Collingwood. Collingwood is situated right next to Fitzroy, the alternative area in Melbourne, where the majority of the cities vegan food spots are located. There are a lot of benefits to Air B&Bing but my favourite is that you have access to a kitchen. Being able to grab some crumpets, cereal, and soy milk from the local supermarket cuts down your breakfast expenditure to a few dollars a day and the Air B&B we chose was within walking distance of a Cole's and a Woolworths. Brunswick Street is like a vegan playground with multiple options on almost every menu; fully vegan spots are located just a few store fronts apart, there are many different cuisines to choose from, and the dessert options are ridiculous. You can even get a vegan friendly tattoo from a vegan artist!

Vietnamese food abounds in both Fitzroy and Collingwood but Trang Bakery and their signature Bahn Mi's stand out from the crowd.


Trang Bakery aren't 100% vegan but they have four exceptional vegan options; vegan chicken, vegan duck, vegan pork, and lemongrass marinated tofu.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Smith & Deli Melbourne

Vegans everywhere will have heard of Smith & Daughters, their cookbook is available at all good independent book retailers (Foyles and Herbivore are two of my faves), and their super instagrammable merch can be seen decorating vegan denim jackets across the globe. I'm more into quick, delicious, filling eats than fancy sit down dining so their sister spot Smith & Deli was my favoured stop during my visit to Melbourne. I'm not kidding when I say that I ate here almost every single day they were open during my 10 day visit so I was able to try a fair amount of their seriously epic menu.


Taking up two whole blackboards epic is really the only appropriate word to describe the sandwich menu here and they range from simple grilled cheeses all the way through to ridiculous seitan and cheese stuffed masterpieces. They have an impressive range of sides and snacks to choose from including pies and sausage rolls and their specials seem to change almost daily. The other rad thing about Smith & Deli is that it's also a store, whilst you're in line waiting to order you can browse fridges, freezers, and shelves full of vegan deliciousness from local vegan cheeses to imported faux fish.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Vegan in Beijing: Part III

Two of my very favourite things about Beijing were walking along The Great Wall on one of the most beautiful days of our whole trip and eating delicious vegan food at SUHU Vegetarian Tiger. Visiting The Great Wall had been on my travel wish list for quite some time and I was super excited to plan our day trip out there. We really did choose an amazing day, the sky was blue, there was no smog hanging around, and it wasn't too hot. It was basically perfect and I'll tell you more about it right after I show you the delicious eats from Suhu Vegetarian Tiger! 


Nick and I ate at Suhu quite a few times during our stay in the city and I would highly recommend it. The menu is large and varied, the front section of the menu is where the larger more expensive dishes are to be found but if you're travellers on a budget like us you'll want to flip towards the back of the menu where the staple dishes are located.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Vegan in Australia - Volunteering at Farm Animal Rescue

I still have a bunch of posts about China to finish and I'm right in the middle of putting together some great round ups of Melbourne's epic vegan scene but I was having a think yesterday morning and I really felt like writing about where I am and what I'm doing right now. I always feel weird when my blog stops being in chronological order so I did a little Twitter poll & it turns out that nobody else really cares about that - y'all just wanted to see where I'm at so here we are!

Just in case you haven't been following me on social media I'm in Australia, Queensland to be precise. Nick and I have wanted to visit Australia for ages, since the very beginning of our travels in fact, but making it affordable was a real sticking point. We also desperately wanted to get more experience volunteering with farmed animals (#lifegoals) and felt a little unsure about whether we should be travelling more right now or focussing on the future - thankfully I came up with a cunning plan to combine the two when I discovered Farm Animal Rescue in Dayboro, and here we are, exploring Australia and spending time with these beautiful animals, learning how to care for them, and getting an in depth look at how the sanctuary works. 


We arrived from Brisbane on Wednesday so I've only worked three full days so far but I'm loving it. My work day starts at dawn and ends at dusk and I really thought that I might struggle with the early starts (I set my alarm for 5:40am and am outside working by 6:15am) but it's a tiring job so I hit the hay pretty early and I'm waking up before my alarm most days. I love being more in touch with nature and dawn has always been one of my favourite times of day. I'm not usually awake for it but I have some wonderful dawn related travel memories - exploring NYC hunting for bagels, watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat, waking up with the birds and the call to prayer on my first morning in Thailand... the list goes on!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Vegan in Beijing: Part II

When Nick and I were trying to choose where to stay in Beijing we decided to pick somewhere within the second ring road close to a Line 2 Subway station. Beijing is huge and Line 2 runs in a loop around the central section of the city. There are also loads of connections to the other subway lines from line 2 so it's super convenient. It stops at Quianmen (an easy walk to Tiananmen Square), Beijing Railway Station, and Yonghegong where the Lama Temple is located. This was one of my favourite spots in the city, it was touristy of course but it was being used as a temple by local people as well and it had a lovely atmosphere.


We also visited the nearby Confucius Temple which we enjoyed but if you only have time for one then the Lama Temple would be my choice. After exploring the temples we'd planned to go to a restaurant called Fairy Su which was / is located just around the corner but when we arrived it appeared to have sustained some serious fire damage.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Vegan in Beijing: Part I

My fascination with China started way back in 2009 when I read Peter Hessler's book River Town; from there I delved into all sorts of China related non-fiction from Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang to Liao Yiwu's The Corpse Walker and getting myself (and, more challengingly, Nick) to China became kind of an obsession. I couldn't wait to see everywhere I'd read about with my own eyes so as soon as we needed to choose somewhere to spend a month before heading to Australia I started to campaign pretty hard for China. As you can see I won! A month seemed about right for what I knew would be a challenging country and whilst we could have hit up a few more spots our itinerary was pretty perfect for us. Over time I've learnt that I like to travel slowly - I like to have the mental energy to digest my experiences as well as making sure that I have time for the odd chilled day.

Beijing was our first stop and I'm so glad that we decided to start there. Familiarising yourself with a new country in a city with good train and bus links is a smart plan and we were also able to give our China Mobile Hong Kong sim card a whirl to test that it worked before we ended up staying in places without wifi. I can't recommend that sim card enough, we got the data only package which works out at about £2 a day but being able to use Happy Cow on the go, whip out Google translate whenever we needed it, and to use Apple Maps and their surprisingly excellent transit info made everything so much easier than it would have been otherwise. If you're travelling to China via Hong Kong you can pick up one of these sim cards at the airport but if not you'll have to order it online. You wont be able to buy it in China!


Beijing has some iconic landmarks and Tiananmen Square was one of our very first stops.
We headed there on our first evening to watch the flag lowering ceremony and then we were there again the next day to check out the area in daylight. One thing that I hadn't realised about the square (and about China in general) is the high level of security you have to go through to get in there. Whenever you go onto the subway or into a train station anywhere in China you need to scan your bags through an airport style scanner and entering Tiananmen Square is no different. Local people need to show ID cards and everyone needs to get their bags scanned. I also received a bit of a pat down by security. Obviously this level of security means that there are lines and it would seem that certain entrances to the square will be closed, when we went there were only two open entrances so lines were long and you just kinda need to go with the flow but expect there to be a queue.