So, it's been just over a year since I embarked on my first solo trip. I travelled to Cambodia for just under a month and it was an incredible experience - perhaps the best of my life thus far. For those of you haven't read my other Cambodia Diary (the link is here) I spent 3 and a half weeks volunteering at a street kitchen for children in Phnom Penh. We had the weekends off, so spent this time travelling to different parts of the country. I personally went to Siem Reap once, and then Koh Rong Samloem twice. 

Travel

We took the Mekong Express bus, which picked up at the Riverside, to Siem Reap and it took about 6 hours. We were given a complimentary bottle of water and a croissant (yum!!) when we got on, winner. The roof leaked and I got rained the whole way, not so much of a winner. But for $12 all in I'm not complaining, and would definitely recommend the service. 

Accommodation

Once we'd arrived we took a tuk-tuk straight to our hostel: One Stop Hostel. It was right next to Pub Street and had some really good reviews. After checking in, it became apparent that we'd made a good choice. The hostel was really clean, in a great location, had aircon, lockers and wifi, and the staff were really helpful and friendly. After dropping our bags off we headed for some food. The first place we spotted was a fast food place, so just dived straight in there (I'm sorry I can't remember the name). The hunger had completely taken over, and as we had to be up early the next morning, it was ideal. 

Back at the hostel, the girls I met on my trip and I were discussing our plans surrounding visiting Angkor Wat the next day. It was only when we decided to set an alarm for 4am, and heard a boy scoff in reaction to that, did we realise we weren't alone in the shared room. Long story short, I invited Eric along with us, and he became the fourth member of our Siem Reap gang. 

Angkor Wat

Our alarms went off at 4am and we all bundled into a tuk-tuk headed to Angkor Wat to catch the sunrise. Unsurprisingly, we weren't alone in this plan and joined the hundreds of other sleep-deprived tourists at the ticket office. The ticket to enter Angkor Wat and a number of other temples is $37 for one day - so it makes sense to hire a tuk-tuk and a driver for the day and see all of the ones you want to.

As for Angkor Wat, I was really impressed, but where we didn't opt to have a guide, we were sort of wandering around aimlessly. We also just missed the sunrise, so definitely head their earlier than you initially planned, as the queue for tickets is pretty long! The Jungle Temple (Ta Prohm) was a really cool place to visit - there are trees growing in and around the ruins of the temple, and is also included in the Angkor Wat ticket - it's definitely worth seeing. 

After exploring a few more temples we headed back to the hostel. Now, our hostel was a sister hostel to 'Onederz' which has a rooftop swimming pool, meaning we had free access to its facilities. So, we grabbed our bikinis and headed for an afternoon of chilling by the pool, after our early start and morning full of exploration. 

Food

For dinner we went to a restaurant called 'Pots and Pans' and the food was really good, I'd highly recommend. Then, we headed to the Hard Rock Cafe for drinks as it was one of the girls' birthdays! Following this, we of course had to hit up Pub Street. As the name suggests, it's essentially just a road absolutely crammed with bars and clubs, each offering dirt cheap drinks and lots of dancing. A great night was had and it's fair to say I don't remember an awful lot of it. We then grabbed some noodles from a street vendor for drunk food, and sat on the hostel's roof terrace eating them at 2am.

Massages

We woke up the next day feeling surprisingly perky, so went for massages at one of the nearby beauty salons. After walking into a few, and walking straight back out, it's fair to say you get a vibe of a place. Once we found a welcoming salon, I opted for a moisturising full body massage. It was genuinely amazing. I'd never had a massage prior to that, and I'm definitely a convert. It is a bit weird having a stranger poke you all over your oiled up naked body, but yanno, you get used it. Nothing like getting naked with your newfound travelling friends (that you've known a fortnight) to bond a friendship, hey.

After putting our clothes back on and restoring some dignity, we just about had time to squeeze in some more food. We popped to a nearby restaurant and had noodles before I caught the bus back to Phnom Penh ready for my volunteering placement the following day. I very much enjoyed my time in Siem Reap, but I'm not sure how much longer I could've stayed there. It was really good fun, but besides the temples and clubbing, I'm not sure what else there is to be done. There's much more to do, see and explore in Phnom Penh in my opinion - and definitely enjoyed my time more there. So, if you're planning a trip I'd definitely slot in more time in the capital!
So, as I'm sure you will have seen, everyone and their sister's pet gerbil seems to be raving about phone cases from Caseapp at the moment. I know the botanical one* is a bloggers fave, and am I surprised? Not at all - look at that gorgeous print! The other case I have is the brushstrokes* style and is the one my phone is currently repping. The amount of joy a new phone case brings me is perhaps a little abnormal, but what can I say, I am a bit of a saddo.

There are tonnnnes of designs and styles, all available on all the typical devices - for reference I have an iPhone 6S. As far as I can tell, all of the cases are the same price, regardless of what phone you're buying for. You can also fully customize a case on the website, using your own photos and designs - a great gift idea, no? I didn't, however, do this personally and instead opted for a couple of the predesigned ones. At £19 they're fairly steep in price, but are they worth it?

The designs are so pretty - just look at these two! As for the quality, I've always been an eBay 99p jobby kinda phone case girl and I can definitely tell the difference between my usual cases and these ones. They're made of a much more durable plastic, and I didn't even go for the cases in the 'tough' line. They feel really nice to hold - so yeah, I'm really impressed. I'm intrigued to see how these wear - will the white one stay white or is it soon destined to be a dirty beige colour? We shall have to wait and see...

Overall, I'm very very pleased with these two cases and I can assure you that my instagram will most probably be bombarded with photos featuring them from now on. Speaking of instagram, this week I will be running a GIVEAWAY to win a case of your own courtesy of Caseapp, as well as a few beauty bits that I've picked out myself. Buzzzzzing. My instagram is @becc4_blog if you're interested. And if that wasn't enough, I also have a 20% off code for any of you that fancy picking yourself up a case or two: BECC420 - if you do, send me a photo, I'd love to see it!

(And yes, I did take my glasses off to use as a prop in this photo. And yes, I did struggle to take said photo what with my eyesight being equal to that of a mole's. The things we do for the 'gram, hey?)
If I hadn't already mentioned it enough times, this summer I am doing quite a lot of travelling, including 5 and a half weeks of backpacking around Southeast Asia. Last summer I spent 4 weeks solo travelling around Cambodia (you can read my tips for solo travelling as a female here and the first of my Cambodia Diaries on Phnom Penh here) and decided that I wanted to travel more of Asia this summer. My housemate and I are going together, and the current plan is to visit Thailand, namely Bangkok, Vietnam and Laos. We fly into BKK mid-July and the next day we fly to Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon. We will be in Vietnam for less than 30 days so will be able to apply for our visas online before we go. 

As aforementioned, the first stop on our tour of Vietnam is HCMC. We fly in at about 4pm, have two full days there and then leave early on the third day. One thing I'd like to do whilst there is visit the Cu Chi tunnels - I think it'll be one of those things that you don't fully understand and comprehend until you see them for yourself. Ben Thanh Market is another place on my list to visit, gimme all the food.

With regards to getting around Vietnam, the current plan is to buy an open bus ticket that will allow us to travel all the way from the bottom Vietnam up to Hanoi. From what we've read online the tickets are very affordable and the service isn't horrendous - win win! 

Next up is Da Lat. This is meant to be very good for canyoning, which it's fair to say I'm already a bit apprehensive about. I have absolutely no balance and the athletic ability of a wooden spoon, so we shall see how that goes... We're spending two whole days in Da Lat and then heading to Nha Trang.

We've heard mixed reviews of Nha Trang but decided we wanted to see it for ourselves for a couple of days and make our own judgement. Following this, we're then getting a sleeper bus to Hoi An.

Hoi An is potentially the place I am most looking forward to visiting. I have heard so many good things about it and I can't wait to experience it for myself. Our three days here will be spent wandering the ancient town, eating all the good food and just relaxing on the beach before heading to Da Nang.

The Marble Mountains are the main thing we want to see in Da Nang before heading to Hue two days later. I'm not sure we have any set plans for Hue, but I'd really like to see the Hai Van Pass. Then, after Hue is Phong Nha.

In Phong Nha we plan on visiting the Paradise Cave and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park - google it, it's gorgeous. We have scheduled two full days here before heading to Ninh Binh on a sleeper bus. We have two full days in Ninh Binh (are you sensing a theme here?) and plan on taking a boat ride here between the rice fields and mountains. 

Then from Ninh Binh we're heading to Cat Ba Island. Halong Bay is perhaps the most visited part of Vietnam, unsurprisingly, just look at that white sand, turquoise water and the limestone mountains. We're not actually going to go to Halong Bay, instead opting for a very similar but slightly less touristy option; Cat Ba Island. We're planning a few days on the Island before heading to our last stop in Vietnam: Hanoi. 

After a good thorough explore of Hanoi we are flying to Luang Prabang, the first of our three stops in Laos. This itinerary is of course entirely flexible, and we probably won't stick to it, but if you're planning a trip to Vietnam I hope this was helpful!

Have you ever been to Vietnam?

Can I even call myself a beauty blogger if I've never had a beauty subscription box?? Yes? No? Either way, I've been doing so regardless. I do, however, like marble print, rose gold and striped t-shirts, so that's a few of the blogger's checklist ticked off. Anyway, Birchbox were recently selling their May box for a fiver plus £2.95 so I figured it was a good time to give one a go. I had a fairly good idea of what I was expecting having seen a few pictures and posts online, and I'm not quite sure what to make of it all. The concept itself is really cool. A monthly flat rate subscription (£10 + £2.95 shipping) which posts 5 beauty samples to your door. My worry? I'd have piles of small travel sized samples of products I know I'd never get around to using. Expectations aside, let's get onto the boxes...

May - Palm Leaves and Warm Breeze 


Now, we of course need to start by addressing the gorgeous print of this box - look at those botanicals. I'm definitely going to be using this on my desk to store all the little bits of toot I can't seem to live without. As for the products, the theme for this box was all about getting ready for summer. Inside were a Doucce Lip Stain, a Greenfrog Botanic Bodywash, a Native Unearthed Deodorant Balm, a Marcelle 8in1 Power Serum and an Eyeko Skinny Liquid Liner. Whatta mix of products. 

I'd never heard of any of the brands, besides Eyeko, as I have previously owned their Skinny Liner and loved it. The Doucce Lipstain is a dream to apply and is so so light on the lips. I'm not so sure about this particular colour on me, it's a bit too much of a bright in your face pink for me. I haven't worn it for a prolonged amount of time, but when I have I'll definitely update you on its longevity. It retails at £21, and is quite drying, so I don't think this will be a product I'd repurchase in the future.

Serums are a product I don't think I've ever used. I mean, coming from the girl that has only recently started using a toner I'm sure that will come as no surprise. I don't have anything to comment on the one in this box as I'm yet to give it a go. I have swatched it on my hand, however, and it's very very light, so that's a promising start. The Bodywash is a really fresh scent; 'relaxing geranium and peppermint' and I'm definitely going to save it for future travels as it's a really handy size. 

Now, onto the curveball (in my opinion) of the box - the deodorant balm. Sidenote: mine actually came with a chunk missing??? Anyway, this is a product I'm not sure I'd ever think about picking up or using. I love the concept - an all natural, portable product, but the thought of rubbing this all over my sweaty summer pit is not something quite up my street. But, in the name of fairness, I will give this a go and I'll be sure to let you know my thoughts.

June - 5th Birthday Box 

The idea behind this box is a tea party, hence the gorgeous biscuit tin, which I'm also definitely going to be reusing. From the offset, I was much more impressed with the products in this box and can see myself genuinely using all of them. Maybe that's the thing with these subscription boxes - you win some, you lose some. This box also included a bonus gift: three Whittards teabags. 

As for the beauty products, included were a Number 4 Hair Balm, an Ella Eden Eyeshadow in Julia, a Polaar 30 UVA Suncream, a Lord and Berry Strobing Pencil and The Porefessional Pearl Primer. I've swatched both the eyeshadow and the strobing pencil and I'm actually impressed by both of them. They're both really pigmented and shimmery and I can definitely see myself reaching for them whilst doing my makeup. 

My hair is often a bit of a frizzy, curly mess so the smoothing hair balm could be a bit of a life changer if it lives up to all of its claims. It apparently minimises frizz, restores softness and protects against humidity - three things my hair can always do with in summer. 

If you weren't already aware, I'm doing a lot of travelling and backpacking in the next few months and am going to need all the suncream I can get my hands on. This looks like a really really nice one, so I'm excited to see how it compares to some of the cheaper ones I have been using. 

Benefit's Porefessional has become a bit of a cult product, hasn't it? I'm not sure if I've ever used the original (and if I have, it couldn't have been life-changing if I can't remember it) but this one contains pink pigment for brightness. This will be great for those no makeup sunny days, when you want something on your skin, but not 3 inches of foundation, concealer, powder and half a metric tonne of highlighter. Again, when I've given it a thorough test I will report back. 


And there we have it, my views and first impressions of the most recent Birchboxes. I would say I've been pleasantly surprised, and whilst I adore the actual box from May, the products in June's box were far better for me. 

Are you subscribed to any beauty boxes?
7 things no one tells you about going to uni. The realities of being a student in the UK
Having just finished second year, I am now technically in my third and final year of University, eek. Where has time gone??? I know I say it all the time, but going to uni has been the best experience of my life thus far, and I honestly wouldn't change it for the world. I've met some amazing people, I've done things I never imagined I'd do, all whilst living with my best friends. Life is good, boys and girls. That being said, there are quite a few things I hadn't realised about uni until I got there, so I thought I'd compile a list of a few of them 

1. Being an adult is expensive

It's only when you move out and have to fend for yourself that you realise that daily life is expensive. There's no magic fairies around restocking toilet roll and laundry detergent, and every month there are utility bills that unfortunately aren't optional. School never prepared me for the heartbreak that is spending £30 on a water bill. 

2. Making it to 9ams is an extreme sport for only the bravest

Now that I'm at university I have no idea how we all went to school for 8am every day, no hassle. 9ams are always the emptiest of lectures and there's always that sense of achievement when you do actually make it to one. It's not like 9 is even that early, there's just something about 9ams lectures...

3. Going out gets boring

Lol, am I allowed to be a student and say that? I don't know, there's something pretty dull about dancing around in a club to the same exact songs for a fourth night in a row that just doesn't do it for me. Don't get me wrong, I loooove a good drunken boogie with my friends, just not 10 day benders, please and thank you.

4. Your housemates absolutely make or break your experience

Obviously, there are far more people at your university besides just your flat, but your flatmates are the ones you see all the time, day in day out. You argue with them all the time about washing up, being messy and taking the bins out, but at the end of the day, there's nothing that binds a friendship better than cleaning a sick covered toilet together. Whilst it's not the end of the world, being put in a 'bad' flat definitely puts a huge dampener on the whole uni experience. 

5. Cooking and preparing meals is a chore

Before uni I was so excited for the freedom of cooking and eating whatever I want when I want. Spoiler: that gets boring real quick. After 7 laps of Aldi and only a packet of custard creams in your basket, the novelty really does wear off. On the plus side, if you want garlic bread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, heck have garlic bread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

6. Freshers week is 10000% overrated 

Yes, it's a week (we had two) of all sorts of activities, but no one knows anyone yet. The best nights at uni are the most recent ones with your best friends, and not Tom, Dick and Harry who you met at the common room 5 minutes before heading to the club, and will inevitably never see again.

7. Everyone knows everyone

I think I say 'uni is such a small world' at least three times a week. Despite going to a fairly big uni, it seems that everyone knows everyone, literally. No matter who you meet there is always a link back to someone you know or things you've done. It's so weird that in a uni of 24,000 people, this happens on a very regular basis. Madness. 

Do you have anything to add to this list?

If you've gotten this far and want to read more, I've since written a post including another 5 things people don't tell you about going to university