Category Archives: Travel

Unlocking the Wonders of Taipei: A Comprehensive Guide for Travellers

Taipei, a city that may not resonate as much with visitors as Shanghai, Tokyo or Seoul, should not be ignored when it comes to Asia. Curiously, the city has gone under the radar, yet when it comes to food and historic culture the capital of Taiwan punches above it’s weight.

This bustling metropolis offers a plethora of experiences that cater to every traveler’s interest. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the must-visit attractions, top-notch dining spots, and essential tips for an unforgettable trip to Taipei.

Exploring Taipei 101: Asia’s Tallest Skyscraper

A trip to Taipei isn’t complete without a visit to the iconic Taipei 101. Soaring 508 meters into the sky, this architectural marvel provides breathtaking panoramic views of the city. Don’t forget to explore the luxury shopping mall inside and take a stroll through the adjacent Elephant Mountain for stunning photos.

designed to look like the lucky number eight in Chinese, TAIPEI 101 is the tallest skyscraper in Asia.

Immerse Yourself in History at National Palace Museum

Delve into Taiwan’s rich history at the National Palace Museum, home to an extensive collection of Chinese imperial artefacts. Discover ancient ceramics, jade carvings, and exquisite paintings that date back thousands of years.

Taipei’s Culinary Delights: Night Markets Galore

Taipei’s night markets are a culinary adventure waiting to be explored. From the bustling Shilin Night Market to the local favorite Raohe Street Night Market, you’ll find an array of mouthwatering street food options. Don’t miss out on the famous stinky tofu and beef noodle soup! The market was shown in S03, E1 of Fresh off The Boat.

Tranquility in the Heart of Chaos: Longshan Temple

Escape the urban hustle and bustle at Longshan Temple, a spiritual oasis nestled in the heart of Taipei. Admire the intricate architecture, participate in traditional ceremonies, and soak in the serene atmosphere.

Day Trip to Jiufen: A Spirited Journey through Time

For a taste of old-world Taiwan, embark on a day trip to Jiufen. This charming hillside village, famous for its narrow alleyways and tea houses, inspired the animated film Spirited Away. Don’t forget to sample traditional tea and enjoy the stunning coastal views.

Navigating Taipei: Essential Tips for Travelers

  1. Transportation: Taipei boasts an efficient MRT system, making it easy to get around. Consider purchasing an EasyCard for seamless travel on public transportation.
  2. Language: While Mandarin is the official language, English is widely understood, especially in tourist areas.
  3. Weather: Taipei experiences a subtropical climate. Visit between October and April for cooler, more comfortable weather.
  4. Currency: The New Taiwan Dollar (TWD) is the local currency. ATMs are widely available for cash withdrawal.
  5. Safety: Taipei is known for its safety. However, exercise standard precautions, such as safeguarding belongings in crowded areas.
  6. Population: 2.646 million


Taipei, with its unique blend of tradition and modernity, promises an unforgettable travel experience. Whether you’re captivated by towering skyscrapers or enticed by delectable street food, Taipei has something for everyone. So, pack your bags and embark on an adventure in this captivating city!

Unimpressed with Hilton Bankside London

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Located near the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s globe, Bankside is one of the Hilton’s most well-reviewed hotels in London. With a google average score of 4.6, it rates highly for customer satisfaction and service and general experience.

I booked at stay in February, using the ‘points and cash option’. A typical points redemption for a standard room is between 60-90,000 honours points. That puts it at the higher end of the brand’s portfolio, but it’s not the most expensive hotel per night.

The stay

I arrived at the hotel a little earlier than 2pm. There were several people at the reception at separate desks.

There was no one greeting at the door which was a little strange. In nearly all of the five star London hotels there is at least one if not two door staff.

The receptionist found my booking and asked for a card to enter into the system. I find this one of the more irritating aspects of staying in Hilton hotels.

The check-in

I asked if they had any twin beds available and I was told that they were very busy and couldn’t offer one. I was given room number 236. I looked around for someone to help me carry my luggage to the room, and I then gave my room key to one of the staff in the lobby. I was taken aback when he thought I was checking out of the hotel. If had been paying attention he would have noticed that I was checking in just two minutes earlier.

I’m not sure if it’s their policy but not assisiting customers with luggage is very unwelcoming.

I was shown the lifts and found the room.

I needed to swipe the key to access the floor number. It’s bizarre that Hilton need to do this. You would think they would easily be able to distinguish genuine guests from intruders.

The Room

The room was a standard room, with some design features I quite liked. But there was a separate floor area that wasn’t particularly comfortable. The bath room had a walk in shower, but no bath. There were the standard fixed toiletries on the wall, with no disposable toiletries that you might have been given before the no-plastic rule.

The hotel had a hidden closet that is part of the streamlined design of the hotel, but it would have been nice if the closet was easier to access. There was an ironing board, iron, and hairdryer in a box on the desk. Stangely, there were no dressing gowns in the room . a real disappointment. I rang housekeeping to ask them where I could find a robe and they couldn’t tell me. I found this quite upsetting.

The room had a kettle with some teabags, instant coffee and two packs of biscuits. I was really hoping that they would have some espresso pods, but it wasn’t to be…. This would distinguish hotel from lower cost brands such as DoubleTree and Garden Inns.

The Bar

The hotel has an open and airy bar/restaurant in the ground floor. Coming in, it was not clear to us where we could sit. It didn’t feel like it was a bar or a restaurant and more like they were trying to fit both into the same space.

I started to film the empty area on my phone but was quickly approached by the member of staff on duty who wanted to know what I was doing. It was quite upsetting to be spoken to like this. I explained that I wanted to record the bar for a video, he seemed satisfied by this explantion.

The bar menu had a usual drinks menu, and we didn’t want any of the food. I made a point of ordering the Valentine’s cocktail which was strong and well-mixed, but a little pricey at 12 pounds, My partner ordered the sparkling rose. The bar is running a promotion with Chapel Down, but unfortunately, they had already run out of it, the manager was unable to explain when they would have any bottles delivered.

The bed

I felt that the bed was certainly a higher quality than that of other Hilton brands. I got a reasonable night’s sleep. In the morning, I went down to the restaurant for breakfast. At 9.20, I had probably chosen the busiest time of all for breakfast.


Staff led me to my table and explained some of the choices available.

The food was artistically displayed. I took my phone out and was ready to record the display. Sadly, I wasn’t able to film very much as two members of staff hurried over to ask me to stop filming right away. I was quite annoyed at this point. One of the reasons that I stay in hotels is to record the experience for myself and other guests. If I can’t do this , I will be less willing to use Hilton Hotels.


It was £20 for the full breakfast. That’s a lot. But do note you can order bespoke items from the kitchen, such as home-made waffles, and omelettes. I tried both, and the omelette was really superb. I certainly didn’t need to order any more eggs after that. The other selections of food were very much in line with what you would expect to see. Maybe they could add something uniquely British, such as a Chelsea bun or an eccles cake?

Pool and Gym

After making a video in the room. I went back down to tuse the fitness area. There is a gym and a swimming pool. The gymn was empty, so I was able to get a good workout done.

Then it was into the pool, this was quiet too. Hilton have designed a very impressive pool that is the highlight of the hotel. It’s lit in such away that the area feels bigger than it is. It’s just a pool, there is no sauna. It wasn’t a problem for me as I wanted to swim and that’s what I did.

Checking out

I left my key with reception and I was on my way. To be honest, the staff could have treated me with more gratitude, I expect after the phone filming incident they were happy to see me leave. In fact, felt that the staff could have been more proactive and helpful during my stay.


I’m not in love with this hotel. It’s small, the design isn’t very impressive. If you are a first time visitor, it will be a good first place to stay but bear in mind you will be miles from decent shops. There are many hotels nearby that may offer better value, so look around.

Flying Business Class: Is it worth it?

Is flying Business Class worth it?

The main Reasons for flying business class

Greater seat room.

You can spread out more. And there is more space next to you due to one seat kept empty, in most economy cabins there are three seats in each row, with a narrow gap for the aisle. Sit on the aisle and you have people knocking your shoulder as they walk past. There is a gap between the seats Business, meaning you won’t be given the least popular middle seat.

With economy, you also tend to be closer to the engine, and this makes for a noisier flight. All seats in business are nearer the front, but you will still hear some of the engine noise.

Faster check-in

You have your own queue for checking in and boarding. When I flew economy from London, I was able to self-check in. That was not the case when I came back by business. The second time, I had luggage to check in. Business class gives you 2 bags you can check in, whereas in economy, you pay for all your checked luggage. Something I really appreciate is being able to board with just a small bag, and I don’t want to have to worry about any liquids being thrown away. I was very pleased when I watched the ground staff member carefully wrap a tag on my luggage marked ‘priority’ and the bag was well looked after with no damages on the other end, something which won’t always be the case when travelling economy.

A separate queue for boarding.

Economy passengers must wait longer because they can’t board first. However, I joined a separate queue for business travellers so I could enjoy more time in the airport café instead of wasting time queuing. I could also have used my business ticket for entry to the lounge, but I couldn’t see the need for it as I knew I was going to be eating and drinking on the plane.

A nicer experience generally

There is more of a sense of being looked-after when in first or business. The flight out had only two crew members in the main cabin. It was obvious that there were more staff out in front. My business flight confirmed this as true. There were four cabin crew in business. I never had to look around to see where the FAs were, and I never felt ignored.

Food and beverage options

I’m used to being given only a bag of crisps and water as a ‘snack’ when I travel economy with British airways. If you want more , you’l need to order online, paying for the privilege so that you can have something extra to eat. Yet in business, I was offered a full meal, bread roll, then coffee. All of this was clearly airplane food, but it was nice to have. It’s true that airlines make sure that economy must be basic so that customers are made to feel more special if they fly business. Unfortunately, the reality is also if you are a business traveller you will have more food than you need. Often this food would be more appreciated by those who are never offered it and sit there going hungry.

Free drinks

The choice of drinks is great when flying  on a higher status ticket. I was given champagne, tomato juice, and then wine with meal. I could have had more, but that would have been greedy, I even asked for ginger ale, and that was given to me. And some customers were able to order Baileys.  These would need to be paid for in ecomony, so you can factor in the cost of free drinks when you fly Business Class.

Mixing with interesting passengers

In some ways, the business class section of a flight can be like a member’s club. Not that I fly business all too regularly, but this is the impression I have. The passengers I flew with on Saturday were all likely to have been frequent flyers with the British Airways Club Europe membership privilege programme.

When I fly economy, I always worry that I’ll be sat next to someone who either wants to talk too much, or doesn’t want to talk at all. Or just a very boring person that isn’t interesting to interact with. It’s possible that you could meet a better class of passenger flying business. But The downside of business is you might not feel confident starting a conversation with someone who may have a higher status than you.

On my way out, I was talking to a flyer who was only flying out to come back again, all so that he could maintain his status with British Airways Club Europe.

In fact, the reason why Sofia is a popular destination is it’s one of the only airports to allow passengers to arrive at the airport and depart without going through security. No wonder then that there were so many travellers flying business on the Saturday I flew. They had probably gone out on the 7:40 London flight, and come back on the next available flight at 1:50.

More mileage points.

BA have recently changed their points allocation, instead of points being issued per mile flown, you’ll receive points for the number of pounds spent on your ticket.

I’m not expecting many points for my £49 economy ticket, but my return business class seat was 25,000 aveos plus €128 euros. I probably spent too many aveos for the flight, but still, I’ll receive at least 6000 points back in my account for a single outward journey. When you book a flight, the price really depends on so many factors, for example the time, day of the week and the demand for the destination. If you search around, you can fly one way in Business for £300, short haul.

Ultimately, is it worth it?

The price can be very high for benefits you won’t necessarily need. On the other hand, it’s a very pleasant experience that you won’t find in many other places. Because BA cabin crew really enjoy their job, they take pleasure in serving their customers. You can really feel it. I don’t know of any other area of the service industry that is so consistent when it comes to hospitality. BA like to treat their Club Europe travellers members well, because they don’t want to lose them. It may be unfair, but economy passengers don’t receive such glowing service because they aren’t so valuable to the airline.

I’ll continue to fly business when I can, but I’ll be using economy more.

The price difference does not always make sense. With an early morning flight, it’s more common to want to sleep than enjoy meal service on board. If eating is important to you and you don’t want to fly business, you can always bring your own food on the airport it’s the afternoon and evening flights where the service and the food offerings really come into their own. It would be nice to see the standards of economy rise, but I don’t see that as very likely, so that instead of getting the very least in service and food and beverage, you receive something closer to what is given in business class.

Is Taiwan your next Destin-Asian?

IS THIS your next DESTIN-Asian?

Taiwan has long gone under the radar as an Asian travel venue. It seems that travellers skip if for Japan, or Korea, or even China. Yet why Taiwan has fewer visitors than these countries isn’t so clear . As well as beaches and mountains, the country has a warm climate all-year round. 

It has one of the highest standards of living in all of asia, being one of the economic powers of the post war eras.The country offers free access to internet and western democratic freedoms. 

On top of this, the people are noticeably more kind, likely to help and polite, something that really comes across when you spend any time with them

The country might be a bit expensive for a backpacker, but still, it’s similar in price to Japan and more affordable than Singapore.

Here are some places you can visit on your first trip to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.

Shilin Night Market

Shown recently in the hit comedy, Fresh off the Boat, this is a great place if you want to eat food at night. Just make sure to tell the difference between the good fakes and the bad fakes, or you might end up like Eddie.

Taiwan National University

Founded in 1928, this prestigious research university has 7 campuses & a botanical garden.


Although it’s not as famous as beaches in Thailand or Bali, Kenting has many beautiful places for swimming, sunbathing and cycling.

Photo: Alexis JetSets
Photo: dj.Kaihan


THE LAST place I have to recommend is MOONSTAR 360. An incinerator is the last place you would expect to find a revolving restaurant! Perched 120 meters up, the restaurant is a great lookout at the city of Taipei. In case you are concerned about the air quality, to make the air quality safe for the restaurant, the incinerator was fitted with special anti pollution devices.

The restaurant uses the power from the incinerator, a great way to recycle all of the city’s waste.

There is a viewing platform 4 meters below the restaurant that offers panoramic view of the estuary of the Tamshui river and its bird reservation, as well as the distant mountain ranges. You can also see Yangming Shan, Kuan-yin Shan and the whole of the Taipei Basin.

Photo credit:,121.510127,17z/data=!4m3!8m2!3m1!1e1

Can I still live in England?

Some thing happened since the last few years and I don’t think it’s totally related to COVID , but it doesn’t help. I don’t really enjoy living in England. That’s not a new feeling for me but I’ve started to feel progressively stronger anti-UK now.

Although it’s a bit of an exaggeration, I don’t always feel safe here. Something about the language and the people create strong feeling of unease that often leads to paranoia. When I was driving, I didn’t notice so much, but now I’m taking public transport, I see weirdos everywhere, and it’s very uncomfortable to have to face it directly.

Something I’ve tried to shy away from is exclusive male company, which was easy when I was growing up, but is harder now. I’ve become estranged from many of the women I went to school with, not by choice, but because that is what happens as you grow older. But England has always seemed a horribly aggressive place where violence is simmering just below the surface.

England Football fans are notorious for violence at European tournaments

it’s not just men, but women that I’m scared of, the differences between men and women have gradually eroded to leave a mass of people with little to distinguish themselves from each other.

Take a good look at this lady, she’ll soon be a thing of the past.

As a child, I saw that women wore skirts, and men wore trousers. Yet now is rarer to see women wearing skirts, or stockings, or anything that might make them appear feminine. That is no longer the goal, it’s clear. Instead, coarseness, ugliness and violence is the order of the day.

Take look a the video, and you’ll see that I’m not exaggerating.

Flying London to Bangkok with Scoot

Flight LGW to Bangkok

Airline: Scoot

Earlier this year, Low-cost airline Scoot announced that they would start flying to Bangkok direct from Gatwick, the first time that the carrier has made such a long-haul flight leaving from a London airport. 

You can now fly to Thailand from the South Terminal, avoiding the chaos, delays and stress of a journey from Heathrow. 

I was very happy when I found a one-way ticket with this airline for the price of £407.

Scoot was established as the budget arm of the prestige airline Singapore Airlines and I was intrigued by the idea of a no-frills alternative to SAG. My experience was mostly positive with a few caveats.

Avoid lengthy queues by arriving five hours before departure.

This is one of the last scheduled departures from Gatwick, with only TAP (Portugal’s flagship) and Wizz Air making flights after this. So no wonder that the airport was mostly closed in terms of shops and bars by the time most people were checking in. Tip: buy something in advance unless you want to eat the really terrible food that is on offer at this time. 

Flight departure time: 23.05

There is currently one weekly flight; depending on how popular the route is there may be more. For now, it’s clearly a service that is going to be well-used. 

I managed to avoid standing around in the queue at check-in by finding a stand that was open at the terminal at 6pm. They were happy to print my boarding pass. I needn’t have worried about loading any luggage as the weight was under the max weight of 10kg. 

Come half past nine, and most people were still queuing for check-in.  A downside of a budegt airline that charges extra for checked luggage means most people were taking their luggage on board, also causing more queues to go through security and boarding the plane.  

We queued up at the gate, where we we intructed rather rudely that we had to wear a mask, these weren’t employees of the airline but airport ground staff. There was a wait until everyone had their passports checked and then we were ready to board.

We had to wait at the gate to have our passports checked by non-Scoot staff.

With people taking most of their luggage with them , there was a buildup of passengers waiting in the gangway, looking to stash their luggage anywhere they could. Staff were busy with boarding staff , so there was only so much they could do to help.  Meanwhile, I took my seat in 13C and I was starting to wonder if the plane would ever leave. 

The boarding process

The seat

The seat itself was fairly standard in terms of legroom but the headrest was not particularly pronounced and was hard to lean back in. It took an hour for the plane to be fully loaded and every one boarded.

Unless you pay for the extra-legroom, you will be sitting in a standard economy seat.


In terms of inflight entertainment, you’re strictly limited to what you bring with you. In economy, you won’t have any screen. Suffice to say that if you want to browse the net, you need to pay them for that, even charging your mobile comes with a charge, no pun intended.

In all honesty, I wasn’t too disappointed by that, I was looking to get off to sleep soon after the plane reached cruising altitude. On the other hand, I could see my passenger feel that he was having to pay a lot in extras for using the wifi, charging his phone and then paying for a meal on board and drinks.


The flight was catered by it’s charming all Asian cabin crew,  and most of the food is chosen when you make  your booking. I was offered my food at midnight when they brought the trolley through, but then they gave me the option to have it during the second meal service ,this was an easy decision as I had already eaten a few hours before. The next morning,  I was given my diner and I have to say it was really tasty and better than any of the options avialble on similar budget airlines.

Next  I ordered coffee, which sadly was offered in a cheap poly-cup with no branding, as if to make up for this, they gave me a box of tiny but delicious cookies. Then when I clumsily set the cup on the floor, leaking most of the contents, I was given a replacement cup. Any snacks you buy can be paid for by cash or card. To be honest, I don’t think you can do this with BA. And even if you get change in SGD, its satisfiying to be able to use the leftover notes in your wallet .

The cabin crew

The staff are all quite young, and as I said before, exlcusivley Asian . I don’t mind this, to be honest it’s more authentic like this. The women in particular were beautiful, let’s not pretend that this doesn’t make a difference , it really does. I can forgive low level of entertainment if the staff are young, attractive and like their job. Staff on board were either Japanese, or Chinese, or perhaps from Singapore. But all were more than able to speak English to passengers.

Mostly attentive service from the flight crew.

The verdict.

The flight was a long and difficlut journey based on the length, the lack of comfort in the seat, and the fact that I was sat near small children. I can’t blame the airline for that last one, although it would be great if they could seat children a distance from most other passengers who just want to admire the ladies doing their work, stare out the window or make witty conversation. I would use Scoot for short flights, but going all the way to BKK in one long haul was a bit too much, especially in my crappy economy seat. Still, I arrived at my landing on time, and there were no other carriers making the same journey for a similar price. So there you have it. if you think you can withstand the lack of comfort, give Scoot a try for your next Thailand trip.

To book:

London’s best value 4*Hotel

London isn’t known for being good value, so when you do manage to find a bargain it’s all the more satisfying. Yet I managed to find a great hotel during the holiday season, and it wasn’t difficult!

the brand-new, 4 Star hotel looks the part inside and out

I stay in a lot of hotels. I don’t get paid to travel and I’m not on business. So I need to look around to find somewhere nice, in a good location, and a main Hotel brand that has a loyalty scheme. The best offers for rooms tend to be off-season, or on quieter days. You get a cheaper room rate if you stay on Sunday than Friday night. Following this rule will only get you so far, though. On the whole, an average price for a 3-star hotel in London will be $148 (thanks Google). and a lot of hotels at his rate will only offer very small rooms, middling to poor service, or be old and tired inside. And 3-star hotels don’t offer much for service, or provide extras (gyms, free breakfast or late check-out).

Finding a VFM 4 star Hotel in London

You don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds a night for the kind of luxury you think you need. Yes, the top hotels are going to be out of reach for most travellers. But, looking outside the centre, you can find some real bargains!

Smart, modern design and a comfortable room in Park Plaza, Park Royal.

Last year I booked a room mid-week in London that I was not expecting anything from. By chance, it turned out to be my best London Hotel stay of the year. Most people would struggle to find any decent hotel in central London for under 100, even under 200 would be pushing it. However, the Park Plaza Park Royal is a fantastic hotel that simply cannot be beaten for price or quality.

The hotel is recently built so you don’t see any of the dodgy plumbing, tired wall paper or slow, out of work lifts. the building is fully up to date. Here’s a quick breakdown of my trip.


Location might be your top priority, and whilst the hotel is not central London, it’s next to a tube station (Park Royal), and it’s near Wembley Stadium, which is one of the main tourist attractions in the capital. And it’s 45 minutes from Heathrow, which is really not that far.


I had received emails regarding check-in, but I checked in at the desk. It was well-staffed. I certainly didn’t need to wait long to be served.

Reception and lobby

the hotel offers a modern and slightly opulent design. You don’t feel like you are in Wembley next to a busy fly-over. The Staff uniforms are elegant and understated, plus the lobby is spaced out so you don’t feel crowded, and the place is quiet without being devoid of character.

The room

The room was a decent size. There was a well-appointed bathroom. The bed was thick , comfortable and spacious. I was more than satisfied by the room’s furniture and design.

Nice modern fittings in the bathroom

Tea and coffee

There was a kettle with tea bags and coffee sachets for making hot drinks, as well as fridge with complimentary bottled water.


The TV was fixed to the wall and was a good size. the channels were mainly standard ‘Freeview’ offerings.


With a leather headboard, high thread count, you’ll want to bed down once you come inside.

I had no problems sleeping in the room and the bed was luxurious, I couldn’t wait to hunker down.

Breakfast included?

Yes, they gave me breakfast at no extra cost, the buffet was very full and the staff were not putting anyone in a hurry to finish their breakfast. There were options to order from the menu as well as a full hot English breakfast.


I checked out past one. I was very comfortable in the hotel. There is a large waiting area past the lobby where you can relax, read magazines and just chill.


this is an absolute bargain for London. You are right next to tube station that connects you to central London in around 20 minutes. You aren’t staying a stones throw from the palace, but do you really need to be ? For less than a £100 – the hotel offers stylish design, great service, and breakfast. For even a 3-star hotel like a Hampton in a more central area you would pay more than double that. This puts Park Plaza at number one for best value hotel in London. This is ideal both for business and leisure travellers. I’m glad I made this choice and I look forward to staying in more Park Plaza hotels.

Chessington World Of Adventures: is it a good day out?

Billed as Britain’s Wildest Adventure , Chessington is a theme park and zoo combined! It has millions of visitor each year and is one of the famous parks owned by Merlin There are many good things about the park so explaining why it’s so popular is not difficult. But first, a quick guide to the park for those who haven’t taken the trip yet.

Situated in a town in south west London, Chessington aims to provide a fun day out for the family, with several themed sections (or lands) of the park that combine rides with animal enclosures and even special performances throughout the year! The park was opened as a home for exotic animals in the 1930s, and was a zoo up until the first ride opened in 1991. Now it is home to some twenty rides, some quite fast whereas others are for smaller children and less exciting.

Over the years as the rides have increased but the animals have continued to provide interest for all visitors. The safari ride, Journey into Africa is still a big draw. There is now a four star hotel for guests who want to make a longer break in the park.

Arriving at the park, most visitors will come to the large carparks that bring them to the Adventure point. The park is divided into themed areas, all of which have their own distinctive look and feel. Although the park has a lot of branding, it feels slightly less co-ordinated than when it was a different place in the nineties. the arrival of the room in the broom tie-in experience shows that the park has been able to make a deal with the publishers for the characters of the story.

What used to be the Bubbleworks is now a Gruffalo Ride, which is very much aimed at younger children. The park’s famous Vampire ride still takes pride of place, although seems to have less in terms of fear than it used to as the ride has seen more scary rides eclipse it.


Now we come to one of the best areas of the park. Taking a cue from the Wild West, the area has some cool stylings in the buildings that look like colourful storehouses and cantinas. There are two good rides here. The Rattlesnakes (a cart style ride that has a rickety looking track) and a runaway Train ride ‘Scorpion Express’. The area of the park manages to incorporate food offerings in a more subtle way; Tortilla restuarant sits in the centre of the area, giving you a view of the rides whether you sit in or out. There are even some jars of animal skeletons, and some animatronic figures by rattlesnakes that add to the carnivalesque atmosphere.

The Forbidden Kingdom

Just as you leave Mexicana, you will see the new Croc Ride. The jaws of the crocodile open to allow the vertical ride to drop the riders down to the depths. This was previously Rameses Revenge. Some would say that the new ride is not in the same league. True, it doesn’t have the same fear factor, it simply drops from the same position. however, the ride gives a great 360 view of the entire park, and uses some Egyptian curse ideas to give it some stylistic grounding in the area. Another ride that some love is Tomb Blaster! It’s a more immersive ride that takes place entirely indoors. Riders are given laser style GUNS and must ‘blast’ various targets. As a dark ride it could have been more scary but it’s a little too family friendly for that. Overall, the forbidden kingdom has some nice touches but it’s not the most enjoyable section of the park.

Wild Asia/land of the tigers.

Here we come to my favourite section of the park! The area was once known as ‘Beanoland’ but it has been completely revamped to look like jungle India and Thailand. It looks particularly fitting when you visit on a hot day – the grey concrete buildings reflect the sunlight – helping to create a sense of the exotic. The three big rides are all worth visiting. First, head to Monkey Swingers, the carousel style swing seat ride has some vertigo inducing moments as the seats ride into the air – and you can feel the wind blow towards you when you kick out your seat. Kobra is a nice ride that is very smooth – taking you back and forth on a rotating disc in the shape of a giant snakes head. But nothing can beat the Land of the tigers and Tiger Rock. The most spacious area is home to the superb log ride which goes through the tiger’s enclosure, hence the name! you can enjoy a bit of peace and quiet here as you walk past the streams and Chinese style bridge. My only complaint is that the area doesn’t offer any Chinese food. Some noodles, dumplings or fried rice would tie in nicely with the oriental theme, and offer something far more varied than the current food offerings.

Is it worth a visit?

Yes, we feel that, given the amount of activities in the park, it is worth going to at least once. Chessington is not a cheap day out, and it’s very commercial. It can seem as though every part of the park is designed to take money out of your pocket. You can save money by doing the following: arrive by public transport, saving petrol and car park fees. Bring your own food and drink. There is nothing to stop you from taking a packed lunch, and Chessington has a picnic area near the car parks. If you do visit a restaurant, Tortilla would be my pick. The food is good quality, and you get a good serving, as well as a nice seating area.


Some of the downmarket clientele at the park.

We love Chessington. but we have noticed that it tends to attract a somewhat downmarket clientele. Some may think that you need to wear a tracksuit and have tattoos covering your face and neck to fit in. That’s true for many, but not everyone here is like that. If you feel that it’s going to be a problem by all means you can avoid the park. But you will be missing a lot of the innocent fun of the theme park.


A short video I made showining ice-skating rink at Queensway

Get your Skates on!

The Skating rink at Queens is a funky and cool place, partly because it brings out everyone from dating couples, young people, kids, and elders. Although there is an image of skating and bowling as being a bit downmarket, it’s not really the case in the Queens skate dine bowl.

The location helps give it some class. Next to Queensway tube, West London, the area is next to some of the biggest consulates, as well as nearby Kensington Palace. The venue does get some idiots, mainly rough kids from some of the housing estates. On the other hand, you will see many young Chinese women, and Asians of other countries (something to do with ice-skating being seen as an acceptable past time). Have a look at the video, and you’ll see what I mean.

Booking a session

The website tells you that you need to pre-book, so that you can guarantee a slot. It’s not something that was a problem for me, and I did it using the website. Over 12’s pay 11.50 per hour, plus skate hire. I noticed many of the more experienced skaters had come with their own skates.

What’s on the menu?

It’s burgers, wings, and other comfort food. The company has partnered up with Meat Liquor to serve burgers, wings and Mac & cheese. It must be said that this is miles away from the kind of cardboard junk food that we can all remember eating on visits to the leisure centre after a swim in the community pool.

Can I have a drink?

Yes, most definitely. The bar serves some impressive-sounding cocktails, such as ‘Fallen Angelita’ and ‘New Cross Negroni’, you will find milkshakes and craft beer as well. Everything has been done with the utmost care and attention to detail. You could quite happily come here just for a drink, not using the ice-rink or bowling alleys.

Final Verdict

Queens Skate is a fantastic venue. The design, particularly the neon-lit ice-rink, is something I haven’t seen anywhere else. Staff are trained to help nervous skaters, you can book lessons and there are DJs playing some nights. I can’t think of a better activity to do in London during the holidays, so take my advice and book a session.