As regular readers of this page will know, my better and far more beautiful other half has been whisked away by a major airline to Myanmar for a couple of weeks. And as she knew that I would spend my days wandering from empty room, to empty room, smelling her things and pining endlessly for her with tears in my eyes, she thought she would keep me busy and give me some JSC-related work to do in her absence. In Manchester. Can I just highlight again – SHE IS IN MYANMAR. I AM IN MANCHESTER – cold, rainy Manchester…(insert appropriate emoji here, dear readers…)

When she told me I would be covering a bloggers’ event, my immediate thought was dread. I have learned some stuff about this strange world of blogging over the last couple of years. It would be impossible not to learn something living with Asma, but blogging is somewhat an unknown entity to me. Still, in the spirit of support and all that, I thought I’d give it a go.

When I heard the task would be mocktail-making, I thought ‘oh, ok – something creative, I can blag creative‘. As a fragrance enthusiast, I thought I would approach the task in the same manner as I would approach being asked to create a perfume. Think about my favourite flavours and mix them all up, and see how it turns out. Also, as practicing Muslims, we don’t drink alcohol and the novelty of virgin mojitos has really worn off. I wanted to get creative to bring something different and new to the table. Literally. Surely it couldn’t by that hard?! However, with work being busy and amidst the Tasmanian Devil that was my wife in the week leading up to her departure, I genuinely had zero time to think about what ingredients I would use. Hand on heart, I didn’t even google any recipes. The only thing I knew was what I would call it – The Jet Set Junkie. A homage to Asma and this blog, I suppose.

So off I went to Thaikun on Monday evening, after work. We haven’t actually dined here yet but I love Thai food and I knew this place was also brought to us by the people that gave us Chaophraya, so I knew the quality would be great. It is a smaller space than Chao, but this is a thai street-food joint and it is a really lovely space. Bright and colourful interiors echoing the vibrancy of Bangkok – which is one of my favourite cities in the world. When I arrived, I was taken to the bar area. I was the first ‘blogger’ there, but Marielle (the social media manager)  and Bon (professional mixologist), who both work for Thaikun were both on hand and immediately put me at ease. Bon gave me a demonstration and before I knew it, I was using the ingredients placed nicely in front of me to create my own mocktail.

 

 

The whole time in my head, I could hear Asma’s voice. ‘You better win or else!’ GULP! I should have added that the creator of the best mocktail wins the elusive Orange Card, which allows the winner and a guest to dine at any Thaikun in the land, for FREE – for a year! The stakes were high…

Not gonna lie, my first couple of efforts were… pathetic, for want of a better word. I called those ones ‘This Really Is A Raspberry Fool’ and ‘Lychee Surprise Sh*te’. Luckily, there was no limit to the number of times we could have a go, but I had a brand reputation to maintain. And I simply could not allow JSC to be branded a LOSER. By this point the other lovely bloggers began to arrive and we all introduced ourselves, but then it got serious and we sat down and got down to business. Bon made up a couple of moctktails which are currently on the real menu and we all had a sample to literally get our creative juices going. And then we got stuck in. There was juice and fruit flying everywhere, everyone trying their hand at being Tom Cruise in Cocktail; shakers going all over the show. I didn’t try any tricks even though I really, REALLY wanted to.

 

 

Bon said he wanted someone to try using the coconut water and then just like that, from nowhere – I found my mocktail mojo and I went for it. Where the idea came from I have no idea, but I did it, I wrote it down and to me, IT WORKED. Third time lucky.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you –

The Jet Set Junkie Mocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 measures* of coconut water;
  • 2 measures of mango juice;
  • 1 measure of fresh lime juice;
  • 1 measure of ginger & lemongrass juice; and
  • a dash (about 10ml) of sugar syrup
[*1 measure = 25ml]

And BOOM! The Jet Set Junkie was born. Bon re-created it for me on ice with a slice of fresh mango and it was perfect – even if I do say so myself. Funnily enough, these also happen to be some of my favourite flavours so the creation isn’t all that much surprising. It must have come from the depths of my subconscious.

 

 

Thaikun also laid on a buffet for us (much to my massive delight as I was starving), and I can confirm the food is seriously tasty. We had a large variety of things to try from spring rolls, to fritters to dumplings. Enough to satisfy 4 hungry bloggers and me – the pretend blogger. Asma and I will definitely be visiting properly when she’s back.

 

 

So did I win, I hear you ask? Well, the winner is revealed towards the end of the month. The competition is taking place at a couple of other sites so the stakes have got even higher… AND you too can enter!! (See below) Didn’t stop me from shamelessly asking whether the judges could be bribed. Not that I’m competitive or anything. Let’s see what happens, either me or my better half will keep you posted in due course.

In closing, I have enjoyed writing this post much more than I expected. Does this mean I am about to quit my day job and take up blogging? Hell no. This gig is tough and hats off to Asma for doing what she does. But I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Thank you to Thaikun Manchester and especially to Marielle and Bon (both pictured below) for a really fun evening. And, if some of you try my mocktail recipe for dry January or simply because you want to, please let me know what you think.

 

 


 

Think you can do one better?

Well Thaikhun is wanting you to come up with your best mocktail! All you have to do is submit your own concoction using the link below. The winning mocktail will be judged by Thaikkhun’s expert mixologists and will actually feature on their cocktail menu nationwide!!!

Better still, £1 from each mocktail sale will go towards the Thai Childrens Trust 🙂

AND along with the glory, the winner will also receive a new and exclusive Thaikhun ‘Orange Card,’ which entitles you to two free meals for a year every time you dine at Thaikhun*

Submit your very own mocktail recipe here

 

*T’s & C’s apply, see Thaikhun website for further info.

 

*** Thank you to Thaikhun for inviting me to their Mocktail Masterclass, all opinions on here are my own, and I did check with the Mrs beforehand and she was happy for me to share this experience with you – Mo ***

 

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rio tour, booking a private guide in Brazil

 

I am doing something completely out of the ordinary today – I am letting someone else speak on my blog! It was not an easy decision, but I really wanted to share with you our experience of having a local guide during our stay in Rio de Janeiro, and seeing as hubby Mo was the one who sorted it all – I figured he should be the one to tell the tale…

“I really wanted to book Rio as a surprise birthday present for the Mrs, but she ended up finding out after one of those excruciating accidental text message moments. What was meant to be a text for her sister, I accidentally sent to her! EPIC. FAIL.

However, since she now knew where she was going, I had to up the anti. It meant that I had to make the trip as memorable and as special for her possible. Now I’m not gonna lie. Since we’ve been married, I have become lazy. Asma tends to plan our holidays, but I wanted to show her once and for all that when I put my thinking cap on, and when it becomes a labour of love (as this trip was), then I can pull off something pretty spectacular – even if I do say so myself.

As we were limited time wise, I knew I had to plan every single day to ensure that we got the most out of Rio. I made a daily plan and ensured that morning, afternoon and evening were all taken care of.

Rio, as you may have heard, is not the safest of cities in the world. But it is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most exciting I have ever been to and thinking about it even now fills me with an indescribable urge to go back. (I won’t go into the details as my better half already has on here).

But because of the safety aspect and because I knew that Asma and I would be limited if we were to attempt to do it alone, the only option was for me to hire a local. Somebody who has grown up or lived in Rio and knows exactly where to go and where to avoid.

And so began my research. A lot of my research was based around TripAdvisor. I googled ‘private tour guide in Rio’ and out came a beautiful list of many private tour guides based in and around Rio. I, of course, gravitated towards people at the top of the list. Good ratings, some with their own websites – they were the natural option.

The first person I emailed, was already booked. He did however recommend a man called Ederson Oliveira. I did my research and contacted probably about half a dozen guides to see what they could offer and how much they would charge. Bear in mind my days were already planned and I knew what we wanted to see with a tour guide, or in our case, with 2 different tour guides.

My top tips when you’re searching:

  1. Look at your guides personal profile, are you compatible? Do you share the same interests? (I.e. family man, party animal, etc.)
  2. Be sure to negotiate a good price
  3. Make sure you’re able to include everything you want to see (within reason)

I took the plunge and chose Ederson for our trip to the neighbouring City of Niteroi, across the water from Rio de Janiero.

What do I say about Ederson?! He was simply incredible. He is young, dynamic and very thoughtful. He pulled up outside of our hotel on time and drove us through the city to the bridge that connects Rio to Niteroi. Along the way, he stopped once or twice to point out local areas of interest and explained in amazing detail, elements of Brazilian history and politics. It was utterly fascinating (you can read all about our day here).

 

Niteroi-Rio-De-Janeiro-Brazil-15

 

Asma and I go against what we learn as kids. We absolutely love to talk to strangers, especially when we are away. And we both bonded with him pretty much straight away. The conversation flowed and we got on like a house on fire. Ederson instinctively knew when to come over and explain things to us, and when to give us our time alone – to wonder around, to contemplate life, to simply absorb the ephemeral beauty of the Brazilian coastline.

He also knew what roads to avoid and the best places to take the most incredible photographs. The views of Rio from some points of Niteroi are indescribably beautiful. At several points, I was rendered utterly speechless.

Towards the end of our time sightseeing around Niteroi, Ederson said he would take us to a local eatery. A restaurant by the water serving fish caught that very afternoon. He said, ‘I will drop you off that this time and come pick you up later.’ Although this was a holiday dedicated entirely to my beautiful wife, we invited him to join us for dinner. And it was great because he knew the best local dishes and it just meant that we could talk to him more and find out about Brazilian life and culture. He made us laugh, showed us pictures and videos of his family. There was never a moment of clock-watching where we felt rushed. It was as though we were dining with an old friend.

Ederson is a highly principled man with a lot of integrity. He was unfortunately booked up for the rest of the trip and it was a real shame as there was another trip we would very much have wanted to do with him, but it wasn’t meant to be.

A couple of days later, whilst we were on top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, I heard a voice shout ‘Patel!’ (my surname). It was Ederson. He had spotted me amongst the masses whilst out on a trip with another family and he came over to say hi and ask how we were doing. The fact that he even remembered my name shows that this is a genuine guy.

Asma and I are LONGING to return to Rio. And if we do, you can bet your bottom dollar that we will be booking our trip around this man’s availability. I cannot recommend him highly enough. What he added to our trip of a lifetime was simply amazing.

My advice: BOOK HIM NOW. ”

M xx

 

Click here to visit Ederson’s good looking website

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top tips for booking a local guide in Rio De Janeiro Brazil

 

Have you booked a tour with a local guide? What are your top tips?

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