Hi everyone! I hope everyone is getting some good R & R in during these warm, flower-filled summer months. In fact, I thought it might be fun to post a check in, to catch up on how everyone’s summer is going.
As some of you know, I’ve been out of the country for the last 3 weeks, visiting Malaysia, Thailand, and Korea. I love travel, and I am sure some of you do too, so here are a few highlights of the trip. These pictures are untouched (sorry Instagramers!)
When we travel to these far-flung locations, we usually go on a group tour, one that really immerses a person in the culture while taking care of the flights, transfers, hotels, and many of the activities, so you can just enjoy, participate, and soak everything in.
We started off in Malaysia, checking out local markets, visiting war memorials, the palace, Muslim temples & Buddhist shrines…and so much more.
We also hung out with monkeys and gibbons, saw fireflies, visited a tea plantation, ate some crazy stuff like jellyfish (like eating cartilage…not a repeat!), learned how to shoot darts with a blow gun, and went on a jungle hike to find a rare fungus-flower.
(The hike in the jungle was tough, and I’m pretty sure I got heat stroke–it was incredibly hot out. I also fell off a 5-foot high boulder and bashed up my legs quite bad, but luckily no broken bones.)
The highlight of Malaysia was a “home stay” visit where we lived with a Muslim family for a few days at the Suka-Suka Lake Retreat, where they owned some lovely property at the edge of the water.
You could swim, fish, kayak, walk the nature trails or hang out in a hammock and read (which I did and it was BLISS).
My oldest son and I did a cooking lesson here and learned how to create some popular Malaysian dishes. Later, we dressed in sarongs and ate dinner in the traditional style: on the floor, using only our right hand. Messy, but fun!
The visit was extra special as we arrived at the end of Ramadan which is also the beginning of the Muslim New Year. So there was much celebrating, fireworks, and socializing, and what a treat to be invited into the locals’ homes and experience another culture’s celebrations first hand.
In Thailand, we started out at Krabi, just beating out a monsoon that showed up after we left. We traveled to the world-famous Railay Beach, and loved all the rock formations that reminded us so much of Halong Bay in Vietnam.
Ironically, while in the water here I was stung by a jellyfish…I guess it was karma for eating a relative a few nights earlier!
We also saw a ton of Buddhist temples and ruins, often traveling around on tuk-tuks or by boat.
We stopped to see the famous bridge on the River Kwae and swam in a 7 level waterfall filled with fish (the small ones liked to go after our feet in a “Au natural” fish massage, lol). It was hilarious to see the reaction of our tour mates who have never felt fish nibble at their feet!
One night we stayed on a floating house that was pulled out by tugboat to a private island on a lake. We swam, kayaked and drank Chang beer as the sun went down.
There were geckos EVERYWHERE too, living on the floating house, chomping down on all the mosquitoes. I’d fall asleep watching them skitter back and forth across the ceiling of the boathouse, chasing their dinner.
At the end of our time in Thailand, we spent a day at an Elephant Rescue Park, one that was truly a rescue, with no riding, no tricks for tourists, just a sanctuary for elephants to roam and live free.
The elephants there were purchased by the sanctuary’s owners from circuses, tourist riding attractions, and illegal logging camps, saving the elephants from a lifetime of misery and abuse.
We spent the day feeding three young elephants bananas and sugarcane, accompanying them on a walk, and finally bathing them in a river.
It was something I will never forget.
After this, it was time to leave our group and set off for Korea, then home.
While we didn’t have time to visit the DMZ, we did venture into the city for a bit of site-seeing.
All of us enjoyed the time we spent there and I could see us heading back again for another trip.
I tooled around the market too, and found these gems:
We continued our marathon travel back home, (about 38 hours all told). Exhausting.
I came home to roughly 1000 emails, and a nice surprise…more foreign editions from Japan, this time, The Positive and Negative Trait Thesaurus books.
Our Japanese publisher made us two beautiful books–they are just incredibly well laid out in the interior, and you can feel the quality. I’m really happy with them and hope they are as popular as the Emotion Thesaurus is over there.
Inside there’s an interview with me written by phenomenal YA author Janet Gurtler, and what’s so fun is that they used a bunch of my photos from my last big trip (Australia) in the article. Seeing this sort of made my vacation feel like it had come full circle! Such a wonderful homecoming.
So, that’s been my summer so far! What about you? Are you relaxing? Gardening? Traveling? Writing? Reading? Let me know all about it!
I managed to get a few books read during my trip–the second and third book in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series (so terrific!), and also the mammoth novel Dune (an oldie but a goodie.)
Your turn. Fill me in on your summer plans! 🙂
Oh and before I forget, a few guest posts published while I was out and about. So, if you’ve ever struggled with Describing a Setting in a Place You’ve Never Visited, you’ll want to check out the advice and mother-lode of helpful researching links at Romance University.
Also, if you’re wondering How To Show Readers What Your Character Is Hiding, Be It A Secret or Emotion, I hope you’ll stop by The Romantic Times Author Portal.
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.