Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Detective's Daughter - Book Review

Where do I start?


Sorry, but I can't even be bothered to find the picture of the book to put here.


Cons

  • Too many sections put in to act as dialogues from the past which really never helped in the solving of the crime or advancing of the story and were confusing as to who they were between.
  • She killed off a character that should have been kept in to make more choice as to who the murderer could be.
  • Having her main female character end up using similar language to the main male character, when they had started off so different, was strange.
  • Jumped about too much from person to person and time to time.
  • The behaviour, thought and speech of the characters was not consistent.
  • In some instances I was sure she had one character suddenly know something that only a different character had known or talked about.
  • Seemed like it was not well edited.
  • Made me wonder when it was ever going to end.
  • Then when it did end, it didn't end!  Yes, doesn't make sense does it?


Pros

  • There was not an actual sex scene, THANK YOU.
  • There was a good story & idea behind it all but the writing of the book ruined it.
  • It was a free ebook.


I will not be adding it to my Shelfari Bookshelf, 
but I have a feeling I will not forget it.



Tuesday, 13 August 2013

It is the Korean Way

Saturday was another day for friends.
Late breakfast of coffee and then to another restaurant in Gangneung to meet with another Sandra.
When Linda started at the school one of the first co-teachers she met was a girl who told Linda that her English name was Susan but she was changing it to Sandra so of course Linda said her mum was called Sandra and ever since that, the two Sandras had heard a lot about each other from Linda and had been looking forward to meeting.
So we met Sandra and her future husband Paul (they are getting married next Saturday and Linda is excited about going to their wedding). There was a lot of laughing and chatting while the food cooked, not so much as we ate the lovely food which was a Vietnamese meal this time, but more again when we went round to Yoon's Coffee Shop after the meal but just before the thunder and lightning.
Later we had a visit from our friend Park again but this time we were so delighted to be able to meet his wife and their two children. We were entrigued to learn that Park had written abook about their life and had it published so when he gave Linda a copy of it in Hangul we told Her that her mission now was to learn the language well enough to translate he book for us all. Lots more laughing and chatting over coffee and then of course another meal which was in a Lamb restaurant so we had two types of Lamb barbequed with soup and rice.
It was another goodbye again but what can we expect when we are only visitors in this country.
So the time to pack was upon us and when we had sorted out clothes for Sunday and for travelling on Monday we treated ourselves to the last late night snack which was BingSoo - a large bowl filled with ice shavings, yogurt ice-cream, & berries, which is then all mixed up together and shared. We have decided that this must be one of the reasons there are so many long handled spoons in Korea.
Sunday brought us another extremely hot day. Fred & I checked out of the hotel and we all had tea, coffee and pastry at Linda's appartment. Then we went to Linda's church which is in downtown Gangneung and her friend Jessie translated for us. We recognised some of the hymn tunes and Linda lent us her Korean/English bible which also has the hymbook in it.
So it came time for our last meal in Gangneung, we asked Jessie to join us and we all had Bolgogi in a restaurant quite near Linda's home. A different form of Bulgogi, but again delicious and as with 2 previous meals this one was enjoyed sitting on the floor at low tables.
Last minute looking at some of the pictures we had taken, getting our drinks ready and chatting and then the taxi to the bus station to get the bus to Seoul Incheon Airport and of course the final goodbye with Linda.
This time the bus journey was over 5 hours in length, again pretty good seats so we read and uploaded photos to the ipad from the camera and slept. Last night in South Korea was spent in an airport hotel and then up early on Monday morning for the long flight to London and finally the flight to Belfast.
Last meal on the plane from South Korea was our favourite Bulgogi with chopsticks yet again. We are so pleased we had practiced using chopsticks before we went on this trip as we entertained our Korean friends with our efforts and also felt like we really entered in to "The Korean Way" as our friend Park would say.

Monday, 12 August 2013

5 Waygook???

Jonathan had told us he had not been sleeping well so on Wednesday night I was praying that he would sleep really well, then I settled done to sleep myself but found that I couldn't sleep as I was still thinking about him sleeping so I prayed again about his sleep and then felt content about it and went to sleep myself.
Thursday morning Jonathan was in great form and told us he had had the best night's sleep for a long time. Thank you, God.
Late breakfast of coffee and then a longish walk to the acorn restaurant where we met up with one of Linda's co-teachers Mr Woo for lunch. He had been very helpful and supportive of Linda so it was lovely to meet him and chat with him. There was acorn noodles, acorn pancakes and acorn soup. We had never known that you could eat acorn let alone have it in different forms. we had to sit on the floor in this restaurant just as we had done in the tofu restaurant on Wednesday for lunch. this is difficult when you have long legs like my husband and two sons.
A visit to Homeplus in the afternoon to see the place Linda is always talking about shopping in and had discovered that the supermarket part was Tescos really as the signs gave it away.
Nearby there was an outdoor market so we explored it for a while but it really was too hot for us to be out too long that afternoon as it was very hot so we went inside again for cold drinks and waffles.
Dinner was a home cooked Korean meal in the home of one of Linda's co-workers Jacob. His wife Hannah had made Bulgogi, noodles, gimchi, rice cake, mushrooms, rice, seaweed, and more for us and it was delicious. I could even eat her gimchi which was not as spicy and smelly as the gimchi we were always being presented with in the restaurants. We had a very enjoyable evening talking and laughing about lots of things and felt very much at home with this lovely christian couple.
The evening ended with a trip to Yoon's Coffee Shop for late night drinks and to find that Mr Woo had left gifts of Korean fans for us at Linda's appartment. The two fans are beautiful.
Friday morning and we headed off to the beach.
The Korean word for foreigner is waygook and Linda has heard this word often as Koreans talk to each other about her, so she warned us that we would be noticed and talked about especially when people would see all 5 of us together in Gangneung. So imagine the scene at Gimpo Beach when the 5 of us arrive and head into the sea to swim. We were the centre of attention for many of the Koreans. Older ones just stared at us while some of the younger males came up to us and wanted to talk to us. We even had girls taking pictures of us as we swam & talked together in the water. Not very comfortable walking out of the water and walking up the beach in a wet swimsuit when you have an audience.
The sun was very hot so we dried off quite quickly and then headed back to Gangneung to have a late lunch. As it was just us today we decided to try out an Italian restaurant near Linda's appartment and enjoyed our pizzas and pasta there.
Fred had been fighting a cold for the last few days and now his chest was rather sore so he decided to go back and relax at the hotel while the rest of us did some shopping for gifts to take home. A few hours later we returned to him with fans, chopsticks, wooden dishes, etc. and donuts from Dunkin Donuts. We told him we would have this as a quick snack and then go to Yoon's Coffee Shop for coffee and drinks and then try Korea chips on the way home again. In Korea they say potatoes but they are just chips to us, although having them with cheesy flavouring was a novelty.

The Final Part of the Story is HERE

Saturday, 10 August 2013

"Gangnam Style"

Tuesday morning saw us packing to move on from Seoul.

 It was time to travel East to Gangneung to spend the rest of our holiday in the area where our daughter Linda lives and works.

A three hour bus journey in a hot humid climate was not very appealing but it was actually one of the best bus journeys I have ever been on. The seats are like first class seats on an aeroplane, wide, well padded and reclining so all five of us fell asleep for a good part of the trip. I am glad I didn't sleep the whole way though as some of the mountainous scenery was lovely to see.

Apparently we were in Gangnam at the start of the bus trip but Linda forgot to tell us until afterwards, so I'm not really sure if we can say we did the trip in Gangnam Style???

Our next stop was Linda's apartment, not very big but in a nice neighbourhood.

Then on to find our hotel which is a Boutique Hotel but has not been a great hit with us, we tend to prefer hotels which have a safe and drawers and a wardrobe because it is nice to have somewhere to put at least put your clothes. This hotel provides a computer in each room but no drawers and only 2 hangers on a hook on the wall. None of us could figure out how to get the taps to work properly so just a trickle of water to wash our hands, but we did have the biggest TV I've ever seen in a hotel room.

Dinner was another Korean barbeque with pork this time and it gets rolled up with vegetables in a lettuce leaf - very tasty. We met up with Jessie (one of Linda's friends from church) for this meal and then on for coffee to a local coffee shop owned by another of Linda's friends called Andrew.




A lovely coffee shop (Yoon's Coffee), relaxing, with good coffee and smoothies and nice company as we got to know these friends.

Our oldest son Jonathan was so impressed with his cappuccino that he told Andrew it was the best cappuccino he had had outside of Italy - high praise indeed.




On Wednesday morning we awoke at 10am to 32 degrees the start of a very hot humid day for us.

We met more friends of Linda's for lunch in the beach area at a Tofu restaurant as one of them is a vegan. My first experience of tofu and I think that one is enough.

I have been warned that red sauces are the spicy ones and so I've been very careful about anything that is red but today I got caught out by what I thought was a piece of green pepper but was really a chilli pepper and my mouth was burning hot.

On to a coffee shop afterwards and then the five of us went for a walk around the lake stopping at an outside exercise area to try out the exercise machines. Then on to a burger restaurant for very tasty burgers and fries.

On the way to lunch we had had to get two taxis because there are 5 of us and so the same on the way back but this time the taxi driver who took Fred & I told Linda he knew where our hotel was but actually he didn't so we had a little adventure as he drove around pointing at hotels and we shook our heads at him. We finally remembered that we had a copy of the hotel confirmation on my ipad all in Hangul so he was able to get the address into the GPS only to find that we were simply just round the corner from it.

After a bit of cooling off time in the airconditioning in the hotel room we headed to Yoon's Coffee Shop to end the evening with coffees & drinks again.

More from South Korea HERE



Thursday, 8 August 2013

Old Friends - New Friends


Linda had arranged for us to go to Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul on Sunday, known as the biggest church in the world with 1 million members. One of her Korean friends has moved to live and work in Seoul and has started attending the church so we met him outside the church and went for lunch together before attending one of the afternoon services which had English translation.
Lunch was great - Bulgogi, a beef dish with Rice which our friend Sharon had taught us to make when she stayed with us in Belgium - we all agreed he had chosen a good restaurant.
So then to church with up to 27,000 people in the one service. It was a communion service and we all were amazed at how quickly communion was given to everyone, quicker than in any of the churches we attend.
After church we had a leisurely walk along the river past a floating stage and floating fountains with an icepop. The humidity was obviously very high on Sunday as I was constantly wiping the sweat off my face and feeling more tired than usual. Back into the centre of Seoul in the subway, a quick walk through one of the big market areas and we found a restaurant where we had a beef barbecue at the table with some of the tenderest, tastiest beef I have ever had.
Then after we had seconds - it was so good - we wandered around to find a coffee shop but had to make do with a Dunkin Donuts as another one was closing early and another was so small it didn't have enough free seats for the 5 of us. Nice coffees though and a long chat and then back to the hotel.
Monday was a very special day for us. We had arranged to meet up with Sharon again to explore more of Seoul but another Korean friend from our time in Belgium had driven in from another area to meet us as well. It was great to see Park again after so many years and to hear about his family.
We had a lovely time going around the largest palace and seeing the changing of the guards and chatting with these friends.
Lunch then was another special treat as we had a meal where we cooked our own food (very thinly cut beef, a variety of mushrooms, lettuce, radish and cabbage) in a bowl at the table in the restaurant. There were two sauces to dip in, one was rather hot and spicy for us but the other was a delicious peanut sauce.
Of course we then had to find a coffee shop to have our tea and coffee and continue chatting with our old friends, before saying goodbye to Park as he had to drive a distance home again.
Next stop was a traditional Korean village area where we met up with our new friend Caroline from last Sunday. We enjoyed a display of Taekwondo, Fred & Daniel had a go at Taekwondo, we all tried a game of throwing long sticks into metal tubes (I almost managed it and Daniel did it first go), then a go at archery, and lastly a walk round the village.
We finished off the day with a bus ride to the Seoul Tower where we looked down on the city of Seoul from the mountain, watched a short but very clearly produced projection display on the side of the tower and then a time of photos.
Then it was time to say goodbye to Caroline and Sharon and of course to invite them to visit Northern Ireland.
So three goodbyes in one day - I don't like goodbyes.


Continue the story HERE

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Seoul Once Again.

We left Hong Kong on Friday to return to South Korea.
Nice to travel at a leisurely pace and fly out from a spacious, clean, bright, quiet airport. We were even able to check-in at the Kowloon Station and then make our way to the airport with only our handluggage. I have fallen in love with Hong Kong airport.
Biggest problem of the journey was what to watch on our individual screens during the flight as we had watched movies on the first trip to Seoul and also on the trip to Hong Kong so we had watched most of the things we were interested in already. So I settled for trying out a new British TV comedy series called "Cuckoo" and saw the first three episodes. Might consider watching the rest sometime it wasn't too bad.
We did have a bit of a hiccup thought as the Typhoon warning hoisted on Thursday had now been changed to a Tropical Storm Warning and it was noticable how much lower the temperature had got and the how dark the skies were so it was not surprising the see that various flights were being delayed. Our flight never actually came up as delayed but we didn't start boarding until about 20 mins after the time alloted. Then we sat on the tarmac for a very long time waiting to leave. The pilot must have made up time during the flight because we only seemed to be about half an hour late in landing.
Got to the Best Western Kukdo Hotel in the heart of Seoul quite late at night and Linda was there waiting for us. Couldn't wait to get a chocolate snack and a coffee and a quick catch-up and then to bed. However getting into bed was not the easiest as the triple room we were in was really a twin romm with an extra bed rolled in, leaving it so short of space that the armchair was wedged between the window sill and the bed and so I had to crawl up the bed from the bottom as I could not stand beside it. Plenty of drawers in this room though far more than you would really need. Strange how different the hotel rooms can all be.
I do think the Nine Tree Hotel we stayed in the previous weekend in Seoul was better than this one and the one in Hong Kong. If we ever come back to Seoul I would definitely go to the Nine Tree again, it even has a better location with a busy entertaining night life around it but not noisy.
Saturday was bright and sunny once more and after a good nights sleep we were ready to hit the nearby shopping Mall. Great prices in This Lotte Mall and I got a few dresses there. Most of the girls were very helpful but we were surprised in one shop to be told that we could not try on a dress or a top. We pointed to the changing room and asked why not, to be told that we could only try on trousers. If anyone can see the reasoning in that one I would love to know it, it just didn't make any sense to me.
Next we had to decide where to have lunch and then Linda suggusted a spoon pizza. The restauant had a Bulgogi one and we love Bulgogi (thanks to our Korean friend Sharon having taught us how to make it when she stayed with us in Belgium) so we opted for that. It was so delicious that we immediately ordered a second one to share.
Well fed we headed off on the subway to meet Sharon for our Korean Experience of the Day.
Sharon was taking us to a place where we could make something of our choice. Linda and I chose to make a ring with mother of pearl effect and really enjoyed the simple process. This was then followed by a walk to another area of Seoul to see the Rice Cake Museum. Who would have believed there could be so many different varieties of rice cake. So far we had had small pieces of savoury rice cake in soup and sweet rice cake in desserts but we were amazed by the different colours and textures and shapes and sizes presented in the museum. At the end of that we went into the little cafe at the museum and tasted 3 different rice cakes, strawberry, chocolate and mugwort (pink, brown & green) and also a persimmon sorbet and a cinnamon ice tea. Good tastes except perhaps the mugwort!
It was now time for the boys to arrive so we said goodbye to Sharon after arranging plans for Monday and headed back to the hotel to meet the boys due off the airport bus around 6pm. No message from them and no sign of them so Linda checked arrivals on the internet and discovered their flight was delayed. They eventually got to the hotel around 9 pm so it was a late dinner tonight and our first western one as we went to a Steakhouse.
Nice to have all five of us together again for a holiday and as Daniel had said some time ago this would be our last one as the original Black family as come October he and Suzie would be married.

Next part of the South Korea Saga is HERE

Saturday, 3 August 2013

You must go up the Peak!!!

We are sleeping so well on this holiday that it was hard to get ourselves up on Wednesday morning but we did manage to get down before breakfast ended.
We had another relaxing morning and then hit the "Ladies Market" in Monkok just north of where we were staying. We love markets and love bargains so we haggled away with the vendors and after a long time we were through the market and had several purchases at really good prices. The best time was when I started at one low price and instead of having to raise it I ended up with the item for another 10 Hong Kong dollars lower than that. The poor girl just did not know what had happened.
Fred's backpack had ripped on Tuesday so we wanted a replacement for it and got two instead. His earphones had lost one of the rubber ends so he was on the lookout for a cheap pair to do for the rest of the holiday and after we stopped haggling with the girl at the stall having got her to agree to the price we wanted she mistook something else I said and dropped the price even more.
It was a fun afternoon.
However I later headed into Marks & Spencers for a few items of extra underwear and came out flabbergasted at their prices, Hong Kong is an expensive place.

Going back into the hotel to get freshened up and changed to go out for dinner we realised that there was a bistro cafe in the same building and the notice for it had a bible verse on it, so we decided to try it out. Not too expensive and a reasonable selection on the menu so we picked two different meals and they were both great. We only had starters and main courses followed by tea and coffee but everything was very tasty and the coffee was the best I have had in a long time. We did have a laugh at their "mocktails" though as they had religious names like "Fruit of the Spirit". The atmosphere was very relaxing and we enjoyed sitting there sipping the coffee.

Thursday was planned for Hong Kong Island so we took the subway under the sea and arrived at Central Station to start our Island Adventure. We got a local bus and enjoyed the winding coastal road all the way to Stanley. Not just as sunny as it had been every other day but still a lovely warm day. first thing we saw at Stanley was the market it is famous for so we had a stroll round most of it and again I found people trying to persuade me to buy an Asia outfit. This time however we bought nothing at all. Then we had a walk over the rocks and along the promenade and finished at the Stanley pier which is wooden and covered.

On the way back in the bus we saw the sky get darker and when we arrived back at Central it started to rain. We sheltered for a little while but then it was ok again and we walked up to the Peak TramTerminus to get the Tram to Victoria Peak.
What a queue!
It was quite a wait, but the tram ride was nice up a very steep incline at times. Then - What a view! It was great from the inside of the Peak Tram Building and from the Peak Galleria Mall but even better of course from outside. It was the type of view that you didn't really want to walk away from so it took a rain shower to get us inside again.
We had McDonalds for dinner while it rained, first time in months and months and months that we've had fast food like that. It was starting to get dark so we tried outside again as the plan had been that we would stay up at the Peak and see Hong Kong lit up before getting the tram down again and then the ferry over to Kowloon District. The rain was still coming down although not too heavy but the wind was pretty strong by now - you see during the afternoon the warning had gone up for a typhoon so was it going to hit Hong Kong and if so when?
Well we decided it was probably best to head back to the tram and get down from the Peak before the weather got any worse but a lot of others seemed to have the same idea so we got into the very long queue and I wrapped my shawl round me and we huddled under the umbrella. A while later the rain stopped but the queue had not moved much and a good while after that it still hadn't moved, then people started coming out of the Tram Station and we realised that the Peak Tram had been suspended, apparently one of the doors of the tram was not registering as being properly closed so they couldn't use the tram.
Pushing and shoving and still more queueing to get refunds and then more queueing to get buses and taxis and by the time we got down to Central again we just went back to the hotel in the subway as it was by now very dark and late.
Everyone says "You must go up to the Peak" and they are right.


South Korea Trip continues HERE

Thursday, 1 August 2013

So very, very, very, very, very hot!!!

So before we left Northern Ireland our friend David, who had been to both South Korea and Hong Kong, told us many things about those places. He warned us that Hong Kong would be hotter and more humid than Seoul and boy was he right.

We arrived in Hong Kong on Monday afternoon, got the express train from the airport to the Kowloon area and a taxi to the hotel. Prices are easier to deal with here, just divide the Hong Kong Dollars by eleven and you have the pounds sterling, so that meant the taxi cost less than £4.

Our hotel was on Nathan Road so after a bit of a rest and sorting out the air-conditioning in our room we walked south to the end of the road and looked for somewhere to eat.
 Due to having had nothing but Korean food since we started our holiday we thought we should have something without rice so we chose Italian, and I had a lovely glass of apple juice as well.

Then we headed out and walked to the Avenue of the Stars to await the laser light show that is a nightly event.



The place was crowded, Fred took loads of pics across the water and experimented with the panoramic shots on this new camera while we waited and waited.

 The show was not as impressive as I had hoped but then we have seen others elsewhere.
We did enjoy the atmosphere and the view along that area is beautiful.

 Tired we decided to find the subway, get Oyster cards and take that route back to the hotel. Only stopping at a shop between the subway and our hotel where we got bananas and an ice cold coconut drink to try out.

Tuesday started with a lie-in and late breakfast, unpacking, and then off down South on the other side of Nathan Road to see the Avenue of the Stars in the daylight and to walk along the Promenade as well.

 We then needed a little while out of the hot sun and after a nice cold drink we got the subway to Lantau Island and took the Cable Car to Ngong Ping Village.
 Now we have been on several cable car rides in different countries but that must be the longest one we have ever done and is by far the one with the best views. This definitely is something I would not want to have missed and it's not too expensive either.



Walking round the village was relaxing but hot, hot, hot.
 We tried to ignore the big buddha but it is so big it cannot be ignored and we could not believe how many people were making the extremely steep ascent up to this, why climb all those steps on such a hot day?

 A little bit of shopping, first souvenir of a set of chopsticks, and protestations from me of "No, I am not buying a Chinese style dress" as the assistant assured me they did do them in larger sizes; and then it was time to head back to get the cable car again.

Dinner was at The Outlets on Lantau and we took some time deciding between all the different types of food but for me noodles won out over everything else and they were very good.
 Fred had sweet and sour chicken as he had promised himself he would have his favourite Chinese meal in Hong Kong and he was not disappointed.

 Back to the hotel on the subway and brief stop at the same shop as Monday night to get more bananas and try out the ice cold sugar cane drink this time.

South Korea/Hong Kong Trip continued HERE