Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Where's The Rain? - Seoul, South Korea.

 

It's the Rainy Season in Seoul South Korea, or so they say it should be but the weather is not predictable this year and we were glad of that.






If you didn't see the previous blog post about preparing for South Korea  you might like to read it first.

Going to visit our daughter Linda depended on one thing: when was she off work, so that we could spend lots of time with her.
That was during this time so we arranged to go now even though it is normally the hottest, most humid time and also the time they expect their rain.

As Fred & I arrived on Friday morning there was a bit of mistiness over Seoul Incheon Airport but when we arrived at the hotel in Seoul the sun was now shining.

We left in our luggage (too early to check in) and went out for lunch at a Korean restaurant, sun shining still.





Menu in Korean except for names of meals so we ordered the Beef Rib Soup which apparently comes with many little side dishes and rice.  We were unsure what was in the soup along with the beef but had no idea what was in most of those little side dishes.
 (First time we have had rice with soup except for a silly blunder by myself one time in Belgium)


Then there was the big question!

 What should we have to drink?



 Well we decided on this, no prizes for guessing what it is.




Back to the hotel after that very nice tasting soup and got checked in and went for a nap to catch up on the sleep we lost overnight on the plane.  After 6pm we met up with one of our Korean friends whom we have known since we lived in Belgium and the sun was still shining.


By the time our daughter made it over from Gangneung we were very hungry and we all went for another Korean meal which was pork and the drink was barley water, which is water with barley and not at all like Robinson's Barley Water.

 Quite nice!  But Very Sweet!

 The weather?  Well - Still hot, dry and humid.

Back to hotel after 10pm tired, full and dry.


Ever thought of visiting Seoul in South Korea?

Saturday after a little lie-in we had breakfast from the stall in the street outside the hotel, great value only 4,000 won for the 3 of us, that is approximately £2.50.

And we did not get wet going for this breakfast because it was still hot and dry.

We had a lazy morning of catching up with Linda and then off to get a snack lunch from a nearby shop.

The famous Kimbap, which is rice and meat and vegetables rolled up and wrapped in seaweed - lovely but very filling surprisingly.




We met up with our Korean friend again and went shopping, some very expensive department stores which was really more like window shopping and then some more market type shops.  This was nice to get to see the real Korean city even though we found it hard to take in the amount of people.

It was also nice to do because it was still very hot, dry and humid.

Where was this rain we had been warned about?


 Then Sharon (our friend's western name) took us to walk through one of the old gates of the old city of Seoul,




After that it was coffee break time and so we headed for one of the many coffee shops of Seoul.

 That's when we got the rain, but even though we were walking in it for a little while we hardly got wet as it was quite light.

Instead of coffee Fred and Linda shared a Bing Soo; it is ice, fruit, icecream, yogurt and rice cakes in a large glass which is more like a bowl and you mix everything up together.

Sounded really strange to us
BUT
it tasted very nice and very sweet.

 Linda persuaded me to have an iced latte - never again!
I'm a coffee lover not an iced tea or iced coffee lover.

So I just had to share Fred's Bing Soo.


Next we went to see one of the palaces of Seoul, no rain again and lovely peaceful surroundings for being in the middle of this enormous busy city.




 Dinner was in a special Chicken place and we really were getting better with these chopsticks.


 A little bit of rain again as we headed back to the hotel for bed but it had stopped again in time for us to stop near our hotel to stand and watch a Korean lady sitting in the street making their form of honeycomb which is flattened into large circles and cost 1,000 won (a little over 60p).
When she saw us watching so intently she made a special bigger one for us but still only charged us the same amount.




Sunday started with the same breakfast as Saturday as we had each enjoyed it so much.

 Then time to hit the subway with our subway app (yes there really is an app for almost everything) and with our daughter in charge as she can read Hangol, we made our way to our friend's church for morning worship.

 A friend of our friend had agreed to translate for us and she had done this for Linda when Linda came to the church some months ago.  It was a lovely service, Fred & I just sang in English when we recognized the tunes of the songs, while Linda sang in Korean.

Sharon works in the church so we went to see her office and meet some of the people she works with and then off with our translator for lunch in a lovely location in a park in the heart of Seoul very close to the church.  The building was an old-fashioned Korean type building and the food yet again was great and so we now sampled even more Korean dishes.




Then the rain came but only while we were inside having lunch and it didn't bother us.

 By 4pm we really knew we had made a new Korean friend who has been invited to come visit us in Northern Ireland with her husband and son.

Back to the hotel on the subway and coffee and more chat and then time to pack for leaving for Hong Kong on Monday morning and sending some things on with Linda to Gangneung.

Then goodbye to Linda as she left to travel back to her home ready to go teach English again on Monday morning.

As she left for the subway the rain had started.

Next part of the South Korea trip is found HERE

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Packing & Preparation for South Korea - Travel Preparation



Well we leave tomorrow so I had better be ready by now.


Last hotel bookings only done yesterday, we really leave it to the last minute in this family.








Hoping hotels are all ok, hard to tell from TripAdvisor etc. and Korean Sites, but our daughter has gone to the hotel near her and says she thinks its lovely so she booked us there for that part of the stay.



I love the initial preparation,
  • the making of lists, 
  • thinking what needs to be done before I go, 
  • clearing my calendar for while I'm away, 
  • making an itinerary, 
  • deciding on the schedule of all the preparation,
  • sorting my ongoing todo lists so that things are not due to be done while I'm away, 

I like to use packing lists and have downloaded a few different ones like this one 





and they can be so pretty and well laid out but often they are very Americanized whereas I am from the UK so I when I write pants I am referring to underwear and not to my trousers.



So I start with one of these lovely lists and then end up making my own




Also I like to detail which tops I'm planning to pack and which trousers and which swimsuits and not just write the number of them so in the end I usually ended up by resorting to my own hand written lists or a spreadsheet on the computer but now I love to use my iPad for most things and so I have tried packing apps as well and yet again I found them not just right for me.





In the end I went back to one of my favourite apps - one I use daily and used it for my packing needs for South Korea.  


The Things App by Cultured Code is my go to app for daily todos and now for lists too and it is on my iPad.



My todo lists for before and after trips are on the Things App too.

     Scheduling all the trip preparation is on the Things app too. 

          My ongoing todo lists are on the Things app too.


               AND   My calendar is on the iPad.


So in the end everything I need is on my iPad except for the itinerary for the trip.



Travel Packing and Preparation - the need to be organised


The itinerary is so involved with having to cope with 4 people travelling at different times and from different airports, then all the hotels we will be in and the different areas with a little 4 day trip for Fred & I over to Hong Kong from Seoul and of course all the times we are meeting up with friends.


I like colour coding and also prefer to have ALL details on my itinerary and then as well as that I have a labelling system for the things we need at various places and events.  (Hence the * column.)


This is what my itinerary ended up looking like






and that was just the first page of 3!




I don't like
  • the actual packing, 
  • preparation of clothes and items for packing,
  • the booking of flights and hotels 
                                 (thankfully the last one here is mostly done by my husband).


This time with a holiday to South Korea (2 locations within the country) and a trip to Hong Kong incorporated into it and then the boys coming to join us later my poor husband has to book 5 return flights & 5 single flights and this was just very taxing for him.

We are planning to meet up with 2 South Korean friends who we originally met in Belgium and spend some time with them in Seoul as well as going to Gangneung in the northeast to see places and people that our daughter is constantly telling us about so tying it all together was taking some effort.






So I said I would look after the hotels but they couldn't be booked until we knew exactly where we would be each day and the Hong Kong flights were only just done a couple of days ago so hotels just got booked yesterday.


Vaccinations are all done, easy for the boys as they were up to date with everything they needed as they have been to different African countries within the last 10 years, but not so easy for us as it took two separate trips to the health centre because we didn't have 3 arms each.

So at least these are now checked off the list too.





           
Plenty still to be done today though.


Itinerary in brief is:

  • Belfast to London tomorrow
  • London to Seoul tomorrow overnight to Friday morning
  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday in Seoul with Linda and our friend Sharon who is going to take us shopping!!
  • Seoul to Hong Kong on Monday
  • Sightseeing just me and Fred in Hong Kong Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Hong Kong to Seoul on Friday 2nd Aug and Linda joins us then again
  • Jonathan & Daniel arrive in Seoul on Saturday 3rd
  • Sunday 4th and Monday 5th  in Seoul with our friend Sharon who is going to take us sightseeing this time and our other friend Park is coming to meet up with us too
  • Tuesday 6th we travel to Gangneung in the North East where Linda is living 
  • Wednesday to Sunday in Gangneung sightseeing and meeting Linda's new friends
  • Sunday night travel back to Seoul
  • Monday 12th Aug Seoul to London and on to Belfast







So thankful that we can all get together for this new Black family Experience.


Right better go and pack now and collect the foreign currency which the bank have finally got for us.  (That's another story of one of those things which shouldn't happen but do happen and are so infuriating.)






           Getting very excited now!!!!


You can find the next post on South Korea HERE 


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Panther - Book Review


Disclaimer:
There is an affiliate link on this blogpost.



My brother-in-law got me hooked on Nelson DeMille books.







Thankfully he had read a few of them before he started me on them so he gave them to me in order (at least the John Corey ones) and being the methodical person that I am that is exactly how I like to read a series.

Then we got my husband on to them and at the moment he is still reading "The Panther" on his kindle and I have just finished so thought I would tell you about it here.


The Panther


Description



It's one of the most dangerous and volatile countries in the world: Yemen. A Middle Eastern hotbed of corruption and insurgency and the perfect training ground for Islamic terrorists.
When FBI agents John Corey and Kate Mayfield are assigned to overseas posts in Sana'a, Yemen's capital city, they are tasked with hunting down the high-ranking Al Qaeda operative responsible for the USS Cole bombing. This man, known as The Panther, is wanted for terrorist acts and multiple murders and the US government is determined to bring him down, no matter the cost.
As latecomers to a deadly game, John and Kate don't know the rules, the players or the score. What they do know is that there is more to their assignment than meets the eye - and that the hunters are about to become the hunted.







My Thoughts



Firstly  -  it is full of one liners.

I missed those in "The Lion" and my brother-in-law & I decided the reason was that John Corey's wife was not in as much of that book as she had been in others so there wasn't the same opportunity for DeMille to write them.

Not only is Kate in the whole book this time but there are some other characters constantly there too and then they are also the objects of Corey's witty remarks.


Secondly  -  Nelson DeMille makes a story about the middle east actually interesting.

I have read some books set in that part of the world before in bookclubs and have never found them to be the type to entice me to read more but this was different. 


Thirdly  -  it is not as gory as "The Lion" which made it a nicer read for me.

I had been rather disappointed in "The Lion" which I found a bit boring, long and incorporating too much personal violence, but all I can say is that Nelson DeMille is back on form with this latest John Corey book "The Panther" - thank goodness.






DeMille's book is well researched and is written with a lot of detail but not too much to end up being boring.

As with his other John Corey books it is witty and full of action so a good choice of book for the man in your life but also a book us ladies can enjoy if we like mysteries and detectives.

So I really enjoyed it and I have a sneaking suspicion that there may be a new character reappearing in a future book, and yes there has to be another John Corey book.  There just has to be.


If you would like to know more about this book then click on the title or picture above.


 Here is a link to a list of Nelson DeMille's novels on Amazon
Books by Nelson DeMille


If thinking of reading this book in the future why not pin this pic to go back to later.









Disclaimer:
If buying through Amazon I get a little commission but that does not mean any extra expense to you.



Wednesday, 17 July 2013

I am Petite! - A Dose of Encouragement


Yes.   I am Petite!

That does not mean I take size 10 (UK) or below and it maddens me when people use petite in this way.


I am petite because I am smaller than 5' 3".








                                                 In fact I am not quite 5' 1"


I do need clothes that are the right length and in the right proportion but it can be very hard to find these even in the small sizes but much harder in sizes over 12.  Then we also have to put up with a more old-fashioned look for the petites in those sizes.


When we lived in America I found a lovely shop called "Petite Sophisticate" and I just adored the clothes from there.  But there was another problem and that is: Why should we have to pay more money for items that actually have less material in them than "normal" items?


My husband is almost 6' tall so there is a bit of a difference between the two of us.  Even so when we had our first son I prayed that he would not be short like me but taller like his dad.  2 years later we had another son and I prayed that he would be tall as well.  3 years after that we had our daughter and I prayed that she would not take after me.


God answered my prayers and our oldest boy is almost as tall as his dad, the second boy is taller than his dad at around 6' 3" (sometimes we joke that I prayed too hard for him) and our daughter is about 5 inches taller than me.  My sister used to joke that I needed a stepladder to kiss Fred (my husband) but that's not really a joke when it comes to Daniel (son no.2) and he normally ends up with a kiss on the neck instead of on the cheek.






Well at the moment I'm back to the petite clothing problem as Daniel is getting married in October and I need an outfit.

                                                       
I really need a petite outfit.


Another thing that often goes hand in hand with someone being petite is the attitude of others towards them.

We get lots of remarks about our height.

"Gosh you are small!"
I know I am, do they think they are the first to have noticed?

"You'd better stand in front for the photo or you won't be seen."
I know I have to stand in front, do they think this has never happened to me before?

I normally look at my husband Fred in one of these "height challenged" moments and he smiles just the right way to show he has noticed and he knows how I feel.  If he's near enough there will be the squeeze of my hand or a wee stroke on my neck.
Fred can do something just between us that makes me feel cared for in situations where others don't take time to think how I might feel.


Often people don't stop to think how we feel.

So looking for a special outfit is not an excitement for me but can be a dread because of the lack of choice and the way I may be treated.

I know I can't dwell on the fact that others aren't thoughtful or considerate all the time and I know that there are probably times when I don't stop and think to be as considerate as I possibly can.

There is only one person who cares about us all enough to know how we feel and what we need and that is the God.

When I see my husband being so thoughtful and understanding of what hurts me then I see something of an example of Christ and this is the way it is in a marriage.  The husband is to love his wife just as Christ loves the church and this means being protected, provided for and cared for giving us security in our relationship.

So obviously when we see a good example of this in a marriage it helps us to remember the security we have in Christ even when we tend to temporarily forget His promises.






Of course this is another good reason to read some of the Word of God each day to be constantly reminded of how much Christ cares for us, enough to die in our place when we did not deserve His love.

Doesn't that make us feel cared for, loved and protected?


Doesn't that make us want to be part of His family?


Doesn't that lift us when others put us down?


Doesn't that bring us joy?






Saw this riddle for the word PETITE and I just wish it were true 
but it makes me smile anyway.