Monday, 1 May 2017

Horton-Kang family time in South Korea!

We are back in South Korea and it’s been a little over a year since we were last here visiting our son James, our daughter-in-law Sujeong, our grandson Aaron who is now two years old, and the rest of our Korean family.

Sitting in the springtime sunshine with Aaron outside Daegu library in South Korea

We originally booked this much anticipated trip as a visa run from Thailand - taking advantage of an Air Asia sale earlier in the year - but since then we’d had a big change of plan and now, after our week in South Korea, we were heading back to Europe instead of Thailand.

(You can read about this big change of plan by clicking HERE).

Our son James teaches English in South Korea and he and his family live in a big city called Daegu. Since our last visit they have moved into a new and bigger apartment, so instead of us having to stay in a hotel, this time we could stay in their home. It was wonderful to be able to help with Aaron, who is now two years old, especially at bath time before bed and in the mornings when he was full of energy and wanted to play. His favourite toys are his musical instruments and his play kitchen. He also has a great fondness for his small toy buses in the same way that James used to love his Thomas the Tank Engine toys many years ago.

Our grandson Aaron is now two years old

The weather was mostly dry and sunny for our visit and we had lots of opportunities to take walks out and about in the city and in the park – especially lovely at this time of year when it is cherry blossom season.













We also took several trips to Daegu traditional market – one of my favourite things to do - as the market is very close to the apartment and it is so interesting and colourful and has so many types of fruit and vegetables, fish and meat and yummy spicy kimchi and my very favourite dumplings.










Another highlight of the week was spending time with and having meals out to celebrate being with our Korean family again. Sujeong’s parents and her brother and sister - the Kang family - are so lovely and welcoming and hospitable and it was so great to see them all again.






The week went by so quickly and soon it was time for Trav and I to say an emotional farewell and take the KTX fast train back to the airport. The distance between Daegu and Seoul is about the same distance between Manchester and London in the UK and the train journey takes around two and a half hours.

Our flight back to Malaysia on the 5th April (our son Iain's birthday - who we were thinking of all day too) would take seven-hours. Arriving late in Kuala Lumpur, we would stay overnight in KL before taking a direct fourteen-hour flight to London early the next morning. Then after a night at London Heathrow, we had a three-hour flight to our destination of Bucharest Romania.


A total in the air/flying time of twenty-four hours with two quick stops!


Next time I’ll be chatting about our fabulous time in Bucharest Romania!

Until next time, please do consider signing up for my book news updates. I only ever send out a newsletter when I have writerly news to share, a new book coming out, or special offers and competitions with themed prizes to tell you about. Every new subscriber receives a free copy of my bestselling ebook 'How To Party Online' just for signing up using the form at the top right hand side of this page.

Love, Janice xx


Friday, 28 April 2017

A big change of plan….

Right now, I’m in Bucharest, Romania - yet in my last travel related post here on the blog we were back in Thailand - and I’d indicated that we planned to stay in Thailand for the foreseeable future. Well, it seems that I spoke too soon!

We returned to Koh Tao Thailand in the early part of February 2017 after dashing back to the UK on hearing that Trav’s mum was gravely ill (you can read about our bittersweet month back in the UK by clicking HERE) but then soon accepted an invitation to help a friend in the initial setup of a new diving venture in Eastern Europe during the spring and summer of 2017. It seemed like a great opportunity and an exciting venture.

But before we could leave for Bucharest, we still had some time to settle down and to relax and to honour the diving commitments we still had on Koh Tao.

Plus, we were looking forward to our lovely friends Jenn and Gregg coming over from the UK for a two-week diving holiday mid-March. Also, at the end of March - which would have been our visa-run had we stayed in Thailand - we also had a trip to South Korea planned to visit our son James, his wife Sujeong, our two year old grandson Aaron and our Korean side of the family.

So, during the first week of February, exhausted from the highs and lows of the past month back in the UK and from all the travelling, we were more than happy to arrive back to Koh Tao and get back into a routine. We’d kept our rented villa on Ban's Diving resort on Koh Tao while we were away, and we soon settled back into the easy vibe of island life, enjoying the heat and the sunshine.

Settling back into the easy vibe of island life on Koh Tao


Our home on Ban's Diving Resort Koh Tao

Ban’s Dive Resort on Koh Tao is a large sprawling beachfront island resort. It is an oasis of swaying palm trees with beautiful gardens and many types of accommodations for all budgets – dorms, rooms, villas and suites – and  it primarily and very successfully caters for scuba divers. I loved living on the resort and our villa was only a few minutes’ walk from one of their four swimming pools that I used every day to swim and then to sunbathe. I enjoyed the restaurants and the beach bar too – to meet with Trav and friends for lunch and later for sun-downer cocktails at the Darawan restaurant in the hills or for fun and food and live music at Fishbowl Beach Bar.

The entrance to Ban's Diving Resort
The bridge from reception into the resort garden and accommodation
The spirit house outside our accommodation



Asparagus and cheese salad lunch at Fishbowl Beach Restaurant
Ban's meet and greet transport to bring you to the resort from the pier

The pool I like to use each morning for my swim and sunbathe
One of the other pools at Ban's - used for dive training



Trav and I enjoying sun-downers at the Darawan Restaurant
Trav enjoying a beer at Fishbowl Beach Bar at Ban's Resort
Swaying palm trees and a blue blue sky...

In early march, we were notified by PADI that Trav had earned PADI Elite Status for his work in 2016. As an instructor, in 2016, he had trained and certified over 100 new divers. I am so very proud of him and all he has achieved with his diving.



Also in early March, we were invited out with friends to celebrate their birthdays. During this time it was also my birthday. Trav took me out for a delicious meal at a gorgeous restaurant up in the hills. We arrived at sunset to amazing views. The sunsets on Koh Tao are always breathtakingly beautiful. Afterwards, we were able to wine and dine under the moon and the stars. It was a wonderful birthday.





A delicious birthday dinner in a restaurant up in the hills with an amazing view

Mid March we helped with the resort's official annual beach games. That was a lot of fun. Life was good. The monsoon season was over. High season was just around the corner. The weather was hot and sunny and I appreciated it even more for having been away in the cold wintery UK.














Then our friends Jenn and Gregg arrived and we were so excited to see them again. We’d managed to meet up with them in Liverpool back in January but we’d first met three years ago in the Bahamas. They were staying at the wonderful Sandals Resort Nassau and we were staying at an AirBnB accommodation near Cable Beach. (You can read about our fabulous month spent in the Bahamas by clicking HERE).

On Koh Tao, Jenn and Gregg were looking forward to doing their PADI Open Water dive training at Ban’s Resort and being taught by PADI Staff and Elite Instructor Trav. They both worked very hard during the classroom and pool training and then we all went out on the Ban’s dive boat, where at some fabulous dive sites, Jenn and Gregg completed their course and became qualified open water scuba divers!











During their ten days on the island we had a lot of fun. We ate amazing Thai food from both street vendors and fabulous restaurants. We lazed around the pool and had plenty of time to take trips to explore and enjoy the island.








To finish off their holiday in style and for us to further enjoy our lovely friend’s company, we all took an early boat off the island and a flight over to Malaysia to spend a couple of nights in the city of Kuala Lumpur, from where Jenn and Gregg would fly back to London and we would fly over to Seoul, South Korea.

We had a fun and fabulous time in KL. We all stayed at the Intercontinental but also explored other hotels in the city – like the Mandarin Oriental and Trader’s -  for the best views of the city and for the (expensive!) cocktails.

Trav and I now think of KL as our home from home, as we have stayed there so many times over the past couple of years. We use it as our hub to South East Asia in the same way we used Houston Texas as our gateway to the US and to Central America and the Caribbean. But Jenn and Gregg hadn’t ever explored this fabulous city before, so they did more than us this time around, by visiting the Petronas Towers and walking along the famous Skybridge and enjoying all the other attractions.

We said our fond farewells to our lovely friends in KL, knowing they had enjoyed their well-earned holiday and that they had achieved so much by qualifying as open water divers. We are sure that we will share many more fun times with Jenn and Gregg in the future – no doubt somewhere in the world at a dive resort!

A fun selfie from beneath the Petronas Towers KL
The view of the city from the cocktail bar at the Mandarin Oriental KL
Another fun lift selfie at the Mandarin Oriental KL

My next blog post will be all about our fabulous week in South Korea, where we stayed with our son James and our daughter-in-law Sujeong. We enjoyed lots of quality time with them and our grandson Aaron, and also with the rest of our lovely Korean family, whom we hadn’t seen for just over a year – and I took lots of photos!

Our grandson Aaron is now two years old. 

Until next time, please do consider signing up for my book news updates. I only ever send out a newsletter when I have writerly news to share, a new book coming out, or special offers and competitions and offers to tell you about. Every new subscriber receives a free copy of my bestselling ebook 'How To Party Online' just for signing up using the form at the top right hand side of this page.


Love, Janice xx