Since working in the safari tourism industry I’ve been positively bitten by some fierce travel bug. I’m lucky that my husband is of the same thinking – we prefer to travel beyond anything else. Our most recent trip took us to Japan, a place that’s been on our bucket list for some time. Having lived in third world countries for the past seven years (Madagascar and Tanzania) we were looking for some first world efficiency. The idea of trains and planes that actually leave on time has a strong appeal if you’re used to the inverse (well, let’s just say having trains and planes are already something). Japan didn’t disappoint on any of these levels, but it was such an amazing experience overall. It’s so easy to get around in Japan – we used the Japan Rail Pass for two weeks and traveled only with cabin luggage to keep ourselves mobile. Having only cabin luggage comes with a lot of perks: you’re not tempted to shop, because you have no space for stuff. You’re never bogged down by your luggage, and packing is a breeze, because you have so little to pack. Service is fantastic in Japan, and they have all the toiletries you could possibly need available in the hotels, from shaving cream and toothbrushes to the usual suspects.
One of the highlights of the trip was indulging in a bit of a tourist trap situation – getting dressed in a kimono in Kyoto. Buying a quality kimono can set you back 1000 US$, so these Kimono rental houses are found all over Japan and are used by locals for Japanese weddings and other ceremonies. This was such a fun thing to do with my daughter, who loved this well-oiled machine of ‘dressing up’. Here are some photos of us picking our kimonos – we were not allowed to take pictures of the dressing process as you are in a communal room with other scantly clothed ladies. From here follows four stories of rather pampered bliss (?) as you get coaxed into many (seemingly unnecessary) layers as you move from one floor to the next. I think they did warn me to ‘pull in my stomach’ just before they jerked the whole business tight, but because the dresser spoke only Japanese I didn’t quite get that bit. This was the closest I’d ever get to a real antiquated corset, and I enjoyed the experience for all of an hour before I could breathe again. For those seeking inspiration for how a historical era heroine might have felt for most of the day in a corset, go try on a kimono!
No writing on Japan could be complete without a little rave about the food. For the duration of our stay in Japan we didn’t eat the same thing twice – I never realized that Japanese food is so diverse. Every city and area has its own specialty and my word, do they know what they are about. There were many first for us (raw fish for breakfast…) but what we enjoyed the most were the meals in the Ryokans, or traditional Japanese Inns. Here, dinners are glamorous and over the top, but always honor the fundamentals of Japanese cooking: fresh, beautiful and super healthy. Here I am at our Ryokan Table, scrambling eggs for my kids – not quite what was intended, you’re supposed to eat the raw egg as a dip. The efficient waitress showed us how to eat and cook most of the things (this tutorial is essential!). For those who wonder what my kids ate throughout this trip – rice and ice cream, occasionally some pizza and pasta…but be warned, western food has all been retouched Japanese-style and won’t be quite what you’re used to at home.
Living in the tropics is a season less experience – always hot and even warm in winter. We were lucky to be able to travel in November, and enjoy the beautiful colors of autumn in Japan where each season is celebrated in full. We walked a lot – averaging 18k steps a day during a trip – but look at the beautiful places we saw. I’d love to visit Japan again in spring, and experience a different season, especially the cherry blossoms. Would our trip there ever inspire a book…not quite sure. I’m all for exotic settings, but I’ll keep my love for this country platonic for now, and might just bump into characters for a book on the next trip, if I’m ever that lucky!
|All dressed up!|
|And with the ladies outside Himeji Castle|
|Boy in blue with orange leaves|
|Cooking scrambled eggs Japanese style|
|Posing with a samurai outside Himeji Castle|
|The family at a private garden outside Kyoto|
|The Ryokan table set for one|
Title: Perfect Mistake
Author: Sophia Karlson
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Suspense
Release: June 6, 2018
Cover Credits: Debbie Taylor from http://www.dcagraphics.com/
Simone Levin had a dream job as a safari pilot until an unexpected pregnancy clipped her wings. Tired of juggling motherhood with her demanding flight schedule, Simone applies for an office job, unaware that her new boss is Carlo Carlevaro, the man who’d ditched her before finding out he’d knocked her up. Carlo returns to East Africa only to kill another fire—Ivory trafficking from his lodges threatens to destroy his company. Finding Simone back on the payroll comes as a pleasant surprise. As his employee, Simone is off-limits, but she is the only one he trusts to help with his undercover investigation. With time running out, Simone and Carlo strive to expose the trafficking ring, but working together rekindles their mutual desire. When Simone is implicated as a trafficker, revealing her daughter’s existence to Carlo seems inevitable. Acting on her instincts might come too late as the syndicate retaliate and hone in their threat. Will they survive to give their love a chance?
Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2jTP9YP
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2IdALt3
Amazon AU: https://amzn.to/2jT0cS5
Simone went to stand next to him. “Why am I here?”
He turned to her. The dark shadows under his eyes were somehow more accentuated in the play of lamplight than in the bright sunshine. “Let’s talk somewhere else.”
“Where do you suggest? The guests are bound to arrive soon and you know we can’t walk around by ourselves after dark.”
“Come to my room.”
She inhaled sharply, her hands clenching into fists. “Is that why I’m here? Do you really think–”
With a soft groan, Carlo curled his fingers around her arm and pulled her onto the deck, away from the other people sitting in the lounge. “To your room then,” he whispered, “although I much prefer mine. And no scenes, if you please.” His hand was a ring of fire around her arm, propelling her to the wooden walkway.
He walked next to her but let go of her arm.
A few steps from her tent she stopped. “I don’t care who hears this. If you think we’re going to carry on where we left off four years ago you are very much mistaken.”
He didn’t blink an eye. “You seem to be singularly one-track-minded, Simone.”
Heat rose to her cheeks; it spread down her chest to her treacherous heart, which pounded at the thought of him. Why was he still able to do this to her? Being alone with him was the worst possible idea.
“Well, if not for that, why march me to my tent as if you would have your way–”
“You may still be devilishly tempting, Simone, but now that I’m your boss you’re completely off limits.”
Sophia Karlson has lived in France, Germany, Tanzania, Madagascar (not the movie, the country!) and now finds herself back on home ground in South Africa. As a teenager, she devoured romances with far flung settings, loving to travel through books. After school her itchy feet took her around the world, but now she doesn’t get much further than the school run and the daily walk with her very demanding beagle, Phoebe. She writes contemporary and erotic romance, wanting to take readers on a journey of their own. She loves hearing from readers, follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sophia.karlson.5, Twitter: @SophiaKarlson, on the web at www.sophiakarlson.com.
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