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Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Can You See Into the Future?

Albert Park, Auckland

This is a shot of Albert Park (named after Prince Albert) in Central Auckland. It’s not far from the university and on a fine day, it’s the perfect place for students to eat their lunch.

Mystery writer JA Konrath has a very interesting post about e-books and what he predicts will happen during 2010 in the e-book/e-reader world.

I’m actually feeling very positive about e-books at the moment. I love the freedom of writing for e-publishers, although the pirate issue does worry me. It’s truly disheartening when pirates put up books for free download on release day. It’s not only the e-authors who have a pirate problem though. The pirates have no compunction in making e-copies of paperback books and giving those away free too.

I think the increased competition in the e-reader market can only mean good things, driving the price down. Like Mr. Konrath, I’d like to see a standard industry format. What do you think will happen in the e-book world during the next year?

I’m guest blogging at the Samhellion blog today and talking about diaries and my upcoming release, The Bottom Line. While you’re there don’t forget to check out the special Christmas scavenger hunts to win either a Kindle reader or a Sony reader.

Travel Ready Packing

Travel-Ready Packing: Pack Light, Dress Right—Anytime, Anywhere
by Julie Ann Martin
Publisher: Argo & Cole Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-9791186-1-6
Publication Date: 1 Jan, 2010
Amazon link: Travel-Ready Packing: Pack Light, Dress Right – Anytime, Anywhere

Any of my friends or family or people who visit my website knows how much I enjoy traveling and exploring different parts of the world. Since my marriage, my husband and I have spent months in Africa, America, Europe, Central America, India, Asia and Australia. Sometimes we traveled with our backpacks, and at other times, we went more up market. You’d think with all my experience in traveling that packing would be a breeze. Not so. It’s one thing that remains a bit of a trial for me, so when I saw that Ms. Martin’s publisher was offering Travel-Ready Packing for review, I grabbed the chance to learn from an expert.

Travel-Ready Packing has an intro which discusses things such as culture in different countries, fabric types and types of climate. The next part of the book is split into sections for each country or region of the world. Each of these sections gives the temperatures for different months of the year, a list of recommended clothing for both males and females, the risk of danger at the destination, recommended colors to wear and how casual or formal the dress-code is in the country being visited. There are also sections for business travelers and those who travel to adventure destinations, multi-climate packing and also a list for expatriate packing. At the rear of the book there’s a world map, which makes it a simple matter to find the country you’re visiting and look up the corresponding page reference. In fact the book covers everything I could think of from clothes to bags to accessories.

When I decided to “test” the book and relive my trip to Africa, the packing list was spot-on—exactly what I should have taken for my trip. It was also very accurate for my recent trips to Samoa and Phuket, Thailand. The only gap I could see was for a cruising holiday, but I think the lists for the South Pacific, which is where my cruise holiday is taking place, will do the trick nicely. I found the book easy to use, very readable, and as I mentioned very accurate with the suggested packing lists. No more back-breaking suitcases for me!

I recommend this book for anyone who intends to travel for work or pleasure. And romance writers, if you’re heading to a conference and you’re not sure what to pack, this is the book for you.

Shelley Munro

You can see from above that I’m all sorted with my packing now since I have this book to refer to. How do you approach packing for a trip or a holiday? Are you a good packer or do you forget half the things you need?

I’m doing a guest spot at The Rainbow Studio (part of the Romance Studio) and talking about reality shows and Fallen Idol. Here’s the link to my post at The Rainbow Studio.

Savoring the Sun

Camera Critters

This photo of sunbathing sea lions was taken at Pier 39 in San Francisco last year when hubby and I attended the Romance Writers of America conference.


To see other animal photos visit Camera Critters.

King of the Castle

Camera Critters

We were driving along the road, near Custer State Park, and came across a group of Big Horn sheep fighting on top of a rock. After about ten minutes the winner emerged and took his place as sole occupier of the rock — King of the Castle.

Big Horn Sheep

To see more Camera Critters.

Mesa Verde National Park

Camera Critters

My husband and I always find the squirrels fascinating when we visit the US or other places that have them. We took this shot at Mesa Verde in Southwest Colorado. I’ve also included a photo of some of the ruins since this is why people visit this National Park. It really is an amazing place.


Mesa Verde, USA

To visit other Camera Critters go here.

Cruisin’ The High Seas

Thursday Thirteen

The Munro house is full of cruise brochures and guidebooks at the moment, so it’s probably not surprising that my mind drifted to cruises when I was wondering what topic to choose for my TT this week.

Thirteen Things About Cruises and Cruising


1. Cruising is a real growth area in the travel industry with more than 30 new ships scheduled for delivery before December 2012.

2. There’s a tendency for larger resort-style ships with low cost fares but many of the items onboard are no longer included and must be paid for at the time of use e.g. coffee, spas, internet.

3. Emphasis on many cruises is on healthy eating and spas.

4. These days there’s more concern for the environment and carbon-neutral ships.

5. Modern ships have built in stabilizers so seasickness isn’t such a big problem.

6. More than 16 million people take an ocean/sea cruise each year.

7. Cruising isn’t just for old people any longer. Some cruises cater to singles or for those with young children. There are gay cruises and special theme cruises such as for romance writers.

8. Food, accommodation and most of the travel component is included in your fare so that makes cruising very affordable.

9. Class distinctions are no longer part of cruising. These days people who go on cruises choose their grade of accommodation with cabins being cheaper than the suites.

10. Ships come in different sizes: boutique (50 – 200 pax), small (200 – 500 pax), mid-size (500 – 1200 pax) and large (1200 – 4000 pax). Choose according to your like or dislike of crowds!!

11. Cruising is one of the safest methods of travel.

12. Some of the incidentals such as shore excursions, drinks etc can add up to a substantial amount if you’re not careful.

13. There’s a different destination every day yet passengers only need to unpack once.

SOURCE: Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2008, Douglas Ward, Berlitz.

Have you been cruising before? If not would you like to? If you’ve cruised before where did you go and what was your favorite part of the cruise?

Scootin’ Along

When we were in Phuket the first thing we noticed was the large number of bikes and scooters. They were a very popular mode of transport and it was a common sight to see the entire family–father, mother and two kids–all loaded up on the bike and scootin’ off to their destination.

Students used them to travel to school. Parents picked up their kids after school. Workers used them to travel to work. I even saw a man and his dog off to conduct their business with the dog calmly sitting on the front. They even ride them when it rains, wearing cheap blue raincoats to keep off the worse of the water. The parking areas were always full of bikes.

Bikes and scooters are also popular in many of the Pacific Islands and you’ll see some quite large people squeezed on them, their bodies sort of overflowing…

Here are some of the photos I took while in Phuket.


Father and daughter on bike


Mother, father and daughter.


Modified bikes for trade.


Bikes for hire.


Pretty Pink!

Have you ridden a bike/scooter?

Newsflash: Tomorrow I have an interview with agent Holly Root from the Waxman Literary Agency. I hope you’ll stop by and visit.

Seeing Stripes

Camera Critters

These are both older photos taken during our overland trip through Africa. They’re scanned, hence the black around the edge of the photos.


Zebra and Wildebeest in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania


Zebra, Zimbabwe.

To visit other Camera Critters go here.

Bird’s Nest Soup

While we were in Phuket we did a day trip to PhiPhi Island and motored past PhiPhi Lei shown in the photos below. The locals harvest the bird’s nests to make the famous bird nest soup. The nests are made by swifts using saliva and you can see them hanging down from the cave ceilings.



The soup supposedly has many health properties such as aiding digestion and improving the immune system. Here’s a link to a recipe for the soup.

I’ve never tried bird’s nest soup, and I’m not sure I want to. It’s meant to be a gelatine-like substance and is full of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Have you ever tasted Bird’s Nest soup?

Elephant Safari.

One of the things I wanted to do when we visited Phuket was ride an elephant again. We managed to get a cheap deal for our holiday because it was monsoon season. The first day in Phuket it rained quite heavily and I was a bit worried it would spoil our ride. As it happened I needn’t have worried because the sun shone as we set out for our hour long ride.


This is hubby and I on our elephant.

Jungle, Phuket

This is the view from the top. I have to add that I didn’t feel very safe and the ground looked a long way down! An elephant’s skin is very rough and it feels abrasive to the touch, almost like sandpaper. It’s also very bristly.

Elephant Ear

Our elephant had freckles. He was very cute.


This is our mahout–the elephant driver.


This is the end of our elephant ride and me saying goodbye to our mount. I enjoyed the ride, but I was pleased to stand on my own two feet again.

Elephant Garage

Resting up after the road with a small snack to pass the time.

Would you like to ride an elephant?