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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.

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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?

Super Humans

Recently I watched the FBI drama Eleventh Hour and the episode dealt with super soldiers. In a coincidence, I’m reading the second book in Bianca D’Arc’s Resonance Mates series. (You know the one I mentioned in yesterday’s post—the one I don’t have time to read!) The series is about the Alvian race who takes over Earth. The only humans who survive the attacks are the ones with psychic gifts. The Alvians have taken genetics to the max and have no emotions. Anyone with emotions is suspect and the few remaining humans are subjected to experiments, some of which are horrid. Ms D’Arc writes a great book with awesome world building.

Nalini Singh’s Psy series also deals with something similar- the Psy race have managed to cancel out all emotions in order to make a “perfect” life.

In fiction I can live with this scenario, although I’m not sure I understand the drive behind a race seeking the perfect being. My personal opinion is that disease etc is nature’s way of limiting population. Emotions, both good and bad, bring color to life.

Anyhow, my question is do you think a super or perfect person is a good thing? Does anyone have any recommendations for sci-fi romances in a similar vein?

I have a guest spot at coco & kelley about travel. This blog is a new discovery for me and I enjoy my visits there, indulging my love of pretty clothes, interior decorating and the like. Here’s the link.

Rhino, Chitwan National Park

Camera Critters

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This week’s photo for Camera Critters is a rhino mother and baby, taken in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. We rode elephants into the park and were able to get quite close to the one-horned rhinoceros, which is an endangered species. I badly wanted to see a tiger, but we weren’t lucky enough on this trip. We did see a sloth bear, which was very exciting and seeing the rhinos was amazing. They’re a bit weird in appearance and look as if they’re wearing a suit of armor.

Holidays and Ever Wondered?

I’m so excited – no, I haven’t sold another book. In fact I’ve been receiving a lot of rejections, but I’m not talking about those today. No, I’m not. Hubby came home last night and said, “How would you like to go on holiday in September?”

“September?” I said. “I thought we weren’t going on holiday again until next September.”

He grinned at me and said, “How would you feel about Phuket in Thailand?”

My answer was yes. (of course!) and so long story short, we’ll be jetting off to Singapore and Thailand in September for 11 nights. I’m really excited since we haven’t been to Phuket. We’ve visited Bangkok and also Singapore, but Phuket is new territory.

A few days ago Sandra Cox posted the following called Ever Wonder? It made both hubby and I chuckle, so I thought I’d repost for your enjoyment.

EVER WONDER …

Why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin?
Why women can’t put on mascara with their mouth closed?
Why don’t you ever see the headline ‘Psychic Wins Lottery’?
Why is ‘abbreviated’ such a long word?
Why is it that doctors call what they do ‘practice’?
Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?
Why isn’t there mouse-flavored cat food?
Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes? –
Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?
You know that indestructible black box that is used on airplanes? Why don’t they make the whole plane out of that stuff?!
Why don’t sheep shrink when it rains?

I wondered recently what Samoan men wear under their lava-lavas. In fact, I’m still wondering because I didn’t like to ask…

What have you wondered recently?

A Wellington Trip

Thursday Thirteen

I mentioned last week that I was off to Wellington. I’m posting photos this week.

1. We left from Auckland Airport.

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2. It was raining in Auckland, but we had wonderful weather in Wellington. There were quite a few unaccompanied children on the flight, flying home after school holidays. They cracked me up with their shrieks of joy each time we hit turbulence.

3. We caught the cable car from the inner city to the Botanic Gardens.

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4. There were great views out over the harbor.

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5. It’s autumn here in New Zealand and the trees are changing color.

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6. It was ANZAC day and there were wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

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7. We had dinner at the Backbencher pub, which is opposite our Parliament. Very yummy food.

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8. The pub is known for its caricatures of our politicians. This is Helen Clark (a recent Prime Minister) and Winston Peters (very colorful is the kindest way to describe him)

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9. And this is Jenny Shipley who was the Prime Minister prior to Helen Clark. She looks remarkably like the fairy godmother from the second Shrek movie.

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10. This is the Buzzy Bee. Buzzy Bee is a well known childrens’ toy and is considered a NZ icon.

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11. This is me at the rugby stadium, also known as the CakeTin.

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12. The next day we went to Te Papa to see the Monet exhibition. I also wanted to see the colossal squid. The squid didn’t photograph very well, but it was very interesting.

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13. This is me outside Te Papa. The Monet exhibition was crowded, but very good. My favorite was the painting of Monet’s wife Camille and their child. My hubby loved the one of the Haystacks.

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And that’s me for this week. I’m off to Samoa tomorrow. I hope you’ll pop back during the next few days to check out my Samoan photos.

A Day at Munro House

I’ve been busy writing, editing, sending off queries and judging my pile of books for the RITAs. It’s unpleasantly hot here in New Zealand at the moment with today being the hottest so far. Scotty is really feeling the heat, too. Poor thing, although it doesn’t affect her appetite. She is still in possession of Dexter’s basket (see my post on The Curious Series of Events to get the scoop). Dexter hasn’t turned up to claim it so that’s good. I don’t think Scotty would be happy to see it disappear like her old basket.

Mr. Munro is still dragging me out of bed at an ungodly hour each morning to go for a walk, and we go for another after dinner. He’s determined to lose weight and is even having beerless days. I know he’s really serious when that happens. I have to say that my clothes feel a tad looser so maybe giving up an hour or so of sleep is a good thing.

We’ve booked a holiday to Samoa and that’s something to look forward to in a few months. Mr. Munro also came home with a very fat travel brochure today so we can plan a holiday for next year. We did intend to go to Nashville and that side of the US while taking in the RWA conference, but our exchange rate has taken a hit. When we went to the US last year the rate was around .78 and it’s sitting at .51 at the moment. Not good news for us or another US trip. Instead we’re looking at exotic places like Namibia, South Africa, Portugal and India. We both love the planning stage of trips and it makes for a very interesting dinner conversation. “What about xy?” one of us will suggest. “Yes, or we could go to zz.” the other will say.
LOL – we might win Lotto too. That would help!

I’m pretty sure a new scavenger hunt starts at The Samhellion today and I’m one of the authors. Check it out at The Samhellion and don’t forget there’s a new free story out each day to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

And finally, I’m guest blogging at We Write Romance. Here’s the link.

What’s happening at your place?

Women Take a Stand

I’m an avid traveler and a recent article in the travel section of the New Zealand Herald caught my attention. It spoke to me. It made me laugh.

In some countries, you still have travel with a father or a husband before being allowed to enter i.e. Saudi Arabia. In other countries I’ve visited, such as Iran, women have to wear head scarves, covered shoes and a long sleeved coat. I have a photo somewhere of me and two girlfriends in the back of a cab in Esfahan, Iran. We’re dressed in black from head to foot and wearing huge grins. We wore a black chador during our visit plus headscarves. I remember being uncomfortable and hot for the full seven days it took us to drive through the country. That said, it was a wonderful experience and we met some lovely people.

In other countries such as Pakistan, India and Turkey, a woman needs to dress with care to prevent giving local males the wrong idea, i.e. that’s she’s available and ready for sex.

But there’s one other thing about travel that’s an even bigger problem for women, and that’s going to the loo. (Restroom for those of you in the US) Sometimes it’s hard to find one and at other times, they’re plain disgusting. A man can go anywhere – choose a spot, take aim and go. For a woman it’s not that easy. Take it from me, I have firsthand experience with this dilemma!

When we traveled overland in India, we’d pull up in the middle of nowhere for lunch. The first thing all the girls did was dive off the truck and find a tree to squat behind because within minutes the locals would appear. Many a time, we’d turn around and find a stranger getting a good view from behind. We learned to be quick.

That’s why this article fascinated me. It was about a new product called the Shewee that allows women to relieve themselves while standing up. To pee with a Shewee you unzip your trousers and push your underwear to the side. The Shewee is placed against your body and the spout angled toward the toilet or ground. A quick shake of the liquid resistant plastic and it’s dry and ready to store for the next time. At 17cm long and being very light, it can be stowed easily.

Here’s the link to the New Zealand website where it sells for NZ$19.90. (there’s also a US website – follow the links from the NZ one)

What do you think?

Portrait of San Francisco

San Francisco would have to be one of my favorite cities to visit. I’m running a bit short of time today so I thought I’d post a few photos from our recent trip. I think I like San Francisco so much because of its situation on the sea. The hills are killers to walk up and down. Believe me, I know because Mr. Munro made me walk up and down several!

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The Golden Gate Bridge is an icon and known worldwide. During the summer months it’s also often shrouded in fog.

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Pier 39 is a fun place to wander. Lots of great ways to empty the wallet here! This is a shot of the merry-go-round. A shot of the resident sealions follows. You can smell them before you see them.

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Coit Tower is another icon. It’s fun to climb to the top and see the views of the city.

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This is a shot of Lombard Street. This end of Lombard Street is known as the crookedest street. It’s also very steep. There are traffic jams here as tourists queue to drive down the crooked street and grab a photo or two.

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Alcatraz Island is known worldwide. A trip out to the island jail is fascinating, although you need to book well ahead. This is a very popular trip.

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Cops on the beat.

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Here’s a statue of The Thinker. It’s at the Legion of Honor, a fine-art museum.

Have you visited San Francisco? If so, what’s your favorite place to visit in the city? If not, which place or thing in the city would you most like to see in person?

National Parks in America

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen National Parks I Visited Recently

1. Yosemite, California – just beautiful. I’d visited before but it was much quieter this time due to both the petrol prices and a recent fire that had scared visitors away. We had a perfect day with excellent visibility.

2. Grand Canyon, Arizona. This canyon is awe-inspiring.

3. Petrified Forest, Arizona. My husband and I both enjoyed our first visit to this park. The petrified forests were fascinating.

4. Mesa Verde, Colorado. Hot and dry. Busy but well worth a visit for the peek into the cliff dwellings of the Puebloans.

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5. Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Colorado. I didn’t know anything about this park until I visited but I loved the black rock and the deep canyons. It was stark and beautiful.

6. Rocky Mountains, Colorado. We didn’t have the best weather here. At the top of the pass it was freezing and sleeting. Ranger Michelle answered some of my many questions while I was here and we saw lots of animals at the lower levels before it started raining. A lot of trees are dying here after being attacked by the pine beetle.

7. Devil’s Tower, Wyoming. We walked around the base and saw our first snake here.

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8. Little Bighorn Battlefield, Montana. An interesting place to visit although, man was it hot on the day we visited!

9. Yellowstone, Wyoming. This is a huge park and you need to spend a few days to explore it fully.

10. Olympic, Washington. This park covers both forest, lakes and mountains as well as part of the coast. Crescent Lake was gorgeous and we also enjoyed exploring the coast.

11. Mt. Rainier, Washington. I loved my visit here. The spring flowers were in full bloom and it was really pretty.

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12. Lewis & Clark, Oregon. We didn’t know much about Lewis and Clark and after visiting Fort Clatsop we came away much wiser. This pair of explorers had great people skills and seemed well liked by everyone.

13. Crater Lake, Oregon. One of my favorites. It’s so pretty here. I could look at the lake for hours.

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Packing For Travel

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about PACKING for a Trip

With my trip coming up soon, packing is looming…

1. Make a list a few weeks beforehand of the things you think you’ll need to take with you.

2. Lay out the clothes you think you want to take, along with toiletries, shoes etc.
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