featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


World traveler Dr. Kelle Z Riley is a back with us again today, filling in for travel editor Serena Brower. Kelle is a Ph.D. scientist by day and writer by night.  A 2005 Golden Heart Finalist, her first book—a romantic suspense entitled Dangerous Affairs—was published in 2006.  Kelle believes in the magical power of storytelling to entertain, educate and enthrall both readers and writers of all ages.  When she’s not saving the world’s water supply, or kicking butt in a karate class, she can be found at her computer spinning tales of love and happily-ever-after. -- AP

Hi Anastasia, thank you for inviting me to stop by the blog. During my last visit, I spent time reflecting on life, but this time around, I want to take your readers on an incredible international shopping trip.  (After all, I promised them I would.)  Today we’ll visit Bangkok, Seoul and Singapore in search of the perfect gift.  Next time, who knows?  Maybe Paris.  Or Zurich. Only time will tell.

In Search of the Perfect Christmas Gift

Wow, can you believe it?  Less than a week to go before Christmas—and I still have gifts to buy!  If you’re like me, you may be stumped searching for the perfect gift.  Never fear.  This year, I have the solution.  Come with me, and I’ll show you some of the best deals on the planet: one-of-a-kind gifts that are sure to please.  That is, assuming you have a few thousand extra frequent flier miles lying around.  Pack lightly, carry-on only, because we don’t want to waste time hanging out in baggage claim.  Wear comfy shoes, fill one bag with a few changes of clothing and grab an empty duffel bag for all the great gifts you’ll find.  Oh, and dress in layers, ‘cause we’re going through several time zones and climate changes.  Ready?

We’re boarding a plane that heads up toward Alaska, cuts across the arctic circle and brings us down into exotic Bangkok.  By the time we land, you’ll be ready to peel an outer layer off—the Thai natives may think it’s chilly when the thermometer dips into the 70’s but that’s warm to you—right?  After somewhere between 16-24 hours in travel mode, I’m sure you’re tired and a little achy, so the first stop is just for you.  We’re going to splurge on a Thai massage.  

After showering and changing into light cotton “scrubs,” you’ll lie on a thick mattress in a curtained-off room.  Your therapist will massage the soreness away as she kneels on the floor beside you or cradles your head in a pillow on her lap.  After an hour, you’ll move to a chair where she’ll spend the next hour working on just your feet and legs.  Feel the life coming back into your toes?  Good.  You’ll need your energy for our shopping trip.  (By the way, this royal treatment will run you about $25 or so in most spas.  How’s that for a bargain?)

When darkness falls, the magic of the night markets lights up.  We’ll gab a bicycle cab and head out.  In a bustling section of town you find a cluster of vendor stalls—some under roof and others under the stars—all filled with goods to indulge your senses.  Crafts.  Incense.  Massage oils.  Perfumes.  Silks.  My favorites are the lovely silk scarves in rainbow colors.  At only a few dollars each, you can pick up enough to share with all your friends.  You can also find great silk jackets and other clothing items, all carefully tailored.  (Just remember, a Thai “large” may well be an American “small.”)  Other wonderful gifts include the colorful ceramic mugs, teapots and dishes whose intricate designs will delight the eye.  Why not pick up a covered tea mug and some local tea leaves to brew in it when you get home?

Pack your treasures and get ready to hop on a plane again.  (Remember the empty duffel bag?  We’re starting to fill it up.)  We’ll head north to Seoul.  The mere 6-8 hour flight seems short after the trip to Thailand, doesn’t it?  Still, I bet you’re hungry by now.  Pile on an extra layer of clothing (we’re back in the cold north) and we’ll get some traditional Korean food.  Not sure about that?  Trust me.  Korean barbeque is thin sliced, seasoned cuts of beef grilled at your table top with onions and vegetables.  Yum!  The only trick is using the slippery, pointy stainless steel chopsticks (forks are hard to find).  Fill up because we’re off to the shopping areas.

The national stone of Korea is amethyst.  At stores throughout Seoul, you can find hundreds of the gem stones for sale at affordable prices.  Here’s your chance to get a truly impressive gift for someone special.  I admit, I also fell in love with the shoes!  And boots!  I found a lovely pair of knee-high leather boots and a pair of gorgeous green suede ankle boots.  Who said all of the shopping had to be for someone else?

OK.  One more plane trip and one last stop.  We’re going back south to Singapore.  (Slip on your shorts and put the heavy clothing away!)  We won’t do a lot of shopping here—Singapore malls and prices are similar to upscale American versions.  Instead, we’re here to indulge in one last, rejuvenating experience.  We’re going to the fish spa.  Yes, you heard me.  Fish spa.  After washing and thoroughly rinsing your feet and legs, sit on the raised benchs and dangle your legs in the fish tanks at your feet.  A special breed of fish then nibble away your dry skin and calluses while a spa technician give you a neck and shoulder rub.  As you relax, you realize the fish are giving your legs a tiny, tingling massage—not at all uncomfortable.  And when you get out your skin is smooth and soft.

Now that you’re refreshed, it’s time to get on one last plane and head home.  If you’re lucky—and we’ve been lucky this trip, haven’t we?—you’ll get upgraded to first class where you can curl up on a seat that converts to a bed and dream away the hours till landing time.  Get some rest.  Once you land, you’ll only have a few hours to wrap those gifs and put them under the tree!  Like Santa, you’ll have made your way around the world to bring the perfect gifts home to the ones you love.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Thanks, Kelle! I’m giving you my shopping list next time I need gifts. Readers, how did you like that vicarious shopping experience? And what did you think of the nibbling fishies at your feet? Let’s hear from you. Post a comment to be entered in this week’s drawing for a book from tomorrow’s guest author. -- AP


Dyanne said...

Merry Christmas. Kelle, to you and Tom. Please can't I accompany you on the next trip? I really need that massage.

Kelle Z Riley said...

Dyanne, keep a bag packed and ready. You can meet me at the airport!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Wow, Kelle, I've never before wanted to visit Asia -- but you make it sound wonderfully tempting! Can't wait to see where you'll tempt me to go next...

Christine said...

Merry Christmas to you and Tom, Kelle. The trip looks amazing. Now I want to shop in Asia!!

Denise said...

Wow! What a wonderful description of all your experiences.