S.J. Pajonas is back on the blog to celebrate the release of her contemporary romance Face Time (Love in the Digital Age #1) (see my 5-star Goodreads review here). On this stop of the tour, organized by Lola’s Blog Tours, catch the travel bug with the top ten places to visit in Asia.You can view the whole blitz schedule here. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
I’m really in love with Asia, which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me or has read my books. Japan is my first love, and I have traveled there, studied their culture and language, and now written three books in a series that’s Japan-inspired. But other parts of Asia are interesting to me too, and I’m dying to travel to most of the places in this list. Parts of FACE TIME take place in Seoul, Korea, and I hope that’s my next stop in East Asia someday. Laura spent a good deal of time in Thailand in her early twenties, and I think I’m actually jealous of her! Yes, it really is possible to be jealous of your own characters.
1. Tokyo, Japan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokyo) – This would be my first choice in East Asia even though I’ve already been there. Tokyo is so big, so dense, that you could live there your entire life and still only see a fraction of it. It may feel very foreign or it may feel like a second home. Tokyo is polarizing city. Go to Tokyo for the clean and orderly sidewalks and public transportation, the technology, the food, and the absolute in crazy and weird. Where else will you be able to go to a cat cafe or a cafe where you can sleep next to someone for the night (no touching)? http://www.tofugu.com/2012/10/05/japans-weird-themed-cafes/
2. Bangkok, Thailand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangkok) – I’ve been to Bangkok, and it is an amazing city. It’s definitely not as clean or orderly as Japan, but Thailand has a lot going for it. The Buddhist culture is peaceful and easy to get along with (as long as they’re not in the middle of an uprising). The King of Thailand is benevolent. The food is incredible, and, if you love summer, it’s always hot there. Go to Bangkok for the edge-of-your-seat tuk tuk rides, the giant golden reclining Buddha, the easy access to Southern Thailand and its beaches. Also, your US dollars will go far in Thailand. It’s possible to live cheaply and comfortably there for a long time on very little cash.
3. Seoul, Korea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seoul) – Just across the water from Japan is Korea, so if you visit one, it’s easy to visit the other. Seoul is another huge metropolis which grew after it hosted the Olympics in 1988 and the FIFA World Cup in 2002. It is also clean and orderly and the public transportation is easy to use. Seoul is one of those cities that blends old and new really well. Ancient temples stand next to office buildings, and there’s always something going on worth watching or visiting. Go to Seoul for the kimchi, the coffee, the soju, and the possibility of being a background extra in a K-drama. Ha! You know you want to.
4. Macau, China (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macau) – Macau is actually in a Special Administrative Region of China like Hong Kong, and I really want to go to Hong Kong as well, but Macau draws my attention because of the gambling. Supposedly it’s bigger than Vegas, and I’m totally intrigued by gambling overseas. The food here is a mix of Chinese and Portuguese, and then there’s also a distinct Macanese cuisines as well. Go to Macau for the unique mix of consumerism, Old World China, baccarat, and clash of cultures.
5. Kyoto, Japan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto) – If you want more of the Old World Japan then Kyoto is a better bet than Tokyo. Time has come to a standstill in many areas of Kyoto. This is the city where you can see geisha (known as geiko) walking in the streets to and from parties, ancient Japanese temples and castles, Noh plays and festivals. If you can make it here during hanami season to view the cherry blossoms, you’re in for a treat. Go to Kyoto for a ten-course traditional kaiseki meal, a party with a geisha, and stay in a ryokan. You won’t regret it.
6. Taipei, Taiwan, China (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taipei) – Taipei seems like a fun city, full of fast-moving people and Chinese tradition. It’s well known for its temples, festivals, and food, shopping, and easy public transportation. Go to Taipei for the excellent seafood, the Chinese New Year celebrations, and the hour-long hair washing boutiques. It’s supposedly better than a massage.
7. Beijing, China (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beijing) – I suppose if you visit one place in China, this should be it. As the capital of PRC, it holds a lot of treasures including access to the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. Beijing is further to the north in China, so if you don’t like cold weather, you shouldn’t travel in winter. Go to Beijing for the Peking Opera, the chance to stare at Qing Dynasty treasures, and the Beijing Zoo Panda House for pandas!
8. Hanoi, Vietnam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanoi) – I’m dying to visit Vietnam. Modern Hanoi is colorful and chaotic, and filled with easy things to see and do. We did fight a war there in recent memory, but tourists are still welcome in the country. Vietnam still feels like a closed book to me. My cousin went there a few years ago with his wife who’s Vietnamese, and he was charmed by the people, the food, and architecture of temples and what wasn’t bombed into the ground. Go to Hanoi for the history, the pho and bahn mi, and the chance to ride a scooter with thousands of others through the streets at breakneck speed.
9. Manila, Philippines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manila) – I don’t know much about the Philippines but I hear it’s awesome there. The capital city of Manila is rich with museums, gorgeous Catholic churches, and a fine array of cuisine from all neighboring regions from China, Thailand, and Malaysia. Watch the sunset on the bay from a rooftop restaurant and then hit the clubs in Makati for dancing and drinking all night long. Go to Manila for the Filipino home cooking at Cafe Juanito, halo-halo, and the Marikina Shoe Museum dedicated to all of Imelda Marcos’s shoes. Yes, a shoe museum.
10. Singapore (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore) – Singapore is its own city-state (as my husband says, like the Vatican) and it’s situated on the Malay penninsula. I know Singapore gets a bad rap for its harsh laws, but I have known people to live there and it’s quite a pleasant and happy place to live. There’s hardly any crime, the streets and surrounding area are clean, the people are hospitable, and the food is amazing. They have these large food courts full of delicious Asian meals (meat, noodles, rice, seafood, you name it). Singapore has plenty of sights to see and lots of religious festivals each year to witness. Go to Singapore for the Merlion, the fish head curry, and the extremely hot climate (if that’s your thing.)
Want to get on a plane now? Tell us where you’d go!
After the best first date ever, Lee thought Laura was funny, intelligent, and impulsive; a whirlwind of bright laughter and happiness. Laura loved Lee’s sweet smile and the way he expertly filled in every awkward pause. He held her hand and then pulled her in for the most perfect kiss she’s had in years. What could possibly be wrong? Just the 7000 miles that separates them the next day.
Even though Lee has gone home to Seoul, Laura can’t stop thinking about him. What starts as an innocent text thanking him for their dinner date becomes something much more: someone either of them can’t live without. But Laura’s got a live-in mother going through a midlife crisis, and Lee’s stressful traveling schedule means they’ll be apart for some time. Life, family, and a complicated past also get in the way, and they’re both going to need actual face time to figure it out.
You can find Face Time (Love in the Digital Age #1) on Goodreads. Purchase Face Time on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, All Romance ebooks, or Smashwords. Or request a review copy of Face Time through Netgalley: https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/show/id/45757.
Want to know more about Face Time?
– You can listen to the playlist: https://soundcloud.com/spajonas/sets/face-time-a-love-in-the
– Visit the visual inspiration Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/spajonas/face-time-love-in-the-digital-age-1/
– View a teaser trailer from Laura’s point of view: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQeJY3CLLBA
S. J. Pajonas loves all things Asian and has been in love with Japan and the East for as long as she can remember. Writing about Asia and Japan came naturally after studying the culture and language for over fifteen years. She studied film and screenwriting first and eventually segued into fiction once she was no longer working a full-time job.
Face Time is the first novel in the Love in the Digital Age series, and Pajonas’s first foray into Korean culture and families. Along with Removed and Released in the Nogiku Series, she continues to take the cultures of Asia and weave them into stories that appeal to people from around the world. Her writing is described as unique and unpredictable. Expect the unexpected.
Stephanie lives with her husband and two children just outside of New York City. She loves reading, writing, film, J- and K-dramas, knitting, and astrology. Her favorite author is Haruki Murakami and favorite book is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.