Thursday, October 30, 2008



For our second day in Beijing we joined a tour. Our guide was a lovely young woman who answered my unending questions. She explained, the government is still communist but more open to the West. Years ago, she was living in a small apartment with her father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, uncle and aunt and a cousin in a two-bedroom apartment. Notice one child per family. They all shared one kitchen and one bathroom with the rest of the building and they all had to dress the same way. Now she is engaged. Competition is encouraged. They work hard and save money. She and her fiancé were able to buy a one-bedroom apartment.

We visited the Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The square is a huge place overcrowded with a million tourists every day. To cross the large avenue and reach Tiananmen Square, we had to go through a tunnel. It was here that one of the tourists in our group panicked and said she couldn’t find her mother. The poor old woman was separated from our group. We spent half an hour looking for her, while taking pictures and then the group had to continue. Two hours later, both women finally joined us.

We spent three hours touring the courtyards, pavilions, and palaces of the forbidden city. Each of the emperor and empress had their own palaces. There were pavilions for the guests, for the officials, for the empress’s family…The yellow color was reserved to the imperial family. No one else could use it in China. The various servants serving in the Forbidden City were carefully chosen. It was an honor to serve the imperial family. But once chosen, the servants could never leave the Forbidden City and the parents could not visit.

Next, we went to the Great Wall of China built in the 3rd century BC. I was surprised to find out that the Wall is in fact a stone stairs framed by two walls interrupted by tours. I walked up to the first tour, almost like climbing three stories. The steps were at least one-foot high and irregular. My husband felt challenged and kept going to the second tower as high as eight stories. Apparently, the view is breathtaking from there. People rarely walk beyond that, although the Great Wall completely surrounds China and is the only man-made artifact visible from the surface of the Moon.

As you can see it was cold on the Great Wall. This picture is taken on the first tower.

The third tower visible from far.

The statues of soldiers from the Ming Tombs.

And here, a picture at the Cloisonné factory where they manufacture gorgeous vases and plates.

Question 2: Which city in the Far East has more bycicles and motorcycles than any country in the world?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


To celebrate the release of my first printed book, TO LOVE A HERO, a contemporary romance set in Belarus, I will run a contest. This contest will be a little bit special. For two weeks, not necessarily every day, but almost every day... I will tell you about my adventures in China and the Far East. And I will post a question at the end of my post. Collect the questions and answer them on November 15. You will find the answer to each question in one of my posts between today and November 15. Prizes include a Chinese Cloisonné bracelet, a handmade lacqered box from Bangkok, and other prizes...

We left home on Friday, at 4:00 am to reach a 6:00 am flight, the first flight of a very long trip, two hours to Philadelphia with forty minutes transit and a flight to Chicago, two hours transit and a thirteen hours, yes THIRTEEN hours, flight to Beijing. I was blissfully tired and lucky enough to sleep during almost the whole trip. We arrived in Beijing on Saturday, at 5:00 pm. There is a twelve hours difference in time between Florida and Beijing.

Of course, we lost our luggage. While we ran down the Philadelphia airport to catch our connection to Chicago, our suitcases procrastinated and missed the connection. We met a couple from Seattle who were in the same predicament. Very nice people, so friendly, they couldn't wait to start their vaction and enjoy it. I will tell you more about this couple in my last post.

A bus took us all to the Beijing Sheraton, probably the largest and most luxurious Sheraton I have seen in my life. We were so tired we immediately collapsed on the bed and slept untill the next day.

For our first day in Beijing, we booked a tour with an adorable guide very fluent in English. She showed us the Olympic Nest, downtown Beijing, the Summer Palace, cloisonné factory where we had a delicious lunch in the adjacent restaurant.

I was agreeably surprised to discover that Beijing is a very clean, modern metropolitan capital with more high-rises than Manhattan. I am not kidding. Not at all the idea some of us have of a China.

Your question #1: Which city in the Far East is considered a shoppers' world?

1. The 2008 Olympic Nest

2. One of many highrises in Beijing. Notice the TV screen.

3. The Summer Palace

4- An imperial boat on the lake

5- In the Summer Palace gardens

6- A Jade sculpture

7- In the Cloisonné factory, an artist working on a frame.

The answer to your question #1 will be in a coming post.


My first book, TO LOVE A HERO, is now IN PRINT available at Cerridwen Press.


Categories: Contemporary Romance

Series: None

Book Length: 290 pages

Book Type: Trade Paperback

Publisher: Cerridwen PressISBN: 9781419958106

In Stock: YES

Price: $14.99


Dr. Cecile Lornier is an ambitious chemist who fought hard to win and keep her first international contract. She travels to Belarus to coordinate the environmental cleanup and literally starts her contract on the wrong foot as she stumbles on the broken escalator at the airport. When a muscular chest cushions her fall, she finds more chemistry than she bargains for in the arms of the handsome Major General of Belarus.

The widowed Sergei has pledged to clean his country of the pollution left by the Chernobyl disaster. With a glass of vodka in his hand and the lovely Cecile nestled in his arms, Sergei has more on his mind now than nuclear pollution, and Cecile soon learns that chemicals are not the only things that generate heat.The general doubts he can fulfill his mission if he surrenders his heart while Cecile fights his chauvinistic officers to perform her contract. Soon she will have to choose between betraying Sergei's trust or abandoning him to the evil plot of his hateful ex-father-in-law.



Mona Risk tells a poignant yet beautiful and sweet story of two people falling in love… TO LOVE A HERO is a first for Ms. Risk, this is a story readers will enjoy.


TO LOVE A HERO has a complex plot. There are twists and turns that the reader will not expect. Mona Risk is a talented author. She knows how to weave intrigue and romance into her story… Fans of romance and suspense will enjoy To Love a Hero.


Mona Risk's TO LOVE A HERO is a wonderful love story complete with deception, conceit, stubbornness and the love of a lifetime for two people who couldn't be more different. Ms. Risk hits a homerun with this story. Her characters are strong. Cecile is the epitome of a woman who has had to bust her butt to get to where she is in her career, too often losing the chance at a relationship. Sergei is a totally alpha male - strong willed, determined and totally chauvinistic! Obviously the two are bound to create plenty of sparks between them.

TO LOVE A HERO is heartwarming. I loved this story, and how Cecile and Sergei fell for each other and all the difficulties they faced. I loved the descriptive passages of Belarus and could easily picture the characters walking through the streets. I definitely recommend TO LOVE A HERO , and while you're at it pick up a bottle of vodka! Nazhtrovia!!