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Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy Random Date Change day . . .

I'm annoyed by a few things today, while wanting to laugh them off as unimportant (and they are)

BUT, they need to be called out:

Korea Exchange Bank - which advertises itself as the best option for Expat banking in South Korea.

Backstory: Korea does not trust foreigners, therefore a "credit card" is in reality a debit card, where you get credit on the amount you have on term deposit. That's not an issue for me as I don't like to spend money I don't have anyway.

BUT: I'm about to purchase an expensive air ticket, so needed to extend my credit limit. Simple thing, I'd been told, just put more in the term deposit.

Korea - I wish you were that simple . . .

Went to the bank, where the clerk had no idea what I was talking about, but asked me to stand aside while she called people. While I stood aside, she dealt with one other foreign customer.

She made the calls, invited me back, explained things I already knew, then told me I had no money in my account to transfer. I had just checked my balance and she was wrong. I handed her my savings/debit card to check, and it didn't match the credit card she was looking at.

She had given my credit card to the previous customer, and kept hers,

They phoned the woman, who was very annoyed ("Every time I come here, you get something wrong . . . ") then came back to me.

Yes, I'm being tolerant of your ineptitude, and trying to stay nice . . .

The bank clerk then demanded my ARC (Alien Registration Card - we have to register). I gave her the immigration paperwork that said they have it until Jan. 11 and which immigration  told me is legally the same, and she would not allow me to transfer my own money from one account to another.

At that stage, I could have asked for a manager and growled but I think it's probably a better idea to stop dealing with Korean banks.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Have yourself a simple little Christmas . . .

Some of the most difficult gifts to find in the hi-tech, high-paced, high-pressure world in which we now live cost the least.

Simplicity. Peace. Acceptance. Contentment. Gratefulness. Generosity. Selflessness. Charity. Openheartedness.

It's not that most of us don't have all these qualities within us, it's just that we often lose touch with them as we strive for goals that are far less rewarding. It's all too easy to get caught up in what the world expects of us and fail to recognize what makes us truly happy.

Loving relationships, with friends, family and significant others. Good health. Self-love. The satisfaction of a job well done. The warmth that comes from helping others.

The stressors of everyday life build at Christmas and times of other celebrations for many, particularly in a time when the economy is bad and parents, especially, feel pressure to purchase the latest gadgets their children absolutely MUST have to keep up with their peers. (Consider the joy of a child more excited by the wrapping or box a gift comes in than the expensive toy it contained and it is obvious that excessive greed is taught, by parents, peers and society, rather than innate.)

I've personally experienced the despair of a parent who felt unworthy at not being able to provide more at Christmas and witnessed the pain it caused to not live up to the expectations, not of her children, but of "societal norms."

Unlike the founder of the Occupy movement, I'm not advocating a boycott of gift-giving. For myself, however, I find more meaning in a meal cooked with love, a hand-made note or the gift of time with loved ones than the most expensive trinket or latest piece of gadgetry.

This Christmas, I was blessed. The only gifts I unwrapped were cakes baked by a wonderful friend, which I then had the joy of sharing with others. I was given the gift of a place to stay in the countryside, surrounded by beauty, and the space and time to rediscover the qualities within myself that I'd lost touch with in my last job and busy city life and constant rushing from place to place. I spoke with family, friends and loved ones, both digitally and by phone, and shared in the joy of others around the world.

And relearned, physically, what I've always believed but sometimes lose the meaning of in the bustle of being - that life is an adventure, not an ordeal. A gift, not an obstacle.

This morning, I woke to a clear crisp day but no hot water, so walked through the woods to my friend's house to shower, with the sun rising behind me and speckling my path. In doing so, I startled three deer into flight, and marveled at their beauty and vitality.

It was a morning gift I would never have received if not for an inconvenience that I could have let upset me but that in the grand scheme of things was insignificant.

I will try to stay connected to that simplicity when I go back to the world of work . . .

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

the cover photo . . .

I have been offline for a few weeks, traveling, visiting with friends, reading a lot.

Thinking, remembering, still trying to stay in touch.

Remembering . . .

My cover photo, pretending to be a food vendor, was taken at the JW Marriott restaurant where, in July 2009, suicide bombers targeted a Western breakfast meeting. The Ritz-Carlton, just across the road, was also bombed. Where I was working, blocks away, we heard and felt the aftershock and initially thought it was an earthquake.

It was, but of a different breed . . . .

When they reopened the hotel and restaurant, I wanted to show support, and did, . . .  

Here's the review

Monday, December 3, 2012

The perils of a peripatetic lifestyle . . .

When one door closes, many more open.

That does not necessarily mean you want to step through them all.

As I consider my next adventure in life and, more importantly, how best to fund it with an income means that both interests and challenges me, I've been offered an editing gig in a field that fascinates me. The problem is, because of the level of the employer, the application form requires much the same level of information as needed for a security clearance, including every address and place of travel for the past 10 years, plus detailed information about my family members.

It's times like this I realize that my life is a little outside of the "norm" -- whatever that is.

Apart from the extra pages I would need for my addresses alone (my mother used to joke she had a separate phone book just for me), the prospective employer wants explanations for any time between jobs. That's a book in the making.

"I had nothing more pressing so spent five months doing farm, orchard and vineyard work in New Zealand, then flew to the U.S., borrowed a motorbike and spent three months riding 6,000 miles and talking with folks."

OR, "I finished a contract in January and wanted to go to a bike rally in North Carolina in May, so volunteered in Thailand for three months while waiting."

It's just as well they're only asking for the past 10 years. That puts a statute of limitations on the '93 gig where I crewed my passage across the Indian Ocean, starting in Thailand, switching yachts in Sri Lanka and stopping off in the Maldives and the Seychelles before making landfall in Kenya. Where I traveled for two months before heading back to the "developed" world.

Then there are the countries I've visited - 20 at last count, I think. Including at least six trips to the United States in that time period. And, no, I really don't recall the exact dates or ports of entry and departure for each trip I've made in the past decade, particularly as I've transited through a hub every time on my way to my destination.

I'm not sure whether the resulting application would have me rejected out of hand as a potential spy or have someone trying to recruit me as one.