Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trip to Nepal

This trip was fantastic, and I am sure that I will not be able to do it justice. We toured around Katmandu for 2 days, took a flight to Everest, saw multiple temples, and then went on a 4 day trek in the foothills. The people were so friendly, the landscape beautiful, and Katmandu was utter chaos (okay, maybe the people weren't quite as friendly there, still though!) We experienced the "rustic" elements of the Inca trail again with no electricity one night, squatters (toilets), and this one was new: a no-cold water shower (talk about jumping around the shower to not get scalded to death!)

Highlights included meeting some great people (Lucas from Australia and Chris from the UK), playing cards and the game "Spoons" with about 10 of the guides until we were kicked out of the dining room because people needed to sleep, haggling for carpets (and getting the wrong-end of the deal), and seeing the Himalayas. On one of the last days we had breakfast in a Nepalese home (one of my great-aunt's friends, he and his wife and his brother were so kind!) and dinner with a friend of mine from high school who teaches over there. The country was great, and it definitely goes down as one of our favorite vacations!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


This is BIG news, very big news. I proposed to Michelle when I was in Nepal (she said yes, obviously!) The story itself was amusing, with a bit of a hiccup in terms of my proposal being interrupted, but it was beautiful, and a great end to the trip. She is happily wearing the ring now (I got this for her several weeks later, another small set of fiascos for that one), and we are looking at next September. Big changes ahead!

Friday, October 10, 2008

A week that could have been different

Everyone here has been talking about the exchange rate, and I finally decided to transfer money as I saw my savings in Korea diminish each day. I think I may have managed to transfer out on the single worst day (the exchange rate got better by a lot the following day, groan). But it did raise a larger question involving why we are not paid in dollars (and I decided to be the bad guy and raise this point. That is a whole other fiasco, you can partially blame cultural differences on that one).

The week also ended with a crazy night of drinking with the heads of the global strategy group. I had to be escorted home by someone who was also completely hungover the next day. Needless to say, I barely moved from my couch until 1 pm the following day. Could have done without that!

Bike path near home

Although it took me close to a year, I finally found a bike path near home. It also took me a year to fix the flat tire on my bike (I now have had to fix two flat tires in the past 2 weeks). Still, it has been great to get out during the cooler weather. I used to love biking up and down the West Side highway in NYC, and this is somewhat similar.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Adventures back in Seoul

So back here, I went out for a 20 mile bike ride on Sunday, spent hours trying to figure out what was wrong with my computer (electrical smoke typically seems like a bad thing), and running around at work as usual. Outside of presentations to execs (this week and next), a broader role at work, and an upcoming vacation to Nepal (with Michelle), life is pretty quiet ;)

And a random newspaper line -- Apparently some tightrope walkers across the Han river in the middle of Seoul. It led to this great headline in the Washington Post: Skywalkers in Korea Cross Han Solo

Monday, October 6, 2008

International Film festival in Busan

Last weekend I went to the film festival in Busan, with movies from all over the world. Super thanks to my friend Sunghee who set it up for all of us (there were six of us in total). I watched 4 movies, one about "selling out" while working for a large conglomerate in Malaysia (no comments about any parallels), a movie about Japanese Comfort women, a British comedy, and a great Finnish drama. It was a busy 3 days in terms of movies, but we also got to explore Busan. There is a great temple by the sea, and a famous fish market (had some great raw fish). We also wandered around the beach, saw a bunch of Korean movie stars (I had NO idea who they were, but it was cool none the less to hear reactions from people).

At the film festival I heard a word that I apparently should have learned on my SATs: avuncular. This was used by a Korean translator. Given that I am sure they know more Korean than I do, that means that they can speak both languages better than me. Sad state of a affairs. I need to improve my English (probably more likely than improving my Korean).

Finally, the most fun was wearing my t-shirt that says "Foreigner" in Korean. I got more giggles, looks, and even one request for a photo. What can I say? It was too much fun, and I had a smirk on most of the day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Forced holiday equals HR brilliance

This one is great. Apparently Samsung is looking into having a forced holiday around christmas-time. Since Koreans take very little in terms of holidays, this forces them to "relax" and more importantly, will save Samsung approximately $10 million dollars (otherwise Samsung would have to pay the employees for the unused vacation days). It just cracks me up, where have you ever heard of a company that says: "The office will be closed today, but you are losing one of your vacation days"? I wonder if the next step will be if national holidays are counted against vacation time...