Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Archive for the ‘amusing’ Category

HK: I think I ate too much

Posted by quirksalight on December 13, 2010

Jen’s uncle took us to a seafood restaurant in the New Territories. It was AWESOME. I ate things that I have no idea what they are, but only that they were delicious. The seafood is freshly caught and in holding pens outside the restaurant. These were extremely large specimens… and you choose your dinner to be cooked in whatever way you please. It’s a good thing that we spent 6 hours earlier in the day walking around on Hong Kong Island.
I’m going to let the pictures do all the talking. 🙂 Definately on my top 10 meals ever.

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Posted in adventure, amusing, Food, fun, Hong Kong, travel, vacation | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Peak and other delights:

Posted by quirksalight on December 13, 2010

The rest of our group made it to HK and we were now a merry band of 4 Penn alumnae running around HK. Excellent.

Staying in Kowloon, we hit the local shops, the malls, and markets for interesting finds. Personally, I found some sunglasses, a bottle of Miss Dior perfume (which I hadn’t been able to find for a while), comfy/dressy shoes, and a jade necklace. The necklace was a part of a collective bargaining session at the Jade Market in Yau Ma Tei, with Laura taking the lead for our goods. Nice market, but definitely a place where you need to be able to bargain and knowing the language will do you a lot of good. Next, as one of our main agenda items for the trip was eating, we hit up a Buddhist vegetarian dim sum place. Hmm… the artificial meat in the dimsum was a little strange… but the veggie bits, such as the tofu skins, excellent!

Tea at the Landmark Mandarian Oriental – running late because turns out you can’t just get a taxi on the street to get you from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island, but have to call one for that purpose. Easy enough at any hotel, but to those who didn’t know this tidbit of info, quite frustrating, especially when you’ve got reservations.

Next, we split up and the three of us, Kim, Jen and I, headed up to Victoria Peak, just after sunset. Even though it’s not high tourist season, the tram line was LONG. And a crush to push our way into the tram – I seriously had to hip check a guy out of my way who tried to jump ahead of me.

But the view was totally worth it. With the wind whipping through our hair, we stood on top, watching the glittering skylines of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon spread before us, and the ferries moving across Hong Kong Harbour like balls of light floating across the water.

Recommended by our guidebooks and several friends, we first hit up Dragon-I for drinks and apps. Turns out that there is a Happy hour special of 2-1 drinks from 3-9pm. Just don’t get the one with Benedictine liquor – horrid… tastes like cough syrup…. unless you like that sort of thing…. Otherwise, it’s a great deal for drinks in that area.
Met up with an AFP photographer who I met at the G20 in Seoul the past month. He and his colleague joined us at Classified, a wine and cheese bar in the Soho/ Lan Kwai Fong area of Central HK. It was good to meet up with him, though his colleague wasn’t feeling well and went home shortly after arriving.

Posted in adventure, amusing, Food, friends, fun, Hong Kong, outdoors, travel, vacation | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Cataloging a month…

Posted by quirksalight on October 29, 2010

In no particular order…

Bangkok trip
visitors, visitors, visitors
Halloween
On the US Embassy Association board
Pulled into the planning of the Diplomatic Happy Hours in Seoul
Accidentally started a get-together of junior female diplomatic officers in Seoul
Sick
Visiting cousins
cooking!
A couple national day celebrations
Being the recipient of good news and grant money to an NGO
Parties…..
Did I mention work? 🙂

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I am discussing shoes with the Ambassador

Posted by quirksalight on September 9, 2010

🙂

See – shoes are great convo points, not just for shodding your feet. We were talking about getting shoes custom-made in Korea.

I did ask her if there were a season or two in the year that had more visitors than others, or if the number of visitors peaked at all, as it seems like it’s continuously climbing during the entire (short) time I’ve been here. She laughed, and said that fall is a popular time for visitors to Korea.

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Two months

Posted by quirksalight on August 24, 2010

It’s been two months since I arrived at post, and I wish I can say something witty or thought-provoking, but right now, I’m damn tired. Whoever said that Korea is dynamic wasn’t joking. In fact, I think they were being a little too dry in their description. They really aren’t kidding about the learning curve, and the curve isn’t an exponential function, it’s a polynomial, swinging up and down in a maniac, chaotic pattern.

Sometime you feel like it’s a head pounding against a wall kinda day, until several hours in, you figure out that there is a door, next to said wall, that you can open to get past the wall. Other times, you wonder if you are back in academia observing the power struggles from afar. I’m learning, one head butt at a time.

On the upside, I found another amazing shoe store – they make custom orders! – and discovered that Victoria’s Secret has decent, inexpensive suits that will get to me in Korea in under a week.

Posted in amusing, ancedotes, clothes, Korea, work | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Little things in life.

Posted by quirksalight on August 2, 2010

I’ve been at Embassy Seoul for little over a month now, and it’s been a rollercoaster. From running around, planning visits, to meeting contacts, managing (actually, more being managed BY) the LES, and mentoring interns, it’s been a trip. For the most part very good, some low points of frustration and wanting to hit my head against a wall as I scrabble up the “learning curve”. Though, at times, it definitely feels like a cliff. But I’m getting it. And the little things makes me smile.

Getting up at 3am, running around on adrenaline and realizing at the end of the day, EVERYTHING was OK.
Laughing with a new contact as an introductory interview becomes more of a conversation between new-found friends.
Realizing that I CAN conduct at least a part of a meeting in Korean – well, it was about food, eating, Iftar and Ramadan – but STILL… no translator needed for that, and it was official, with some technical words and stuff! 🙂
Amazon delivers in a week – no extra shipping charges. I ❤ APO.
Yongsan has an amazing library; with better hours than back home!!!

And realizing that my creative skills weren't rusty – I make damn good mango-banana bread, and assembled my own pillow-top bed.
^.^

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, Books, Embassy Seoul, geek, Humor, Korea, Korean, language, meeting, Seoul, work | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

musings

Posted by quirksalight on July 28, 2010

One of the hardest things to figure out is what is legit to post online and what is not. The general rule I tend to use is that if I’ve got to ask myself whether I should or shouldn’t post, I don’t. This might be overkill, but better safe than sorry, and I’ll know more where that line is, the longer I’m in the Service.

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Shoes

Posted by quirksalight on July 18, 2010

Why am I blogging about shoes?

Well, it’s not just a piece of leather, suede, plant-based, or man-made materials that shod your feet. They can be iconic, witty, gorgeous, hideous, comfortable, and painful. And they are a bit more important than I thought to a FSO’s job.

In the Foreign Service, we are considered to be generalists, jack-of-all trades, etc. And with that moniker, comes the job, which means that we can be called to do anything and everything as the need arises. So, if you need to sprint up and down the length of Incheon International Airport so you can meet the visitor who’s itinerary you are in charge of, you better have comfortable, well-padded, shoes.

Of course, never having thought that I would be sprinting up and down Incheon airport, praying that I would be able to meet up with my visitor, I was not wearing the said comfy shoes. Instead, I was wearing a pair of lovely maroon suede, 3″, Mary Jane style heels. Which, in a normal trip to the airport would be fantastic and just fine. This case, 3 blisters the size of Kansas (actually, 1-2cms), smaller areas rubbed raw, and all joints in my legs serious questioning my sanity and sense of judgement.

That said, my visitors (Yes, I’ve been here 3 weeks and this shoe business happened twice) were never the wiser of the behind the scene nuttiness and were apparently quite happy with my planning and organization skills.

Lesson learned. Keep the smile on your face, go above and beyond the requirements and you’ll be rewarded, and get better shoes. Yes, I bought out a chunk of Rockport’s inventory in Itaewon, 5 pairs of shoes this week. Screw the blisters and the like; this is a career investment. 🙂

Posted in adventure, airports, amusing, ancedotes, commentary, Embassy Seoul, fun, Incheon, Korea, People, shopping, work | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

To my Orientation instructors:

Posted by quirksalight on July 14, 2010

I’ve got a car. Will be getting a PDA
Overtime? Normal.
Visitors? Check!
Demarches, cables, meets and greets. Yup. all the time.

It’s a rush. I’m writing this on a break from transcribing notes from earlier in the day. Schedule is unpredictable, and am very glad that I was able to see my family before the storm (figurative) hit, work wise. Currently, I’m on my third set of delegation/visitors/POC stuff in under three weeks. Sets 2 and 3 overlap, which makes for mind-spinning schedules upon schedules upon schedules. Pretty energizing stuff. 😛

The drinking from the fire hose continues, long after we’ve left your immediate merry sphere of influence. I’m treading water.

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, Bizarre, commentary, Embassy Seoul, Korea, meeting, metaphors | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Baby, it’s on!

Posted by quirksalight on March 28, 2010

‘Twas the night before A-100, and all through the 152nd class,
Everyone was stirring, including the brass.
The suits were pressed and hung with care,
Knowing that we’d be wearing them there;
Future FSOs nestled in their beds,
With bid lists and posts, dancing in their heads.
Bags packed with IDs and papers,
Documents which are our future-makers,
Eagerly waiting as the night ticks by,
Sleep eluding us, my, oh my!
When all of a sudden, we spring from our beds,
Holy crap, did we forget something about the feds?
Resolved, relieved, and our minds at ease,
We sleep, dreaming of posts that tease;
Of Poli, PD and Econ;
Management and Con……

The other verses will come as training commences! Whee!!!!

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