Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Travel Tip: Business trips

You may be one of those lucky people whose work sends them on paid trips, sometimes even overseas.

While glamorous sounding, work trips are for work, so more often than not you don't actually get to see much. 

Here is a tip from a frequent flying businessman I know: 
Ask for leave a few days after the business trip period
This way, with your assignment over, you get to visit the place at your own leisure, take time to enjoy the local food and culture.

My last business trip had been to Sydney, Australia. Where has your work taken you?

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Wet weather, indoor exercises

..It has been pouring in Bordeaux, torrential as ever. This (the photo above) seems like a distant dream. Will I ever get to try my new bike?

Due to an aching back - which seems to worsen with the wet weather - I've been to see a physio this week. The massage seemed to have helped, but then not so much because I've been dancing a lot this weekend. African dance followed by salsa dancing. 

Foolish, perhaps?

I really need some exercise back in my life, though. Having promised to run around Paris with a friend soon, who is preparing for a semi marathon next year, even more so!

What exercises do you at home, indoors? I'm loving the squats right now.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Orphans' Christmas

I am often an orphan during Christmas season. 

I can't remember the last time I spent Christmas with my own, biological, family. It's not because I am an ungrateful daughter who would prefer to spend the holiday with others, on the contrary. It's not because Christmas isn't celebrated in our little family with Asian roots. In fact, as practising Christians (which most French people here find unusual, I must say), we always attend mass on Christmas eve. 

No, it's just because I, or my family, often find ourselves on opposite sides of the world. 

Last year, while I lived in Melbourne, Australia, I visited my hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand, to spend time with my parents. Alas, literally one day before my arrival, we received sad news from our extended family back in Korea. Mum and Dad hurried over to be with her siblings, but I unfortunately couldn't join them. My younger sister was working on the ski slopes of Canada at the time, so I got to spend Christmas with childhood friends and their families. It was still wonderful of course, stuffing ourselves with festive foods and games and laughter. 

The year before, I was working in Seoul, Korea. I lived with my grandmother, but she decided she wanted to spend Christmas in LA, USA, with Uncle E's family. It's warmer, and we have more family there than in Korea, so fair enough. I spent the white winter Christmas with friends who came to visit from New Zealand, luckily for me. 

This year? I am in France, and my parents in New Zealand. 

I wasn't sure where I'd be, or with whom. A Kiwi friend was planning to visit me, but the plan got cancelled. Boohoo. Perhaps I'll spend it around the fireplace of a good friend's, just outside of Bordeaux? Perhaps I'll join a French friend in Paris? Or my housemate's family? Hmm, should I go on a solo trip overseas, instead? Then, I got invited to join my French family to go to Turkey with them.


Such an usual place for Christmas, but I am very excited. The only Turkish word I know is Merhaba, from my favourite bartender in Auckland. He has already sent me a list of things to do and see and eat and drink.

Hopefully I will be with my real family, celebrating Christmas with them, next year. Perhaps we will welcome an orphan of our own, then. But being an orphan isn't so bad, as long as you aren't alone, that's the main thing.

Already counting down until Christmas ;)

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Let's learn French: Bénévole ou Volontaire

There are two words for a 'volunteer' in French: un bénévole ou volontaire.

What is the difference between the two?

A bénévole is a volunteer who offers his time outside of his normal job, often part time. He could be anyone, a student or a professional. He is normally unpaid, and receive minimum legal protections for his services.

volontaire is a volunteer who offers her specific professional expertise for a certain period of time, often for an organisation and often paid for her work.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Roadtrip: North Island, NZ

As a travel agent I get asked a lot of itinerary ideas. Here's a few possible places around North Island in NZ, enough for 2-3 weeks, depending on your preferred pace.
  • Around Auckland - Rangitoto Island and Waiheke Island, both ferry trips from Auckland CBD. Rangitoto is a volcanic island and Waiheke is known for its vineyards and beaches. 
  • North of North Island - Bay of Islands and Waitangi (where NZ was founded), Cape Reinga (where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet), Coromandel and Cathedral Cove (lovely walk, hot water beach)
  • Must, must - Rotorua (hot pools, mud pools, geysers, Maori village experience (Marae, haka, hangi)), Waitomo Caves (glow warms), Taupo (largest lake in NZ, Tongariro Crossing - amazing all day or even three day trek (Mount Doom of Lord of the Rings!))
  • Napier (Art Deco city, resurrected after the earthquake in the 30s, wine region), Wellington (Capital of NZ, artsy city, Te Papa museum, day trip to Picton on ferry?)
  • Western Coast - Mt Taranaki (a challenging but doable tramp course, the mountain that got banished from the Taupo area by Tongariro)
I prefer the South Island more - I'm biased because I'm from the South, but this particular request was for someone who had already been to the South. 

For more tips, visit my Roadtrips page as well.

NZ is a beautiful place. Please drive slowly to enjoy the view, and enjoy the scenery!

Friday, 7 November 2014

5 Observations of Creative Workers

  • You have to have at least one Apple product. A Mac book, an iPad, an iPhone. Having an Apple product does not make you a Creative Worker, but most Creative Workers seem to be able to tick one of the above three
  • You can go to work in jeans and t-shirt
  • Your hours are not always 9-5
  • You may work by yourself, though not alone. But your workmates are on the other side of the web. Or timezone. 
  • You could be a Creative Worker in a 'boring' company. On the other hand, you could also be a 'boring' worker in a creative company. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

I miss you, NZ

You would think that being in France, I wouldn't have any cravings. But oh, dear, here are some food things I miss from NZ:

  • Tacos from Mexico Britomart. They have the best tacos all around. 
  • Kumaras - NZ sweet potatoes are so much sweeter, with many more varieties.
  • Moustache cookies. Or Cookie Time cookies. You know, with those big chunky chocolate bits inside. Probably just as butter filled but not as thin and floppy as others seem to be. 
  • Tim Tams. I know you can get them here. I've gotten them in Monoprix in Paris when I used to live there. But either it's only available in Paris or I am blind, because I can't see them at my local supermarkets in Bordeaux. Yes, Tim Tams are actually Aussie, but I still miss them.
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