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Mad Cow Disease Or…?

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

The demonstrators are still at it in South Korea, I see on CNN tonight.

When I was in Hanoi this month I was sitting on the front steps of my guesthouse waiting for a van to take me on a day trip when all of a sudden a tall, young good looking guy appeared at my side. He was obviously Asian, but never knowing if you are talking to an American, or an Asian from some other country, I asked where he was from. South Korea he said. Then we traded travel stories.  He is traveling long-term.   He has excellent English and is obviously well-educated. Hmmm, well-to-do, I thought. He wissoft-spoken…not anything like his older countrymen that I have come across.  I said that I had noticed that a lot of South Koreans weren’t happy these days. He laughed. Oh, yeah, he said, we don’t like your country selling your beef to us. But, I said, we aren’t getting sick from Mad Cow Disease. Then we get down to it.

South Korea has a strong long-held tradition of dissent. My son’s best friend, Mike, who lived in Seoul for 10 years teaching English told me once that many young demonstrators are paid by in-country interest groups, like the many unions, to demonstrate. Every week almost, there is a demonstration against something…they’ve got it down to an art, he said once.

However, in this case South Koreans are not so much unhappy with the U.S. as they are with their own new President. He has disappointed them. He is not conforming to the will of the people on many issues, my friend in Hanoi said. Like why do we have to buy beef from the U.S. which competes with our own farmers. And your beef is more expensive than ours. Why does our president have to do everything the U.S. wants? Seems his new president is a little too chummy with us. You wouldn’t know this from listening to the media reports in the U.S. But, he said, we have a soft spot in our hearts for you Americans because you defended us in the Korean War. Then we talked about how the U.S. wants a lot of things from many countries. Then his van arrived. I have to go, he said, as we shook hands and said goodbye. As he darted for his ride, he looked back and said, “I don’t want to leave you!” Of course I loved that conversation! This is one of the great moments when traveling.

Joshua Visits His Mother

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Well, enough of politics and the weariness of world crises.

When I couldn’t get a visa for a three day trip to Burma (should have used a travel agent instead of going to the embassy myself) and to keep from losing the money for the flight, my Thai friend and I changed the destination to Hanoi. The whole junket was ill-conceived so I shall not talk about it. Glad to be back in BKK.

On the bright side, my son Josh has accepted a position as Chef de Cuisine at the American Club in Hong Kong.  The American Club has nothing to do with America, Josh says, so will have to find out why it is named this. His wife Amy will be teaching history at an international school there. So while waiting for the movers to pack up his things in Beijing, he is flying to Bangkok on the 9th to see his mother and have some dental work done. Or rather he will have some dental work done and see his mother! On the 11th we will taxi it down to Hua Hin for a couple days so Josh can get a little beach time.

Am also waiting to welcome old friends from Josh’s dad’s medical school days who are flying in today.

I fly out to PDX on the 15th. Will be nice to be out of the heat after four months in Asia.

Hanoi Not Burma

Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Well, I gave up on getting a visa to Burma. "You retired? What was your last job? What organization did you work for?" And he didn't like my passport. Too many stamps from too many ... [Continue reading this entry]

Jazz In Familiar Old Quarter Hanoi

Friday, April 1st, 2005
I had to check out of Thailand...thought my visa was 90 days that I got in Kunming in December but it was only 60 days. So at the end of March I had to pay a hefty fine at ... [Continue reading this entry]

Getting Blessed

Thursday, October 3rd, 2002
Getting into Hanoi late on the train after visiting Sapa, I walked into a hotel down the street from the train station because I was going to leave again the next afternoon on the train for Dang Ha in Central ... [Continue reading this entry]

Hanoi City Tour

Wednesday, September 25th, 2002
Wasn't excited by the city bus tours so spent an entire day riding behind a motorcycle taxi guy to visit the One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature and the Martyrs Monument erected to those who died fighting for Viet Nam's ... [Continue reading this entry]

Hanoi

Wednesday, September 25th, 2002
KtJTxGv4eiozwJxI0Lb6qM-2006216170118412.gif September 24 2002 Bob left Hanoi right away on the train for Sapa near the Chinese border to do some trekking among the colorful minority villages and then to spend three days in Halang Bay ... [Continue reading this entry]