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Friday, May 30, 2014

Lucky Kiwi . . .

I'm a big believer in creating one's own luck. I also believe in the Law of Attraction, karma and paying things forward. When I'm functioning at full strength (I get caught up in negativity sometimes and fall down a black hole that can take some work to climb out of, but positive is my default), I expect the Universe, God, Gaia, Buddha and people to be kind to and with me, and they usually are. When life bites, as it does at times, I try to accept it, learn any lessons I need to learn (and I'm incredibly stubborn about learning lessons, so life gives me constant reminders) and let the bad be the contrast that allows me to treasure how much good I have in my life.

But sometimes, when I expect life to hand me gifts and it does, I can be pretty damned annoying. This may be one of those posts.




You have been warned . . .

Two weekends ago, I returned to Seoul to attend the 6th New Zealand Seoul Wine Festival with a bunch of great friends. It's organized by fellow Kiwi expat Simon Walsh and the amazing Suuny Myung, who run Tiwi Trade and import wines from Aotearoa to Korea, and held in the Waterfall Garden of the Hyatt - one of Seoul's premier spots on a sunny afternoon. I invited the Chudy-Buddy who allows me to use his spare room when I'm in town and puts up with me, Allison invited two of her friends and I arranged to meet up with most of the Seoul-Kiwi crowd while there, plus some honorary members. The only person missing and missed was our ambassador, Patrick Rata, as work called him elsewhere.

A few weeks before the event, Simon started posting links to the vineyards participating, including many of our very best. I had already decided we would start with the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc and then my friends were on their own. He also posted a list of fabulous prizes for a raffle, the grand prize being a trip for two from Seoul to Christchurch, flying Singapore Air and staying in a gorgeous hotel in Singapore for a night each way. I told my friends I was going to win it.

Which I did, but I'd sampled enough of the 90-odd NZ wines on offer by then to not notice or care. Thankfully, the Chudy-Buddy stepped up and claimed it for me and I learned about it when I read his facebook status update early the next morning. He apparently also won a few prizes himself, and people were booing him by the final time he stepped up to claim one. (Important note: the raffle was not in any way rigged, I bought 13 tickets and that's a lucky number for me.)

So, here I am with a return trip for two to my tangata whenua and no idea who to take. Then I thought of the perfect person - a friend/surrogate family member I stay with whenever I'm in Norfolk, VA, who loves to travel, has recently retired for the second time and loves Aotearoa.

I'm going to bookend Chinese New Year with a week worth of holidays and spend about two weeks traveling my home land. Diamond Harbor, Littleton, Rapaki, Sandymount, Otakou, Cromwell, Wanaka, Alexandria, the West Coast, Picton and Wellington, then drive up the North Island to Auckland. Go sailing, maybe visit Rangitoto Island, then fly back to Christchurch and out.

It will be a grand tour, on a grand scale. I hope to see a lot of my whanaungatanga along the way.


BTW, next year is the Year of the Sheep - where better to see it in than the Land of the Long White Cloud . . .


Friday, May 9, 2014

The ambassadors' spouses: Part 2 . . .

I'm also writing an occasional series on the spouses of ambassador's to China, which started with the Argentine wife of the New Zealand ambassador. Being a New Zealander, she is now acting almost as an assistant on the project and introducing me to other spouses. (Once, again, the benefits of being from a small country, while overseas.)

While I was in Seoul last week, this profile on the wife of the Moroccan ambassador was published . . .


Thursday, May 8, 2014

New Zealand on film . . .

another recent article was on the New Zealand Film Festival in China . . .


A still from Eternity
I've once again fallen into doing a lot of New Zealand-related stories, just because I hear what's going on and suggest we cover them.

One of many things I am very happy about at China Daily is that they welcome my stories, and pay extra for them. A win-win situation . . . 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bicycling Beijing - the column . . .

While I have been rather remiss with this blog of late, I have been writing for China Daily and this column was printed today - complete with my own cartoon . . .



(Apologies to Steve - the editors changed "friend in Korea" to "Korean friend" - it's hard to get good help)