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Monday, September 29, 2014

Eastward, Ho!


Earlier this year, after much thought and discussion, The Man and I decided that I would return Sam to his parents in South Korea come autumn. Being responsible for a budding teenager and the fact that we are not getting any younger are the most important reasons for this decision. This is a time when a young man really needs the strength and vigour of his parents and two years away from them and his two brothers are quite long enough.

So a few days ago, I booked our flights and we will be eastward bound on the eighth of October. Yikes! That's next week! I must admit, never having been to Asia, I am quite excited. My son and his wife live about 300 miles south of Seoul, near Taegu and I will be staying with them for 4 weeks.

I actually arrive on the 9th of October, which is a very interesting holiday in South Korea. This holiday is called, Hangul and celebrates the creation of the Korean alphabet:
It was created in the 1440s by a committee of scholars commissioned by King Sejong. King Sejong, also known as Sejong the Great, was a fervent supporter of literature, science, and technology in his day. Some 200 years before the founding of the first scientific academy of the enlightenment, Sejong convened a group of handpicked scholars for his “Hall of Worthies.” One of their major assignments was to come up with a writing system to represent the Korean language. 
At that time, Korean was written with Chinese characters. Learning to use Chinese characters, along with the adjustments required in adapting them to the Korean language, was an arduous process, requiring years of education and training. This meant that literacy was only available to a tiny elite. Sejong wanted to open literacy to the general population, but that would require a system that was easier to learn.
I will most definitely be on a learning curve!  My son confidently told me I could learn this alphabet in 30 minutes! But I know someone a lot smarter than I, an American, who said it took him 3 years! I'll be reporting back on that...

In the meantime, there is a lot to do and dinner to cook.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Just over Two Months

Despite all my careful planning in the end T-Mobile/Orange/EE let me down with their Travel Boosters in France. No problems at all for the first day.  I suspect the cell phone companies are really pissed off  at the EU ruling that roaming charges in the member countries must be reduced and then end next year. Which is why my cell phone provider drastically changed its costs this year -- last year I was able to buy data for up to a month -- this year all the charges were on a daily basis. But having no choice but to rely on their travel boosters if I was to have any Internet access at our little house in rural France, I was willing  to pay the fees.

However, on day two of my sojourn, when I attempted to buy my daily 'hit' I received a text back saying: "We are sorry, but there's been a technical error and we couldn't add the Internet Trave Booster to your account. You haven't been charged. Please try again later."

I continued to get this message several times over the next 3 or 4 days before I succumbed to calling the 'Help line'. Absolutely no 'help', but assurances that the problem was being looked into and would be fixed as soon as possible. Despite three more calls to the 'Help line' the problem was never solved over the 6 weeks I was in France! I was able to connect to the Internet periodically, when visiting friends with an Internet connection and on days when we passed through the local towns and were able to connect to the free service provided by local tourist offices -- fortunately as my online mailbox was bulging and needed to be cleared.

Needless to say, blogging was off the agenda. Just before I left for France, I received word from my sisters that my mother was very seriously ill and in the hospital. She was not expected to make it. After much consideration, we decided that I would still go to France, as people would be able to contact me on the Internet! The best laid plans, as they say...

I won't even mention the cell phone bill for 112 pounds which included 8 international phone calls that I never made! That is now being investigated with said provider!!!