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A round-trip of South Korea

We once had the chance to visit South Korea, a country with affordable prices for small and medium budgets, a country where you are going to be surprised… ;-)

Many things are truly amazing in South Korea: the household buildings are most of the time all the same – with identical size and shape – the only difference being, here and there, large patches of color on the walls; golf courts within the towns (we hardly figured out what those large fenced areas really were) ; the lack of restaurant menus translated in another language but Korean, with the local specialty called “kimchi” (very spicy salad with fermented cabbage) ; the cutting-edge subway in Seoul – so Gangnam style ! – ; the modern road structure (with indicators written in English :-)

Before traveling to South Korea, we read a lot about Korean gastronomy but we have to admit that it is not what we encountered there… It is the Asian country where we had the worst eating experience… Sadly, it has been impossible for us to eat in local restaurants because nobody does speak English, they have only Korean menus without any picture from dishes (from which – say – you could choose from). Until the end we managed to eat some specialties… in supermarkets :-) … in the famous “food courts” where, even if the waiters do not speak any foreign language, you still can show what you want to eat because there is a display where all the proposed dishes – plasticized – are presented. All is nice and clean, the organization is awesome: you show the different parts of you meal, you pay and get one or more numbered tickets. Afterwards you may sit down and wait a short time until your number(s) show(s) up on one of the “cooking desks”: you only have to take your tray, pick a fork and a knife, a glass from the UV sterilization machine.

South Korea has beautiful landscapes and sceneries, with well-maintained monuments (a large majority were rebuilt after several wars). Most of the Korean people we met are kind and helping but you may be surprised when a taxi driver does not understand (or does not even try to) where you want to go and leaves you off his car right away after losing patience.

The hotels are of many kinds: you may find “super kitsch” rooms (painted in pink with white and golden flowers), large rooms with traditional beds (only a big mattress directly put on the floor) and luxury rooms with lavish decorum. In each and every room you will find an internet connection :-) !

You will also be amazed of the large number of churches among town areas… you will see crosses of every color and dimensions, on the most unexpected buildings ;-) Christianity is the fast-growing religion within towns in South Korea, where Zen Buddhism is traditionally implemented in the country area.

But who loves the mountains will certainly fall in love with South Korea, with all its marvelous hills and heights ;-)

You will find some of our photographs just below. Enjoy!

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Building our home in Bucharest #1

Building your home – a house – is a big achievement in life: you have to struggle in order to push your organizational and financial boundaries. You find yourself entangled in legal problems you never thought about… It is a long story!

Anyway, as almost every story we started in our existence, the first move was an emotional one, a strong “emotion” that put everything “in motion”…

As we came back from Iran after months of tasting and living the lack of occidental freedom of opinion and clothing (mostly for my wife Cristina), coming back to Romania was a great relief, indeed. We saw this east-European country were we lived four years a few months before with completely different eyes: even if in some extents Romania is medieval and sanctimonious, it is still a free country where you can dress and express yourself as you want.

But “throwing away” a career in diplomacy was something inconceivable for my parents-in-law. They did not understand why on earth I decided to quit – to save the happiness of my family – and did not manage to stay quiet there in Tehran or whatever, waiting for my contract to come to its end, waiting for the war in neighboring Irak to end, also…

Well, I think they are right in some extent, but that’s it: sometimes you have to make tough decisions – even if your family is not OK with its causes or consequences – because every apparent successful life has its price, and I was definitively not ready to sacrifice my marriage, the health of our small child, to a big salary which I thought I did not deserve for the kind of job they were asking me over there. Well, I do not make the rules, and that is the price for keeping people for years living in an Islamic Republic, but I was largely “used” under my competences and possibilities in this job…

Anyway, my parents-in-law were unpleased by this big decision and slowly – but surely – began to show their discontent and, as we bought a flat near theirs before leaving to Iran (as a “B plan” which was activated in the end), life with them became something boring, with resentful remarks and sulky behavior. Cristina and I felt that it was time to move somewhere else in Bucharest, as we already launched our first team-building company and did not want – for the time being – to get back to France.

So in the beginning of the year 2004 we began to search for an affordable house and visited dozens of ruins and old buildings in the Romanian capital. After a while, it was clear to us that we could never have “exactly” what we wanted and needed to make a compromise and maximize the different required parameters: number of rooms, a small garden, access to public transportation…

Nevertheless on January 13th 2004, we found what we were looking for, a small old house with a little garden, not so far from the French school (for Marc), at least by the subway (which is very OK in Bucharest, really). It was a bold move for us because it was the biggest transaction until then in our existence, and it had to be made cash – so wanted the owner.

After a few days of intense preparation, sudation, and a big cash withdrawal at the bank (like in the mafia movies !!) the house became ours. We left it “untouched” as it was for several months, beginning to figure out what we would do as improvements, imagining our future family life there and preparing our plans…

But this is another story which I will tell in the upcoming weeks. Keep posted :-)

41 years old : happy birthday to myself !

Well, today is a special day for me : I am at last 41 years old ! I say “at last” because my 40th birthday was rather sad, since we knew that our life would change, but we did not know how.

Today I have the answer, and I am happy, so happy ! Today I got some messages from close friends, sincere words and wishes for which I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.

We are all here for a purpose and I would like to thank my wife Cristina for inspiring and helping and loving me every single day. Thank you my love !

And for those who happen to be born on the same day, I send you all my love and say : this f… life is so amazing to live !!

I wish you all the best !

me (not to be taken very serioulsy today ;-) )

biodegradableUrnPS: I would like to end up and transform into a tree. Awesome !

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why to “Google Sketchup” ideas…

While working at “Aventura Parc”, we had to hire students and train them in order to become teammates. Before that, we had to carefully read their resumes and interview them.

This interview was the first and most important test, as the candidates had to first find the adventure park :-) The very fact that they were present was the proof that they took the time to find us on internet and the roadmap there. After that, it was also the proof that they were interested in the job. Continue reading

When You Are Your Own Publisher

olivier rebiere:

I love this post about freedom and the responsibility that comes with it !

Originally posted on J W Manus:

quinnbook I get a lot of emails from people who are just starting out with self-publishing. For the most part I enjoy the conversations. Self-publishing isn’t all that difficult to do, but there is so much information available, so many options, it can be confusing as hell. I like to think I’ve set a few folks on a path that lessens the confusion and takes some of the mystery out of the process.

What I don’t enjoy are the emails that sound fueled by panic. I fear for the panicky folks–fear sets them up to be taken advantage of by overpriced “services” and vanity presses. These folks are easily led to believe that ebook conversion is too hard for less-than-technical geniuses and that distributing ebooks is worth an upfront fee and annual charges on top of retailer commissions. They are desperate for someone to take care of them–and taken they do…

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Ireland… such a beautiful living fairy tale

As for the time being we traveled around Asia, we thought about making a little European trip, where there are plenty of spots to visit.
Even if the required budget is higher in order to visit a European country than an Asiatic one, there are a few tips and tricks in order to save money :-) and keep up with your savings. Continue reading

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2007 – the year of the “premieres” @Aventura Parc

The year 2007 was really important to us because it was truly the first year (or year #1) of our activity (2006 being the “zero” year because it was the year of the building of the park and we did not succeed in attracting many customers to Lucianca :-( ), the year of almost all of our “premieres”: first offer requests for the building of adventure parks, first wave of teammates and employees, first big events with many children or adults in the same time. And we managed during this year to create a structured and organized offer, after many trials and errors, many advices from our customers :-D Continue reading

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Is work the best sort of equilibrium?

An answer to Mr. Douglas Kennedy:

Work is a part of your way to equilibrium in life. It surely gives you “shape and meaning” to the day, and also to a large part of your life. That is why we have to take it seriously and find a healthy attitude towards it: if you work in order to feed your family, that is OK. If you work in order to earn money to pay your studies, OK. If you work in order to do what your family wants you to do (or what YOU think they want you to do)… then reconsider it. Always reconsider it after a while, it is best to do so if you do not want to find yourself prisoner of your own inertia on a sad day. Continue reading

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