As we all know by now, I have a chance to travel from time to time and certainly have the need to visit our properties on a regular basis. I was scheduled to go to Halong Bay this week to work on a book project for our boat. I always enjoy the chance to be far away from the honking horns of Hanoi. What I didn’t expect, though is how hot it would be on the Bay…I had hoped to escape the heat of Hanoi, as well.
Summer in Hanoi is usually hot. And the high humidity makes for really an unpleasant season. One can only hope for rain storms, which tend to cool things down a few degrees. The weather has been hovering around 100°F and humidity sitting at about 60%. Yuck. Soupy thick air and no breeze for relief!
Surprisingly, it was about the same at shore. The breeze didn’t kick in until we had been cruising for about an hour. And even then, many passengers opted to stay in their cabins and cool down, versus the usual activity of chillin’ on the sun deck. I tried like crazy to hang out on deck, but the heat got the best of me even and I retreated to my room to cool down and get some work done. This is really too bad, as the whole point of going to Halong is to take in the views and the boat’s Sun Deck is designed specifically for that.
Regardless of the persistent melty weather, I was thankful for the change of pace and environment. Always nice to get out of the office!
I ranted on twitter today about my visit to HSBC. And I feel like ranting here. I hate the fact that I get paid in Vietnamese Dong. This one fact has changed the entire way I have to bank and there is really no other reason behind it than it is less costly and more convenient for our company to pay us in dong than dollars. This unnerves me to no end, but that is a blog for another time.
I went to HSBC today to withdraw Yen for my upcoming trip to Japan. I have to have my passport, my ticket and if needed, a visa in order to “prove” that I need the foreign currency.
The tellers now think they are immigration officers. The idiot behind the counter today said, “I cannot give you money. You don’t have a visa.” I told her I don’t need one. Then she made a phone call. The person on the phone told her I needed a visa. She said, “You must have a visa.” I told her, “I am an American Citizen and if I go to Japan for less than 90 days, then I do not need a visa. I do NOT need a visa! Understand?” She made another call. “Ok, you do not need a visa.” Then she needed my original ticket to make a copy of, even though I provided a copy for her and showed her the real ticket with the copy.
Then she shuffled the papers, looked at the screen, looked at the papers and confirmed verbally the amount of yen I was asking for. And she said, “And it is Yen?” Trying to remain calm, “Yes. I wrote on the form that I will withdraw Yen. The ticket says I am going to Japan. So I need Yen.” So she made another phone call. “Um, I’m sorry, but we can’t give you that many dollars. You are over the daily limit for withdraw in US Dollars.” (This is a VND account policy) So I replied, “I don’t want US Dollars. I want Yen. I am going to Japan. They use Yen. I need Yen, not US Dollars.” And so she picked up the phone again.
After a few phone calls and a visit to the room where they keep the foreign currency, she returned with my Yen. I signed off on the papers and said, ” I realize you are just doing your job, but this is my money and if I want Yen, or Dollars or Dong, I should get it.” Oddly enough, she said, “I know. Sometimes the policies of HSBC are not very customer-friendly.” “My point exactly,” was what I said before I headed out the door.
I’m quite sick of having these headache-inducing interactions with my bank. I feel like just because I have a Dong account, my money is held hostage and I don’t have control over what happens to it. And that just pisses me off. I would love to hear suggestions of a bank which doesn’t penalize a person like me who lives in a foreign country, operates with foreign currencies and uses her credit card in foreign countries too. It really should not be that complicated!
Today was the chosen lucky day for our Emeraude Sales Office to move across town and into a fine location right on Hoan Kiem Lake. I had a lunch appointment with a client today and so at 1:00pm, the lucky time for the movers to arrive, I was at the office to lend a hand to the team.
A few men arrived, dirty, smelly, and without any packing materials. No boxes, bubble wrap, box cutters, nothing. The truck didn’t even arrive with them. They made a phone call and another guy came with some tape. And so they used what boxes we had and started to throw things together, place them outside of the office and right in the pathway of the fire exit and doorway where they would need to haul the larger items like our desks, couch, chairs, etc.
I watched as the one little guy, who like the others immediately took their shoes off once they started working, taped the hard drives together with the keyboard and mouse for each work station. Two computer screens were taped together and set outside the office.
When one worker started to take things downstairs and line the sidewalk, I had to yell for them to stop and actually made them take things back upstairs. The truck still hadn’t arrived and lining up the sidewalk with the office valuables is welcoming an unwanted street market!
The boys insisted that the computers would be carried by the individuals, but I insisted that they be wrapped up. And so finally a man on a motor bike arrived with about 8 boxes and 2 blankets. Still no bubble wrap.
When the truck finally did arrive, along with a few more colorful characters to help, I then tried to orchestrate the circus of idiots to load the truck properly with heavy and large items first, then helped to arrange boxes neatly in the truck. I had to object to them setting the safe on top of the computers.
I let Kurt welcome the trucks on the other side of the project, as our new office has too many windows, glass, tiles and freshly painted walls to worry about. I’m sure I would have had a heart attack watching them take the bulky desks up the spiral stairs and over the railing.
The office manager tried hard to get a good quote on the job, I suppose, and I learned that it only cost $130 for the cross-town move. She learned this was probably a job we could have paid a bit more for, as the headaches caused in a cost savings effort just wasn’t worth it!
On the Bright Side,
Here’s a vacation request you don’t get everyday…one I received from one of my employees in Laos:
This is Lao culture every son must become a monk for a short period to thanks parents whom gave our life. And I will be leaving from 23 Mar – 08 Apr 2010 for 15 days.
I love how this is not really a request but a statement. Need I say that the leave was approved.
Have you ever received a strange request for time off?
I received another e-mail today from one of the owners addressed to “Shana”. I have politely and formally asked three times now to spell my name correctly and frankly, it’s getting on my nerves. I know my name is unique, but that extra N really isn’t so difficult. It’s not like my name is Shanikwatara, but spelled with a Q but no U only on the day of the full or new moon. I think addressing one of your top-level executives incorrectly is rude and disrespectful. I’ve been told it’s not that big of a deal and it’s not the end of the world. Don’t worry about it?
I was set to write a different blog entry on this topic, one which focused at the heart of the issue – why my name is not being spelled correctly – but I landed on Google and did a search for the name Shanna and Shana. Wow! Both have some cool results! So forget the fact that my name continues to be misspelled at work – look at what I found!
It turns our that the name Shanna was famous in Shanna the She-Devil of Marvel Comics. I think that’s hilarious!!! Look at how awesome she is – Dang! Wish I was that voluptuous! According to Wikipedia:
Shanna the She-Devil is a fictional jungle adventuress in the Marvel Comics universe. (Thank goodness she’s fictional!)
Shanna O’Hara Plunder is the daughter of a diamond miner named Gerald O’Hara. Born in Africa, she spent the majority of her childhood growing up in the jungles of Zaire. At the age of six, her father went to kill a rogue leopard that belonged to her mother, Patricia O’Hara. While hunting for the leopard, Shanna’s father accidentally killed her mother. This traumatic incident led to Shanna’s lifelong crusade against the use of firearms. After the incident, Shanna moved back to the United States to live with relatives. Shanna grows up to become an accomplished Olympic athlete, specializing in competitive swimming and track and field. She then became a licensed veterinarian.
My goodness! I don’t think I can compare to that! What a woman!
I also remember a really trashy romance novel I had for years on my bookshelf with the title Shanna. Here’s the description from Amazon:
Behind the foreboding walls of Newgate Prison, a pact is sealed in secret — as a dashing and doomed criminal consents to wed a beautiful heiress . . . in return for one night of unparalleled pleasure.
In the fading echoes of hollow wedding vows, a promise is broken — as a sensuous free-spirit flees to a lush Caribbean paradise, abandoning the handsome stranger she married to the gallows. But Ruark Beauchamp’s destiny is now eternally intertwined with his exquisite, tempestuous Shanna’s. And no iron ever forged can imprison his magnificent passion . . . and no hangman’s noose will deny him the ecstasy that is rightfully his.
Very sexy stuff. Written by trashy romance novelist Kathleen E. Woodiwiss in 1977, whose other titles include best sellers Ashes in the Wind, Forever in Your Embrace and Moonlight Enchantress. (photo below) Goodness gracious!
Also for your reference, Wikipedia lists:
Shanna is an American feminine given name, and may refer to:
Shanna Collins (21st century), American actress
Shanna Compton (21st century), American poet
Shanna Crossley (born 1983), American professional basketball player
Shanna McCullough (born 1960), American pornographic actress
Shanna Moakler (born 1975), American model, actress and reality television star
Shanna Reed (born 1956), American dancer and actress
Shanna Slone (21st century), American singer
Shanna Swendson (21st century), American author
Shanna the She-Devil, a fictional jungle adventuress in the Marvel Comics universe
Shanna Wylie (How can you call her baby) Waiting to exhale cd
That’s quite a list! But with S.H.A.N.N.A. posing such a challenge for some, I thought I would look up S.H.A.N.A to see if this version of my name had any fame attached to it. And what do you know – Shana is a really awesome Japanese animae character! Look at how cute she is (main photo above)! Shakugan no Shana means Burning-Eyed Shana. Her existence is a bit more complicated than the She-Devil:
The female lead of the show and a Flame Haze. Initially she is concentrated solely on her duty as a Flame Haze, going as far as to not bearing even a name. She sees Yuji only as a Torch, an object, marginally interesting because of his status as a Mystes. However, she slowly opens up to Yuji, coming to think of him as a person, despite being a Torch, and eventually comes to love him. Until she met Yuji, she was identified by only her Flame Haze title “Flame-Haired Blazing-Eyed Hunter,” or her nodachi, Nietono no Shana (贄殿遮那, “Vairocana of the Offering Room”). Yuji, in his need to humanize her, chose to name her “Shana” after her sword.
Shana has a habit of saying “Urusai! Urusai! Urusai!” which means “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” whenever Yuji asks her questions or makes remarks that disturb her original point of view. But in reality they really care for each other. She has a great fondness for melon bread. Shana later comes to the startling conclusion that she loves Yuji, and even confesses it to him in the last episode of the first anime series when she thought she was going to die, but he does not hear what she said. Shana is continually torn between her mission to protect the balance, and her love for Yuji. Due to a decision she made near the end of the first season of the anime version, the closeness they once had begun to erode as Yuji kept a distance from her because of it. Yuji adopts a viewpoint similar to Shana’s in the beginning of the series. However, Yuji comes to realize that he was wrong, and their relationship seems to be restored.
I love that she shouts “urusai” all the time. Poor little Shana seems to have issues with men. I totally identify with her! ;p
While this complicated little j-heroine seems to be the only noteworthy Shana on the internet (save the town Shana in Tehran, Shana Banana who makes banana bread and Shana Morrison who is apparently a “famous” singer), I rather like her image and her feisty little character. Considering my splendid five years in Japan and my connection with special eyes, I think I might just “go with the flow” and start using Shana with one N. Of course the minute I do this, the owner will probably purposely start spelling it with two, just for kicks.
I’m at home today packing for another trip. It’s a bit of business and a bit of pleasure. I first go to Berlin for the annual ITB, a travel trade show. I have a lot of appointments with our overseas travel partners, some of which I already know and some who I have not yet met. It will be a busy week.
On the 13th, I have a big day. I’ll turn 40. And to celebrate, I’m headed to Spain! I’ll spend 2 nights in Madrid and 3 in Barcelona. I am most excited. Spain has been at the top of my list for awhile now and while I just had a two week vacation, I am trying to use up a few more days of annual leave before they “expire” in March. Nevermind I couldn’t take them in 2009…but that’s another blog entry.
I have sort of just planned everything at the last minute, actually need to still book my hotel in Barcelona. But for me, this is just a taste of this fascinating place and I really want to do what I normally do when I first land somewhere – take a long walk and just let the city speak to me. Sure, I’ve printed off some materials, some walking tour suggestions, points of interest. But I’m the type of traveler who likes to look a map, get my bearings and then just go. Considering the birthday I am celebrating, I think this will be a fantastic way to enter into the next decade…totally enthusiastically and with terrific hope that there are a lot of great discoveries ahead.
I’ll keep you posted.
Once I came back from Marrakech at the end of November, one of the goals at the top of my list was to hire a personal assistant. The thing with my job is that I am so busy, I really need an assistant to help me do this! I’m a day or two away from hiring one of three young ladies who would all be able to make a nice contribution to the role and have a good chance to develop their skills in Sales & Marketing.
During the search process, I have read scores of resumes. The Sales & Marketing Assistant really needs to speak English fluently. There have been numerous applicants who list their skills as “advanced” but who clearly have not yet grasped the language.
I’ve interviewed for a variety for positions throughout this last year, particularly as we have hired a few Sales Executives. What surprises me every time I ask this question in this country is the selfishness of the answer. The question being, “Why should I choose you?” The answer is often along the lines of, “Because I can get good experience and really improve my skills.” So totally NOT what we would say in the US or other Western countries. Yet, this is hands-down the most common way this question is answered. And it’s one tiny aspect of a cultural difference I have not gotten my head around.
To leave you on an entertaining note, I thought I would include one of my favorite cover letters I received from an applicant for my assistant. And this is not even the worst one! But this also gives you a small glimpse as to the level of English I deal with on a daily basis and the skills I’ve developed over the last several years to be able to sift through this garbled nonsense and capture the essence of the meaning. Special talent, people! ;p
Dear Sir or Madam,
I have known that your company is looking a Sales & Marketing assistant and I felt strongly interested in applying for the vacancy.
I graduated from Ha Noi University of Culture in June of 2007 and major in books & magazines business operation.
In my university, I was educated all basic knowledge about business field such as: Sales, Marketing, macroeconimics..and related others such as: method of managing and arranging system of document, data, equipment, chains of distribution books, magazines…
Otherwise, I was taught and practiced not only some basic clerical skills but also other specialist skills such as: research market, care service customers…
So besides, my computer ability for using Microsoft Office package and office equipments( phone, scan,fax, photocopy machine…) effectively as well as basic economic knowledge can useful for your work well.
Especially, I had 2 years experienced working in a Sales department as an order handler for big buyers such as Europe, America in a foreign company of the garment field gave me many chances to communicate with many foreigners directly or by many communication transports such as: phone, email in order to improve my communication skills by English …
Besides such a dynamic and complicated working environtment helped me to learn how manage time, informations, risk.. to give the best solution towards stragetical targets.
And assistant’s duty made me improve negotiation, persuading skill, making report and minutes and following, analyzing, collecting, balancing number,data skill
Because of my major to choosy buyers and diversity of exported order I must work independently under the high pressure as well as co-operate well with my colleagues to archieve common goals.
I believe that with my enthusiasm, ability, knowledge and experience, I can contribute to your company’s success. I hope to be a part of your company. The attached resume is enclosed with more details of my qualification.
I look forward to hearing good new from you soon.
Under Experience, an interesting job title:
One highlight under “Referees” (versus references):
Comment:A patient and unfear of hardship female staff to find the best way in her work.
I believe that with her experience and ability , she will get new suprising result in her career.
Have a great day everyone!