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AXA Direct English Website for foreigners in Korea.

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When you drive a car in Korea, your greatest barrier can sometimes be finding car insurance. Car insurance is mandatory in Korea so it’s really important to consider the brand and coverage very carefully, which is never that easy for foreigners.Recently, AXA Direct just opened up a comprehensive English insurance website!I checked it out and have all the details below. Thanks to the newly opened English website of a global insurance brand AXA,every service with car insurance is now available in English.

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What is AXA?

AXA is a global insurance brand with 100 million customers in 56 countries worldwide.

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Every year, global top 100 brands are chosen by reputable marketing institute ‘Interbrand.’

        AXA has been chosen as the NO.1 insurance brand for 6 years in a row.

How can you find them in Korea?

1. Go to axa.co.kr and  choose ‘English’ from the language tab on top.

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The English site appears.

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AXA provides quotes, service type confirmation, signing up and much more, all in English on the new site which makes it very accessible to expats in Korea.

On the AXA website, everything is readily available in English from contracts to claims.

Now choose your own insurance products and whatever else you need. Everything is in English so there’s no need to get help from a Korean.

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 The red button will “Get a quote in just 5 minutes”

In AXA English Website, even foreigners can easily get quotes

and sign up for their own car insurance.

AXA is one of the few companies in Korea to provide English quotes service online

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보험가입내역

Just enter your registration number (ARC), phone number, and car information.

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 Select your driver type, and then you see the lists of recommended packages that you can immediately subscribe to.

I timed the whole subscription process and it actually does take around 5 MINUTES!

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Also, you can just press “Request a Call” for any difficulties.

They let you book a consultation call with exclusive agents for foreigners only!

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My first year out driving in Korea, I got an overcharged insurance premium because I couldn’t understand Korean.

With a website like this the control is in your hands and you can get the insurance package that suits you. It’s very clear and easy to use and everything is available immediately.

As part of the service, AXA Direct will also provide emergency help in English so if you have an accident or break down or so on.

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They even have a hot-line dedicated for English speakers, providing accident report

and emergency road service. There is also an app available where you can report and accident or call the help desk.

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You can also get help in relatively minor emergencies.

If you’re locked inside your car, if the car unexpectedly stops due to fuel shortage, flat-tire, dead batteries, or for any trouble situations, AXA will come help you.

This is all available from the mobile app.

Can you get a discount?

AXA provides a variety of discount programs with some items like mileage option or black-box registration. With a mileage option, you pay as much as you drive and get additional discount for driving less.

(10% off for driving less than 5000km , 5.6% off for driving less than 9000km)

Other programs include black-box registration discount offered to those who drive with black-boxes, and accident-free discount offered for those who drive accident-free for 3 years.

These 3 discount programs can be offered all at the same time, providing as much as 21.5% off!

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I’m delighted to finally have this service available for English speaking drivers. Click the link below and go find more about AXA.

www.axa.co.kr

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This posting was written along with the support of AXA Direct.

Myanmar- the country time forgot

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Myanmar has been on my bucket since forever and when the opportunity to take a tour there came up, I took it. I’ve never taken an organised tour before so I had mixed feelings as to the benefits. Was it going to be all go and no down time? Were the other people going to be difficult to deal with? I had no idea and I really didn’t care that much because I just wanted to see Myanmar. The Royal Asiatic Society of Seoul organised the tour and there were two options available, long tour and short tour. I took the short option so I stayed 6 days and 5 nights in Yangon.

After arriving in Yangon, I met the other three people on the short tour as well as the guide. As we drove along, our animated conversation was interspersed by the guide; “Excuse me ladies and gentleman, I’d like to introduce to you my country………” A night at the hotel and we were up and ready for day 1.

The four of us spent our day enjoying the sunshine and touring Yangon University. This really just involved visiting all the love sites and taking a tonne of selfies.

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After lunch we joined the long tour members at the Martyrs’ Mausoleum. This is a memorial built to honour Aung San and six cabinet ministers who were assassinated. In 1983, North Korean agents attempting to assassinate the visiting South Korean president bombed the structure. He escaped but 21 others were killed. The structure was completely rebuilt and although less grand, it is still very beautiful.

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We continued by taking a Yangon Heritage Trust walking tour of the heritage buildings in Yangon. The architecture is outstanding and the buildings are generally in bad repair as they have been neglected throughout the years.

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That evening we enjoyed a buffet dinner at a traditional performing arts centre.

 

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The following day, we enjoyed a lecture by a former university professor who then accompanied us to Shwedagon Pagoda. ,Myanmar is full of pagodas but this one is possibly the most impressive. It is a 98 metre golden spire located at the top of Singuttara Hill and it can be seen from anywhere in the city.

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The next day we climbed on a boat and headed for Twanty, a town known for its pottery. We sailed across the Twanty canal and enjoyed the water taxis taking people to and from work. To get to the pottery, we took horses and carts. Possibly the most humbling part of the entire trip was the visit to the pottery workshop. Workers make anywhere from 150 to 300 pots in a day, depending on the size. The pottery wheels are spun by young girls who give up their education to do this task. The work is so menial and if they succeed in selling all their wares, they will receive just 6 dollars which must be split between them. The work area is dark and dusty but they were so welcoming and patient when we visited, even giving up their lunch break so they could show us around. Of all the things that humbled me, it was this visit.

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We also visited Bogyoke Aung San Museum. This museum was founded in 1962, 15 years after the assassination of Bogyoke. In Myanmar, Bogyoke is the term used for the general. This museum was his home before he was assassinated. No cameras were allowed inside.

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We also got to see the National Museum and got a guided tour through this 4 floor museum.

The reclining Buddha was HUGE. Honestly, so impressive but the most impressive thing I saw there was this monk. Some serious monk swag happening here.

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One of my favorite places was the Bogyoke Market where you can buy ANYTHING you so desire. It is crammed full of jewellery, art, clothes, fabrics and so many other items. This was also a great place to go people watching and there was a great feeling of the local life here.

On the final day we were free from any timetabled events to go wherever we wished. A small group of us headed across the river to a small village where we took trishaws and saw more pagodas and generally just interacted with the locals. To see them continue to wear their traditional clothes is amazing. The skirts are called Logyi’s . They are so easy to wear and I came home with three of them.

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As it turns out, my group were the best craic ever and they made the trip. Upon reflection, if the same person organised another tour, I’d take it in a heart beat. One day I will hopefully be able to return to Myanmar and visit other cities like Mandalay and Bagan. Myanmar was truly fascinating and a trip here is not to be missed. It still hasn’t caught up with the rest of the world in many respects and now is the time to go there before all the tourists arrive.

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You can find out more about the Royal Asiatic Society in Korea from their website http://www.raskb.com

 

Some tips;

 

*Bring US Dollars- We arrived on a late night flight from Seoul. If you don’t have dollars, you won’t have any money until you can make it to a bank. Make sure your dollars are crisp and clean.

*Wear pagoda appropriate clothes. There are so many pagodas so be sure that you wear clothes that cover the shoulders and go below the knees. Also, there are no shoes or socks allowed so carry some wet wipes in your bag.

*Ask questions. The guides are only too happy to be explaining about their city and country so be sure to ask if you have a question.

*Go with a tour or get a guide and driver. I like to think that I’m fairly capable when it comes to travelling around a new city. However, there is literally no way that you will be able to tour Yangon unless you have a guide and driver.

* It’s extremely safe there and we didn’t have any incidents. However, as with all trips, don’t do something you wouldn’t do at home.

 

Burns Night 2015

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A few months ago I was asked to give the reply from the lassies at Burns night. Dinner in the Hyatt was mentioned so naturally I agreed. It was as easy as it sounded to write the reply but I did my best.

For those night familiar, Burns night is an annual, international celebration of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns. Poems are recited, songs are sung and general craic is had.In Seoul, we celebrated the night in the Hyatt Hotel.  We had a piper, Garret,  and the whisky was flowing so it was all very Scottish.

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A group of my friends came along and it was nice to be able to dress up and go out!

 

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In my research for the speech, I found Burns to be an interesting character. He fathered 12 children by 4 different women. He was so fascinated by women that he had couldn’t choose just one and had several relationships with different women. He credits the ladies with his abilities as a poet. He wrote some beautiful poetry, my favourite being;

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie,
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ ’twere ten thousand mile!

 

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We were treated to an amazing address to the Haggis. I’ve seen this done 3 times now, but this was the first time I’ve seen a woman do it. She nailed it  and I think it added a bit of flavour to the Haggis!

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That was followed by some recitations and song singing.

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Eventually, it was battle of the sexes as the Toast to the lassies and Reply from the lassies were made. In the toast to the lassies, Scott had everyone in stitches as he quoted some amazing dating tips from koreadatingtips.com. Check out this link http://www.korea-dating-tips.com/how-to-talk-to-girls.html Super funny stuff.

After all the speeches it was off home. Great event made better by the people who were there.

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Kinabalu National Park.

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Anyone who wants to climb Mt. Kinabalu will be heading to Kinabalu National Park. This trip, I had no interest in climbing it and Michelle had climbed it before but it being a UNESCO World Heritage site, we went to do some trekking.

There are two ways to get to the National Park, 1) Go with a tour and 2) Go by yourself. Tours were expensive so we decided to go there ourselves. To do that you must;

Get the bus to Ranau. One way will cost you about 20 rinngit. The bus driver will know where to let you off. You should know though that the Malay way is that the bus doesn’t leave until it’s full so the earlier the better.

The journey will take about 2 hours or so. From the road, walk up to the entrance and pay the entry fee of 15 rinngit. From there, you can go to the office and get a map of the trails. There are some wonderful trails of different lengths.

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Unfortunately, the day we went, it was lashing rain all day. We might as well have been swimming. At the end of the trail, there were no signs to indicate which way the main area was. Brilliant, it only took us about 10 minutes to decide that down hill was best.

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After some food, we headed back to get the bus back to the city. Unfortunately for us, there actually is NO BUS BACK TO THE CITY. You literally have to flag a bus down and jump in. It took us about 15 minutes before we succeeded but we did.

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All in all, if I were going back, I would rent a car. We were hoping to visit the canopy walk in the Park but from the main entrance, it was another 1 hour bus journey.

Kinabalu is a great tourist site but it still has to catch up on itself in terms of tourist conveniences.

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Kota Kinabalu- The islands

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Kota Kinabalu is a great place to go island hopping. Just a quick boat ride from the jetty, you can make it to Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik and Gaya.

During my visit, I went to Manukan and Mamutik. My friend had visited Sapi and the lack of anything other than a beach meant that I didn’t go. We wanted to go to Gaya but the jetty there was seemingly under renovation so there were no boats.

All the islands are beautiful. On the bigger islands, you can go diving, snorkelling and sea walking. From the jetty, you can buy tickets for the individual islands or for a day island hopping. The islands are part of Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park so you must pay a fee when entering. On a day island hopping, you just pay the fee once and show the ticket at each island.

Mamutik Island- We spent a few hours snorkelling here. It has a long beach with restaurant facilities so everything you need for a day of relaxation. Unfortunately, the fish were a little nibbly and kept biting at us so I wasn’t all that keen to go back. While there were a good number of people there, it wasn’t over crowded.

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Manukan- My favourite place. this is a resort island so possible to stay for a night or two. The beach here is a lot bigger that Mamutik and there is plenty to explore. The night before we went to the island, there was a terrible storm and as a result a lot of debris had washed up on the beach. The water was also quite murky so we had to go far out to get decent snorkelling conditions. We saw lots of different fish and coral. It was a lot quieter here also. You can go trekking on this island also.

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Tips for the islands;

1. Go early. The weather changes in the afternoon and it usually rains for a few hours so the morning is the best time for the islands.

2. Instead of going with a company, try negotiating the price with the locals. We got the return tickets for less than what a company was offering and they picked us up at the designated time. (The company we went with to the first island forgot us and left us waiting at the island for over an hour)

3. Bring snacks & water

4. The toilets on the islands are rough so bring your own supplies of tissue etc.

How to change the code on your door lock.

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When I moved into this apartment, they had set each of the door locks in the building to the same code, 1234*. I immediately set about changing that and thought I’d share the process.

The brand of lock is Commax.

1. Take the cover off the battery pack on the inside of the door. You’ll see a black button just under the batteries.

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NOTE; IT’S THE BUTTON THAT SAY 등록 NOT THE BUTTON THAT SAYS 수동잠금!

2.  Open the door and stand on the outside. Press the black button for about 2 seconds and you should hear a beep followed by the keypad lighting up.

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3. Inset a 4 to 12 digit code followed by * and that’s your new code!

Registering for a race in Korea

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I LOVE doing races in Korea but registration is usually in Korean so I thought I’d do a blog with some vocabulary and instructions.

 

1. First, decided which race you want to do. Head over to marathon.pe.kr. You should see this home page;

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2. Across the top, you’ll see the different tabs. You should press the second from the left. It’s called 대회일정 (tournament schedule). Then you’ll see this;

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3. Now you should choose the location you want. Races happen all over Korea. Personally, I stick to the ones in Seoul and there are always a tonne in 여의도 (Yeouido). Choose your own and click on the link to be brought to this;

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4. Near the bottom of that page, you’ll see a link. That brings you to the home page which is where you need to go. The home page might look something like this;

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5. Now you have to look for the registration are. Some home pages make it really easy and others make it a mission.  Look for 참ㄱㅏ신청 (Application for registration). When you click on it, you’ll probably see some of the following;

개인: Individual

단체: Group/team

신청조회: Inquiry

Click the one that suits you and then you’ll see a registration form maybe like this;

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Here is the vocabulary you need to know;

ㅇㅣ름: Name

생년월일: Date of birth. ARC first 6 numbers

성별/남/여: Gender/male/female

주소: Address

연락쳐: Contact number

ㅇㅣ메일: Email

참가종목: The race you’re doing. Half, full, 10km etc

기념품: Gear

사이즈: Size

쿠폰입력: Coupon details

입금ㅈㅏ명: Name of person who will send the money

비밀번호: Password

비밀번호확인: Retype password

확인/최소하기 : Enter/cancel

Once you click “enter”, you’re done. Just transfer the money into the bank account. You’ll find the bank details on the home page of the race.

About a week or so before the race, you’ll get your package with your gear, number and chip.

 

Apologies if there are mistakes in the Korean. Any questions, just ask!

 

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