Saturday, July 14, 2007

I Just Might Make It To Thailand

Well, events have warranted a new post.

I got an email from a guy named Mike who works at the Canadian Embassy in Seoul telling me that I could get someone at the office to be my guarantor. Again, someone who doesn't know me from Adam Sandler and who doesn't do the service for free. This was Thursday I got the email.

So I filled out all the forms. I got my friends Scott and Annaliese to be my references and got all the details about their addresses and phone numbers. I went to a photographer at the front gate of HUFS, where I work and with a little explanation through pigeon Korean and body language I got him to stamp and date one of the pics properly. Then after work I decided, just in case, to go see if I could find this embassy.

I knew it was in the downtown area right behind City Hall but it's never easy to find anything in that mess of buildings. Lucky I went on this reconnaissance mission! It took me just over an hour to find. I asked the information guy at the subway station where it was and he directed me to exit 3. I found it odd that the Canadian Embassy wasn't marked on any of the maps they have in the subway station that show the nearby buildings.

I exited through exit 3 and I asked several other people for directions. One security guard gave me directions and told me I had about 700 meters to go. I was pretty close. So I walked exactly where he told me and came upon the Nanta Theater. I guess when I was saying "Canada" (embassy) he thought I was saying "Nanta" (theater). But curiously enough I asked another security guard near the Nanta who also told me he knew where it was and pointed me to a building where it definitely WASN'T. Sometimes I just wanna teach Koreans to say "I don't know."

It was a very hot and muggy afternoon and I was carrying a full briefcase with me and still dressed in my much too heavy work clothes. I was sweating like a whore in church. But I figured I'd go out to the main road and try again. On my way out I saw a brick wall with a fence on top of it and a nicely cut lawn behind the fence. On the wall was the seal of Canada. But there was no building that resembled an office where one might find the Canadian Embassy. And there was no easily aparent way into the area where the lawn was.

I got out to the main road and wandered around some more until I found a tourist information kiosk. I went inside and asked for some info. The girl there spoke English and had a map. On the map I saw that it was exactly where I thought it was, exactly where I'd been, right behind City Hall. She said it was in the Kolon building. Nice name eh?

So I went back to where I was and wandered around some more. I think I went down every street and cross-street before I finally found the Kolon building. Right around the corner from EXIT 4! Nowhere near exit 3! It was 4:30. The embassy closes at 4:30 so there was no chance for me to go in and get anything ready for the next day. Mike had told me there would be a form to fill out called the "in lieu of guarantor" form or something like that. I thought maybe I could pick that up before closing time but no such luck.

Besides there was a Quiznos Subs right across from the Kolon Building and I hadn't eaten since breakfast. So I got an Italian Classic sub and a bowl of broccoli cheese soup. And I dried off a little bit while in the air conditioned restaurant. I got some Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a book from Kyobo Book Store too. So it wasn't a complete waste of time. But I asked about 20 people where the Krispy Kreme doughnuts store was too and think I could have found it more easily if I had just used The Force.

I figure I walked farther than my 6K fitness walk and sweat about as much. My pants were all salty in the ass when I got home and took them off. Man I hate that!

Next morning bright and early I went to the embassy and got the in lieu of guarantor form. I needed extra identification, two more references and I had two tiny lines to list my employers for the past 5 years. I wasn't about to go home and get all the addresses and phone numbers of employers and references so I did the best I could. I gave them my friend Kasia as a reference. She won't be reachable until September. I also gave them Scott's wife, Minju because I already had her address on the other application. And I just faked the past employers. I told them I had worked at Seogang College for 3 years when actually it was only one.

I got in to the window behind which Mike was sitting. We talked about where I was going and low and behold he goes golfing in Pattaya too! He told me about a good hotel I'm thinking of staying at. Lek Hotel it's called. Anyway, he said I could get the temporary passport on Thursday the 19th. That's the day before I travel. When I get back from my month in Thailand my real passport will be ready and all I will have to do is go to the NEW office and trade the temp. for the new passport. He did say, however, that they will only be able to get me my temporary passport on Thursday if everything goes smoothly. Like if they can reach all my references and if they don't find any discrepancies on my application. heh heh heh.

But screw them if they are that picky! Yeah I lied about my past employment cuz I didn't have all the info, (the thoroughly useless info.) that they asked for. So I cheated once. THEY gave me a stranger for a guarantor who charged me money to sign my forms. So THEY cheated TWICE! But I doubt that will be a good enough defence if they ask me why I lied on the guarantor form. Neither will, "That form will be a dinosaur in three months anyway!"

But we'll see how things go. Fingers crossed.

I already sent an email to one of the guys I golf with and since he was in charge of the golfing trips and had a bad scooter crack up, the club is in a bit of a shambles right now. But he says there are still some guys who go out.

SO the Thai vacation is STILL not a positive but I have paid for my ticket. I asked my travel agent to fax my itinerary to the embassy. That was one of the things they needed to speed up the passport. I hope she did that.

Yeah! This is the kind of frantic planning and stress a good trip ought to have! I feel like I'm on vacation already!

Oh, and that mysterious Canadian seal I found? (I mean seal of Canada. I guess a seal of ANY origin would be mysterious in downtown Seoul in mid summer!) THAT is where the NEW Canadian Embassy is going to be. So I already know where to go to get my new passport. I hope I don't have to scale the wall and climb the fence though.

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