Ramadan In Istanbul

Touching Down In Istanbul


July 6, 2014, Panama City, Panama: Kathleen shares some of Istanbul’s culture and history

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

A long trip like the one from Panama City to Istanbul, requiring connecting flights and layovers and taking you across many time zones, is like a system reboot. Arriving at your destination, your mind is fuzzy, muddled. What time is it? What day is it? Should I have something to eat...or maybe take a nap? You can't quite commit to answers to even these basic questions. More substantive decisions are inconceivable. Finally, out of desperation, you give up and give yourself over, simply, to what's in front of you.

So here I sit, on the rooftop terrace of our hotel in Istanbul's Old City, looking out over the Sea of Marmara and at Asia across the way. No sense trying to be productive. Better just to soak it all in.

The sea spread out before me is ink blue. Above it, the sky is clear, the sun hot. A steady breeze and the red clay tiles of the terrace roof keep the temperature comfortable enough, but, without cover to shade you, you know it's summertime. Weather projections we Googled before departing Panama City convinced us to throw sweaters and jackets into our suitcases at the last minute. Just goes to show you can't believe everything you read on the Internet.

"Look at all the traffic out on the water," Kaitlin remarked, taking in the Marmara for the first time. Indeed, the waterways here seem as busy as the Panama Canal. Ferries, cruise ships, sailboats, private cruisers, coming into port and going out, dispersing passengers and taking on new ones.

Istanbul owes its place in world history to these waters, which, since the days of Byzantium, have meant tolls, harbor fees, trade, and prosperity. Today, this metropolis with such a unique and enviable geographic situation is again thriving.

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What The Declaration Of Independence Means In Today’s...

Do Your Own Thing


July 4, 2014, Paris, France: The Declaration of Independence was issued in a time when nothing moved faster than a horse. In today’s world, you have far more opportunity to pursue freedom and happiness.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Thomas Jefferson began his draft of the Declaration of Independence on June 11, 1776. The Continental Congress later "mangled" his words, according to Jefferson, and shortened his draft by 25%. Finally on July 2, 1776, Congress signed off and signed America up for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Americans celebrate July 4 rather than July 2, because the Declaration was announced on the fourth.

Vicki and I have been to one or two Fourth of July parties around the world. But mostly, we skip them. I can do without hotdogs and hamburgers, speeches and oompah, sparklers and fireworks. Rather than soggy hotdogs I prefer to choose, day to day, to live life, enjoy liberty, and continue my pursuit of happiness.

Especially my pursuit of happiness.

Jefferson's world was very different from ours. In those days, nothing moved faster than the speed of a horse. In The Birth of Plenty, William Bernstein writes, "no human being, no manufactured item, no bushel of wheat, no side of beef, no letter, no information, no idea, order or instruction of any kind moved faster [than a horse]. Nothing had moved any faster, and, as far as Jefferson's contemporaries were able to tell, nothing ever would."

So what can we take away today, in the modern world, from a Declaration of Independence that reflected a slower, rural, farm-oriented society? I think we can encompass Jefferson's positive, proactive view of freedom.

Too many of us today think of freedom in negative terms, in the sense that we become free "from" some evil or another. FDR's famous speech on the four freedoms included freedom from want, freedom from fear, and freedom from religious persecution. My Google search for "freedom from" came up with freedom from torture, hunger, anxiety, depression, and freedom from habitual sins like impurity, over-eating, substance abuse, gambling, smoking, and more. These freedoms all popped up on Google's first page.

Jefferson could have organized the Declaration around freedom from tyranny, freedom from taxation without representation, freedom from the rule of a king who lived in another country. And indeed, he included those freedoms in the body of the text. But right up top he nailed his positive approach to freedom with his focus on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Read more...

New Changes To Malaysia’s MM2H Program Means More Incentives...

Malaysia’s MM2H Program Gets Even Better


July 3, 2014, Hanoi, Vietnam: Malaysia’s MM2H offers great benefits for foreigners choosing to reside here. Now MM2H visa holders are able to buy lower-priced property than those without visas.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

Malaysia is an attractive place for foreigners to call home. And for many reasons...

The warm, tropical climate and almost complete absence of any natural disasters is enough incentive for some.

English is widely spoken throughout the country—in fact, there is really little reason to learn another language.

Permanent residency is offered and comes with a host of incentives to entice foreigners here.

The diversity of its people, who comprise an assortment of Malay, Chinese, and Indian ethnicities, creates a unique culture. As a result, foreigners invariably find Malaysia to be an extraordinary place to partake in a diversity of traditions, foods, and festivals.

Malaysia is also one of the few countries in Southeast Asia that allow foreigners, regardless of whether they are permanent residents or not, to purchase land, houses, or condominiums for their primary residence or to produce income.

And, it's one of only a handful of countries that allow foreigners to take out a mortgage. Nonresidents who meet the bank's qualifications can receive financing for up to 60% of the total value of a property. And, those who participate in the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program, which grants permanent residency to foreigners, can receive financing for up to 80% of the total property value. Local banks will usually require that the loan be repaid by the time the borrower reaches 65 or 70 years of age.

Read more...

Fútbol Fiesta In Costa Rica

Little Costa Rica Comes Into The Spotlight
At The 2014 FIFA World Cup In Brazil

July 2, 2014, Uvita, Costa Rica: Up against former World Cup winners, Costa Ricans didn’t hold out much hope for their national team. Now they are celebrating win after win.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

During the day, I stream live sports talk radio from the United States on my laptop as I work in my little restaurant here in Uvita, Costa Rica. Normal World Cup chatter about strong countries like Spain and Brazil and the chances for the U.S. national team to advance through the "Group of Death" is about as in-depth as the radio-talk gets. But the real talk here is on the streets...

In the supermercado...at the hardware store...and in our little restaurant, it's all about little Costa Rica. Setting out, the Ticos ranked fourth in their group of four, against perennial powerhouses Italy, England, and Uruguay—all former champions. And the excuses were flowing...

"Maybe we can get lucky..."

"Maybe we can get one win...and maybe a tie..."

There was hype but no great hope. But the talk never stopped.

And then the opening game was played.

The heavens opened and shone on tiny Costa Rica as they got the win against mighty Uruguay. It was crazy here. Horns honked everywhere and people shouted. Luckily, there's not much of a gun culture here, so no shots were fired where I live.

From then on, the chatter got louder. The ridiculous marketing of "Sloth Kong," a cartoon figure conceived by a large Costa Rican travel company, took off. New pictures were released of Sloth Kong donning the flag, pulling down the Tower of Pisa, and crushing the Coliseum in advance of the upcoming battle against Italy.

Read more...

Elaborate Cremation Ceremony Celebrates The Life Of A Thai Monk

Eat, Pray, Blast Off: Protocol Of A Thai Monk’s Funeral


July 1, 2014, Chiang Mai, Thailand: Attending a Thai funeral is a special experience. From what to wear to when it’s appropriate to take photos, it’s helpful to have a friend to guide you through.

Dear Live and Invest Overseas Reader,

"Grandma Vicki, we must wear white clothes to the monk's cremation. OK?"

Well, no.

We were in Phayao, Thailand, visiting a dear Thai friend who'd invited me to attend a cremation ceremony for a local head monk. And, now we were getting ready for the drive to a small wat (Buddhist monastery) near her ancestral village for the big event.

I'd been told about the cremation before traveling to Phayao and had packed black for the event: Thais wears black and/or white to funerals. But now I'm told "white only" for this one.

"Mai pen rai!" said my friend. (No problem, easy to fix.) We drove to a local superstore where I was thrilled to find an extra-extra-large white blouse to fit my Western-sized body. It was important to me to wear the right clothes to honor the monk, my friend's family, and her village. Suspecting I'd be the only Westerner there (as it turned out, I was), I wanted to dress like everyone else.

On the appointed day, we drove to the small, mountain monastery. The deceased monk had served six nearby villages for decades. Hundreds of villagers had arrived long before we did to attend the solemn goodbye. We had to park far from the site, behind farm trucks and motorcycles.

As we walked up the narrow road to the wat, a cacophony of Thai funeral music and the emcee's announcements over a loudspeaker assailed our ears. As we got to the entrance, I pulled out my camera to start taking photos.

"Not yet," my friend said. "First we must pay our respects to the monk."

Read more...

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Read more here.

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