Sunday, December 26, 2010

Blog 35 - 26th December

Travelling back to Australia from snowy Seoul after a four hour delay due to fog, we spent some time in Singapore in transit visiting with our friends Pat and Rick. Thanks to you both for a delicious home cooked meal in your newly renovated kitchen. It was so wonderful to catch up after many years of emails and phone calls. We look forward to catching up again before too long.

One of the traditions of Adelaide Christmas is the central market shopping on Christmas Eve. We collected our son Jacob from the airport and met our friend Monika, a previous guest editor and visitor to Seoul, for breakfast including wonderful coffee at Zuma. Cherries were in abundant supply however prices slightly up due to recent rains. Here is the link for those planing a visit to Adelaide.

Our friends, Cathy (pictured here with Monika) and Peter, invited us to Christmas drinks the day after our return. Here we are on their patio with long lost and dear friends. Another special night together - thanks to you both for yet more generous hospitality.

Family get togethers are quite large for us - 24 in my sister Anne's garden for Christmas lunch - so with the direction of Richard, the engineering feet of constructing a bamboo outdoor shelter on Christmas Eve was easy. Photos of construction workers follow - Alex, Anne, Christian, Sophie, Jacob and Paula.

Step 1 - measure and cut bamboo to lengths so they are the same.

Step 2 - stand and discuss the best way to go!

Step 3 - work out how to attach the sheeting to the poles

Step 4 - set the table and wait for the party!

Step 5 - Party!

Step 6 - Christmas re gifting - Joe hit the jackpot!

Step 7 - more eating and drinking

Step 8 - the end

Our neighboring street is famous for the house lights at Christmas. Here is a selection of one.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Blog 34 - 12th December

Guest editors of this week's blog are Dominic and Maddy, who have been visiting for the last week, in the middle of a two months long trip spanning Japan, Korea, and China.

Although this photo was taken before we actually arrived here in Seoul, we've heard so much about these three grey-haired professors and this night that we felt like it ought to be included. This is, from left to right, Mark, Bob and Damien, sitting in the "priority seating" area of the Seoul subway on their way to dinner celebrating their respective birthdays. The dinner that night was so good, the restaurant makes a second appearance below.

As you would know, Korea gets cold, so in the evenings there's little else to do but turn the underfloor heating to high and get a'puzzling. This 500 piece puzzle that Dad got from the National Museum of a battle scene was completed with Maddy's help shortly after arrival.

Just in case we hadn't got the idea yet, so as to reinforce the point, Korea showed us its whiter side. At first snow is pretty, fluffy, and embodies everything that's pure, then you get caught in it and you get cold, wet and hate the stuff. This is the view out of the apartment of the first snow of winter.

Another popular way to keep warm is the local coffee house. It’s all very cultural, I assure you. Due to the popularity, and the various sleeping students (it’s exam time) we squashed into this corner for our boiling hot lattes.

We’ve found that occasionally, in the battle between trying to look good, and keeping warm, this desire for comfort often wins out.

But not on this occasion.

Too busy to look at the camera, Dad and Maddy enjoy one of what seemed like 100 courses of the set dinner at Chaegundaam. They don’t have a website, but if you’re ever in Seoul, I highly recommend it.

On Sunday, Susan and I (Maddy) visited The House of Sharing, the residence and museum for survivors of sexual slavery during the Asia-Pacific War. The issue of ‘comfort women’ has only been in the spotlight since 1991 but the nine Halmoni that live there have been fighting for the human rights violations and past injustices against them to be recognized by the Japanese Government constantly since. Even though they are all quite old they are still active in protests, visits and sharing testimonials. It was a horrifying but inspiring day and I’d strongly urge everyone to go, especially to meet the Halmoni while they are still alive.

We have loved Korea and think everyone should visit Seoul while Susan and Damien are here. They are excellent hosts and guides!!