2012.01.30 - Gampo

Lunar New Year and Trip to Gampo

Lunar New Year ... Normally we would grab this opportunity to travel to some exotic place, but this time, being only a good week after our arrival to Korea, we thought it too early to jump on another plane. We were not even over our jet-lag jet!

So we let our colleagues head off to Thailand, Philippines and Japan and stayed home to enjoy the company of our friends instead. As I write this, I can count 18 days since our return and I think that today was the third time that we cook at home! As you can understand, we have been pretty busy socially ! It's been great to spend some time with our friends and there has been no regret about staying here in Ulsan for the holidays.

Paula's wood painting girlie friends - Soojong, Bella and Agnieszka

Apparently our old TV was not big enough, so they put that in the bedroom and installed a new 50-something inch TV. Home theatre! Here we are watching one of the last episodes of Northern Exposure - almost made it through Season 6. It only took us 3 years !

Lunar New Year cuddling time !

She doesn't really need a National holiday to relax ..... anywhere, anytime!

Paula is already up in gear with her painting classes. She does wood painting with her friends Bella and Agnieszka and later in the week she takes oil painting classes with Susana. About every second day we go down to the renovated gym at the Foreigner's Compound clubhouse for an early start. It was easy enough to do when we were jet-lagged but now it takes a little more effort. But we have been persevering. Need to get fit for when my bike arrives in the middle of February.

At work things are still very busy. Apart from a lot of drawing approval, we have had to get settled in the new office, been going for lots of meetings and we have even gone for a defensive driving course - a prerequisite for driving our brand new Hyundai Tucson! Paula was pretty nervous before (and during) the course, but it was a piece of cake ! Still good to clear some of the doubts and uncertainties we had regarding the laws and rules of the Korean traffic jungle.

With Pietro, Ms. Lee and Ms Yang at a - for us - newly discovered sea food BBQ restaurant at Ilsan Beach

We bought a new toy for Peo on a Korean internet shopping site, Gmarket. She followed the installation with interest.

She then proceded to climb it a few times, but since then she has lost interest and needs some treats before she finds it worth her while.

Brooke and Alicia came by for a visit before Alicia's ballet lessons one Saturday. Brook is leaving at the beginning of February, but at least we had a chance to see her before that.

At Namascar Indian restaurant in Ulsan Downtown. We have only cooked at home twice since our return !

On the Sunday of Lunar New Year we went down to Busan to meet our friends Gaby and Andreas. They had recently moved to a new apartment ... or mansion ! It is massive - probably twice the size of our - sizable - apartment. Their daughter was using her push-bike inside the flat. We had a good afternoon with good food, pictures from their trip to Mataking Island on Borneo and a few good bottles of Carlsberg!

In Busan at Gaby and Andreas' new apartment

Snacks and a Carlsberg in good company .... what more ???

Another day we went to Ulsan Grand Park with my colleagues Trygve (and Ann Lie) and Olav (and Randi). It was a surreal experience to see the park almost empty (due to the holidays). Here in Korea there is no real celebration of the Lunar New Year. Koreans travel to their hometowns to spend time with their family. Apart from the roads, Korea remains empty these days. It could be that the biting cold had something to do with the empty park, but I doubt it!

Trygve and Olav in an empty Ulsan Grand Park

Olav and Randi scaling the climbing "wall" at the playground. This was before we were kicked out of the jumping castle. No adults allowed unfortunately.

Paula at the war monument in Grand Park

At the new Lavazza with Jade and Jean Laurent

Back at the seafood BBQ - this time with Agnieszka and Michael, who were eager to know the place. The culinary dates continued

Dessert was at Lavazza (Ilsan Beach). Their hot chocolate is overload of everything! Basically just a melted chocolate bar, but waaay too sweet.

This past Saturday we went on a mystery-tour with Ms. Lee, Olav and Randi. First we did a small tour of the yard, as Ms. Lee had spent the morning at work and we had to pick her up there anyway. As always the yard impresses!

Then we started up the coastal road northbound. The weather was beautiful and the coast showed itself from it's best side. We stopped at Gampo for an early lunch. Down by the harbour the boats were coming in and we were lucky enough to see the offloading and packing of the squid as well as the auctioning. Lunch was fish soup at one of the small harbour restaurants. Normally we cannot order at these places, but with Ms. Lee there it was a little easier - although not painless! No wonder we as foreigners have no chance when even Koreans struggle! Food was good though. And we got through the floor-seated lunch without too much trouble (all but Olav that is).

A typical - although rather large - trawler

Offloading today's catch

Offloading thousands of squid

Olav and a couple of crates of puffer fish

More squid to the sorting station. There must have been millions of poor squid here. I wonder how sustainable this fishing is ??

At the squid sorting station!

another sorting station - this one a little further in the process.

A potential buyer ... or seller. I couldn't tell.

My guess is that the blue flag means sold to somebody. I saw it several places.

An arty squid portrait

Another arty photo from the harbour

Lunch on the floor at a harbour restaurant. Olav, Randi and Paula

From Gampo we continued to Pohang, past the very large steel mill Postco and on to the traditional village Yangdong. Ms. Lee father had wanted her to go to Yangdong for a long time as their branch of the Lee surname originates from this village. We had been there a couple of times before, but a lot of things had happened since the last time we visited. The place was named a UNESCO World Heritage site and the village had been upgraded with a new parking lot, new streets and a several houses had new roofs. And lots of Chinese tourists. It was still nice to stroll around the village and we could see that people still lived in many of the houses. So touristy but still original.

One of the traditional houses of Yangdong. I think this was the govenor's house once.

The inside courtyard.

Beans hung up to dry before making denjang tziki - bean soup.

Another traditional house

Village road.

At the entry to some king's tomb in GyeongJu. Forget the name ...

The mystery tour group - Ms Lee, Paula, Peder, Olav and Randi in front of the tomb.

Last stop before the traffic jam back to Ulsan was Gyeong-Ju. We have been to Gyeong-Ju several times and have seen all the major sites about 5 times, so this time we stopped by King Something's tomb. A nice place in the forest but not nearly as impressive as some of the tombs near the Museum. But I figures the Olav and Randi would see plenty of these later on.

Traffic back to Ulsan was as always horrendous and probably due to the many hours in the car, Paula came down with a bad headache which kept us at home all Sunday - except for an hour in the swimming pool with my colleague Pietro.