Inge Dec. 2010

Family X-mas in the cold Korean winter

For X-mas this year we had prepared a special treat for Peo .... my five-year old nephew and niece AND our neighbors' Yorkshire terrier !!! Some Christmas for the poor soul ! But more about that later.

My sister and her family flew up to Busan on December 20th to spend the X-mas together with us. We hadn't seen them since last X-mas so we were very excited to see how the kids were doing. Things move very quick when you are five (actually, we found out that five-year olds move very quick!), but we were relieved to see that the kids hadn't changed too much. Still cute as can be (when they want to be).

Sofie and Miklos entertaining a tired uncle

We had, of course, no problems finding them in the not-so-big airport of Gimhae, Busan. The one and a half hour drive home was almost more than the kids could take ... they had been looking so much forward to seeing "Uncle Paula and Peder" and all this transportation was just a nuisance ! Safely back at the apartment in Ulsan we got everybody allocated to their rooms, chatted for a while before getting the kids to bed and then .... out came the candy ! The selection of North European candy in Korea is limited but in Taipei they have an IKEA and unlimited access to at least a few varieties. Unfortunately it is Swedish candy, which is only half as good as the Danish stuff!

Scandinavian candy !!

Next day I went to work as the slave that I am (I DO feel sorry for myself...) while the others played around on Ilsan Beach and at the Ulgi lighthouse. I think it was a wee bit colder than when they go to the beach in Taiwan ?!? I gave them a little tour of the Yard before letting them go - they seemed duly impressed with the big machinery and the big ships.

I think they were used to more tropical beaches ... maybe they should come back in summer !

At the Ulgi Lighthouse

On the Wednesday I had arranged a proper tour of the ship yard for the family. First they were picked up at the apartment and brought to the memorial hall where they can read all kinds of trivia regarding the yard, it's founder and history. Then they were driven around the premises to see the block production shops, the blasting and paint sops, the Engine and propeller workshops etc. The tour ended with lunch at the Western Restaurant with me and our friend Anders.

There's a future Naval Architect ! Miklos at my Office in Ulsan

On theX-mas train in front of Hyundai Department Store

At the Tuna place on Ilsan Beach

After lunch the tour continued at the Hyundai Motor Company, where they got to see the assembly hall, the exhibition hall and the shipment pier from where 4500 cars daily are loaded on to big ships and carried across the Oceans to their new owners wherever they are. Our secretary Ms. Yang joined the family at the tour - although she is from Ulsan, she had never seen the factory from the inside and as the family needed a translator, it worked out well for everybody (except me, who was still working).

In the evening we had to decorate the X-mas tree one day early (according to our family traditions), as I would be away the next evening and we all wanted to decorate the tree together. It turned out quite nice, me thinks .... for a Tesco plastic tree.

Decorating the X-mas tree

The proud artists showing off their masterpiece

Peo - thinking "what the heck has gotten into them - they are all MAD !"

Thursday I had to go down to Busan for our project there. I was joining the last day of the Sea Trial for our first vessel there. The Sea Trial is basically the final test for the main engine, propulsion and ... well, just about everything. I had been a bit anxious as we had experienced many problems during the building process and I was fearing running into some big problem on the trial. But luckily there were no hiccups and all went well. Almost anyway .... we didn't get to do the structural tests and when we had to do them at the quay side the next day immediately after arriving back at the yard, I got stuck in a "cherry-picker" - a sort of crane - for 45 minutes in the freezing cold. I was able to make it back for the X-mas eve dinner ..... barely. I had about one hour spare!

At Bulguksa near GyeonJu

Bomun Lake .. this was just right for the kids!

They didn't just look cool - they WERE cool!

Christmas eve was going to be celebrated together with our friends and neighbors Marlene, Anders and Oliver ... and their very small dog, Luna. Peo and Luna have met a few times but haven't really hit it off. They try to ignore each other - I guess that's not too bad. If Peo gets annoyed she just gets on her feet and poor Luna runs to the other corner of the room! Peo is about three times the size of Luna ! The dinner wasn't a real traditional Danish X-mas dinner but it did have a few elements that I could recognize. Like the amount of food and the dessert. Ris a la mande is despite the foreign name a Danish delicacy - other nationalities may just call it rice pudding with almonds but what do they know ?? It's Danish and that is all there is to it! Inside the Ris a la mande there are some whole almonds hidden and whoever finds one of these almonds is entitled to a present! Funnily enough, all the kids found the almonds ... Sofie, Miklos, Oliver and me ! I did hear somebody complain that I had outsmarted them on the almond, but I was just faster and had better eyesight, Tamas!

X-mas dinner

Oops .... let me just get that spoon - I think I found something

Hehe ... look at this !

The proud winners! Miklos has already learned the Asian photo-pose!

After the dinner we walked all the way through the apartment to get to the X-mas tree (!), where we immediately started to dance (some might say "walk") around the tree, singing X-mas carrols (again, some would disagree). We had not prepared ourselves very well and without the printed lyrics, we were stuck with the songs the kids had learned in school..... and they were mostly in French!

Getting ready to dance around the X-mas tree

After all the action we had to go down to the street and get some fresh air and fire up the sparklers. It was really really cold and Inge had brought some really really big sparklers - they were never this big when I was a kid! Frozen to the bone we hurried inside again only tofind out that we had missed Santa ! He had come and gone while we were freezing our butts off down on the street. That's the problem with living on the 19th floor - if you're on the street you don't notice when Santa comes flying in. It looked like the kids didn't really mind though - they were pretty happy with what they had brought. Sister Inge had a sneaking feeling that Santa had hidden a few presents around the house, and she was right ! In our bedroom we found two big presents from Santa to Miklos and Sofie which he had forgotten to put under the tree ! That Santa .... he's getting old !

Santa was here !

Now this looks like a good present !

Even Luna got a present from Santa

On Christmas day we had big plans to go to Ulsan Grand Park so the kids could play and run around to their hearts delight. It was a good plan ... just a shame that it was so bloody cold ! We lasted about 2 minutes at the main entrance before we decided to get back in to the car and drive to the South entrance, which was much closer to the playground. The playground turned out to be great though. I enjoyed it thoroughly. All of us did, I think.

And when we got too cold (because we had to take off our shoes for the jumping castle) we went over to the butterfly garden to warm up. There weren't all that many butterflies around but it was still a nice little walk. And it was nice and warm in there.

Cold - in Ulsan Grand Park

Big-Kid Tamasi

On the jumping "castle"

If only it was a little warmer

Tamas enjoyed himself.....

Miklos also.....

Everybody did .....

In sync.

The butterfly garden

Most of the butterflies we saw were dead ..... in summer it's a lot better.

After lunch at Kraze Burger cafe ... a homemade hot choco

Enough to get a smile on anybody's face

A real cappuccino in Ulsan - what you say ?!?

The two girlfriends

I was getting a bit jealous now.....

Hmmmmmmm !!!!

From there we went to the Whale museum. I am not sure that the kids liked it so much, but Inge and Tamas seemed to enjoy it. At the new aquarium the kids were a bit more enthusiastic, while us grown-ups were a bit more reluctant. The have a small pool with 4 dolphins in it and it just isn't right to have these magnificent animals in such a small enclosure. I didn't like it at all.

Not so keen!

High and dry on the Whaler

The new aquarium

Grownups not so impressed with the facilities

Another cake - I don't even know what this one is for. Guess we don't need an occasion any longer ! It has become a habit.

Boxing day we drove down to Busan. We first stopped off at the Haedang Youngunsa - our favorite sea-side temple. It's been featured on this web page so many times that I have no more to say about it. It's great even in the cold! Then we continued on to the new Lotte Department store where we had lunch in the food court before sitting down for the water show/acrobatics show. No matter how many times I see this I am still impressed - both by the water show but also by the skill and bravery of the two young girls up high in the air without a safety line. After the show Tamas and I took a taxi out to the Yard. Tamas got a private tour of our vessel and seemed duly impressed!

Haedang Youngunsa

MY FAMILY !!!!!!

Paula, Buddha and the kids.

Maybe not as impressive as many of the Chinese temples, but still nice.

Inge and Sofie

Miklos rubbing the belly of the Happy Buddha - for good luck.

The acrobats and the water show - think it is the clown on the trampoline right now.

One of the young girls ....nerve wrecking!

Tamas with our second ship from Busan

On the forecastle deck of the first vessel - Christina Bulker

The anchor winch

Captain Maczak

Chief Maczak

It's all pretty big on these vessels !

On the way back to Ulsan I started to feel a bit rough. The work load the past weeks and the very cold Sea Trial was getting to me. Monday I went to work in the morning, met up with the guys at HomePlus for lunch and then left work a few hours early to get an hours sleep before driving the visitors to the airport. But upon seeing my worn face they decided to take the bus instead, so we just drove them to the bus stop downtown instead, so I could get back home (and continue to work under the warm covers!). It was really good to have them here - I just wished I could have had more time for them, but as it happened they visited almost at the worst time for that. Still - I think (hope) they had a good time in the cold cold Korean winter !

Sad to see them leave.....

But not really in a state for visitors either ...... the beginning of a week-long state of poor health.