Ezra's 1st Birthday Party

We all gathered at our daughter's house last Sunday for our grandson Ezra's first birthday.  Rocketman got his camera ready to catch all the action and I had mine ready to go as well.  I use a point and shoot camera because I have no idea what an FStop is and I don't care if I shoot in RAW or JPeg.  But Rocketman LOVES his camera and all the books he bought to help him take better pictures.

My Second Home in Korea – Jumunjin, Gangwon-do

I’ve been coming to Jumunjin in Gangwon-do as long as I’ve known Herself. She’s a local, but she hasn’t lived here since she finished highschool and moved to Seoul to go to university. Not long after we started hanging out together she sneaked me down here and we hung out at the beach in between the time she would spend with her family. It wasn’t long before we started to make regular trips here and these trips increased in frequency once I was formally introduced to her parents. Now I’d almost say I’m a local here. I don’t think too many of the real locals feel that way.

Noah Days

Noah had a few days without daycare so he spent them with his "Korean" grandparents.  I love the position he took to play Legos.  Oh, to be young again.  I always answer "yes" and "no" questions in Korean along with some other simple sentences.  Noah understands a little Korean because of this and can even count to 10 in Korean.

My Korean Family

In case you hadn't been reading my previous blogs, you might not know that I am an Englishman that is currently living in Korea and married to a Korean woman.  This has given me first hand experience of a fairly typical Korean family.  This is an experience that has not always been plain sailing and is interesting because the nature of the family here in Korea is completely different to that in Western countries, and a million miles away from that of my own.

The green, green grass of home…

1 year 6 months 25 days and 8 hours after I left Korea I returned to England for my winter vacation. Shrugging the trend set by most other teachers in Korea of heading to the sunny and warm climates of South-East Asia I decided it was high-time I returned home to visit family and friends and indulge in all the luxuries of England that I have recently and increasingly begun to miss.

I arrived in Manchester late on Saturday night after a hash of air travel complexities that involved delayed flights, reroutes and lost luggage. Shattered from failing to sleep on the long-haul flight from Korea to Finland as planned, and having stayed up the whole night virtually in Korea to try to fool the impending jet lag, I rocked up to Dan and Anna’s gaff and was welcomed with some English beer, decent red wine and a reunion with my other good friends Chris, Zoe and Nick.

Getting my Knees Dirty on Korean New Year

On Friday night we boarded a bus in Suwon expecting hours of traffic packed in between tumults of snow. We hoped the journey would take less than five hours and, if we were lucky, the bus driver would at least leave the reading lights on, unlike the last time we took the bus.

We knew what was ahead. Korean New Year is famous for the lines of impregnable traffic on the express-way, and for the previous two days, both the weather forecast and my father-in-law had been warning us about the snow that was going to stop the world that existed around us.

Two hours into our journey along the expressway I awoke with a shudder and snort. The bus was cruising steadily along the expressway at an unfamiliar speed, perhaps over 80 kilometres an hour, and we were passing Munmak, thaat perpetual traffic black spot on the Yeongdong Expressway.

August Rush: The First Birthday Party

The failure to go to England had another consequence. Our son would celebrate his first birthday in Korea. So we had four options in order of my descending preference: do nothing, have a meal with friends and family at home, have a meal with friends and family in a restaurant, or submit to the complete circus that is a baby birthday hall. Yes, they have baby birthday halls.

Tired, sick, rejected from a job I wanted, and generally extremely fed-up, when my wife broached the subject with me, I famously said “just choose the option you think best”. Tens of thousands of years of language development and men still haven’t learned not to speak those words in sequence to women. I suppose one would have to conclude at this point that it must serve some evolutionary purpose, but if it does I certainly can’t imagine what. And I said it in Korea.

August Rush: England

I was scheduled to return to England with my wife and baby son on the 25th, but that never happened; we cancelled our tickets on the 20th. Our baby is not a good traveller. In fact he is not a good sleeper or eater either, so this last year has been exhausting. Losing face in Korea is best avoided, so I’m not supposed to talk about it, but that’s the reality. It's been an extremely tough year. Our trip to England felt necessary for the sake of relatives and an ageing parent, but it was probably always the wrong decision, one made out of emotion rather than logic.

Chuseok Diary

I’m sitting in the living room after finishing another massive feed. My mother and father in-law are visiting, as is my brother-in-law. It’s kind of a proud moment for me. Today, I’m the man-of-the-house that is hosting the family’s Chuseok get-together. Herself doesn’t really have a big family – only her parents and one younger brother – and the majority of her parent’s brothers and sisters have lived far away for a long time so the family tend to do their own thing at Chuseok. It’s small, but cosy enough in its own way. It’s also quiet, which is also nice especially when I compare it to the frantic Christmases we have back in Ireland.

As I said, I am the man-of-the-house. That being said, herself and her ould won are doing most, if not all, of the work. It’s not because I can’t, it’s more because Herself’s ould won won’t have me doing anything short of setting the table, not that I’m complaining or anything.

Unfortunately, Herself’s parents can only stay a couple of nights before they shoot back to Gangwon-do on the east coast. But, we both could see that they were happy to be here for Chuseok. The change and the journey are always nice I think, and I think that they had less to worry about coming here. Our apartment has more room and is a bit more comfortable than theirs, especially when the whole family comes over for Chuseok. So, while they did have a three hour drive to get here we both could feel that they were very relaxed and happy with the change of scene.

August Rush: A New Home and a Financial Setback

Since I last wrote I feel as though I’ve lived another lifetime and I’ll forever call it August 2011. It’s hard for me to explain recent events in my life in a short narrative so over the next few days I’ll post a series of entries under the theme of my ‘August Rush’.

My wife and I decided to buy an apartment. Since we returned to Korea we’ve lived with her mother, and that had both its emotional and logical reasons, but it changed the nature of our relationship and not for the better. Summer tends to be the slow season for apartment hunting in Korea, for the very good reason that people don’t want to hike around in the unbearable heat as I have just spent the last month doing, and with prices of apartments in Busan rising at a bubble-like pace, we were watching our relocation options dwindle by the month. We had to take advantage of any lull there was.

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