We arrived at Ulsan KTX Station, Eonyang in the late afternoon, and were met by son-in-law SG, his mother and his two sons (our grandsons). So wonderful to see them for the first time since they moved to South Korea at the beginning of 2018.
Halmoni (son-in-law’s mother, Korean for “grandmother”) took us straight to her home where she gave us snacks and drinks, and left us to spend time with the boys while she prepared a stupendous Korean-style meal for us!
Daughter arrived by bus from her work teaching English at UNIST, in time for hugs and tea. We ate as much as we could, from a table covered in bowls and dishes and platters Korean-style, with far more food than 8 people could get through.
The grandparents’ home, which we nicknamed “the mushroom house”, is an unusual style even for Korea, and was originally built as a summer restaurant. Halmoni spends a lot of time picking mushrooms on the nearby mountain, which she on-sells to the local market.
The boys, aged 5 and 3, loved the puzzles we brought with us.
Sangbuk-myeon, Ulju-gun, Ulsan
We stayed the night at the Grand Hyatt Hotel – and it was very grand! Lovely young trainees on Reception using their best manners and English, and a great shuttle service from, and back to, Incheon Airport in the morning.
Grand Hyatt Hotel (near Incheon), Seoul, South Korea
(Above centre & right: the view from our hotel window looking out towards Incheon airport – to left of picture)
From the airport we caught the subway into Seoul station, already bustling with people; not sure if it was a normal weekday or if the annual trek to spend Chuseok holidays with family had begun. We had our first experience of ultra sweet food at Berries and Beans cafe, and wished we’d chosen one waffle or pastry each instead of one of each…
Soon, we were on the KTX speeding at 300 kph from Seoul to Ulsan! We were going too fast to take good photos!
Only two hours to travel the distance between Wellington and Auckland. Bliss! Although the scenery was less interesting than we’d anticipated.
Bamboo Forest: one of my favourite places we’ve visited in South Korea. It’s part of a huge park in Ulsan. We got to the bamboo part via a gourd tunnel!
About 10 types of bamboo were labelled, and it was really peaceful to wander along the paths…
…until people began striding through on their way to work, with loud music from iPods etc, and the public address system started, with its mixture of cheesy advertising, schmaltzy 60s pop music and occasional classical tunes.
Such contrasts in this country that seems to have “grown up” too fast; there’s a lot of glitz and a lot of dirt, strict social hierarchies and cartoonish kitsch. We learned you have to take your shoes off before going indoors because the streets and pavements are filthy and never cleaned.