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.
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from Endless Advent:
“This year, may we enjoy this time of preparation, thrilling to angel song and sparkling lights, Snoopy’s Christmas and Silent Night; may the little boy drum for us, and the wise ones’ gifts be ours, as we birth each day the Christ of synagogue and stable. Let us be the gift we long for, after the paper’s discarded and the cards are put away…”
From Space for wonder:
“At this time of year, we can get caught up in the myth, the image of a baby as the fulfillment of hope rather than the start of a lifetime’s responsibility and care, the work of the village, not just the single parent or unstable family. So we hold all parents, all families in our hearts—the wounded and abused, the loved but uncared for, the grandparents exhausted from bringing up children when their own daughter or son is in prison or drug-dependent, mentally or physically unwell…”
from Where are the others?
“As we gather around the child of hope, we’re joined by a heavenly host; the kin-dom of heaven gathers with us—
But where are the others? The brothers and sisters, the half-brothers and step-sisters, the broken relations, torn-apart siblings, the unblended families, the reconstituted ones. All the children with bruises on their bodies; fathers with bruises on their psyches; mothers with bruises on their hearts? Here they are! The jailbird cousin and the crazy aunt. The depressed daughter who’s dragged herself out; the edge-of-hysteria, manic sister; the autistic grandson beind a haybale, rocking; the transgendered, the cis-gendered, the queer and the straight, the birth children and adopted children and fostered children; these fragile families of blood and of choice. All the whanau of Jesus: gathered to celebrate heaven on earth, in the promise of a child…”