Last trip to the Grand Park

We took a break today to head to the Grand Park for one last time and to try out the new water park that has opened there. We got there about 10.40 so had a twenty minute wait until the water play area opened, a very hot wait!

Waiting very patiently.

Waiting very patiently.

The kids were very glad when the water was switched on, there was a mini stampede to start playing.There is a great selection of different ways to get wet – the bucket filling up and then spilling everywhere is always a favourite. Gregor likes the curly slide better but Katrine thought the straight one was more fun.

It is a fantastic water play area, especially considering that it is free (there is a charge for the car-park but that was less the 2000 won). The water play is currently open all week from 11-4, with breaks from twenty to till the hour. It is closest to the swimming pool entrance of the park, in Ok-Dong, and once you enter the park you keep right as if you are walking to the bouncy marshmallows. It is only a few minutes up the hill.

Really nice way to get away from sorting and packing, with happy smiling kids.

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Our day trip to Kyoto

Last Friday we decided to head out of Osaka and take the train to Kyoto, there are three options: the local train, stopping nearly every stop which takes 50 minutes, the rapid which only stops a couple of times only takes 30 minutes and the bullet train which cuts the journey time down to 15 minutes, but costs nearly three times as much. We intended to take the rapid but ended up on the local train, our only transport mistake in the week – not bad given we couldn’t read most of the signs/information.

Kyoto is a top tourist destination for a reason, there are so many castles, temples, pavilions and other important building squeezed into a modern bustling city.  As we only had one day we decided to follow a trip advisor tour (here) using the city buses and buying a bus pass. One of the main pieces of advise on the tour guide is to get a bus map! Unfortunately we found the bus before we found where to get a map so set off without one. It made the day a bit more worrying as there was a couple of times when we weren’t sure we were heading in the right direction – however, we always got on the right bus going the right way.

The guide had a final temple, Kiyomizu, but by then we were all templed out and the heat was just getting too much. (I checked when we got back to the hotel and it was 39c, and felt like it!) So back to the train station and this time we did manage to get onto the rapid train and back to the hotel. It was an absolutely fantastic day.

Good start to the summer holidays

This week Katrine and Gregor have been to the Rising Stars Football Academy Summer Camp, which ran from 10am till 3pm all week (there is another camp in August as well, but we will have left by then). I was a bit concerned that dropping them straight into 5 hours of football when jet-lagged would be a too much but they have had a brilliant time all week, never once moaning that they were tired and didn’t want to go.

I got some good photos, unfortunately the day they had their “world cup” I forgot my camera so had to use my phone, so the photos are a bit grainy.

It was a very close and exciting match, and with a player in both teams I was guaranteed a win!

It was a very close and exciting match, and with a player in both teams I was guaranteed a win!

Katrine and Gregor's teams both made it to the "World Cup" final. Katrine was playing for Norway and Gregor for Scotland.

Katrine and Gregor’s teams both made it to the “World Cup” final. Katrine was playing for Norway and Gregor for Scotland.

 

Nice to be able to get photos of them playing together.

Nice to be able to get photos of them playing together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The winning team - Norway - by 1-0

The winning team – Norway – by 1-0

Katrine as team captain got a player of the day award.

Katrine as team captain got a player of the day award.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last day was penalties, this one was a Canadian (?) style one where the attacker had to dodge 2 defenders.

The last day was penalties, this one was a Canadian (?) style one where the attacker had to dodge 2 defenders.

Walking woman, she just went round and round. A very common sight here.

Walking woman, she just went round and round. A very common sight here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girls in action.

Girls in action

Katrine's turn on attack

Katrine’s turn on attack

Not quite sure what happened here!

Not quite sure what happened here!

Gregor in goal.

Gregor in goal.

Got to keep the ball in the line - he succeeded!

Got to keep the ball in the line – he succeeded!

Prize giving, every one got a named team photo.

Prize giving, every one got a named team photo.

Team de-breifing with the Hyundai Tigers (one of the best teams in Asia) practising in the background.

Team de-breifing with the Hyundai Tigers (one of the best teams in Asia) practising in the background.

 

Katrine also got the prize for Best Attitude, a  Holland top, which she is very proud of.

Katrine also got the prize for Best Attitude, a Holland top, which she is very proud of.

Got to have photos of both of them!

Got to have photos of both of them!

 

Hyundai Tigers warming up, very strange to be sharing a pitch with these guys!

Hyundai Tigers warming up, very strange to be sharing a pitch with these guys!

It was quite sad at the end of the week as they have made some brilliant friends in Ulsan, some of which we probably won’t see again so this Friday was another round of goodbyes. So goodbye Rising Stars and thank you for giving my children a wonderful enthusiasm and enjoyment for playing football.

 

80s Bootcamp

For the last few months I have been going to bootcamp, two or three times a week. As the summer break is nearly here today’s was an 80s inspired session – complete with power ballads to keep us going.

Smelling the roses

May and June is definitely festival time in Korea, there are festivals for nearly everything and something on most weekends. Last weekend was the huge Sand Festival in Haeundae beach but we wussed out of going there – it just sounded too busy. On a much quieter note Ulsan has just had it’s rose festival, held annually in the Grand Park. Flik Magazine have asked my to write an article (600 words – my first commission) so I dragged a group of friends down to have a look around.

The weather has turned here, from clear piercingly bright blue skies to low-level cloud cover that can’t make up with’s mind if it is going to rain or not. The temperature hasn’t dropped much so the humidity has started to increase. So not the best weather for walking around a garden but it could have been a lot worse.

Most of the festival action takes place in the evening, when the arches were all lit up and there were light shows and performances. However, it was still very nice to look round in the morning, and a lot less crowded so you can have a sense of calm as well.

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Everyone at the festival seemed very happy, and we were greeted with lots of smiles and nods. A very kind gentleman took a group photo of us, and we returned the favour with another group later on – it was very much that sort of event.

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There were large teams of women tending the roses, I like this photo as it look like they are colour coordinated with the flowers.

There were also a few groups of young school kids exploring around and posing for photos.

IMG_1078 IMG_1077There were plenty of places to pose for fun photos – which is very common here and we couldn’t resist doing a few ourselves.

IMG_1080 IMG_1089I guess I should probably included some photos of the actual roses.

 

 

 

Herb Castle

Last week I went to a birthday lunch to Herb Castle, a restaurant/shop/cabins, between Ulsan and Gyeongju (heading out on the road past costco, keep going till you see the Herb Castle sign, about half an hours drive).

The restaurant is nestled in the mountains and has it own beautiful gardens surrounding it.

IMG_1751Inside there is a shop selling candles and other fancy items (though you can get a fair few of the same things at Guam for cheaper.)

The food was really good and you have to give extra points for presentation.

It was a very nice place to go for a special occasion meal.

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Checked out the new cinema

As well as lots of useful new shops (with Western sizes!) and interesting places to eat UP Square also has a large CGV cinema, with both a 4Dx screen and an 3D IMAX screen.

So, in the interests of research I thought I had better go and experience both. The cinema ticket booth is on the 5th floor, but the screens are on floor 6,7 and 8. The ticket booth is a bit confusing as you have to take a numbered ticket from the wee machine hidden behind a pillar and then just hang around till your number comes up. Then you go up to level 7 and back down to level 6 (unless there is a sneaky way that I have missed to go direct!) or up to level 8 – where the IMAX and 4dX screens are.

UnknownWe took Katrine and Gregor to see The Croods, which is a pre-historic computer animated tall tale, with lots of visual humour and a bit of plot. (Usually children’s movies are dubbed into Korean but with the help of Google translate you can find some subtitle showings). However, the star of the show was the 4Dx screen, just looked it up on Wikipedia and 4dX was designed by CGV, the Korean cinema company, there is more information on the Wikipedia page, but basically the seats move and there is wind and vapour at the appropriate places (other companies do similar with different names). Taking the kids to the cinema is always better than watching a film at home but only by a bit. 3d improves this margin whilst 4Dx really makes it a standout occasion. Both of mine absolutely loved it and were grinning the whole way though.

Unknown-1So now I want to try out the 3D IMAX screen, and what better than a big action blockbuster. So I have just been to see Star Trek Into Darkness. A first for me: I went to the cinema on my own! I have always seen going to the cinema as a social occasion not a solo outing, but thinking about it once the film starts does it really matter if you are on you own or in a crowd. I went to the 8.50am showing (discounted tickets for the early shows) and the cinema was about half full. The 3D effects were really good and I don’t know enough about the technology to know if it was the huge IMAX screen or the 3D filming, but it was all very smooth and I didn’t get any motion feeling that I sometimes can if the 3D is a bit jerky. I had a really enjoyable time.

For the kids, I would definitely go to 4d again and for the right film then I would probably choice the 3D IMAX, it’s just really good having this right across the road.

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