Tuesday, August 22, 2006

18 Lovely children

Our eldest daughter's teacher tells me that she is a pleasure to teach - enthusiastic, hard working and actively participating in class. Unfortunately for us, by the time she gets off the bus in the afternoon she has mutated into the spawn of the devil. It is obviously taking all her reserves of energy to perform in the class room leaving less than zero for us.

I hope she gets used to the new routine soon and bucks up her ideas or there will be severe fireworks in our house! I know she is only five and has taken a lot on board lately, but her behaviour is really testing my patience and understanding. Joy joy joy.

17 Sights of Seoul

Just nipped up to our local mini-mart - the Locky Higher Martuh - aka the Lucky High Mart on account of the fact that it is at the top of an almost vertical hill. On the way, saw a lady carrying her aged mother piggy-back style to the shop, both nattering away to each other.

Halfway along Itaewon High Street with its million hand bag shops, you pass a shop called "Make yourself Fucking Lovely". Contrary to expectations it is not a sex shop, but is a small boutique selling trinkets and t-shirts. Confident name, eh?

Last Saturday we visited some people with a magnificent view from their apartment over the Han river to the office districts beyond. One sky scraper was reflecting the setting sun in all its windows like strips of brightly shining gold, and from the roof top stretched a huge high rainbow, right up into the sky, while below on the river people were waterskiing past.

16 Ladies who lunch

Went to my first coffee morning today with the British Association of Seoul ladies. Drove over with my new next door neighbour and got to see a lot of the centre of Seoul from above ground, instead of popping up from various random locations on the underground. Found out that lots of places are much closer to me here than I had ever imagined!

Driving around the city, the streets are wide and the roads are smooth. One of the main roads is huge, with a massive statue of a kind of Mongolian style warrior on a high pedestal standing high over the traffic. In the background a huge Korean palace roof is framed by high rocky mountains. A very dramatic view of the town, and a reminder of a) how ringed by mountains we are, and b) that the warrior man is probably a reflection of the fact that the North Korean army regularly practices its invasion routine to re-take the South.

Everyone likes to say that an invasion will never happen, but on the tour of the kids school the other day, we were informed that in the case of an invasion the children will be sent their school work using the school computer server which we can all log onto from wherever in the world we have fled to. Perhaps we should formulate some kind of plan B....

On to the coffee morning and a question of going through the motions of meeting new people, listing our postings, length of time abroad, the odd inquiry about spousal employment and children as we all try to pigeon hole each other and work out where everyone is coming from. On the whole, the girls were pretty up for it. One, who is moving to Bangkok next week, told how she wept with relief on a recent visit to Thailand where she walked into a supermarket and found Branston pickle and Weetabix staring at her from the shelf. Describing grocery supplies here as "dire" (which they are), she was also able to highlight some of the good sides of life here including skiing almost every Saturday of the winter. Hurrah (and who needs pickle anyway....?)

Reminded again of how transitory this life is. The BASS welcomed six newcomers and simultaneously said farewell to about five people.

Lots of bling on show - most women wore minimum one carat per ear with a few other diamond mine annual outputs on their ring fingers. Was very glad to be able to chat through the experience with down-to-earth next door neighbour on the way home. Coffee mornings are fine, but you always leave the room feeling like you have sat one of your degree papers... drained!