Sunday, 31 July 2011

Adventure travelling to the end of the line!

Me, Becky and Barbra went to visit the sea sight in Oido, last subway station of Line 1.

After traveling on the subway for more than one hour, we reached our destination, Oido.

Doesn't anybody want to go to Oido?

We got oriented by studying the map of the surroundings and decided to go to the pier with the light house. We got advice of a gentleman we talked to, to take a taxi. Trip would be about seven kilometers and the fair for the taxi 6,000 Wong.
Taxis were waiting in line and the driver we talked to seemed to understand what we wanted. Fair price he pointed out with putting up four fingers. Yes, good deal I made! At least I thought so.
Half an hour later we were still driving and I had him pull over in a little fishing city; he didn’t seem to understand why. Becky handed over the 4,000 Wong and the man got furious. I mean really mad, he wanted 40,000 Wong. We refused, got out of his car. Outside I offered him 10,000 but he got even more angry, raising his voice and following us shouting “in car”. No reasoning was possible for the language barrier was too big.  So with hand and feed we told him to get the police, for he drove us somewhere we didn’t want to go.
The little fishing village we were "stuck" for almost an hour!

With our “bodyguard” following us the next forty minutes finally two policemen came. And luckily they spoke good English. The taxi driver giving his version in Korean and we giving our version in English. We got nowhere, so I offered a compromise: he brings us to the lighthouse in Oido and we’ll pay the 40,000 Wong. It worked! So finally we arrived at the required destination, the taxi driver, well I think it will take a long time before he accepts any foreigners again.
We enjoyed a real seafood barbeque luncheon and then it was time to get back to Seoul.

Finally we arrived at our destination!

Definately a place I'll take our seafood loving daughter to.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

The heaviest downpour in a century hits the Korean peninsula

I thought that after the monsoon period, 24 consecutive days of rain, we would get hot and humid weather.
But what struck Korea is something unbelievable, it’s pouring down and yesterday we got over 40 centimeters of rain.
The downpour devastated the country’s central regions, triggering multiple landslides and floods that killed at least 36 people, left 11 others missing and more than 50 people were injured.

Power supplies were cut in and around Seoul and thousands of vehicles were submerged on flooded roads.

Half-submerged vehicles are stranded at Daechi Intersection in southern Seoul, Wednesday. Record rainfall pounded the country’s central regions, causing multiple landslides that killed at least 36 people. / Korea Times

Traffic having trubble due to the downpour.

Police Officers are everywhere to redirect traffic when necessary.
Outside Youngsan Base Main Gate.
                               The streets of Seoul.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

General and Kathy Wells returning to the USA.

The terrible tragedies in Norway have made the past days dark ones. Our thoughts and conversations have circled around the families who have lost their dear ones and as the rest of the world no one is able really apprehend this terrible act.
Feeling devastated, the program set, continues and we had the goodbye dinner for the Wells'.
Surely many people feel it’s fabulous and exciting to see many different parts of the world, meeting international environments and encountering interesting wonderful people. Which it of cause is, however, it also has a downside. For you invest a lot of time and engagement learning to know people and put them in your heart. Then it’s time to say goodbye and you never know when you’ll be able to meet them again. The American military is much trained in moving around and several spouses I met, I asked how they manage all these goodbyes. Most of them answered me that they try to keep some kind of distance.
This week was filled with goodbye functions for Larry and Kathy Wells, who did their 2nd tour here in Korea. General Wells has been acting as Chief of Staff for US Forces Korea and United Nations Command for the past two years. He’s seen as a large contributor to have more involvement of the 16 Following States and the NNSC. The appreciating shown to him this evening was well deserved.
His wife Kathy, a fantastic woman, engaging in voluntary work and building relationships cross all boarders will be missed enormously. She has a personality you cannot otherwise then love. And even if I only had the privilege of knowing her for five months it’s surely hard to say goodbye.

Kathy Wells enjoying her last couple of days in Korea,

and General Wells, I'm sure is doing the same.

All of us wish them goodluck in their next assignment!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Hail to Colonel Jonsson & Major and Mrs. Norén and Farewell to Colonel & Mrs. Persson; Major & Mrs. Månsson.

Also the Swedish Delegation is this summer subject to changes, the last one for the coming two years.
In spite of summer leave for many families over 60 guests gathered to say farewell to the Persson and Månsson families after their service to the NNSC during the past twelve months.
We gathered at The Dragon Hill Lodge for the changing ceremony and many speeches were held to show the appreciation for the job done by the two Swedish officers. Both the Colonel and Major were awarded with a medal from ROK and US Defence Forces and they received a Crest and Coin of Excelence from the Swedish Defence Forces.
Colonel Persson receiving US medal from Colonel Taylor

Major Månsson, his wife Monika and children Elin and Karl receiving appriciated words and presents from the Swiss Delegates Quartermaster Captain Jan Breitenmoser.

Wifes and daughter who have supported and will support their husbands and father on their mission in South Korea.

Audience, including me ;) listening to the speeches held.
The State of Sweden got throughout the speaches recognition for the 58 years they have served the Armistice Agreement between North – and South Korea.
During the time these two officers served the NNSC there have been two major incidents to supervise, the sinking of the Pohang-class corvette Cheonan and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, both incidents costing many human lives and suffering.
In spite summer leave for many military familes, a great deal came to participate this event.

My life partner and best friend was surprised with congratulations and an out of the ordinary gift in the middle of the speeches for his 53rd birthday!
Now you know how you'll be remembered dear!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Swedish - USA Naval Reunion in South Korea

From the beginning of history, armed forces have carried banners or other emblems to serve as symbols of unity and strength.
This time-honored tradition continues. Leaders, commanders and soldiers come and go, but organizational colors remain timeless, representing a permanence and harmonization of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Yesterday's ceremony was held inside due to the heavy rain and the change of; Commander: United Nations Command (UNC); ROK-US Combined Forces Command; United States Forces Korea (USFK) started with the National Hymnes.
It was fabulous to see the appriciation General Sharp but also his wife Joanna received. In my world something the Swedish Defence Forces could adopt. I was very impressed by the way the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs, Admiral Mike Mullen acknowledged all the volonteer work and relation building Mrs. Joanna Sharp has done in the three years they lived and worked here.

 Admiral Mullen; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs, me; officially called the dependend and Admiral Bob Willard; PACOM.
After the ceremony Anders and I had the possibility to talk with Admiral Mullen and Admiral Willlard. Both wondered what we were doing in Korea and sharing their concern of the situation on the Korean peninsula. It was quite some time ago we danced in Admiral and Mrs. Mullen’s dining room, but we weren’t forgotten J

Admiral Mullen passes the organizational colors from the outgoing General Sharp to the incoming commander General Thurman. This represents the symbolic transfer of command responsibility and indicative of the sacred trust and confidence that a nation places in the capabilities of the new leader.

Mrs. Joanna Sharps work was honored and she received a medal for all her achievements in Korea

Anders and his military collegues from 17 nations saluting the colors. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Common cultural behavior between Korea and Sweden

When I in the early eighties moved to Sweden, I found it very, very strange that everybody took their shoes of when entering a home. Don’t get me wrong here, of cause one has a dry clean pair of shoes to put on when the weather requires it. No, not in Korea, you're oblidged to take your shoes off and NO indoor shoes to be putted ON! Nice dress without shoes ruins the outfit. Men in suites going on socks look at the least said, ridiculous.
In Korea this behavior has developed! Here the host has slippers standing ready for their guests…………………………………
Charming or????

Monday, 11 July 2011

Waterskiing on the Han River, thanks to Captain Lee!

Many years ago my dearest wrote in his CV, that one of his hobbies is waterskiing. This is an inheritance from the time Vincent, our son, had a speedboat and ….yes water skies too.

However, this was when we were living in Bromölla close to Ivö Lake and we moved from that place 2003 :)
Jaeyeon Lee, captain in the ROKA, arranged for us the possibility to water-ski. She picked us and Allan & Barbara Blücher up at our home in the morning. After more than an hour driving and enjoying wonderful sceneries, we stopped to have a Korean lunch. Satisfied and full of energy we drove the last kilometers and the first candidate Anders, was set up to give it a shot!

Anders waterskiing on the Han River :)

We all were impressed, that is to say until the professional, Jaeyeon, took off on a mono-ski and showed us how waterskiing should be done.

Jaeyeon Lee on her mono-ski

Last and definitely least it was my turn and I wondered what I got myself into sitting ready for takeoff. Must say I look more charming on a cocktail party and I think I stick to that in the future!

Not very elegant, but I managed to hang on :)

Will Allan and Barbara ski next time? I'm sure for they didn't only got a taste for more Korean food but also for water skiing.

Allan & Barbara enjoying the Korean food.

Mentally preparing before the actual act!

Releaved we managed without any injuries.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Changing of Commands throughout the coming weeks.

Many Commands are being changed throughout the summer. After two to three years, new people are incoming and of cause the equivalent is outgoing. So soon Anders and I will be veterans hereJ.

MG Gurganus giving over his Command to MG Regner

Due to the nature of posting in Korea many nationalities are represented at the ceremonies, farewell receptions and dinners. Many military have several “hats” on; United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and Unites States Forces Korea.

The ceremonies are really something special and as a US military spouse said to me: "no matter how often you attend the ceremonies still touches one" So true!

This week we said Hail and Farewell to Commander U.S. Marine Corps Forces in Korea and had a “small” farewell dinner party for General Sharp and his wife Joanne. The Sharps are very appreciated for their engagement and achievements here in Korea and will be missed by many.

General Sharp and I before going to our seats.

Anders and Master Chief Cole, Naval Forces Korea.

Round tables with appr. 350 dinner guests in the Basket Ball Hall

We listened to several music performances and speeches.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

EUKOR visit in Pyeongtaek - 평택 平 澤

I joined Anders, Rick and Stefan visiting EUKOR, one of the largest shipping companies specialized in transporting cars and other rolling cargo in the Harbour of Pyongtaek. We also had the possibility to visit the 2nd Fleet Base and paid our respect to the deceased from the Cheonan.
Pyeongtaek is a city located southwest from Seoul and was founded as a union of two districts in 940 AD, but didn’t receive city status until 1986. Situated at the coast it’s the home to a South Korean naval base and a large concentration of US troops. But more about Pyeongtaek on another occasion ;)
EUKOR invited us to see their operation and to be part of the small ceremony celebrating their newest vessel “Tiger” loading for her maiden voyage. EURKOR transports annually around 3 million cars worldwide and this “little” ship can take 8,200 cars on it multiple decks. It was impressive to hear about the logistics and to see how they load all these brand new cars.

On the way to the loading ramp of the vessel Tiger

Walking our way up, instead of taking the elevator, to the bridge.

Some of the cars waiting to be loaded!

Martin Malmfors and Anders Grenstad congratulating the captain of the Tiger and his crew.

The first engineer of the Tiger telling about the capacity of the ship.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Celebrating Swedish Midsummer and 4th of July: in the heart of Seoul

Last weeks we’ve been quite busy with, party-time ;) It started with the most appreciated Swedish celebration, Mid-summer. The small Swedish group living on Youngsan Base was invited to Stefan and Monika Månsson. They had prepared a wonderful Swedish buffet, with all the “must” regarding mid-summer food. We even had a small mid-summer tree and of cause some schnapps and traditional songs.

Yes the midsummer tree is wonderful, thank you Per and Allan!

Salmon, herring, fresh potatos, äggs & caviar, Janssons temptation, Swedish meatballs and more .......................................

A little bit of Sweden in "little America" in the heart of Seoul.

A week later we had the American National Day, hundreds of guests were invited to the US Ambassador’s residence to celebrate the 235th Independent Day. Next day lot’s of fireworks and on the actual day we were attending the reception of Admiral Gumataotao at the Dragon Hill Loge (the hotel on base). Dress code: red-white-blue J   Think several of you recognize my outfit………

Anders together with "The Statue of Liberty & Uncle Sam"

Youth quire singing the National Hymn

On Anders' request a picture he took :)
Red-White and Blue...................