Family Holidays.


I’ve gone on many, many family holidays, but what I remember isn’t exactly what I originally sent any postcards home about. The novelty of a family holiday is a notion that has alluded me for a long time.

I grew up the second eldest of five sons and it was what seemed to me to be a long time before I could enjoy my own holiday on my own conditions. Probably the fact that I was in that position in the family, where I seemed to spend more time on full family holidays than my other brothers may have, may have encouraged a sense of desperation I had to avoid mass family fuelled exodus when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I’m certainly more inclined to enthuse over a family holiday now, probably because I’m not a teenager anymore.

Back in the day, as all family holidays begin, the car was the transport of choice for all our communal adventures. If we were lucky we’d get to go on the boat to France, but this was certainly the exception rather than the rule. You can imagine the sense of expectation we all had as we prepared for those summer holidays down in Kerry, which was at least seven hours driving away. This trip was long before motorways, let alone well maintained rosds, and people didn’t see rules about seatbelts on in the back seat as that important. All five of us would somehow fit in the back seet, and if we were lucky one of us would manage to get the front seat.

My youngest brother, otherwise known as the baby (as he was at the time and still believes himself to be so), would wedge himself in between either my legs or my eldest brother’s legs. So there we’d sit, each of us vying for an extra inch, and somehow combining into a melee of arms and arses which was, for better or worse, comfortable. There was never a short straw, because the person who didn’t have my youngest brother between his legs was the one who had to sit behind my ould fella who had the seat pushed all the way back leaving practically no room for the person behind him. It can be such a joy to reminisce.

The last real family excursion I’ve experienced actually involved the grand arrival of the entire entourage in Korea for my wedding back in 2008. This was definitely surreal having all my brothers over scaring the locals every time they burst out laughing. Fortunately we were all grown up and knew better than to use one car for a family that included six large males, some larger than others, plus my poor little mother, not to mention Herself who was about to join these ranks, and her own family who were eager to show us around.

But it was different. Gone were the elbows in ribs and sandy arses wedged tightly together in the back seat of a Volvo. We were lucky enough to have Herself’s own ould fella’s mini-van as well as another car, although I can’t recall where that came from. This was unprecedented luxury transport of the highest order. There was even room to take a nap so as to sleep off some of the post wedding celebratory hangovers from the night before as we convoyed between destinations.

These days however, most of my family holidays are quite minor affairs, at least in terms of the number of people who travel. Myself and Herself tend to be the sum total of travellers, although the odd time my parents will be with us if we’re in Ireland, or friends who join us here and there. Unfortunately our journies have not managed to carry on that fine child hood tradition of wedging as many people into the back of the car as is likely will fit, but maybe with +1 soon to arrive, those days are soon to return. Oh. bliss.

This post is in response to Steve Miller, the QI Ranger , a top travel and activity blogger based in Korea, who asked today “What’s the most memorable trip you’ve taken with your family?”

Driving, it’s a Lifestyle Choice


Life, regardless of where you live, is a bit like driving: it doesn’t matter how careless and scary the fella in front of you is, you still have deal with whatever situation is put before you otherwise there’s a good chance you could end up in hospital (and let’s face it, even if the insurance does pay, you could be proper fucked).

A car. You can drive this.

It all boils down to this – so what if someone is doing something you disagree with as you pass them on the street or wherever, it’s likely that there is very little that you can do about them other than get annoyed and go on about your day, red in the face from whatever it is that this person did. You could possibly do something about it, like stand over and explain to them the error of their ways, however it’s likely you won’t (and I know I don’t – I’m not up on a high horse here), and I imagine most people sit around chewing wasps or whatever until they find something else that bothers them.  What does this do? Nothing. I say, shut up, deal with it, then get back on with your own life because there’s more important things to be doing that bitching about some useless strangers inability to function inside a prescribed (ha) social structure.

Cross at your peril (I mean it)!

I do my best to keep this in mind whenever I step outside the front door, because getting angry and trying to explain why a person or something happens doesn’t make it any better. Dealing with the situation where I come out on the best possible footing (unscarred) is always my first priority, and keeping my blood pressure as low as possible in the process is my second. Still, I’m no angel. Driving doesn’t help.

Gangnam traffic (fortunately I resisted the urge to caption it Gangnam s**** traffic)

There’s a lot of complaint out there in the Korea waeg universe. People complaining about racism, job insecurity and dodgy bosses, the weather, the food, the wrong sized shoes…well all I can say to most people is, hell at least you don’t drive here.

And yes, all these things are probably worse than driving but they’re avoidable (ignore racism and get on with your day, quit your shit job an get a better one, get an air conditioner/heater/raincoat, eat food you like, buy shoes from wherever they do fit, or just learn to flow), just as much as driving is avoidable, but it’s a lifestyle choice. I choose to drive because it makes my life here easier, and believe me, all the other complaints I listed above, I learned to deal with them also.

Another fuckin’ hero without a helmet on his scooter in Gangnam.

As soon as you get into a car here, or anywhere in fact, the social contract changes and all of a sudden your usual eye-contact polite smile and nod method of getting on with life is obscured by the windscreen so that means the rules go out the window…or something to that effect…and even if you’re a nice guy you still have to be a dick otherwise people are going to be stepping all over you for the rest of your life, y’here?

 

An Old Car in My Neighbourhood


Neighbourhoods are great. The longer you stay in them the longer you become accustomed to the way life is lived there. You find more and more unique and interesting aspects that make your neighbourhood stand out more. One thing about living anywhere, but especially in Korea, is that when you fly through a neighbourhood you are frequently only presented with a shell of where it is you are passing. When you spend a little time there, you get a better feel for that place and you can appreciate it more.

Take Yeongtong-dong. The shell of Yeongtong-dong is very familiar to anyone who has lived in Korea for any decent amount of time. It is full with highrise apartments surrounding a central business area where shops, restaurants, and assorted offices and schools dominate in an electric and frantic bustle. If you go through the middle of Yeongtong you get the impression that everything here is done in a rush, but once you step away from here, the pace does slow down a little.

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