The journey begins at 9:35pm. We had to work on New Year’s Eve, but we were told we had New Years Day off (score!). After our 6 hours of teaching children the wonders of English, we hopped in a cab and headed downtown to our favorite bar Portebellos
If you read my last post, you will remember how much food was at the Christmas Meat Beast Feast. Our New Years Dinner was basically the leftovers, plus a few additional items. We had turkey, chicken, ham, potatoes, vegetables, pesto pasta (remember that most of this food was suppose to be for our Christmas feast) and drinks!
The next part of the night included a lot of mingling, drinking and preparing for the 2014 toast.
2014! We made it! The countdown in the bar was great, we watched a K-pop countdown. At this point we had no idea we would be up for another 8 hours.
1:00am – 3:00am
Lots of dancing was had, so we became the DJs of our own party (a lot of DJs = a lot of problems, ha). The night began to pass quickly and an absurd idea about staying up to watch the sunrise was tossed about. In Korea, watching the sunrise on the first day of the New Year is a bigger deal than staying up until midnight and toasting the New Year. At the moment though, dancing was way more important.
3am – 5am
This was the point where many people started bowing out and heading home. It was also in these hours that the plan of going to watch the sunrise became less of a joke and more of a concrete plan. By 5am, my thinking was, “We have already stayed up this long and we might only be able to watch the New Year sunrise on a beach once…..might as well”. So the number of people continued to dwindle until there were only a few of us left in the bar, 8 to be exact.
The bar tender, Jamie, offered to drive us to the beach, get breakfast and watch the sunrise. We waited while he shut down the bar (I am pretty proud we closed down the bar at 6am… 8 solid hours inside this one bar, ha!). Then 5 of us piled into is small car and headed over to the beach. He dropped us off and then found a place to park. Since I had been in Pohang, I had never seen the beach so crowded and this was at 6am! People were lighting lanterns, there were men on horses riding up and down the beach, and more boats in the ocean than I had seen before. I loved seeing this part of Korean culture.
After we ate some breakfast, which consisted of baked fish, beer and soju (I did not drink the beer or soju). Kevin and I wanted to stand on the beach and make sure we didn’t miss the sunrise. My body was ready to quit and I really wanted to get in a cab, go home and sleep, but we were so close. The sky was getting light out, it definitely felt like morning, but there was still no sun. I wondered if all the pollution and haze would keep me from seeing the sun. Kevin and I decided to walk down the beach, past the crowds of people so that after the sunrise we could hail a cab and get to bed. It seemed like hours, really it was only minutes, until the sun finally peaked out from behind the mountain. We made it! Sunrise! I expected cheering, clapping, whistles, but there was only the sound of hundreds of Koreans silently making a wish.
The sunrise is much more important than midnight when the New Year is involved.