Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year Begins.

Last weekend, my friend Sun Jin got married. I took the day off, since the wedding was in Cheonan about an hour from where I live and couldn't make it back in time. I was clearly the only foreigner there. They weren't expecting me and the shuttle bus driver to her wedding tried to not let me on the bus . He thought I was a student at the university there, but then I read the sign to him and said "She's my friend!" so they let me on the bus.

It was a nice, Korean wedding. Luckily, she had her Japanese friend there, who is an English teacher, so we talked and then took the train back together.

Here's a hot spring/fountain outside. Lots of people had their shoes off and their feet in the water. That was interesting.

It has snowed a couple more times.

Korea has never heard of the word "salt." This results in horrible sidewalks of death where people slip and slide all over the place, or crash hard.

The picture to the right is what the sidewalks looked like walking home yesterday. Literally, a gigantic sheet of ice. Everywhere.

Days in my apartment are spent listening to cars squealing and spinning their wheels up my hill.

This morning, on the way to work, I slid down the hill and then managed to fall when I'd finally reached flat ground. I didn't hurt myself, so it's ok.

Caffe Bene has wonderful Christmas/holiday hot chocolate. Here's the picture.

Continuing my eating of interesting food, Hae Jung and I went to an Italian restaurant her customer owns.

There is our pasta. There was an entire crab in the pasta. No problem, still delicious. You just cut the crab up with scissors and ate it!

Also, it said "Crap" on the menu, instead of crab.

The pizza crust/dough was black. She said that was because there is octopus ink in it. Hmm....
We also had salad, which was delicious.
The meal was quite good and I will go back again I'm sure.

Tonight was New Years Eve. I know I'm writing this before it hits midnight for most of you reading this, but hey, it's 2013!

Ben, Miguel and I went to Gwanghwamun/Jongno to hear the bell ring in the new year.

To give you information on the bell ringing, here is a quote from Wikipedia. "Bosingak is a large bell pavilion on Jongno in Seoul. The bell in Bosingak gives Jongno its name, which literally means "bell street." It was originally constructed in 1396 but destroyed many times by both war and fire. It was designated Bosingak by Emperor Go Jong in 1895. Under the Joseon Dynasty the bell was rung to announce the time, several times a day and to signal the opening and closing of the city gates as well it was used as a fire alarm. In modern times, the bell is rung only at midnight on New Year's Eve. Because of the massive number of people who attend this ceremony, Metro trains do not stop at Jonggak station on New Year's Eve."

The pagota in Gwanghwamun, where we were waiting for Miguel.
It was the wrong pagota. Oops.
We had an early day today at school, so we taught from 10-4 instead of 4-10, so if we wanted to do something, we would have time to do it. I know, normal people schedules...I did have a bit of a panicked wake up though, because I looked at my phone to check the time, saw that I had 5 minutes before my alarm went off, closed my eyes, then........no alarm. I looked at my phone. It was frozen on the time it had said when I checked it. I was soooooo worried it was going to be after the time I needed to be at work. Luckily, I hadn't fallen asleep and it was 9 minutes after my alarm was supposed to go off. Lucky! I taught til 4, got something to eat with Ben, then went home. I took a nap for about 2 hours because I was very tired after waking up at 8.

I then headed to the bus to meet Ben. While waiting for the bus, a man announced his love for me via dictionary. I could kind of see him watching me, then he brought his phone to me and it said, "Love at first sight." Unfortunately, he didn't speak any English.
We caught the bus to Gwanghwamun. While waiting for the one we needed, I checked the other buses to see if there were others that went there. There were 3. This proved to be useful for later.

We arrived in Gwanghwamun, which is the location that we were told they ring the bell. We were meeting Miguel at the pagota. He gave us directions from the Pagota. We couldn't find him. We called and figured out where each other was, said "let's meet at the Olive Young," witness someone fall HARD on the sidewalk while walking there, got to the Olive Young and Miguel wasn't there. We called and he said, "I'm at Olive Young!" Apparently there are 2 very close to each other, because we were each at a different one on the same street. (By the way, Olive Young is like an expensive Bartells.)We kept being at the exact same things, but in different places, which meant we didn't find him for about 30-40 minutes. We had a very festive meal of McDonalds because it was the only thing we could find, then headed to hear the bell ring. There were thousands of people and massive amounts of police marching around.

They had groups of traditional dancers and music players, which was cool and very loud. They had several playing really close to each other, which made it a little difficult to hear the music.

We then headed to hear the bell ring in the new year!

People were very impolite and extremely pushy and kept trying to elbow their way towards the bell or away from it. Then, there was a countdown to the ringing of the bell.

Then, the bell rang slowly and in a very somber way.

can't get taxi. bus arrives suddenly.

We knew it would be very difficult to get home at the time, so we escaped into a Starbucks and watched the festivities through the window. Those are all people that did not escape into Starbucks. We hung around drinking our drinks and chatting, then decided to head home.

We didn't think the buses were running, so we tried catching a taxi. Taxi after taxi drove past us, usually to go pick up someone Korean just down the road. We tried various tactics, like getting in the taxi or waving dramatically, but they didn't stop, which was irritating. We decided to try a different spot to catch a cab, which is when we tried the getting in the taxi, which had it's lights on and he said no, get out. Then, the bus I'd seen earlier that went to our area pulled up next to us. It was about an hour after it usually stops, so apparently they have them running longer on New Years. Thank goodness! We would have never gotten home! Then, I went home and wrote this blog. Overall, it was an exciting New Years!

This is the bell, but we couldn't get closer. It's very small on the right side.
Here's the video of the bell ringing and us saying hello. I hope you can hear  it!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on navigating that madhouse -- which looks incredibly fun (no sarcasm). It's a great and memorable way to spend NYE, but a little scary if you think you'll never see home again.
    Happy New YEar -- we still have 12.5 hours to go!