Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Despite a general awakening at six in the morning, there wasn't enough bathroom time for the gathered clan, which left us rushing towards Haeundae Beach with no guarantee of arriving in time.

I had no preconceptions about the 'Sunrise Festival', so was surprised to discover just how many people were out on the street as we made the short distance to the seafront road we needed to take. Coaches parked in the road, and illuminated boats headed out to sea where those on board could enjoy a better view of the expected sunrise. But some people were walking away from the seafront, and glancing at the horizon I began to suspect the reason why - an area of the horizon was obscured by cloud and I suspected that was where the sun was due to rise.

So we raced through the crowds - most of whom had probably been up all night as is the way in Korea - as though we were late for an evacuation, reaching Haeundae Beach about two minutes before the expected event at seven-thirty. But it seemed we were a little early in any case, sunrise was a few minutes later. Not that it mattered - it was cloudy.

At 07:34 the appropriate part of horizon was still obscured when fireworks were released, a boat shot water into the air, and thousands of balloons were released by the crowd. A cheer of sorts went up, although somewhat half-hearted - as you'd expect under the circumstances. Some people began to file away, but the rest of us stayed - the clouds were sufficiently sparse as to offer the tantalising hope that we might yet see what we came for.

Yachts sailed passed with New Year messages, an impossibly long kite flew over the bay, helicopters from the TV stations flew overhead filming us, and I've-Got-A-Jetski-Kim raced up and down the bay for reasons I can only guess at.

And we were finally rewarded half-an-hour later as the sun broke through the cloud-cover to finally reward us with a beautiful sunrise which was all the more appreciated for the warmth it brought with it. The tide seemed to be coming in, so it wasn't a moment too soon either.

The excitement over, we filed off the beach passing the KBS TV crew as we went. I was sorely tempted to hang around to see if they'd snag me for an interview but my partner was rushing away at some speed so there went that probably ill-advised plan. Hungry, we found another pastry store like Paris Baguette, but fortunately not Paris Baguette, one of a chain called Tours Les Jours, where we bought some breakfast, eating it hungrily on the way back to the apartment.

Rushing to catch up with the group after stopping to take some more photographs of Gwangalli Bridge, I managed to fall on some steps and twist my ankle thus getting my New Year off to a good start. Why I think I can behave as if I haven't got Meniere's Disease sometimes I don't know. My injury only got worse as the day wore on as well. They don't tell you when you start
blogging of the stupid things you'll start to do to get that perfect shot for your photo library.

Back at the apartment, I remembered that we were supposed to have a traditional Korean New Year's breakfast called '떡국' (ddeoggug - pronounced 'dug-goog') - a rice-cake soup which in this case was embellished with egg and seaweed.

Now thoroughly stuffed, we made our way home until next year. But the day's schedule was not yet completed. Korean children are expected to see their parents on New Year's Day if they can, so immediately afterwards we went to their apartment and shortly after that went out to a restaurant. I was assured if we did this they'd leave us alone for the rest of the day.

We got home and slept, uninterrupted, and without the feeling of being in a cooking appliance this time.

새해 복 많이 받으세요! ^^

Which means (if you've got Korean fonts installed!), "Hoping you'll receive lots of good fortune in the New Year".

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