Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Eve

We were invited to the Haeundae area to stay overnight at a friends' apartment again, this time for the New Year Sunrise Festival held on Haeundae Beach.

Shortly after arriving a meal was cooked, and the ten adults and four children present settled down to eat. In typical Korean fashion, the meal began while one of the women still cooked in the kitchen, and two of the men grappled with a portable barbecue, fortunately at the opposite end of the table to where I was sitting.

Sunrise at seven-thirty meant we had to be up at six, but we also needed to stay up until midnight to see in the New Year officially, so with some time to kill we went for a walk along the seafront before finding our way to a PC Bang where we played Kartrider - though unfortunately it wasn't 'affiliated' so we didn't score extra points or get any extra equipment for the duration. But Nexon were running a 50% more points promotion to maintain punters' interest on a day they really should have been doing something else. My partner fell asleep at her computer and her friend was so tired she slumped in her chair but still consistently finished above me in the races.

Later, back at the apartment, where they were still eating, I was introduced to 'Korean Poker' (also known as 'Go Stop'). Unfortunately it appeared to have more rules than the Inland Revenue and after several years dealing with them my tolerance for such things is almost non-existent. Having unsuccessfully tried to hide a slightly pained look from my face after winning my second game and not understanding why, my hosts proceeded to play amongst themselves with myself gladly watching. As cards were disposed of they were thrown down onto the 'table' (OK - the mattress in this case) with such force that they make a slapping noise, not to mention giving your upper arm muscles a good workout. It seems Koreans like this in-game explosion of violence and there were smiles and frustration all round. It was very Korean. Normally Stop-Go is played for 100 won per point and is a very popular form of gambling here.

Midnight came and my partner and I kissed in what should have been a private moment, but we were seen and there was much commotion - such public displays are not common in Korea. Our hosts had another friend staying with them, and she
excitedly invited her husband who was also present - but had just emerged from the bathroom - to mimic the gesture, as 'that's what they do in the West'. Instead she got the towel thrown in her face - and I guess you could say that that's what they do in Korea. It was playful - but nevertheless the message was clear.

Many apartments in Korea have underfloor heating. Our hosts left it on overnight which might have seemed like a good idea at the time given the cold temperatures outside, but it was so hot sleeping on a mattress on the floor that I dreamt I was trapped in a microwave.

No comments:

Post a Comment