Holidays, part 3. Final.
Although I had a slight cold, I decided to stick it out and go out with friends on New Year’s Eve anyway. A lot of ETAs were in town for New Year’s, as well as some of their friends visiting from different countries. We planned to hang out together for the countdown and gather at Haeundae Beach for the sunrise – a big New Year’s event in Busan. We inadvertently split into two different groups, but everyone from out of town had reserved guesthouses in the Haeundae area.
As soon as my winter camp class that day ended, I headed out to meet whoever was nearby. That happened to be Arria from Seoul and her friends visiting from Singapore at Nampo! We walked around Nampo first, where the Christmas lights were still up, and headed toward Gukje Market and Bosu Book Alley nearby. Finally, after stopping by their guesthouse, we had a late dinner of Gamjatang, or pork spine soup, which is actually one of my favorite dishes. Finally we set out for the beach.
There were fireworks and lanterns being lit everywhere. We watched as lanterns flew dangerously close to the paths of some fireworks. Not all the lanterns made it, some catching on fire and tumbling back down to the beach. What a way to start off your year.
There was no official countdown, not even from the speakers that occasionally wished us Happy New Year and warned that fireworks were illegal, but someone on the beach shouted 십/ship! (“10” in Korean), and everyone followed from there. As soon as the clock struck midnight, there was a flurry of fireworks, lanterns and balloons. People were still setting off lanterns into the morning.
We headed to the guesthouse and tried to catch a few hours of sleep before sunrise. Waking up at 6:00am – the sunrise was generously at 7:30 – we, well I, threw on more layers, a hat, and didn’t look as bad as I expected!
We headed out, pet the big fluffy dog who had appeared in the hallway overnight, grabbed coffee, and waited on the beach. The tallest among our group spotted the sun first, over the heads of everyone who was crowded at the shore.
But soon we could all see it. It was beautiful, to say the least, and just a little bit more special than usual. It was my time watching the first sunrise of the New Year, and being so close to the International Date Line, this was one of the first in the world!