Somewhat belatedly: Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year.
This is the first time we have spent the festive season this far east and so far away from home*. As one might expect in a place where Christianity is not the national denomination, Geoje Island does not ‘do Christmas’ in a big way. Commercial elements were recognised by the local shopping mall and the hotel up the hill but some pretty lights and PA systems playing 140 bpm happy hardcore remixes of Jingle Bells et al were about the extent of it.
A couple of carefully chosen decorations have been providing a seasonal lift to our flat along with cards that managed to reach us in spite of December’s snowbound turmoil in Europe (for which many thanks). On the night of Christmas Eve we visited a Canadian/Chinese couple with a young son and on Christmas Day we invited a couple of Dutch friends plus their young children to visit us. Between us all we created some high Christmas spirits and enjoyed the weekend.
We decided that New Year’s Eve had to be celebrated big-city-style and headed to Seoul. As it is mighty cold up there at this time of year (and the city was suitably coated in snow and ice) we decided to forego the annual ringing of the centuries-old Bosingak Bell (Seoul equivalent of gathering in Trafalgar Square) and headed for the university district of Hongdae.
Plan A to get into Club Evans for a bit of jazz came to an abrupt end when we discovered that they did not take reservations and we got there early (21:30) to find that no seats were available. Plan B became a dive underground into the FF Club where a selection of Seoul’s hippest indie bands (whatever that might mean these days) where giving it ten tenths and the bar offered a free drinks happy hour between 11 and 12. The music was good, the alcohol awful, the crowd eclectic and the atmosphere great: for a few hours I felt like I was an undergrad again.
While Lunar New Year has yet to occur; during which the year of the Tiger will become the year of the Rabbit; I will leave the final ‘word’ to a Hongdae street artist who clearly has a sharp eye for an occasion…
Happy New Year, Seoul Street-Art Style (photograph courtesy of Leyla Robson)
*For those who are checking the distances, I concede that Cape Town is further from London than Geoje but being able to visit family while in RSA during 2008/09 made a difference.