Friday, January 10, 2014

Ringing in the New Year: Daejeon Style

I know, I know; it's January 10 and I'm writing a post about new year's eve. Maybe my new year's resolution should have been to procrastinate less. For me, the new year always gives me pause to look back at the past year and how life has changed. My last new years was spent counting down to midnight on a dingy casino floor with a hodgepodge of small-town senior citizens, meth connoisseurs and Canadian border-ites.

This new years was considerably more delightful. A group of other teachers and I decided that celebrating the new year in our small town would not be particularly festive. Someone mentioned Daejeon, and with a population of 1.5 million, was sure to have something going on.

Korea's version of the party bus.
Around 5 p.m. new year's eve seven of us scrambled on the bus to Daejeon. An hour and forty-five minutes and a shattered bottle of vodka later we arrived at the Daejeon bus terminal.

After some aimless meandering around the terminal my friends Guissell, Katherine and I decided to check in at a hotel across from the terminal. I admit I wasn't brave enough to wing it and especially didn't fancy searching for a love motel or jimjilbang at 5 a.m. Luckily for us, the first hotel we inquired about was vacant and apart from a slight sewage scent in the bathroom, was quite decent. Around 9 p.m. we met another group of friends who came from Jeonju and made our way downtown. The first spot that caught my eye read, "The Mexican Cantina." I literally jumped for joy at the thought of Mexican food and margaritas, and it seemed like the rest of the group felt the same. On arrival I realized we were in an entirely foreign-occupied bar, and even though it was my first time at this place I felt a sense of familiarity and comfort here.

Should I order another margarita? The answer is always yes.
One veggie tostada, two margaritas, a tequila shot from a stranger and a conga line later the group decided we should find a livelier place to do the countdown. We were wandering around bar street with 10 minutes to midnight and managed to find a huge bar called Taxi Cab. Someone shoved a couple sparklers into my hand and before I knew it, we were counting down, "5, 4, 3, 2, 1, happy new year!"

There was no midnight kiss, but lots of general merriment, a live band and plenty of cheap tequila. After some time, maybe around 2 a.m. we made our way to one final bar. It read, "Ho Bar," in red, fluorescent lighting and was completely packed with Korean revelers. I vaguely recall prancing around the bar with a few leftover sparklers, and I'm pretty sure someone made off with light-up Bud Light sign from the bar. I made it back to the hotel by 4 a.m., early by Korean standards. In retrospect, many great memories was made and I was incredibly happy to wake up generally hangover-free with my memory intact.
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