Ringing in the New Year

Trip Start Aug 25, 2012
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Trip End Feb 25, 2013


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Flag of Korea Rep.  , Chungcheongnam-do,
Tuesday, January 1, 2013

This blog entry could be called "How to save money on hotels by not sleeping" or "None of this would be legal in America".

As all of my blog posts begin, I worked all day on Monday and then hopped a bus headed towards Cheonan. We found each other easily at Shinsegae mall and then went to the train station to find Nicola's friend Landi (pronounced Lundy (or Lunde)). Once we were all together we went to The Taj Mahal restaurant to feast on spicy curry, naan, and jasmine rice. It was delicious and I think I actually felt warm for the first time in weeks.
After that we made our way to Dolce, an ex-pat bar that is popular in Cheonan. We sat around for a bit and had a drink while waiting for the rest of our group to come into town. Dolce is a pretty nice place, the employees speak excellent English, the drinks are good (but expensive), and they play all the popular American hits on the stereo. Because it is so popular and well known Doris and John wandered in and joined our group. After we had lounged for a while Nicola got a call from Kenah saying that she was at the mall and she had Michael with her. 
So the great pack of us headed out into the cold towards the mall to meet up with the rest of our party. Once we were all together Nicola convinced us we should go on a ride that is near the bus terminal. She called it a tilt-a-whirl, but really it was so much more than that. We walked down the streets lined with restaurants and shops and ducked into a door that would bring us to the ride. Before us was a disk with a circle of bench seats that faced the center and a railing behind the seats to hold onto. No lap bar, no seat belt, no safety. We got onto the ride and took our seats along with among about 25 Koreans. The thing was packed, every single seat was taken. 
Slowly the disk started to turn and jerk as the DJ shouted taunts down on the passengers in Korean. We wrapped our arms around each other's shoulders, trying to hold onto the railing that ran behind us to keep from falling into the center of the disk. The disk tilted and jerked, legs flying into the air as people struggled to stay in their seats. Directly across the disk from me there was a chubby Korean guy who did not appear to be having a good time. He looked sick and his eyes were rolling in his head as we jerked and danced around the circle. I cringed, praying that he wouldn't be sick on the ride. The DJ was in full control, making us spin and stop at neck breaking speeds and laughing down at the discomfort of the passengers. As the ride slowed at one point the sick looking Korean guy jerked to his feet, stumbling towards the exit. The ride jolted to a stop as he climbed over the railing, but instead of going back down the ramp to the lobby area, he climbed up the steps that led to the DJ booth and the controls. I blinked as he opened the door and the DJ slipped out of the way. A new cackling laugh replaced the old one as the sick Korean guy grabbed up the controls. Umm... what? The ride jerked back to life and we renewed our grips on the railing to prevent ourselves from falling. Moments later a Korean girl lost her grip, tumbling to the center of the ride briefly before crashing into the legs of the people opposite of her. She bounced against strangers and John and Doris were kind enough to try to hold her still so she wouldn't hurt herself in her tumbling. The ride didn't stop, instead it seemed to go faster, spinning and jolting as we clung to each other.
Finally the girl made it back to her seat and then the DJ turned his attention towards the foreigners (us). He called down to us in broken English, asking us where we were from and trying to get us to loosen our grip on the railing as he jolted the ride back and forth. He took glee in drawing attention to the chestier girls in our group as he sent the ride to bouncing in place. He cackled and then sent us to spinning again.
Finally... finally the ride was over and we all stumbled down the exit ramp and into the lobby area. The DJ came down to heckle us some more in broken English and noted that Michael was really tall (about 6'3) and I pointed out that Michael might be tall, but the DJ was pretty short (much shorter than me). He didn't take that too kindly and started yelling and pointing fingers until everyone burst out laughing.
After our exciting ride it was definitely time to start with the drinking... it was almost midnight by that point. We made our way back to Dolce where it was quite a bit crowded than it was before. We ordered ourselves some drinks and quickly made "friends" with a number of other people in the bar who were there to ring in the New Year. Some of our new friends were nice, and others were less appreciated. 
Suddenly, in the middle of a conversation someone shouted out that it was almost time. We all jerked to attention to count down the seconds until New Years. We all cheered and celebrated with a round of hugs and cheek kisses. The Dolce staff handed out glasses of champagne (or more likely cider) to the girls and we toasted ourselves. 
Midnight had passed, but we were not nearly done partying, there were hours of night left. We played darts and foosball and were eager to greet new people as they came in off the street. The hours wore on, but the party was not stopping, Korea has no bar time so Dolce would stay open for as long as we were there spending our money. Around 5:30 I had officially met my limit in being awake and I was more than ready to go. I said my goodbyes to the protests of my friends, and started to make my way to the mall where I would be able to catch the first bus home. 
I caught the 6:25 bus back to Shin Pyeong and spent an uncomfortable hour and a half in my seat watching the dark and snowy country side roll past, barely clinging to consciousness. I made it back to Shin Pyeong just before 8 and I watched the sun come up over the buildings as I walked from the bus stop back to my apartment. I barely got my pajamas on and fell into bed, eager to put 2012 behind me and get on with 2013.
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Comments

Carlo on

I don't know what you're talking about, that ride looks perfectly safe. ;) It looks like a lounge, did they serve drinks on that flight??

Also, save all of us from "less appreciated" bar friends! :p

Mom on

That 'ride' sounds crazy! A business in the U.S. would never get away with this, or they'd have constant reckless endangerment lawsuits against them. This is certainly a New Years Eve you'll never forget. Thanks again for sharing your amazing stories.

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