Last night my wife and I joined another couple for a New Year’s celebration at the Seoul Plaza Hotel located across the street from Seoul City Hall. We had a wonderful view of the festivities taking place in front of the city hall. The evening was elegant and fun. We feasted buffet-style and washed it down with wine. We also enjoyed some entertainment. We sat for a caricature artist who sketched comical renderings of our faces. A magician performed some tricks at our table with coins and cards. Although we couldn’t figure out how he created these illusions, I joked that it would have been an even bigger feat if he could magically speak English. We also enjoyed a wonderful a capella quintet that sang a variety of songs in English and Korean, including Roy Orbison’s "Pretty Woman," one of my personal favorites. At midnight, we rang in the new year with party poppers. Mine was a dud, so I just clapped in lieu of setting off a noisemaker.
Our evening at the Seoul Plaza Hotel wound down about 12:30 a.m. We then walked across the street and mingled amidst the throngs of partygoers who celebrated on the city hall plaza. A rowdy group of people, mostly foreigners, gathered around a Korean hip hop-metal banging out unintelligible tunes. A gaggle of Koreans lit fireworks, setting off noisemakers and Roman candles. It was both dangerous and chaotic, so we circled around the plaza to the outdoor ice rink. Dozens of Koreans etched the ice with their skates. I could almost hear the rink crying for a Zamboni machine to clean the ice.
Last night was the best New Year’s celebration we’ve had since 2002, when we ushered in the new year in Cairo, Egypt at the former royal palace watching Egypt’s most famous belly dancer perform over dinner. Nights like these are rare. Our New Year’s celebrations are most often spent at home watching "New Year’s Rockin’ Eve" or some other televised extravaganza.
Blog Notes: I guess that people really do read this blog! Tonight we had some friends over for dinner. One friend who often reads World Adventurers noticed in my entry "Five Things You Don’t Know about Me" that I like baked goods, particularly snickerdoodles. She showed up tonight with a plate full of snickerdoodles in tow and told me that she baked them because she read that I like snickerdoodles! How about that? Thank you for the snickerdoodles! I will thoroughly enjoy them. In a few days she will probably read this note and laugh at the irony that I’m thanking her on my blog for noticing!
So the Seattle Seahawks are back in the National Football League playoffs. Unfortunately, they had the worst record of all teams in the playoffs, 9-7, and limped into the playoffs this year after a spectacular 13-3 season last year. No one is holding much hope that they will go far in the playoffs. They face the 10-6 Dallas Cowboys in Seattle next weekend. While they beat the Cowboys last year in Seattle, the Cowboys should have won that game. The ‘Hawks will have to play their best ball to beat the ‘Boys next weekend. The one silver lining this year–the reigning Superbowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers will be sitting home this playoff season. After so many obnoxious Steelers fans argued that the outcome of the last year’s Superbowl was fair and decried Seahawks fans as whiners for pointing out questionable officiating calls made during the game, it’s nice to see the Seahawks back in the hunt for a Vince Lombardi trophy this season while Steelers fans sit at home and cry.