And Now It’s Time for Our Kickoff…

Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Sunday!

I’m sure I missed some greeting, but you get the idea. The good news is I am literally sharing this day with my new friends from all over the world. Today we are representing 4 continents and 5 countries. It’s a sign that our Smarter Cities Challenge team is a worldly combination of skills, background and experiences. And after all this time in planning we have finally come together for day 1 of our 3 week journey.

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And what a day it has been!! Of course it started with me not getting nearly as much sleep as I was hoping. I think I finally crashed around 2:30 this morning and spent most of the night tossing and turning…attempting to adjust to the 15 hour time change. As you can imagine that did not go well. I rolled out of bed around 8 AM…negating all hope of getting to the gym for a workout. Alas, it awarded me a daytime view of the Grand Hyatt Incheon. What a lovely hotel!

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I hit the breakfast bar to be greeted with the yummiest of bread fruit and pain au chocolat. I know…not quite the Korean breakfast one would imagine, but there will be plenty more days for that.

At 9:50 AM I headed out the front door to catch my ride to Pyeongchang. I nearly fell over when I saw the car IBM had set up for me….

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HAHA! If only I could be so lucky! My real ride is a big black van that seats 8…so much for the lap of luxury.

I met part of our team (Justin, Souvik and Antonio)…and we swiftly departed for our 3 hour drive to Pyeongchang. Stephanie and Sunny were traveling in another vehicle coming from Seoul proper, accompanied by our fearless Corporate Citizenship leaders, Ji-Hyun Shin (South Korea) and Louise Davis (Australia). Fortunately we took a break along the way to get the entire team together and to stop for a yummy cappuccino.  We were all in need of strong coffee by this point.

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An hour or so after our brief rest, we stopped for the most amazing lunch…and a very warm welcome to South Korean food and culture. At first I wasn’t quite sure if we were going to be sucked up by the strange hoses coming from the ceiling, but I soon figured out it was to vent the smoke coming from the Korean BBQ.

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Upon inspecting all parts of the cow…

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…and wondering what we would end up with…we were presented with an amazing display of appetizers, ranging from spicy kimchi to sweet spinach and sautéed bean sprouts.

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The main portion of our meal introduced us to bulgogi. My-oh-my, this is favorite food #1!! Bulgogi is defined as thinly sliced or shredded beef, marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, sugar, scallions, and black pepper, cooked on a grill…at our table…by Ji-Hyun. SO YUMMY!!!

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Lunch also provided the opportunity for our “VERY FIRST” group photo! We already feel like royalty with all the paparazzi…let the team-building begin.

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5 minutes post lunch we arrived at our home for the next 3 weeks! Cotswold was ecstatic to finally be out of the van and on his way to the room for nap #3. He was very excited to be staying in the Blue Condo as “blue” is his favorite color…just like his brother Alex (of the species homo-sapien).  🙂

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Upon our arrival to the room Cotswold was sad to report that there was not quite enough snow for a quick run down the mountain. We were both disappointed, but it’s just as well as we didn’t bring any of our ski gear.

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After a bit of unpacking I left Cotswold to relax and headed to room 702…our team headquarters for the next 3 weeks. It was time to get down to business. After lots of water (South Korea is already prepping for the Olympics)….

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…we were all briefed and ready to begin our adventure. Team photo #2 with our new Smarter Cities Challenge jackets (thanks to our fearless leader Anne McNeil).

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Following the photo shoot we were off to enjoy another yummy meal. Beef filet with potatoes dauphine (AKA french fries). 🙂  And what a view…

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We called it a night around 8 PM and I have since returned to my room ready to hit the sack. Surprisingly I am not tired…considering I’ve been up all day with not much of a yawn in sight…

With that being said…I just yawned so I will bid you adieu for one more day. And with that a wish of “Joy” to you as I now know what my name looks like printed out in Korean.

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