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.


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….


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.



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.


Upon inspecting all parts of the cow…


…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.


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.


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.


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)….


…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).


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


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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