I’M FAMOUS!!!

I am now officially a Korean TV star!

On Tuesday we kicked off the Smarter Cities Challenge in Pyeongchang County with the Mayor and his leadership team, the IBM Country Manager and the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team. What an exciting event! Local and National media were in attendance…the paparazzi were in full force.

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Apparently I struck a chord with several folks as I was asked to do a TV interview. Still waiting for the footage but I guess when you’re spending time helping drive tourism in a region that’s very similar to your hometown it resonates. As soon as I said “My name is Joy Belfoure. I’m from Denver, Colorado, where we have a very similar environment as Pyeongchang….mountains, rivers, streams and forest” I was a hit! What is it with fame and Asian countries?? Last time I was on TV I was in Mito, Japan at the Plum Blossom festival. I was asked for an interview as Vince and I were literally the only non Japanese people in the entire festival. Again…I’M A STAR!

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Following the kickoff we had an amazing lunch with the Mayor, his staff and the entire IBM team. The food just keeps getting better and better. There’s just SO much meat. So much for the diet!

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I did make a huge faux pas. Not realizing it is inappropriate to have bare feet when you take your shoes off, I ended up at lunch literally hiding my feet under the table so no one would see my bare piggies. Thank goodness I still have my winter toes (with no polish)! Fortunately I was able to quickly sneak out of the restaurant, hiding my feet with my jacket on the way out. 🙂

I woke up to snow…unfortunately it was only a dusting and not enough to cover the mountain. Although it’s not like it would matter as the place is completely shut down as ski season is most definitely over. The good news is there is talk of cherry blossoms blooming in Seoul…so we’re hopeful we may get a free couple of hours to go check them out along the coast over one of our weekends. Fingers crossed!! I can then say I’ll then be able to say I’ve seen cherry blossoms in three different countries. 🙂

The rest of the day was filled with interviews, interviews and more interviews. Nothing beats a long day like sitting in a room going back and forth with a translator trying to ask questions when you can barely function because you’re so bloody tired. Alas I survived and we got some amazing insight for our project. The good news is I know all about HAPPY 700 now…the logo of Pyeongchang County…and there’s a cute little snowman to boot. Health Amusement Peace Party Young…HAPPY!! It’s all about health, happiness and making the most out of life. Such a great way to live!

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The ride from the office back to the hotel was quite eventful. Nothing like sitting in the back seat of a long van on very windy curvy roads…I about fell over when I got out of the vehicle. I may need a “bag” for future rides…

Outside of the work stuff I finally got my workout in. I was even able to get 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. Of course by evening I was about ready to fall over as jet lag took it’s toll. Alas, I passed out around midnight…at least it wasn’t 2 AM this time.

Wednesday (today as I’m a day behind) started with an early wakeup (6:30)…followed by the snooze button…twice. The evil jet lag grabbed on and just wouldn’t let go!!! I do have to say…it totally feels like I’ve been in Korea for a month. The days are long, the nights are longer…and I truly have no idea what day it is. It’s all good stuff as we’re learning so much and having some fun along the way, but it’s certainly exhausting!! Oh, and the sun was out a bit…YAY! You don’t realize how much you miss the sun until you don’t see if for 4 days. That and I’m so used to 300 days of sun per year in my Denver habitat…the body goes into shock without the vitamin D.

We spent today in more interviews…starting with the Pyeongchang County Council.

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We followed our meeting with another amazing lunch! This time we got to experience Korean deer meat. I must say, bulgogi with deer meat is even more amazing than regular bulgogi, which I’ve now eaten at least 4 times. Bulgogi truly is my favorite Korean dish thus far. However I do think I’m going to have to go into MEA (Meat Eaters Anonymous) for my meat addiction when I get home…time to become a vegetarian! The good news is….today I wore socks!!! No more piggy hiding under the table.

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Antonio and I made a new friend! One of the council members took a liking to us over lunch. Apparently I like beer and our new friend is fond of the discotheque in Spain (where Antonio is from). Gotta love the connections we make.

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The toilet situation is really getting the better of me. I just happened to be in the loo when Sunny came in. I popped out of the stall and she looked at me with quite a shock. “What are you doing in there” she said…referring to the Korean toilet. I think she was pleased I was leveraging the local facilities but she made it quite clear there was a western toilet in the stall right next door…with a heated seat to boot! So much for trying to fit into the local culture! I will say it’s challenging to use the Korean toilet with high heels. I must admit I do appreciate the Koreans catering to multiple cultures. They sure know how to take care of their guests. I guess I’ll be using the swanky modern toilet from now on. 🙂 I must admit the modern toilets are one of my favorite parts of Asia. Vince Belfoure – I may be packing an electric toilet to bring home!

We actually finished a bit earlier today than all previous days. We made it back to the hotel by 5! I took a quick break to checkout the resort a bit. Too bad there’s no snow on the mountain. Back to work at 5:30…then I got my 1 hour workout in!!! Yay me! I have to admit I feel so much better this evening than I felt last night. Amazing what surviving day 3 will do for you…Vince tells me it’s the worst day for jet lag. Thanks for the support babe!

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Unfortunately following my amazing workout I had pizza, fried chicken and ice cream with strawberries for dinner. I must say…the strawberries here are the most amazing I have ever had!!! And apparently they’re even better in winter…I suppose it’s best I don’t get to try the winter ones…I’ll never be able to look at a strawberry the same again!

And with that…it’s time to head back to the room, shower and crash! I may actually be in bed before 11. Now that would be the perfect end to the perfect day!

Here’s a few more random photos…

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