Author Archives: Joy McConville Belfoure

Final Thoughts…

As I sit here in Denver, just 2 shorts weeks after having returned from Pyeongchang, I’m still in awe of my experience! It seems like forever ago that we were all together as a team…Antonio, Sunny, Souvik, Stephanie, Justin and Ji-Hyun…my new friends!

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I can’t help but remember all the amazing experiences we shared with each other and with our lifelong friends in Pyeongchang. Such an amazing and life changing journey! From day 1 when we met at a rest stop in the middle of Korea, heading east on the Yeongdong Expressway, to our final goodbyes in Seoul before we all ventured back to our homes…every moment was special…every moment will stay with me until we meet again….

Thank you to Pyeongchang for giving us this unique opportunity. Thank you to IBM for bringing us all together to make an impact. Thank you to my husband for letting me leave you alone for 3+ weeks with our two children (under 5) to let me go on this journey.

Thank you Sunny for your smiles.

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Thank you Justin for your stories.

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Thank you Antonio for your humility.

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Thank you Souvik for your knowledge.

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Thank you Stephanie for your leadership.

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Thank you Ji-Hyun for your laughter.

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It’s impossible to highlight everything from our experience, but I wanted to share a few of my favorite photos from our journey…

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It’s Time for Some Seoul!!

Today was my last full day in Korea and what a great day! It was actually the only day I’ve had since I’ve been here that I didn’t have a reason to be up at any particular time and I had nothing to do other than what I wanted to do…on my schedule. What an amazing feeling! Unfortunately it means that I’m no longer with the team…and our project is done, but sleeping in was SO NICE!!!

I woke to coffee. Which in my mind is a tremendous start to any day!

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I finally rolled out of my hotel room around 1 PM (and no I didn’t sleep that late…I just relaxed and enjoyed the break). I picked a good day to wander around Seoul. I stayed at The Plaza which is right in front of Seoul Plaza and is a prime tourist spot.

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Right outside my hotel I stumbled upon a theatrical display of “dogs” or “dragons” or something…well guys dressed up as dogans (haha). It was lots of fun watching them…especially as they hoisted a little boy on their backs and trotted around with him. The mom was a little unnerved…and I have to admit…it was a site to see.

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There was also a stunningly painted drum.

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After the display I walked my way down Sejong-daero to Gyeongbokgung Palace.

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What a beautiful palace…and if you close your eyes and plug your ears you can almost imagine what life would have been like some 700 years ago. The palace itself was built in 1395 and was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty.

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Cotswold enjoyed his time at the Palace and felt a little bit like royalty.

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The grounds really were stunning.

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Some of the locals were dressed in their “Sunday” best. I just love all the colors of the ensembles.

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Upon exiting the palace I stumbled across a most peculiar site…

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After my visit to the palace I strolled over to Bukchon Village. What a beautiful walk…and what an even more beautiful area. There were many locals out wandering, and lots of shops were bustling with traffic and good buys.

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Such beauty and on such a beautiful day!

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Somehow I always tend to find the dichotomy of the “old” buildings mixed in with the “21st” century.

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I came across a random garden/building/palace…I’m not really sure what it was but it sure was pretty. I wandered around aimlessly taking in all the beauty of this wonderful day.

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After 5 hours or so of strolling around I headed back to the hotel to meet Justin for dinner. One last hurrah before heading home.

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And when given our choice of Korean cuisine…we settled on Korean BBQ…shocker I know! Such yummy food. And what more could you ask for…Korean BBQ and somaek (a shot of soju and a chaser of maekju – beer). What a great ending to my 3-week Korean adventure. And wouldn’t you know it…we talked so much and were having so much fun…I forgot to take a picture. 🙂

Upon the return to my hotel, The Plaza treated me like a VIP guest and left me wine and fruit to enjoy while Cotswold and I soaked in the tub (well Cotswold didn’t get in as he didn’t want to get his fur wet). I truly enjoyed one last bit of relaxation before the LONG trip home.

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Now to figure out how to pack all of this stuff in 3 bags. I knew when I came to Korea that I would be going home with a lot of things…gifts, chachkies, etc., but I never imagined I would go home with the lifelong memories and friendships I made. And I am SO grateful for that more than anything else!

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And with one last view of N Seoul Tower…

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As I get ready to embark on the long journey home…I am grateful for my time in this amazing country, to have met such wonderful people and to have the memories of all the great times we had together. With that I will say:

감사합니다

jeongmal gamsahamnida (thank you very much) and

안녕히 계세요

Anyoung hee gyeseyo, which means Goodbye “Please stay well”.

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Time to Say Goodbye!!

Today was our last day together as a team. I truly can’t capture in words all the things I was feeling today. To think…just 3 short weeks ago we were strangers…and now we’re friends…really good friends! It’s like we’ve known each other for years.

It truly is amazing how well you get to know each other when you spend every waking minute together. Even with all work we did, there was still time for “real” life discussions. And we had a lot of them…I equate it to those first few weeks of college, but for grown-ups. 🙂

We’re all equals on this journey…no one knows one from the other and we all have to get to know each other…asking the basic questions like “Where are you from?” “What do you do?” “How many kids do you have?” In 3 weeks we moved from the basics…to deep conversations. Conversations that you have over strolls through a mountain path, or quiet moments over dessert in the middle of the night (after you’ve been working hard all day), or chats and laughs over coffee in the woods. These are the moments I’ll remember most fondly. The closeness…the laughter…the tears…and there were many today.

I must say…the past couple of days have been a mix of excitement and anticipation…coupled with sadness. Excitement and anticipation for the final presentation of our project recommendations and for our final day in Seoul…and sadness for knowing it’s all about to end. Today was the first step towards our adventure coming to an end.

Don’t get me wrong…we had an AMAZING day!! As we met for breakfast bright and early…our journey at Phoenix Park ended where it all began…our last breakfast at the same table in Castle Pines restaurant where we had our first dinner together as a team.

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This time we dined with our new friends from Pyeongchang, Mr. Lee.

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And Mr. Jeon.

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We have all made a lasting impact on each other and it was apparent by our final interaction.

Mr. Jeon was the resident photographer during our trip. He graciously donated his photos to the creation of a photo book for all of us, documenting our journey. What a spectacular memento. Each of us signed the books…so we will always have a piece of each other and this amazing experience.

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Following breakfast we said our first round of goodbyes. I’ve become quite fond of our interpreters Juhee and Hayan. They are truly the sweetest, most hard working girls. They knew nothing of our project but dove right in, helping us interpret as well as doing research on our behalf and prepping us for our interviews and meetings. They took copious notes all along the way (of course it is part of the translation process) but we were able to leverage their work several times during our project. Saying goodbye to them was hard.

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I cried when I said goodbye to Mr. Lee. He’s an amazingly nice man, with a great sense of humor. We all enjoyed many a meal and many a drink together. He will be greatly missed.

The drive into Seoul allowed me to sit in the front seat. What a crazy experience that was. I’m so used to sitting in the back of the BatMobile with it’s tinted windows and ghetto party lights. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself up front…so I took photos.

The tunnels are unique…there are colored lights that I swear match the colors of Pyeongchang County and Happy700.

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There are of course the random trees and police vehicles. This one says “Stay awake while driving”…I’m guessing you won’t see if it you fall asleep behind the wheel.

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I must admit, once we left the comforts of Pyeongchang County it was almost like we were transported to another world. I didn’t realize how closed off we had been from the rest of the world and when we surfaced…on the highway…among the busy hustle and bustle of Seoul, reality set in. We were no longer in the quiet, calm peacefulness of Pyeongchang. I honestly didn’t realize how quiet and serene our lives have been the last three weeks…even with all of the hard work…we’ve been pretty sheltered from the rest of the world. We’ve been in our own little bubble, working hard, eating, sleeping and drinking in this entire project. I’ve barely turned on the TV and when I did it was only a handful of times and I usually ended up watching some cheesy American movie with Korean subtitles. I can honestly say I haven’t missed any of it!

Being back in the big city was a smack in the face of reality. It meant our journey was coming to an end and we have to go back to our real lives. 🙂

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We were able to make the very best of our last day however. Our first stop took us to N (Namsan) Seoul Tower. The tower is located on Namsan Mountain, at 236m and is the highest point in Seoul.

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Prior to going up into the tower we took the cable car up to the base. I had to hold on to our concierges, Mr. Park and Mr. Lee.

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The place was packed. It’s Friday and there were a ton of school groups visiting. There are so many beautiful sites and attractions.

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There are quaint little attractions like locks all over the property. The “Locks of Love”, or so it is called, is a popular location for people to hang locks that symbolize eternal love.

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We took the elevator to the 5th floor where we dined at the N Grill, a French restaurant inside the tower. The restaurant rotates around the tower giving you a 365 degree view of Seoul.

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Ji-Hyun spoiled us yet again!! Guess it was worth it to starve ourselves a few evenings so we could enjoy an amazingly yummy lunch “around” the city of Seoul.

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Following lunch we headed to Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). DDP is the newest and most iconic landmark of the Korean design industry. Located at the center of the Dongdaemun area, it is a key venue for design-related shows and conferences, exhibitions, and other events and gatherings.

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It’s a pretty spectacular building. It was designed by world renowned architect, Zaha Hadid. The DDP is compromised of five halls: Art Hall, Museum, Design Lab, Design Market, and Dongdaemun History and Culture Park. What an interesting place. We visited the Kansong Art Museum, where we viewed several works of art by Jeong Seon (1667-1759), one of the most famous Korean painters.

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The landscape paintings that he produced reflect most of the geographical features of Korea. My favorite was the ‘Panoramic View of Inner Pungak’. This painting draws a scenic view of Geumgansan Mountain and depicts yin and yang. I even picked up a copy to bring home.

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He painted the most amazing images on silk with ink colored by rocks. It seems most of his paintings have some hidden figure in them. Some of the stories about the paintings were pretty interesting…like the “high class female workers” (the real term used was altered for the under 18 audience) luring the men in for supper…this one is called Jukseoru. Interesting stuff!

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The neat thing about the museum is its shape as well as the design store held inside one of the buildings. It is here where local artisans display their goods for sale. I secured some great finds! 🙂

Our next stop took us to Insadong. Insadong Street is one of the most memorable attractions in Seoul and represents the focal point of Korean traditional culture and crafts. Stores in Insadong specialize in a wide variety of goods that can only be purchased or appreciated in Korea: hanbok (traditional clothing), hanji (traditional paper), traditional teas, pottery, and folk crafts. I picked up a few things here as well. 🙂

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After a craze of shopping we were whisked into a back alley for dinner.

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HOLY COW…we literally had at least 17 different dishes…and I know I missed taking photos of a few of them. OYE!!

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Following dinner…and a food coma…we went to see Miso at the Jeongdong Theatre in Seoul. Miso means “beautiful smile” and is the #1 Korean traditional arts performance. It highlights Pansori (traditional Korean narrative song), Samulnori (traditional Korean percussion quartet) and the beautiful Korean Buchaechum (fan dance).

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The story of the show is of General who is quite the ladies man…fraught with infidelities. His friends (or maybe not such good friends) teach him a lesson by luring him into a trap to seduce a woman (who happens to be married). As he goes to her he is captured and put into a box where he is “tossed” into the ocean. Well he’s not really tossed in…he’s merely sprinkled with water and the box is thrown around to make it seem like he’s being tossed into the ocean. Needless to say the joke is on him as he repents and his friends eventually open the box bringing him back to reality. After the incident his friends throw him a great party…with lots of singing, dancing and big drums.   It’s a great show! The singing, the beautiful costumes, the grace with which the dancers frolic on the stage and the drums…oh my the DRUMS! It’s all a spectacle to be seen!!

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Then in typical IBM Pyeongchang team fashion we were famous yet again. After the show we were meandering about, watching everyone go crazy over the actors/dancers/singers who posed for a photo shoot, when Antonio and I were approached by a spritely gentleman asking if he could interview us. Well, it’s not like we haven’t had a ton of interviews in the past three weeks…we thought why not! This one was not quite the formal interview we were used to. The guy was dressed in quite the outfit…apparently he was putting together an advertisement for Korea for the Malaysian audience. I’d love to get my hands on that performance! Alas…it was a classic and the absolute perfect ending to our last day together as a team in Korea.

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Following the show we headed to my hotel…The Plaza…to say our goodbyes. BOO HOO! I knew this time was coming…and I’d been dreading it all day…and obviously the emotions had been on display all day…why not put them out there for the world to see. The goodbyes began…the hardest ones were the new friends I know I won’t see for a long time….Sunny…Ji-Hyun….Souvik. 😦 I at least know I have a pretty good chance to see Justin (Vancouver) at some point in the near future as work takes me up that way from time to time….Stephanie (NJ) as I always head back east…and Antonio (Spain) as we may catch up in Europe sooner rather than later. Alas….I hate goodbyes!

It truly is amazing how close we’ve all become in just three short weeks. I’m going to miss everyone so incredibly much! It was all a dream and now we’re headed back to reality very soon. Until then…I have one more day in Seoul!!!

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It’s “That” Day!!

The day when you realize the project is about done…the day when you realize you’re no longer going to see your new friends every day of the week. The day when you realize it’s time to go home!

It’s bittersweet really! I’m ready to go home but I’m not ready to leave here. The last three weeks have been something I can’t truly describe…an experience…a journey…a life changing moment in time!

We will leave each other tomorrow evening following a fun filled day in Seoul. We will depart as we came…heading our separate ways…but we will take something with us…

We have all touched each other in some way…from heartfelt embraces, to laughter beyond measure…to frustration when we were all stressed, to excitement and pride after we delivered our final presentation to the Mayor and the County today.

We came here as 6 individuals…on a mission to improve tourism for Pyeongchang County…and we are leaving as partners, comrades…beloved friends! I will miss all of them completely!

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Antonio with his “goorggeous” accent. Justin with his crazy stories. Souvik with his knowledge and serenity. Stephanie with her calm composure and camaraderie. Sunny with her sweet smile and “sunny” disposition. And our fearless leader Ji-Hyun…with her determination, her dedication and her desperation to make us successful on this project. 🙂

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I will miss all of you dearly! You have truly touched me and I will hold a special place for you in my heart forever!

Now on to our day today…we had our final presentation with the County. And it was a beautiful day for it!

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Pyeongchang welcomed us with open arms as they stated “Pyeongchang will never forget your passion.” They told us our passion for Pyeongchang and our passion for the success of this project were beyond measure. We were so touched by this.

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We shed blood, sweat and tears to come to this point. We interviewed over 60 people, we toiled for 3 weeks investigating and building recommendations, and we vetted and practiced our recommendations for days preparing for “this” day.

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We began at 9:00 AM with a warm welcome from the Mayor. Our presentation went off without a hitch (not that I’m surprised!). I struggled off and on all morning holding back tears. Every “thank you”, every warm speech, every toast held meaning and touched me…reminding me of what we have accomplished and the relationships we have built in such a short period of time.

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Our excellence was apparent when we came together as a team following our presentation and the first thing we did was hug each other. What an amazing feeling of satisfaction AND relief! We came all this way and we delivered! We put together the most amazing presentation I have ever seen (and yes I’m biased) and we presented it as one team, almost as if we were one person. Our delivery was seamless…our recommendations were delivered in one voice. We were at the top of our game! And it feels great!

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We nailed everything, from the timing – to the delivery, to the translations, to the real meaning! The satisfaction we feel as a team right now is indescribable.

I honestly can’t say how AMAZING it feels to see your charts up on a screen in front of 30+ people (who don’t speak English), and to watch your colleagues deliver with such style and grace. We were experts on that stage today. The pride I feel in what we have accomplished and what we have recommended is beyond anything I’ve felt in a very long time.

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In this day and age I’m so used to delivering and executing on my own that I seem to have forgotten what it’s like to be a part of a team of equals…a team who without one another would not have been able to accomplish what we accomplished. I am SO proud of this team…I am SO proud of my friends…Sunny, Justin, Antonio, Souvik and Stephanie! You all make me proud to be an IBMer and even prouder to call you friends!

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After our presentation we dined with the Mayor and several Directors. We took a nice long drive through southern Pyeongchang County to the restaurant. What beauty to behold!

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Sunny even enjoyed relaxing a bit!

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So many people joined us for lunch, the County had to bring a bus.

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We took over the entire restaurant.

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The relationships we have built with our customer are beyond any I have ever built in my 18 years at IBM. There’s something about the Korean culture that welcomes you with open arms. Our gracious hosts, Pyeongchang County, made us feel more welcome than I have ever felt in my life. They delighted in our presence, they went out of their way to make us feel welcome and they made a lasting impact on us that made me feel beyond ecstatic that we have truly made an impact on the lives of the people in this place.

It was Mr. Jang’s 60th birthday. What better way to celebrate than together with our new friends. His son is also expecting a baby in August. Such great things to be thankful for.

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Mr. Mayor Sim and Mr. Mayor Antonio did a final toast…to our project, to our health and to our new friends!!!

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Lunch was fantastic as usual.

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And more strawberries!!  We just can’t get enough of them!

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There is an opportunity here to help build up a community, to improve a society and to build something great! That is gratifying! I honestly can’t articulate what this experience has meant to me….and I’m not sure I will ever be able to do so.

The tears today were flowing…I seemed to have kept them mostly at bay (although the team now knows that I was an emotional basket-case today – but it’s not like that will surprise them). They seem to know we well enough now….

Following lunch we had a few more close-out meetings and we enjoyed our last meal with our new friends in Pyeongchang.   We dined together, we drank together and we laughed together. It was the perfect ending to a perfect 3 weeks!

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Then we ended up at karaoke! HAHA! And we thought we were a close team before…it’s amazing what some bad singing (not all of us…Ji-Hyun rocks!!!) and a small room will do for relationships. All singing comments aside, it was fantastic and just what we needed to end our journey.

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We thought about some snacks, then thought better of taking them into Karaoke with us.

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One more group photo for the camera…

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We have one more full day together as we venture into Seoul tomorrow and I know it will be an emotional roller coaster. But with that I say another Ahnyeonghi jumuseyo (goodnight)…until we meet again!

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D-Day

It’s Wednesday night…our final presentation with the Mayor is tomorrow. Our presentation is done…our report is submitted for review…now we just have to deliver our presentation and go through all the formalities of the day…and boy are there a lot.

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We will be up bright and early for a 7:45 AM departure. I think the group consensus is we all feel pretty good. We’re very pleased with our presentation and we feel very good about our recommendations.

It’s going to be a very packed day and more of the apprehension for me is that we’re nearing the end of our journey.

It’s amazing how fast it’s flown by. The first week actually seemed like it went on forever. We were in interviews constantly. We were stressed about getting it all done in three weeks time. We were still getting to know one another and things weren’t quite jelling just yet.

As we moved into week 2 we were getting into our stride…although we were stressing quite a bit about running out of time. Once we put a stake in the ground we started to make progress and things seemed to ease up a bit.

This past weekend was when we knew we had it under control. There was a lot of work to do and we knew we would get it done. And we did!

But that means we only have 2 more nights together as a team…and that makes me sad! I packed up my things in the teamroom tonight thinking this may be the last time I’ll be in there working. We’ll be at the County offices all day tomorrow and we leave for Seoul on Friday morning. I’m also wondering when I’m going to pack??!!

The relationships I’ve built the last three weeks will stay with me forever. We have all extended a warm welcome to each other for visits…I’m not sure if they will all happen but we will try.

I guess I’m going to have to figure out a way to do a whirlwind tour to Kolkata, Madrid, Vancouver, New Jersey and back to Korea in the future. I’m sure I can work something out…

I took a stroll with the girls yesterday…me, Stephanie and Sunny. It was so nice…just us…hiking up a forest trail, chatting and huffing and puffing along the way. Relaxing…taking a short break from the craziness of sitting in the teamroom writing, updating, re-writing, updating…again and again.

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The trees are starting to get their spring buds and the flowers are in bloom. It really is beautiful here!

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We were lucky enough to have a break to enjoy a nice massage. Whoa what a difference 90 minutes makes!!! And what better way to finish after the massage…with some yummy “kitty” tea. Don’t worry, it really had nothing to do with kitties. 🙂

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Ji-Hyun treated us to a nice dinner last night at the Kensington Flora Hotel. As we’ve done a pretty good job of not spending too much money…with several meals cooked in-house and several meals not eaten at all (as we’ve been eating SO much), Ji-Hyun spoiled us with a nice meal out. She even made us sit in these chairs. Haha! 🙂

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We had several courses as usual (but not nearly as many as the traditional Korean meals). We dined on several pickled items, some kind of creamy soup, a main of steak, chicken and shrimp, and a trio of yummy desserts. What better way to prep for our final presentation that to fill our bellies. 🙂

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We even had a visit from a local ladybug. Don’t worry…we didn’t eat him! 🙂

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The gift shop even had Happy700 and Pyeongchang merchandised items. It does exist!

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The hotel is beautiful both inside and out.

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We ended our evening meandering around the lake and the pool.

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There’s even “glamping” for the faint of heart!

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And there’s nothing like Christmas in April. Haha! Why not!

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After we got back to Phoenix Park we stopped in the teamroom for one more late night dessert of ice cream and the most amazing strawberries I’ve ever had in my life. Ji-Hyun spoiled us yet again! I am ruined forever. 🙂

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And with that, it’s time to crash as we have a BIG day tomorrow! Goodnight all…and wish us luck!!

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No Sleep Til….

Pyeongchang!!

Saturday night and all day Sunday led to not much rest. I think I got about 5 hours of sleep Saturday night and only 2 hours of sleep Sunday night. This is what the Phoenix Park ski hills looked like at 5 AM Monday morning. It really was quite lovely.

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I ended up taking ownership of the charts and worked diligently to pull everything together with the same look and feel in preparation for our dress rehearsal on Monday. Shew! Was it exhausting!

Don’t get me wrong…I was happy to do it! I thrive on this kind of thing…“perfection.” Anyone who knows me well…or even partially…knows I’m a bit anal. Especially when it comes to deliverables…and especially when it comes to the customer.

Sunny translated to Korean and the presentation looked amazing! It was truly a team effort. Everyone brings a unique experience and special touch to their part of the content and it shows through.

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The presentation Monday went really well. The County was very pleased with our recommendations and stated we are on track. All is well! This time Souvik gained his nickname as “The Dictator”.  He looked so well presented. 🙂

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After our practice run we had dinner with our new friends Mr. Lee and Mr. Jeon. We are becoming fast friends. They have shown us so much hospitality, respect and appreciation. We are truly grateful for everything they have done and are happy to call them friends.

We all dined together at a local (and I mean WAY off the beaten path) Korean BBQ duck farm.

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In fact it was the “Ducky Duck Farm.” And was the duck yummy!

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I know I keep saying this after most meals, but I have another new favorite food. This time it’s Korean BBQ with duck. OMG!! SO GOOD! We had several plates and we couldn’t get enough.

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You eat it with all sorts of fixin’s…from soy sauce with ginger, to a touch of sea salt, to plain with baby leeks and onions. All of them were amazing and I couldn’t get enough!  I even had the best kimchi I have had yet. Mmm, mmm, good!

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A couple of boilermakers and LOTS of duck later we departed for our hotel. We joked about hitting the karaoke bar but we were all exhausted. Mr. Jeon did take a quick spin on the mini trampoline.

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And Stephanie made a friend.

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And with my 7 hours of sleep in two nights it was time for bed…I passed out around 10:15 PM Monday and got up around 8:30 AM Tuesday morning. What a difference a day makes…er rather a good night of sleep.

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A Coastal Adventure!

It’s the weekend!!! I can’t tell you how excited I am that it’s Saturday. We all decided to play hooky today and get a much needed break from work and have a little fun. And boy did we have fun!!!

As Sunny’s birthday was Thursday, and we were so swamped with work, we didn’t get to celebrate much so we celebrated again today. We hit some of Sunny’s favorite spots and it was just fine by me.

We started the day bright and early with an 8 AM departure from Phoenix Park. We began our journey towards the east with the ultimate destination being Gangneung (the eastern coast of Korea).

We stopped for an amazing Korean brunch along the way. Fish…kimchi…the traditional fixin’s and “hangover soup.” No hangover to cure but it was still yummy!

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The rare collection of random fermenting alcohol greeted us on our way out. I’m not really sure if you drink it…and I wasn’t quite up for finding out.

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The restaurant was located on a quaint little street corner across from one of the many beautiful rivers that flow through Pyeongchang. It truly amazes me how much water and how many mountains there are here. You really do feel like you’re in a fairy land.

The bridges are also spectacular. Everywhere you look there’s one…hovering over a meandering stream. It’s majestic!

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And there’s always the local store selling some sort of dried fish. We actually had this in the “hangover soup.” It was quite good.

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Our next stop took us to the Daegwallyeong Samyang Ranch. Located on the hills of Daegwallyeong 850 to 1,470 meters above sea level, Samyang Ranch is the largest highlands farm in Asia.

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There are so many attractions at this place, it was hard to keep track. Such an amazing experience as there was something new to enjoy every time you turned around.

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We got to get up close and personal with some very LARGE windmills. And boy were they spectacular. I’ve only ever seen them from far away and to be up close to them made me feel so small.

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The sound as the wind “whooshes” by you as the huge blades pushes through the air was amazing! I really can’t describe the sound or how it felt to be near them.

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Cotswold was actually a little scared but braved the “blow you over” breeze and the “bitter” cold for a quick photo shoot. I totally get why these things are located on the top of tall mountains!!

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There are lots of different animals at the Ranch, including a special area for the sheep, known as the Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm. This is the only sheep farm in Korea, so we were pretty lucky to have visited.

Apparently 200 sheep graze leisurely on vibrant green pastures spanning over 204,960 square meters…but they weren’t out today. Just the little buggers who greeted us with warm “bleets” and a smile.

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We also ran into some ostriches who greeted us in anticipation of being fed. Alas, we had nothing so they lost interest pretty quickly.

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I have to say, the cow was the biggest hit of them all! Ji-Hyun was lucky enough to ride shotgun. Now two members of our team have ridden cows during our journey.

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Throughout our visit to the farm we strolled the trails enjoying the scenery and each other’s company. We’re all really starting to get close…it still amazes me how close we’ve become in just 2 short weeks.

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We ended our glorious adventure at the Ranch with one last photo. Moo!

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Our next stop took us to all the way east to Gangneung. This is the site of the Coastal Cluster for the 2018 Winter Olympics. You can certainly tell the Olympics are coming! There are signs and Olympic rings everywhere.

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Oh and there are cherry blossoms too!!! YIPPEE!! We were so excited! The past few days we’ve seen several blossoms starting to come out but we hadn’t seen any this full yet. And this was pushing the end of the blooming season.

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It was truly beautiful!

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Our visit to Gangneung also provided a visit to the beach. I honestly have never thought about a beach in Korea, but considering a darn good amount of the country is surrounded by water it makes sense. I’m hardly good at geography in my own country let alone 7,000 miles away. 🙂

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The beach was stunning! I see why people come here in the summertime. The sand is pristine and the beaches are surrounded by the most beautiful evergreen trees. No palm trees here.

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Of course there are evergreen trees, and then the random “large metal tree” of the steel variety.

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The group took a group shot to prove we were there. Notice Justin is missing. He decided to abandon us for his bike ride and a trip around Pyeongchang town. We did send him on his way with his letter in tow. Fortunately he had no issues and joined us back at the hotel later in the afternoon.

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We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant. Again, the food was fantastic! There’s just so much to try…I don’t think I’ll ever get to experience it all.

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Buckwheat noodles in a kimchi broth. Yummy! Honestly I have never been a big fan of kimchi, but I’ve never had kimchi like I have had in Korea. I think I’m hooked. I’m just not quite sure I’ll be able to get anything like it at home.

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Following lunch we made our last stop of the day. Sunny’s favorite…Terarosa Coffee.

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This place was spectacular! The building itself was nestled in the woods…right across the road from the beach. It was made up of mostly windows so everywhere you looked you could see nature outside.

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Besides the view the coffee and snacks were great! Pain au chocolat and a cappuccino. Yummy!

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Oh and a little coffee purchase as well. Rookie mistake on my part. Each bag (which was less than a pound of beans) was KRW 22,000. OYE!! That’s about $22 per bag. Alas. I’m going to enjoy it when I get home. Vince – get ready for some yummy coffee!

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We sat on the 2nd floor balcony and enjoyed our coffee, snacks and good conversation. The laughter was in abundance…as it seems to be much of the time these days.

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We all really do get on very well and I swear I’ve laughed more these past 2 weeks than I have in a long time. Don’t get me wrong…I laugh a lot in my regular life, but we’ve laughed A LOT!!! Antonio enjoyed a little smell of the purchased roast.

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Alas, after our coffee we headed back to our hotel. Time to get to work and get ready for our dress rehearsal with the County. We need to prepare our final presentation for review with them on Monday with our final presentation on Thursday. We also have to write our findings and recommendation report all by Wednesday evening. No pressure! Ha! It was definitely worth it to get out a bit today as we have a ton of work to do. But we all needed the break! And it was well worth it.

Time to sign off for now…lots of work to do before the week starts. Goodnight!

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