Today’s diary entry is a walking tour from my spartan room at The White Hotel to our extreme Olympic sports venue headquarters at Phoenix Park. The trip, traveling by foot, takes only 20 minutes. But the memories will last a lifetime.
This is my room at The White Hotel. As befits the name of the hotel, it is relentlessly white. And spartan. Clean lines. 90 degree angles. The bare essentials. The rumpled condition of the bed is my fault and not to be attributed to the hotel staff. I just woke up. The staff is very tidy.
The bathroom has positives and negatives. Again: clean lines and an almost ascetic sense of spare efficiency. The negative? You may be able to see that I have been unable to drain my sink for two days. I can’t find the control to lift the plug up. I hope the maid will fix it tomorrow. The positives? The shower head and water pressure are first rate. Thus, showering is a joy!
You don’t often see such signs in your hotel room. Of course, I dutifully remove my shoes before entering the room. And I wouldn’t dream of using the stove. But why is there a stovetop that cannot be used? One does not ask such impertinent questions. What am I — an ugly American?
When the prison at San Quentin was brand new, its hallways may have looked just like this. But I don’t think the view from San Quentin’s hallways was quite so lovely. (Please note: that is not a UFO hovering over the mountain in the center of this picture, though I wish it were.)
The White Hotel. My home for the month of February. Our walking tour begins.
Walking toward Phoenix Park from The White Hotel. This is a winter sports resort, so there are many hotels in the hills surrounding the ski resort. The hillsides look very much like California. That’s why Malibu Creek State Park ably stood in for Korea on “M*A*S*H”.
It’s the craziest thing: all the signs in the area are in Korean. Go figure. Evidently, this hotel features a spa — but beyond that, it’s all Greek (or actually, Korean) to me.
At the bottom of the hill that our hotel sits on is this water park. It was no doubt built to give vacationers something to do in this area during warmer weather. However, I think the IOC is missing an opportunity to stage a whole new Winter Olympic event here. Mini luge, perhaps?
A fellow Olympic employee trudges toward Phoenix Park along the town’s main drag. With competition in this area still several days away, we Olympic staff are the only people on the street. In the coming days, I expect the town to get increasingly crowded and kinetic.
Ah! C’est un restaurant français en Corée! Ou une boulangerie au moins. Je me demande si le service Coke Diet – ou si on peut y puchase un verre de Chardonnay?
The Center Plaza has been a major disappointment to me. From the outside it appears as though it’s a place where one may purchase a few essentials — like Diet Coke or a decent bottle of Chardonnay. Or maybe even some Advil. But no. It houses a bowling alley, a KFC, a beer garden, a toy store, and a miserable “convenience store” that sells very little that is convenient for me.
Walking past the disappointing Center Plaza, our destination comes into view: the Phoenix Hotel — gateway to our Phoenix Park Olympic venue. I will soon arrive at work.
Shuttle buses are lined up outside of the Phoenix Hotel. These shuttles take Olympic staffers to the other far-flung sports venues in the greater PyeongChang area. Some go East toward the coast where the skating events are held, others go to the alpine sports venues and the International Broadcasting Center: the nerve center of the Olympic media operation.
The security checkpoint in the lobby of The Phoenix Hotel. If you like going through airport security, you’ll love going through this every day.
And when you go through the security gates, the sensors read your ID badge and this hideous image flashes onto a big screen. That way, everyone can see that you didn’t bother to shave or brush your hair or find a clean backdrop for your ID photo. It’s a daily punishment for sloth.
Having gotten through security, I enter the venue. This place is a work in progress. Big things are about to happen — but nothing is really happening yet. Preparations are underway.
I have no idea what goes on inside this building, though I pass it every day. All I know is that it’s big and festively decorated. Part of it is a youth hostel. Maybe young Olympic employees are housed there? Maybe this is where they are hiding all the Diet Coke and decent Chardonnay?
This is the 2018 Winter Olympic theme: “Passion. Connected”.
The mogul run. My knees ache just thinking about it.
Somehow, this cartoon guy works against the whole “Danger” idea.
Here’s our lovely NBC commissary. We watched the Super Bowl here. Not exactly fine dining.
This is the sign on the NBC commissary door. Is everything in Korea named “Kim”?
Inside the NBC commissary. It’s still early. It gets pretty crowded by lunch time. All the cool kids sit at the table near the two clocks. The jocks sit at the tables on the left. The theatre kids sit in the center — and the Dungeons & Dragons geeks sit at the table in the foreground. (Just kidding.)
These coolers mock me every day. They hold no Diet Coke. Sadly, I must drink water.
This snack table entices me every day. I must stay away. Must stay away. Must stay away…
Here’s the NBC venue HQ. This nice lady is helping me program my NBC cell phone. That way, NBC can notify me by text when they’re bumping me from the edit bay because something else takes precedence. Since my project is not “day and date” — we’re lower priority. Alas.
This is our documentary unit’s office. It’s not much, but it’s relatively warm. We haven’t engaged an interior decorator yet — so please forgive the lack of charm. It’s all about utility around here.
The author at his desk. The fun is just beginning.
Our associate producer and editor in our edit bay. — not far from the commissary. I’ll be spending lots of hours in here. Once we figure out what we’re doing, this is where the magic will happen.
Step outside our edit bay — and this is the view. looking East toward the slopestyle and snowboard cross runs. It’s all pretty quiet now — but in a few more days, it’ll be hopping!
So, that’s the report from outer PyeongChang today. More to come in the days ahead.
12 responses to “My PyeongChang Diary (Part 2)”
I absolutely loved this walking tour, Paul. Of course I was able to experience it sitting down, warm and cozy, and sipping Diet Coke. (I share your addiction and searched every site on our Iceland visit for some.) But really, the photos and commentary are wonderful; they convey such a sense of the the space and culture. I admit, I’m especially fond of the incongruous signs you describe and the mortification of having your ID displayed on a large screen to all and sundry. But I can’t wait for the arrival of the Olympic athletes and your coverage of the competition. Enjoy every moment and keep sharing them!
How much would it cost us to send you some Diet Coke and Chardonnay, do you think? I’d happily pitch in. Because I’m really worried for you Paul.
Really enjoying your reports and look forward to them throughout the Olympics.
Please put a camera on your helmet for your practice runs on mogul hill. I feel the Gold!!!!
Thank you, Paul. This is a unique window into the Olympics and I’m enjoying it. Stay warm in your edit bay – it’s about 6 degrees here in Chicagoland. Since I am particularly fond of the events you’re covering, I am looking forward to each report.
Will you find a decent Chardonnay, a supply of Diet Coke and a carton of Advil? Can’t wait to find out! And that Cartoon Danger Guy is creepy. Watch out for him. He seems like a lurker to me. Anyway… I hope, when you get busy, you’ll have some time to keep blogging. I’m really enjoying this! Bravo!
I love all the artwork in your hotel room!
I was laughing the whole way through reading this!! The coca cola machine that dares to mock you! Hilarious. More more more! Will you be taking any short trips to anywhere outside Pyeongchang?
That’s awesome what a great adventure!
Must have a shot of the inside of the “convenience” store. Focus on cosmetics. I think your withdrawal from Diet Coke may be clouding your judgment. You may be an unreliable narrator Please get me a shot of the inside of the store!!!💕💕💕
So awesome Paul. I’ve never had a bay with such a great view. Next time I want in!
Fantastic! Would it be easier to find indecent chardonnay?