Our original work schedule had us working through the last day of the Olympics (which happens to be today, Sunday, February 25). However, about five days ago we were presently surprised to learn that Saturday would be our last day instead. The Biathlon had its final event on Friday so Saturday was a “clean-up” day to prepare for the Paralympics which begin March 9. It was also a day of good-byes to the members of our small teams we have been working throughout our two-plus weeks on site.
Meanwhile, most of Team SU has begun the arduous task of packing. Many travelers had the foresight to bring an extra duffle bag or suitcase to carry home not only our uniform swag (boots, snow pants, snow jacket, inside jacket and turtleneck) but all of the Olympic and Korean culture souvenirs. (I suspect that everyone in our group had at one time or another visited one of the two Olympic “Super Stores” to purchase PyeongChang branded goods). Luggage scales are being circulated like crazy and personal items singled out for “discard” (like bath towels, toiletries, etc) to make room for treasured Olympic artifacts like the official Games knitted scarves that all volunteers received from the KOC as a gift.
On our “found” day today, Jana, Salli and I went to Seoraksan National Park for the afternoon. While the transport of “choice” (well, there are no other options) to the Biathlon Park has been the TW (worker) buses, the transport of “choice” within our hometown of Sokcho has been taxis. They are relatively cheap–most trips are the equivalent of $5.00-$7.00–and with a Hyundai Soo (the “resort”) business card in hand, it’s relatively easy to navigate the area. Our taxi dropped us off at the Visitor Center where we then walked 1.9 km to the entrance to the park and then to the Sinheungsa Temple where there’s a bronze Buddha statue over 10-m high. The beautiful mountains we can see in the distance from our 7th floor condo quarters are part of Seoraksan Park.
While a small few from our group purchased pricey tickets to the Closing Ceremony tonight, the rest of us will be found down in the basement in the resort’s bonafide bowling alley (8 lanes in all) in our own form of Winter Games. Then it’s off to Incheon International Airport tomorrow where we’ll spend the night and head out on Tuesday morning. (Yay, our last 3-hour bus ride!!!)
By Gina Daddario, Professor And Chair Of Mass Communication, Posting From Sokcho, Korea