Four hours of travelling by bus from Seoul, the South Korean capital, after touching down at Incheon Airport, plus a stop-over for a meal and refreshment break along the way, we were finally in Pyeongchang.
This was our base while we attended the Global Saemaul Leadership Forum from October 18-20. It had been a long and tiring 16 hour journey from Entebbe to Seoul.
That is not factoring in the five hours stop-over for a connecting flight in Dubai or the three hours prior to check-in at Entebbe airport. We could easily have done a whole 24 hours of travel!
Now, arriving at Alpensia Convention Centre and Resort, our abode for the duration of the conference, all I wanted to do was sleep it off.
The fact that we arrived at about midnight was even better as I had about six hours of shut eye before dawn.
But before I could tuck in, right there on the bed was a neatly wrapped package. It was from our hosts, the Ministry of Interior. Along with the gift was a letter of welcome, it was such a heart-warming gesture, and a brochure.
But what struck me in that brochure was the reference to Pyeongchang as a “small town”. From what I had seen though and compared to where I come from, this description could not fit.
But from what I had seen of Seoul, it made me more curious to see more of this town.
So, the next day I was up early to catch the sun rise. One thing was obvious, as with the other places I had seen here, it was clean, organised and well kempt.
The view from my window was impressive, across were some of the apartments purposely built for the Winter Olympics that Pyeongchang will host in 2018. Across the street, adjacent to the apartments, was the convention centre where the conference was.
After the first session on Day One, during a break, I decided to take a walk and have a look. There were also other guests with the same intention, it was common to find groups of people taking photos or requesting me to take their photo with their phones.
Everywhere, they are hard to miss- huge inflated dolls of Soohorang (white tiger) and Bandabi (black bear), the mascots of the upcoming Winter Olympics. That was in addition to branding in various places and items and the motto, “Passion. Connected”.
These people seemed ready and just waiting for the games to begin.
As I turned a corner, I saw these three statues in a straight line at an intersection of two streets. They seemed to signify three naked men with helmets pulled over their faces.
They were a shiny silver grey in colour mounted on a wood brown pedestal.
My curiosity heightened, I went closer to see if there is an inscription somewhere to explain what they were. There was none! I looked around to ask someone about these statues.
In my vicinity, there were only young Korean women and it suddenly seem very inappropriate to ask them about naked men.
Up to now, I do not know the answer to my question. May be I should have just asked.
Pyeongchang is a county in Gangwon province, South Korea, located in the Taebaek Mountains region. It is also home to several Buddhist temples, including Woljeongsa. It is located approximately 180 km (110 mi) east of Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
Pyeongchang will host the 2018 Winter Olympics and the 2018 Winter Paralympics. Pyeongchang has three mottos including the ‘Best place for health’, ‘The city of nature, and ‘Optimal environment for human’s life’.