We’re just a few days into the Winter Olympic Games and something strange has happened. Somewhere along the line I became the go-to source of information for media staff, camera crew, journalists and commentators in Pyeongchang. I should probably blame instagram for this. Or maybe the fact I wrote that Insider’s Guide to Phoenix Park. Or that I simply can’t stop making new friends and giving them my business card.
All of a sudden I was talking to mogul legend Jonny Moseley about karaoke and cafes, I was directing Rachael Oakes-Ash (MissSnowItAll and SnowsBest.com) to handwarmers and printers, sending robotic camera crew to the dentist, and handing out dinner recommendations to the Candadian ski cross team.
So I thought I’d compile a list of some of the most common questions I’m getting in order to help out any other Olympic people that feel utterly confused about the strange place that is Phoenix Park:
1. The air is so dry here and I can’t sleep at night. How do you live? This is actually a real problem that most of our team encountered. You wake up with a dry throat, a cough and gross feeling lungs and sinuses. Some of our team even reported suffering from “dry-air nightmares”. If you can get your hands on a humidifier, great. If not, keep your bathroom door open when you shower and also wash your clothes and leave them to dry in your room for a two-birds-with-one-stone solution.
2. This is the coldest place I’ve ever been. How do I not die from cold exposure? You may have heard of how bitterly cold the South Korean mountains are because it seems to be all anyone can talk about during these Olympics. It’s true – we frequently get down to -20 during the day and then the Siberian winds on top bring the wind chill down to -30. Hand warmers are the norm here in Korea so tuck them into your gloves, boots and jacket pockets. Then layer like a pro, preferably with 3 layers of pants, 5 top layers, glove liners and mittens, plus a beanie, facewarmer and heavy duty boots. On those really cold days you should minimise the amount of skin exposed to air – I basically live inside my Gnarly Clothes hooded face mask.
3. My wisdom teeth are on fire. Is there a dentist? Well that sucks! There’s no dentist in town but there is in the nearby village of Yongpyong. It’s only a 20 minute drive away.
4. I need access to a pharmacy! You’re in luck. There’s one very close to the venue in the Center Plaza. You’ll find this collection of restaurants and fast food joints attached to the Blue Canyon Water Park and opposite the Blue Condo hotel. Once inside, it’s under the Heineken lounge, just past the ATM.
5. I appear to have contracted norovirus. Where’s the hospital? There’s one in Yongpyong and a big one in Wonju, which is about 45 minutes away. If you’re an Olympic employee there will be certain hospitals you can visit to be covered by your insurance so make sure you check what your policy is.
6. Is there a laundromat in town? Unfortunately we’re yet to find one. Most hotels do have laundry services but they can be very expensive. It might be best to do your own laundry in the bathroom.
7. I need to print something ASAP. Most hotels can help you, otherwise if you’re media staff then you can help yourself in the Press Centre.
8. I feel the need to get rowdy. Bar recommendations? Nuts is opposite the Ski House part of Phoenix Park, just across the road. It’s got a minimalist, urban vibe and drinks that I’ve never really enjoyed so try them at your own risk. On Level 4 of that same building complex is Deep Lounge, a club with darts and pool and again a poor drink selection. The best is probably Music Box, which is another 5-10 minutes down the road. It’s a tiny wooden building on the left side that is cosy and warm and has a whole bunch of musical instruments to play with. There’s not much more than soju and comically large pitchers of beer, but the family-like service and general vibe is unparalleled.
9. I am sick of kimchi and rice. Where can I go for some greasy, delicious fast food? Sadly kimchi is wearing thin for us all. Simply head to the Center Plaza (mentioned in #4) for KFC or Dominos pizza.
10. Where can I go for a really good meal? The best cheap and cheerful spot is Deep Burger, which is opposite the main “Ski House” of Phoenix Park, across the road. But for excellent brunches, dinners, creative drinks and more in stunning surrounds – you can’t go past Kkorovei or “the container cafe” as we call it. But it’s a special place that’s close to our hearts so I’m not going to give out the location freely. Unless you come find me on instagram, that is.