Meanwhile at Osaka’s Shinsaibashi Apple Store

Apple Store in Osaka on the iPhone XS launch day

This year’s pre-order for the new iPhone was not quite as booming, probably due to plentiful supply, high prices, and waiting for the less expensive iPhone XR. That translated to less lining up when I checked out the Osaka Shinsaibashi Apple Store in the morning.

My iPhone XS and Apple Watch Series 4

Still, when I returned to the store on my pick-up time, I still had to wait 30 minutes in line inside the store before I could get my hands on my pre-orders. Not that I minded, of course. The 512GB capacity of my new iPhone should be a godsend, as my current 256GB iPhone X’s space is down to less than 4GB.
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Attending PyeongChang 2018 - Ice Hockey & Curling

Celine and Hayun were eager to see a live Ice Hockey match for the first time

While I saw many Ice Hockey matches when I lived in Canada, it was the first time my kids saw a match in person because it's not a popular sport in Korea. They were still enthusiastic about it because they read that it involved a lot of action. We were going to see the Team Olympic Athlete from Russia and Team Slovenia play. As it would end by 7PM, the timing would give us enough time to have a quick dinner and move onto see the Curling event at 8PM.

In this Men's Ice Hockey qualifier, the Team Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR) was wearing red, while Team Slovenia (SLO) wore white

Russian players had been traditionally strong, so I expected a bit of a lopsided game. It was up to Slovenia to put up some good defense. Although our seats were at the top end of the stadium, they nevertheless offered a good overall view of the game. I brought a camera with zoom lens, but I never had to take it out.
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Attending PyeongChang 2018 - Golden Run & Gangneung

Witnessing the track being manually resurfaced after the third heat of the Men's Skeleton

An ice rink is generally resurfaced by driving a "Zamboni (ice resurfacer)" around. When I heard that the ice track was going to be resurfaced before the start of the 4th heat of the Men's Skeleton event, I wondered if a similar machine existed that went around the track. But it seems that the technology has not progressed that far yet - a group of men with hot air blower and brooms were sweeping and smoothing the track from the start to the finish. It was the one interesting moment in the otherwise uneventful 45-minute break before the final run that would determine the medalists.

4th heat snapshots - Yun Sungbin (top, gold medal) and Kim Jisoo (bottom, 6th place)

Starting at 11:15AM, the top 20 racers participated in their 4th heat in the ascending rank order. Korea's Kim Jisoo was lined up to be the 15th to run, while the already-dominant Yun Sungbin would race the last. As the racers went past the finish line one by one, the excitement grew. With the cheering crowd, Kim Jisoo put up a respectable performance and held onto his relative position. And on the final race of the event Yun Sungbin amazed everyone with a flawless, untouchable run. He was ahead of the 2nd place by a total of 1.63 seconds, which was massive considering Martins Dukurs lost out on a medal by a mere 0.11 seconds.

The whole place went wild, and we were elated to be witnessing such a historical event up close. It was the first time an Asian athlete won medal a sledding event in Olympics. Who would have thought that the colour of that medal would be gold, and that it would be won in such a dominant manner?
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Attending PyeongChang 2018 - Entry & Skeleton

The Main Ticket Center in the Seoul City Hall

I had been thinking for quite some time that the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games would provide a great and rare opportunity for my kids to see a variety of winter sports in person all at once, without going overseas. But driving to Pyeongchang is a 4 to 5-hour affair from Naju. To make things efficient, I decided to make the trip during this year's Lunar New Year holidays. Before visiting my parents in my home town as per tradition, the family would visit Seoul and Pyeongchang first.

With tickets in hand, Celine was excited to attend the Winter Olympics

Why Seoul? When I booked the tickets online, there were options to print out the tickets or load them on the smartphone. But I wanted to have the "official" tickets on hand, which could be picked up at the Main Ticket Center. One of such places were set up in the Seoul City Hall, so I drove there early in the morning to get the tickets, then spend a day in Seoul at an amusement park before heading to Pyeongchang. The kids certainly liked this arrangement.
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Apple Garosugil - Apple's first Korean store

Apple Garosugil, 08:52AM, January 27, 2018

Apple's very first retail store in Korea, "Apple Garosugil" was slated to officially open on 10:00AM, January 27, 2018, after nearly two years of leaked rumours and construction. Being an Apple fan, I had to take a peek, and so I took a high-speed train to Seoul from Naju early in the morning.

I arrived about 70 minutes before the opening, but the lines were already long - I was about 170m away from the store entrance when I lined up. With the temperature below 10 degrees celsius, me and everyone else were bracing freezing winds. As 10AM approached, length of the line had more than doubled, reflecting the great interest.

Waiting to enter the store, 10:11AM

About ten minutes after the opening, I was able to come up to the front of the store. Little did I know I had to wait 40 minutes more to actually enter. Still, everything was orderly, if a bit crowded. It was certainly worth the wait if you're into Apple stuff. Enjoy the photos of the store that follows.
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