Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Beijing Trip - Beijing Day 4

A couple of teammates scored some Paralympics tickets for today so we headed to the Olympic Park early this morning. Since there were 10 of us, we had to split up to take taxis to the National Stadium. Our taxi driver was lame; he want to avoid traffic so he drove on side roads to save time but since those roads were blocked near the stadium, he had to let us off far away and we walked 15 minutes to the security gate. There were a lot of people since the tickets were cheap at RMB50 each; I heard that BOCOG also gave away tickets to fill up the stadium.

Security check line. We were told to go into lines 6-8 since we did not have any bags. The line ended up moving slower since four rows of people funneled into two metal detectors and everyone had bags anyway.

I think this is the Olympic Village where the athletes stay. There are huge banners on each building so people won't get lost going home.

Security camera at each checkpoint... say "eggplant!"

National Stadium or Bird's Nest

Close up of the metal mesh construction

By the time we got inside, it was already 10:00am. The events began at 9:00am and people were probably lining up by 7:00am to get first level seats. Since the first two levels were filled, we had to walk up a ridiculously long set of stairs to get to the third level. Today was men's track and field events and finals.

First level of the stadium was completely full

Where are the elevators?! I did find some staff/stroller elevators to do down afterwards. I had to exaggerate my limp to convince them to let me ride. :)

I think the stadium's capacit is ~95,000 seats. It was amazingly free of trash, unlike many American stadiums I've been to. Some random guy even told us not to put our feet on the seat in front of us. I'll bet he spits on sidewalks and smokes in elevators.

For discus and javelin events, they had little remote-controlled cars to bring back the discus/javelin after the judges measured the throw.

The wave. I didn't know people still did the wave anymore. It wasn't spontaneous either; the announcer had to tell everyone when to do it and then he thanked everyone.

Long jumper with a prosthetic leg

800m wheelchair race final. Japan won gold and silver.

The US finally won a (bronze) medal. The medal ceremony was held between events, about 40 minutes after each final.

China won the 4x100m relay. I think this was for visually-impared athletes since some runners had a guide running alongside.

Olympic torch on top of the stadium

The morning events lasted until 12:30pm and we were quickly herded out of the stadium. There were several volunteers telling us to move out as I was taking the torch picture above. The second session at the stadium starts at 5:00pm. Without anything planned until dinner, we decided just to walk around the Olympic Green.

Olympic Stadium and BOB. By this time, the haze/fog/smog has moved in. The even/odd license plate traffic control is still in effect but it seems to have no effect on the air quality.

The Water Cube for swimming events. It doesn't look very impressive during the day; should be much better at night with colored lights shining through the translucent walls.

Self heating meal. For RMB20, you can get some rice and tofu/meat in a plastic container. There is a water activated pouch with some unknown chemicals that boils the water and steams your meal.

We met a lady who wanted us to take her picture and ended up talking to her for 1/2 an hour. She lives in Beijing and came to see the Paralympics herself. In the end, we took a lot of photos and she gave me her name, phone number, and address. I thought she was going to ask us to her house for dinner or something.

Bird's Nest with torch. We weren't that far away and already it's hard to see it through the haze.

The roads were closed to traffic and there were lots and lots of people walking around. Since we didn't all try the self-heating meal, we decided to head to McDonalds at the north end of the Olympic Green. Along the road, there were lots of company exhibits from large international corporations. For most, if you walk through their building/exhibit, you get a gift. We saw people rushing a guard trying to get free stuff. Coca-cola was handing out free bottles of soda and the line was over 40 minutes long. Sigh... Chinese people and free stuff.

Michael Phelps on the Omega (watches) building

Some cute girl/greeter outside the China Mobile building

This is the largest McDonalds I've ever seen. Even with lots of lines, it still took us 20 minutes to get to the counter and order some snacks (Nuggets and apple pies).

Huge Volkswagon exhibit

Since Pastor Brian arrived today, we walked out of the Olympic Green and took some taxis home. We went to our favorite restaurant again for dinner and since most of us didn't have a proper lunch, we ordered a lot more food. It still only came out to RMB367 for 11 people. On our way to the restaurant, we got caught in a sudden thunderstorm. I had to run/hobble half a block down the street to get out of the rain.

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