Archive for August, 2008

Goodbye Party

Freitag, August 29th, 2008

There had been quite a lot of goodbye parties before the Olympics. But even now afterwards some of my friends are leaving China. It is usually a sad kind of party, especially for some of the people that I have known for a long time. But I hope to find the time to visit in their new homes.

Saying Goodbye

Beijing Olympics Day 1: Gymnastics

Samstag, August 9th, 2008

Olympic Green 1

The first day of Olympics we had tickets for Men’s Artistic Gymnastics. As we had two extra tickets two friends came along with us. This competition is in the newly built National Indoor Stadium on the Olympic Green.

We took one of the many the fast bus lines that were added extra for the Olympics. They are routed to get people to and from the Olympic venues. But I think it might not be so easy to find information about them. We got out Olympic tickets as foreign residents in China and the „Official Spectator Guide“ provided to us is completely only in Chinese language. That guide has some rough information on where the buses stop. We were told there are only Chinese versions of that guide when we went to pick up our tickets 2 months ago. Maybe that is why these Olympic buses are so empty.

The Bird’s Nest and Empty Streets

There are many restrictions written in tiny letters on the back side of the ticket. E.g. that you are only aloud to bring flags of countries participating in the events and that the flag is not allowed to me bigger than 1 times 2 meters. Also you are not allowed to wear clothes with a logo other than from the sponsors. And it says that you are not allowed to bring professional cameras. So Simon and I were discussing whether it would make sense to try to bring our SLR and then have it taken away and who knows if it then gets lost. So we decided that his Nikon and the Canon 1D might be considered as professional. So we both left our cameras at home. This is how a professional photographer looks like taking a picture with a point and shoot camera. And please note that I took this picture using my mobile phone. How sad…

Poiunt and Shoot Camera

When we were walking the convenient more than a kilometer walk from the bus stop to the National Indoor Stadium we hardly had time to take pictures as we were already late. It was very empty everywhere and the weather was quite good. We will be back tomorrow with more time for pictures. Here is a bad quality one done with my mobile phone.

Bird’s Nest with Mobile Phone Camera

The artistic gymnastics venue was designed by an architect from Nuernberg. We had tickets in the middle but still had a great view. Just too bad we did not have our SLR cameras. And guess what? We saw so many other visitors with their SLR cameras. So tomorrow I will risk to bring mine.

Beijing National Indoor Stadium for Gymnastics

We were quite astonished to see so many empty seats in the stadium. I would guess at least 1 third was empty. There were a lot of volunteers helping us in the stadium. But they did not act as cheer leaders. The bug screen in the stadium did tell us „amazing“ or „great“ or „clap“ to make us understand the gymnastics competition. It was great to see the male athletes from so close. Most of them did a great job.

Military and the Bird’s Nest

After the competition we were walking around the so called „Olympic Green“. It has a lot of concrete and grey color though. At least we felt really safe because the Military was also there.

Holding the Olympic Torch and Flame

Julien had a ticket for swimming in the Water Cube so he stayed on the Olympic grounds. The rest of us took the subway back into the city. It is great that with an Olympic ticket you can use any Beijing public transportation free of charge. But the subway was actually also not full. We had dinner in a nice Guizhou restaurant. After getting home I went to met one of the Hong Kong fixed gear riders who is currently in Beijing during the Olympic period. We rode together to Chaoyang park and then played around on our fixies bikes for a short while. What a great end of a great day.

Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony

Freitag, August 8th, 2008


My company followed the city guideline to give an extra day off: The day of the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympics!

So I did not have to go to office today. That was especially convinient because my mother who actually received her visa arrived in Beijing in the morning. I took the new airport express train to the airport after some issues of finding the place to purchase the train ticket and getting through two security check points. We took a taxi back. That was so incredible: There was not a single person at the airport taxi stand. Nevertheless we somehow managed to get onto the only taxi with broken air conditioning. But that was also okay as there were almost no cars on the street and we almost flew home in that little red sauna car.

We then went to the neighbourhood police hut with the official certificate that I actually live in the appartment to get the approval to have my mother registered at the bigger neighbourhood police station. Our friendly police officer was out (said to be at the police station) so we went there directly. Unfortunately it was around lunch time but the police officer actually did register my mom despite it being his lunch resting time.

I met my photographer friend who actually now is lending me his Canon 1D till Canon comes out with a hopefully great full frame camera at a reasonable price. THANK YOU SO MUCH. I feel like a real person again.

It was hard to find information on places where there would be big screens to watch the opening ceremony other than some of the typical bars.  My friend Fede went over to Ditan Park at about 2 pm with some friends and told us to come as Ditan Park had a space with 2 huge screens. We packed a bottle of wine, 2 bottles of beer a beer opener, two foldable chairs and a blanket. We were just leaving home to have some dinner on the way when Fede called and said we should come soon as it was getting crowded and he was not sure if they would close the entrance to the space with the screens. So we went there really hungry just to find out that except for the blanket and the camera we were not allowed to bring in the rest. But they said when we leave we can pick the things up again despite the fact that there was no marking on our bottles. We did manage to get the chairs in for my mother. I back out and got food from a small Chinese restaurant so that we do not collapse. Everybody was haning out on their blankets or newspaper waiting for the show to begin.

Beijing 2008 Olympics Ditan Park Screens

And wow what an Opening Ceremony! What a fabulous 3D play of lights, colors and traditional Chinese element. It was incredible. It was beautiful. It was amazing! London will have a hard time to produce anything nearly as impressive.

Viewing the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony in Ditan Park

And it was a real experience to be in Ditan Park with mostly Chinese watching it on huge screens. The atmosphere was so great. Everybody was sitting on the ground so everybody had agreat view of both screens. There was no aggression or violence. There was a lot of positive energy. There was a lot of cheering. And that was for all athletes of all teh 204 nations who then marched into the Bird’s Nest Stadium. The crowd did not cheer so load for 2 presidents, but definitely cheered for the athletes. It was also perfect that there were no moskitos. But it was quite hot that night.

Beijing Residents watching the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony

Hot Night August 8 2008

After the finish of the ceremony we were advised by the security crew that it might rain soon so we should all leave the park fast. We did that anyway as we were hungry. We went with friends to the nearby famous dim sum restaurant. We finished our delicious dinner at 2am. What a wonderful August 8th 2008!