Monday, September 1, 2008

Beijing Olympics 2008 (Part 2 of 3)

I realized after my first post that I forgot to mention one thing from my first day at the Olympics. After finishing up with tennis at around 1 am, the three of us at the tennis match decided to eat some dinner at this restaurant near our hotel since none of us had really had a solid dinner. The food was good, but the most interesting part was this guy who either owned the restaurant or was working there. He was a big guy and was either drunk or slightly crazy. Amy and Gill can speak Chinese pretty well, so he was talking to them a lot and trying to teach them some song about hard bread. I basically just sat there and enjoyed the show for the most part. At one point, I even saw this guy smuggle out a huge stack of napkins under his shirt, looking back over his shoulder like he was doing something wrong. Sometimes it's best just to not ask questions about such things.
Gill and Singing Chinese Man
The next day, Friday August 15, I was able to go to some tennis matches again. This time I was going with my friend Derek, his Dad, and Derek's girlfriend Ji. I have to give a big time thanks to Derek and his Dad for their generosity on my visit for the Olympics. Derek's Dad had bought some Olympic tickets and a couple hotel rooms. I was able to stay in one of the hotel rooms they reserved and also tag along with them to many of the events. This is only one of many times they have been very generous to me and I think if they keep hooking me up with awesome stuff, like Olympic tickets, I'm going to be too much in their debt and will potentially have to offer my firstborn son to pay them back. This time around at tennis, I first got to see James Blake (USA) play again, but this time against Fernandez Gonzalez (Chili). Blake started out really strong and I thought he was going to win, but Fernandez played really well towards the end and beat Blake. It was a really fun match to watch and was pretty competitive. The next match was between Dinara Safina (Russia) and Jelena Jankovic (Serbia). Safina seemed to be a much better player in this match and beat the other woman pretty easily. To be honest, I used to not have much interest in tennis, but lately after watching the awesome match between Federer and Nadal at Wimbledon and also after reading this book called Infinite Jest, which talks about tennis a lot, I have become a lot more interested in tennis and appreciate watching it. It was great to be able to see tennis for two days in real life at the Olympics, now I think I'm a fan.
James Blake vs Fernando Gonzalez
Dinara Safina vs Jelena Jankovic
On Saturday, August 16, Derek and I went to a soccer game between Belgium and Italy. It was at the "Worker's Stadium," which was a pretty cool stadium. The game was exciting and we got to see several goals, including one penalty kick that lead to a goal. The Chinese people watching the game seemed to enjoy the game quite a lot, even though they weren't rooting for any specific team. I think the same people would start up chants for both Belgium or Italy, just depending on their mood or who was losing at the time, maybe going for the underdog. Another common occurrence was for the crowd to start up a wave. This seems to be a common trend at all the events I attended, so it's confirmed: Chinese people like doing the wave.
Penalty Kick
Italy vs Belgium
Italy Vs Belgium Wes and Derek at Soccer
Worker's Stadium Crowd
We were at the game as the sun was going down and Derek and I were talking about how the Chinese efforts to clear up the sky in Beijing were pretty effective. You could actually see blue sky and the sunset was very beautiful. Contrasted to when I was in Beijing the previous summer and didn't see blue sky during my entire stay, it is a pretty huge improvement. One night we were even counting how many stars we saw in the sky, although the final tally was less than 10, it was impressive nevertheless.
Beautiful Sunset in Beijing
During halftime of the game, a group of Chinese cheerleaders came out with the five Olympic mascots. They did a lap around the track and all the fans really enjoyed them. Derek said that China had brought in the New England cheerleaders to train the new Chinese Cheerleaders. They seemed pretty good and similar to cheerleaders in the US.
Chinese Cheerleaders with Olympic Mascots
Chinese Cheerleaders
Everything about the cheerleaders seemed normal until I took a closer look at what the male cheerleaders were wearing. This is where things got a little weird. Apparently the New England Patriots cheerleaders didn't tell the men that to make up for the fact that they're male cheerleaders, they must be very strong with big muscles and dressed differently from the girls. I think the young man in the picture below with a midriff blouse might not necessarily be considered masculine in the western mind.
This Young Man Seems Happy to Be Here
After the game when we were leaving the stadium, we were met with an excellent Chinese farewell. They had a long line of all the Olympic volunteers waving at us, emphasizing the most abundant commodity in China: people. If they are not able to put together a snazzy technological display for a specific occasion, they are very capable of impressing people with a large group of enthusiastic and friendly Chinese people.
A Chinese Farewell
Later that night, Derek and I met up with some friends at the Heineken House, which was basically a get together for Dutch people. They had similar events like this all over Beijing, e.g. American House, Korean House, etc. The one unique thing about the Heineken House was that the stereotype of Dutch people being tall was proven to be true. I have never seen so many tall white people gathered in one location in my life. Almost everyone seemed to be 6'2" to 6'6", thin, and gangly. It's tough to tell from the picture, so you'll just have to trust me on this one.
What's in the Water in Holland?
I was originally supposed to leave Beijing and go back to Hangzhou on Sunday August 17, but Derek had tickets to a track and field even on that night, so I decided to stay an extra day and buy a new flight home so I could go to track as well. I was really happy I stayed an extra day and I will write one more post about that day to finish up my Olympic blog posts. More pictures:


Jenny said...

Watching the sunset and then counting stars with D Rex? You really have been doing a lot of romantic stuff with him lately! Glad to hear that you had a lot of fun at the Olympics.

Edward said...

Sounds like you had a great time at the Olympics. I love watching them on TV when they're on. I could only imagine how awesome it must have been to be there in person.

The blue sky in Beijing was pretty impressive. You'd hope that after getting a taste of such things, they would start working toward improving even more and keeping that way.