Saturday, August 23, 2008

here in Beijing

We are here and man oh man I don't know quite how to capture this whole experience. I just don't really have the words to describe it. We only have a minute before we're heading out again but I'm just gonna post some stuff I started to write the other day...
(8-22-08)
We're off to watch track and field in a few minutes and Dave's finishing off a little catnap. Man, we are so tired. We are really packing it in over here, and when I say "packing it in," I mean we are on the go all the time in the crowds and the serious humidity. We've been up 'til almost 2:00 most nights and out the door again early. And we are loving every second of it. We keep looking at each other with these huge smiles across our faces in awe that we're actually here in all the hype.

Shanghai first though. We really love that city. It's so much more modern than it is in Beijing. I LOVE the architecture there. The Jin Mao tower (on the right in the picture below) was here when we were here a couple years ago, but the new one that's supposed to be the tallest in the world (on the left) was built in the two years since we left. They sure know how to put up buildings fast around here. It was pouring with rain. Every time I pulled out my camera the lens would totally fog up. This is through the taxi window. We had lunch with Dave's nephew who's living in Shanghai for the summer to do an internship from Stanford. We hadn't seen him in over a year and a half so it was so good to catch up. He is one impressive kid. Dave's guy he works with in Shanghai is pretty impressive himself. He's involved in so much over here. He's been on tv shows and in a bunch of magazines because of all he's involved in. Anyway, he was one of the torch bearers for China and we got to check out his torch. I must say it was pretty cool.
Then we took the good old overnight sleeper train to Beijing. A little different than it was when we did it two years ago with four kids and a 7-month pregnant belly packed into that little compartment.
We arrived in Beijing in a serious downpour. We were drenched lugging our suitcases around trying to meet up with this guy who was giving us some tickets. This sweet lady handed over her slicker to Dave while we were waiting.
Dave is a pretty awesome tour guide/trip planner. He got a bunch of tickets from a guy he works with here and through the Internet, and then my friend's brother-in-law (who is the "Special Attache to the President of the IOC") hooked us up with some other tickets. We were so lucky in all that because as truth would have it, tickets really are tough to come by. It is SOOO crowded and crazy. The security it amazingly tight...pretty impressive actually. The first night we had women's semifinal basketball tickets. Dave wasn't overly thrilled about that one but it ended up being pretty fun. We watched the USA beat Russia, and then Australia beat China. It's great to be in any of the venues when China plays because the crowds are so loud cheering for them. Note two things in the above picture: Becky Hammond is the one with the ponytail just left of the center. She's American. The Americans didn't want her so, because she had some Russian ancestry, she played for Russia. It must have been kinda weird for her to play against the USA.

Second, notice the girl holding the stuffed animal behind her (it's red so kind of hard to see). I loved that she held it the whole time she was on the bench. Interesting.
And I liked that the Chinese team had an American coach with a translator (to his right).

The next night was Men's semifinals. Dave sure wasn't complaining about that one. We felt so lucky to get these tickets from Paul (the guy with the IOC). It was awesome to be there, especially to see all the hype around the Americans. The Chinese LOVE these guys.First we watched Spain beat Lithuania. This was their victory huddle.
Then it was USA vs. Argentina.Kobe was totally waving at me. Too bad he doesn't realize I'm not a huge fan.
It seemed like all the games had a pretty strong cheering section for each country...except the USA. We were feeling a little bad that we didn't paint American flags on our faces and wrap ourselves in our flag...
...until we sat down behind these great Chinese fans...they were doing all the patriotic fan stuff for us. I personally love how the American flag is upside down. The half-time stuff is pretty funny here. Check out these costumes.
...this is with Paul's wife Kim and another friend of theirs. It was fun to sit by Americans to cheer for the USA.

And I just have to include a menu from the food vending...it's the same at every venue here. You've got to click on this picture to see what it says, but man, it's quite a menu. Needless to say, we've eaten a bunch of these.And on a food side-note, seriously. Check out these desserts. Don't you just every once in a while think, "Hmmm, what would make this ice cream sundae even better...I know, kidney beans would do the trick!"
McDonalds has never looked so good. Especially when you can pick between fries or corn. Hey, who knows when you may have a hankering for a good ol' cup of corn with your burger?
On those first days we also got to go to track and field. Pretty awe-inspiring to be in the "Bird's Nest."
We watched Bryan Clay do a couple of his events for the decathlon. The next day he won the gold.
Ok, obviously this has taken way more than a "sec." and I've got so much more to write but we're heading to bed so we can catch our flight tomorrow. To be continued...
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