Olympic memories

Being a compendium of recollections about the 2008 Beijing Olympics told through pictures that didn’t fit in other posts.

Here’s a local scene that is symbolic of Beijing during August and September of 2008:
That’s the eastern entrance to the building where our office was, the one I used on days when I either walked from home or took a taxi. You can’t read the sign from this angle, but you can see the red arrow telling you to go around to the north entrance. This was a frequent minor irritation, as the bicycle parking area is on the south side of the building.

Note that the doors are chained shut with bicycle locks. The people with the cart are making a delivery of vegetables to one of the restaurants in the building, and the security guard just finished digging through the bags looking for...whatever he was looking for. This was part of the increased security initiative all over the city. Around on the north side, they were checking building passes for all who came in, and visitors had to sign a log. At least that’s what the sign said – my Chinese teacher walked right in a couple times, and another time she had to wait while I came down to vouch for her. Anyone with an Olympic credential was also let in without question.

With the chains on the door (note that the one on the right side is on the outside of the door, while the other is on the inside), I couldn’t help thinking that in case of an emergency evacuation, people could easily get trapped trying to go out this way, depending on where the key is kept and how quickly the chain could be opened.

Here’s another typical scene.
The town was full of volunteers. This is a bunch of them at the Yonghegong Lama Temple subway station.

For the Opening Ceremony, I went to a place called Club Obiwan, which is along the shore of Xihai, one of the lakes in the western part of downtown.
Club Obiwan has three levels of fun, as well as a pretty cool name.
They had a big projection TV on the roof for the Opening Ceremony, and it got pretty crowded.
That was early in the evening, just before the show proper started, and before the place really filled up. Given all the hype about 08/08/08 8:08, I was a little surprised that the festivities started so much ahead of time. At the actual appointed time, I couldn’t tell any difference from what was happening at 8:07.

Several hours later, the festivities were over, and it looked like this:
I’m not sure how they managed to accumulate so many bottles. There was so little room on the roof that I went four hours without having a server get anywhere near me. I must say it was quite inspiring to see the amount of pride the Chinese people watching obviously felt in this whole thing. This was their moment, and they were very proud of their country.

From our rooftop, we could kind of see a little of the fireworks, and we clearly saw a couple of the infamous footprints that were computer-enhanced on the broadcast. They just looked like rings from our angle.

As I mentioned in my Beach Volleyball post, RR and I had to walk a long distance around Chaoyang Park after leaving the competition area. Here’s something we passed on the way.
Giant inflated kids, one doing martial arts, and one shooting a gun. Near them was another oddity.
I knew Shaq was tall, but dang!

At the Fencing session I attended, there was some entertainment in the break before the medal ceremony.
I clearly remember them dancing with swords, doing a kind of martial arts choreography, but you can’t see any swords here.

I mentioned a few of the corporate pavilions on the Olympic Green, but only showed a few pictures. Here’s the China Mobile building.
I’m told that’s the face of a famous Chinese actor known for comedy. Around the side, you can see a basketball player breaking through the wall. It’s actually a pop star, not an athlete. There were several other pop stars represented.
And the hostesses wore strange costumes that made them look a bit like anime characters.
Volkswagen had one of the few exhibits that was actually interesting. OK, to be fair I didn’t go inside any of them, but they looked really dull. VW had an outdoor display area with some cool cars behind glass.
Of course people like to pose with such things.
But you can occasionally get a clear shot.
They weren’t all race cars.
Several times a day, they had an aerial acrobatic show above the cars.
The Olympic Green was really huge, and given how restricted access was, it often looked like this over large areas.
While walking to the Closing Ceremony, I saw a group of volunteers (possibly with some kind of celebrity) showing the love.
I don’t know if it was a spontaneous outburst of collective spirit, or if they were rehearsing for something.

Near them were some cool statues on a historical theme.
In the large pond running up the middle of the Green, there were fountains.
And we saw a proud member of the Fire Department.
There you go. An assortment of Olympic-related odds and ends.

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