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Author Topic: Beijing 2008 Olympics 到北京看奧運 (Aug 2008)  (Read 40563 times)
chin
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« on: 06 February 2009, 19:15:50 »

In July, my good friend Gary offered us tickets and hotel rooms to see the Beijing Olympics.

Although not much of a sports fan myself, I accepted the offer right away. How could I miss the chance to see the Olympics in persons!?

So Beijing, here we come!


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« Last Edit: 09 February 2009, 06:03:28 by chin » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: 06 February 2009, 19:17:56 »

Gary's company was a sponsor of the Beijing Olympics, and had tickets to a range of different events.

One of our goals for the trip was to see the different Olympic venues, specially the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube. So I asked for tickets for events take place in the various venues.

The first thing was to look at the rules and regulations at the back of the tickets, to find out if I can bring cameras to the event.

And I was happy to see that I can bring my camera as long as they are not professional gears & not for commercial use.

Well, they are not "professional gears", aren't they? :-)



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« Last Edit: 06 February 2009, 20:05:35 by chin » Logged
chin
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« Reply #2 on: 06 February 2009, 19:22:26 »

In the years leading up to 2008, there were lots of hopes, hypes & expectations about what business the Olympic Games may bring to Beijing and China in general.

One of the highest expectations had to be in the hotel industry. I was told that there were 800,000 rooms in Beijing competing for the Olympic business.

But with the chaos caused by the pro-Tibet independent groups during the torch relay, the mainland authority substantially tightened the visa policy thus the number of overseas visitors was much lower than hoped.

The terror attacks in Xinjiang didn't help either, and may have caused lower than expected domestic visitors.

However, none of this mattered to the higher end hotels.

A friend of mine who works in Beijing and lives in the Grant Hyatt serviced apartment told me that Grant Hyatt was all sold out at more than 10 times the normal rate, and you cannot book the room for a few nights - you have to book for the whole 16-day Olympics period. With conditions like these, I imagine most bookings are made by companies entertaining their customers or executives.

Our hotel was the News Plaza Hotel, in the same building where Beijing Daily is located. All the rooms in this hotel were fully booked by 3 groups - my friend's company, UPS & the Beijing government.

The hotel is in a very nice location, across the street from Oriental Plaza, and very near Wang Fu Jing. The rooms are very spacious, but the carpets are stained in both rooms.


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« Last Edit: 06 February 2009, 20:05:44 by chin » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: 06 February 2009, 19:23:27 »

18-Aug-2008, our first day in Beijing.

We decided to take the short trip from our hotel to Tian An Men Square in the morning.

Unlike our previous trips to the Tian An Men Square, when the square was truly a huge open space and visitors could enter from any point, the Square now has only a handful of entry points completed with scanning machines and metal detectors.

My first visit to the Tian An Men Square was in 1986. At that time, not only visitors can enter the square from any direction, the Monument of the People's Heroes was freely standing and anyone can go up the 3 levels of stairs, to the base of the Monument and touch the stones.

Perhaps due to the Monument's central location in the Square, it has been the focal point of many "people's movement", such as the student protest in Jun 1989. Now the Monument is completely off limit.

The guards in this picture are guarding some special Olympic related displays.


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« Last Edit: 06 February 2009, 20:05:57 by chin » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: 06 February 2009, 19:24:02 »

Tian An Men (Heavenly Peace Gate) seen from the Square.

Behind the gate is the Forbidden City.

I learned later that we can now pay to go up to the Gate and see the Tian An Men Square from there. The next time I would definitely like to go up there, to check out the view Chairman Mao may had in 1949 when he declared the formation of the People's Republic of China


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« Last Edit: 06 February 2009, 20:06:12 by chin » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: 06 February 2009, 19:24:51 »

After exited Tian An Men Square, we decided to take a little walk along the wall of the Forbidden City.

The sign in the first picture says this is the remains of the imperial city wall. Right behind this wall is a small park with a small river and lots of willow trees.

The narrow streets behind the wall were very busy with metal railings and dividers.

About 10 years ago, we could take a rickshaw trip on the same streets. At that time both side were old residential area with small stores and noodle shops nested inside the old Beijing style courtyard houses. Now these courtyards are transformed into restaurants, clubs or luxury villas value at millions.

The last two pictures were taken by my 12-year old daughter. She had a school trip to Beijing 3 years ago, and at that time her teacher told her to pay attention and take picture of patterns and motifs.

The "auspicious cloud" pattern in the 3rd picture was everywhere in Beijing and widely used as part of the Beijing Olympic branding.

Our little walk turned out to be a very long walk back to the hotel, with stopping for lunch in Wang Fu Jing. We had a very nice hot pot lunch at Dong Lai Shun.


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« Last Edit: 06 February 2009, 20:06:23 by chin » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: 06 February 2009, 19:25:42 »

In the late afternoon, we started our first journey to the Olympic events. The first competition we would see was the men's 3-meter springboard diving qualifying rounds in the Water Cube.

As soon as we exited the subway station and enter Olympic Greens, we can feel the carnival like air in the park.

The first two pictures were taken by my 12-year old, capturing the parade in the park and spectators relaxing before the events.

Before reaching the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube, we passed a series of sponsors pavilions. Each and every one of them had long line and we did not bother to see what's inside.

In the Omega pavilion, people were gathering around to see Michael Phelps being interviewed on the 2nd floor.


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« Last Edit: 06 February 2009, 20:06:34 by chin » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: 06 February 2009, 19:26:18 »

More pictures from inside the Olympic Greens.

The main building in the second picture is the National Indoor Stadium.

Can you guess what the yellow and black "speed bump" is in the second picture for?


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« Last Edit: 06 February 2009, 20:06:44 by chin » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: 06 February 2009, 19:26:59 »

The "speed bumps" were actually trunking for network cables.

Right next to the National Indoor Stadium was a very big featureless building with no name. I read later that the no-name building was the network and control center for the entire Olympic Games. Once the Olympics is done, the building will be turned into Beijing Government's emergency respond center. Sort of like the New York City back up government site in the World Trade Center that came down in 911.

No wonder the building is black and has no-name. Very eye catching in a low-profile way. Too bad I did not have a good picture of that building.

Finally the Bird's Nest is in sigth, with the Olympic Flame burning day and night for 16 days.

But today we came for the Water Cube.


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« Last Edit: 06 February 2009, 20:06:58 by chin » Logged
chin
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« Reply #9 on: 06 February 2009, 19:27:45 »

I knew the National Aquatics Center, or the Watch Cube, is covered with special plastics. But I did not know the plastic was not just the outside cover - the entire wall was made of plastic bubbles supported by metal structures.

There must had been too many curious hands trying to touch the wall, aka the plastic bubbles, the management blocked off all places where people can touch the wall.

This sort of reminded me of the new Bangkok airport, where the passenger terminal is also covered by two layers of special plastics, and on the second floor the management also block-off areas where people can touch the plastics.

Once inside, everyone was take "I was here" pictures.

In the second picture, the interesting part is not the diver on the springboard, but the guy warming up in the background. He can jump so high without any help!


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« Last Edit: 06 February 2009, 20:07:09 by chin » Logged
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