A Travellerspoint blog

Leaving Asia

overcast

This is Dave. We are in Beijing now, but we were not here during the Olympics. However, we found out that they do the Paralympics (the games for people with physical disabilities,) after the regular Olympics and in all the same venues. So we definitely wanted to try and get tickets to an event so that we could share in the Olympic excitement and see the incredible new buildings. You can see them from a distance from outside the Olympic Village but the view is not that great and is obstructed by other buildings, buses, lamp posts etc. So we wanted to get up close and isnide the buildings too if possible. We figured it would be pretty easy to get tickets to the Paralympics, I mean how popular could they be, most people in the US have never even heard of the Paralympics. But once we got to Beijing we learned otherwise. China has made about as big a deal with the Paralympics as they did with the regular Olympics. They are huge. And all the tickets were sold out. (Although, just like with the Olympics, many of the tickets are bought by corporate sponsors who don't even end up going to the events so there are tons of empty seats.) So we decided to take our chances with trying to buy tickets from a scalper. We took the bus down to the complex and walked around in the courtyard hoping someone would try to sell us tickets. We had met some people who had also bought tickets this way, but since then the police had arrested a bunch of scalpers. So we were trying to be on the down-low. But we were having no luck so I thought we might try to go down the street a bit, which ended up working. Immediately a guy approached us with tickets. Of course we were very suspicious that they were fakes, so we were standing there for a bit examining them and trying to feel the RFID tags that we heard were embedded inside the tickets. The guy could tell we were hesitant so he motioned us to follow him and he took us into the huge line of people waiting to get through the security check and into the Olympic grounds. He shuffled along in the crowd with us the whole way until we got to the turnstile. Once we passed through I slipped him the money. We were in!! A very exciting moment. Now I can understand the adrenaline rush thieves must feel when they pull a heist. But don't worry, this will not lead me to a life of crime. Anyway, we high-fived each other and headed for the porta-potties. (We'd been waiting in line for a while.) After that we headed across to the Bird's Nest. What a sight, I have to tell you. It was much bigger than I'd expected. And what an architectural marvel. Across the way was the Water Cube, also a spectacular vision, hard to believe its an actual building. Our tickets were for the track events so after enjoying the structures for a while and snapping some photos we headed into the Bird's nest. The place was packed! Given how little press and importance is given to the Paralympic games in other countries and in past years, the athletes must have been blown away. We were seated way up towards the top of the stadium but had a great view right near the finish line. We watched some running events, some wheel chair relay races, and some discus throwing. All the while the Olympic torch blazing above the stadium. It was a pretty amazing moment.

It would be a hard moment to beat but the very next day it was when we went to hike along the Great Wall. We got up early to catch our 6:00 AM tour up to where we'd start our hike. It was a cramped 3 hour drive with Lynette and I wedged next to two Chinese woman in the back row of the van, a seat built for 3. It was rather uncomfortable and my right butt cheek quickly fell asleep as did the rest of the occupants up front in their comfy seats. (I would make sure I got one of those seats on the way back.) As we got closer and closer to the site the air visibility got worse and worse, like we were driving into a big cloud. You couldn't see very far and I couldn't imagine the view for the wall could be much worse. We started the hike up and onto the wall. For the first 30 minutes or so I just couldn't enjoy the fact that we were actually walking on top of the Great Wall of China because I was too mopey about how bad the views were. I wanted picturesque photos! But after about 30 minutes the fog began to miraculously clear. I quickly snapped off some shots of the wall going into the distance in case this was a fleeting moment of clarity, but the fog just kept on lifting, along with my mood, and soon was completely gone, leaving a spectacular clear view of the wall and distant hills, and majestic blue cloudless sky above. It was like that for the rest of our 4 hour, 7 mile hike. Now I could not imagine a better day to have done the hike, especially after hearing from someone that it had been raining there the day before. The rest of the day was packed with one spectacular view after another and we had a great time. I guess it just goes to show you that you should get really upset and sulk when things don't go your way because it ends up making things turn out alright.

I have 2 Sofie Star photos this time. One in front of one of the oldest structures in China, The Great Wall.......

china_wall_ss.jpg

And one in front of one of the newest structures in China, The Olympic Stadium (Bird's Nest!)

china_nest_ss.jpg

Lynette's leaping abilities continue to amaze me. Here she is showing her excitement for getting in with our scalped tickets:
china_nestlynette.jpg

You can find a few empty seats scattered throughout the stadium, but this definitely blows away any other Paralympic game attendance.
china_nest_inside.jpg

Wheel chair relay race at the finish line:
china_nest_track.jpg
china_nest_flame.jpg

I'd like to recommend to any future Olympic/Paralympic games organizers that might be reading this to include more than just one McDonald's restaurant on the grounds. They had just one here which was about a mile away from the stadium. We had to walk really far and then found a huge line out front to get in. This photo shows what it was like once we got through the door - More long lines to get to the counters. Granted, they did have some other food vendor stands scattered around, but they were serving primarily Chinese items, and even in China, McDonald's proves to be most popular.
china_mcd.jpg

Here's some shots from our day on the Great Wall:
china_wall_lyn_enter.jpg
china_wall1.jpg
china_wall2.jpg
china_wall3.jpg
china_wall4.jpg
china_wall5.jpg
china_wall6.jpg
china_wall_lyn.jpg
china_wall_us.jpg

The rest of our time in China has been great as well. It started off rough with that crazy over night bus trip, but since then it has been splendid. A few highlights include our bicycle tour through the Yangshuo countryside, the cruise down the Yangtze River, our visit to see the taracotta soldiers in Xian, a full day of traveling by multiple modes of transportation which was stressfull but we got to experience the kindness of many Chinese people who helped us along the way, meeting a wonderful young Chinese couple on a train, seeing the sci-fi like skyline of Shanghai, and spending a few days in the wonderful ancient walled city of Pingyao.

The Asia chapter of our trip is at an end. Its been a good run. Tomorrow we will be off to Europe and our first stop is Greece. We are very excited! That is someplace I've always wanted to visit since I was a kid, ever since I wrote a report on the Greek gods in the 4th grade.

We'll let you know how it goes.

Dave
dbuck242@yahoo.com
&
Lynette
lschimpf@gmail.com

Posted by schuckley 18:50

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

And there is the cheerleader in Lynette shining through. Ya still got it, girl!

by Kelsworth

WOW WOW! WHAT GREAT PICTURES THESE PICTURES JUST MADE ME FEEL LIKE I HAVE BEEN THERE AND I HAVE THROUGH MAGAZINES. IT MUST HAVE BEEN PRETTY AWESOME WALKING ON THE WALL.ALL THE FAMILY KNOWS WHAT A FAN I AM OF THE OLMPICS SO SEEING THE PICTURES OF THE BIRD NEST IS SO GREAT. GLAD YOU MADE IT IN. SO LYNETTE COULD JUMP FOR JOY. LOOKING FORWARD TO THE NEXT PICTURES.TAKE CARE!
SAFE TRAVEL AND GODS BLESSINGS LOVE, DAD & MOM

by jwrossrd

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Login