Thursday, July 2, 2009

....and the Olympic gold medal goes to....


J
ulee Khoo! Okay, you'll never, ever hear those words but for a brief time today, I got to imagine what it must have been like to be an athlete at the Beijing 2008 Oylmpic Games! I got to go to Olympic Park!!

After lunch on our first day in Beijing, Jan, Dean, Bernd and I boarded a bus for a short ride from the restaurant back to Tiananmen Square. Our plan was to go to Olympic Park via bus but even with Jenny’s help, finding the right bus to get on turned out to be easier said than done. After minutes of trying, we gave up and opted to go by taxi. Jenny helped to flag one down for us and told the driver where we wanted to go.

Geographically speaking, Beijing is a huge city. The center of the city is encircled by what called the Ring Roads of which there are four. The Olympic Park is located in the north of the city center, between the 3rd and 4th Ring Roads. It took us almost 40 minutes to get there but we didn’t care because the taxi was air conditioned!

The taxi dropped us a short walking distance from the park and we made our way to the entrance gate. More crowds! I must say the Bird’s Nest Stadium is a fantastic piece of architectural design and truly representative of modern China! As I looked at the building, I wondered how anyone could actually envision this design – the intersecting beams that make up the structure seem to be randomly placed....I couldn’t figure out a pattern and could not find any symmetry to it all.

Even the lamp posts that line the walkways follow the nest design.


















































On one side of the Bird’s Nest Stadium is an enormous plaza and on the other side of the plaza from the Stadium is the Water Cube. Another magnificent piece of modern architecture! Truly a cube, the sidewalls are constructed of irregularly shaped convex pieces giving the overall effect similar to a single layer of soap bubbles floating atop water.











































I made the guys do another Happy Jump in fron to the Cube. They were such good sports to humor me! :-)



....and I carried the Tang Dynasty Warrior princess pose with me. So corny, but you got to have a bit of kooky fun every now and again :-)



By now, we were all thirsty and needing a bit of a break so we headed to a nearby vendor, got our drinks and sought some shelter from the sun.

Olympic Park. I can only imagine what it must have been like during the Olympics....filled with athletes from around the world and cheering crowds. The vibe in the place must have been absolutely electric!! I hope that Beijing will continue to hold events in both the Bird's Nest Stadium and the Water Cube....it would be a real shame for these beautiful, beautiful architectural works of art to not live on.

When we were done with our visit, we retraced our steps back out to the main road and hailed a taxi to go back to Tiananmen Square. Oh...it was so, so nice to get into an air-conditioned taxi. The ride was not a long one. The taxi driver deposited us near where we had taken the first taxi. From there, we knew where to walk to go back to the hotel. By the time we arrived in the hotel, we were ready for showers and dinner with Jenny and the rest of the gang.

I've only been in Beijing for about 12 hours but I'm already loving it!!