1/28/10 - Exploring Olympic Village and the harrowing streets of Beijing
Where do I start? Well I guess at the beginning would be good. Today started at 3:30am and let me tell ya that’s way too early but we all felt completely rested and ready to start the day! The only problem with waking up that early is that there is no breakfast for the growing teenage boy we are traveling with, thank goodness I packed some oatmeal packets to sustain the guy until the breakfast buffet opened at 6.
After a wonderful breakfast, which I’m sure Big J has blogged ALL about, we set out to explore Beijing on our own. This place is amazing! The sounds are completely different, obviously very city like but filled with the chatter of a beautiful language. The smell is interesting. Mike says it reminds him of Tiajuana but since I’ve never been to Mexico the only way I can describe it is that it’s a sweet musty smell and it permeates you and everything about you. The sights range from pure beauty to absolute filth, but strangely the filth is not ugly. The weather, well it’s cold, like really cold! As you can see from the pictures you can tell exactly how cold it is...when was the last time anyone saw me so bundled up??? The coldness is almost unbearable sometimes but once we move past it’s displeasure and remind ourselves where we are, we get over it quickly.
One of the things the guys wanted to do was see The Olympic Center while we were here so that’s what we did today. After a daunting taxi ride, we walked through a security check point and wondered around this huge square that just a few months ago was filled with the worlds best athletes. We were in awe of it’s grandeur but were also shocked at how run down it is already. Most of the area is under some sort of construction or is closed off and in disrepair but the incredibleness of what it is was is really cool to see. We really wanted to see the inside of The Water Cube but it was under construction to be turned into a public pool. The Birds Nest though was beyond amazing. It is a snow park of sorts right now and was filled with tons of activity. The Olympics really did incredible things for China and this area is proof of what the country is capable of.
After a while the sun emerged and we started walking in the direction of our hotel in hopes that a new adventure would find us. We checked out the subway. We crossed a street that took 15 minutes of Mike and Jacob cajoling me that we wouldn’t die. OH. MY. WORD! That’s some seriously scariness. If you’re in the way, bubye! Oy! After making it across a HUGE intersection and living, I was starting to feel better about crossing streets but was really wanting a quite path somewhere which we found a few blocks later by chance.
Wandering down this quaint path along the river was so relaxing and far from the modern Olympic Village! For what seemed like hours we followed the frozen river to the end where we found ourselves among storefronts, narrow streets, street vendors, horse drawn carriages filled with fruit and suddenly we felt completely lost. Soon we found ourselves haling a cab to get back to our hotel which again was another dizzying ride through the streets of Beijing but still fun. Besides the guys eating at the golden arches, we enjoyed some yummy soup and coffee for a late lunch/early dinner.
As we wrap up our first full day in our daughters country we are not only exhausted but filled with pride. Walking the streets with her country men and women made me ache to hold her in my arms and absorb this experience from the beginning with her there with us. Soon I kept telling myself, soon. Sunday can’t be here quick enough! For now I watch the sun set and the lights flicker on across the city and prepare for another good nights sleep and dream about what tomorrow will bring us.
Oh what a day this was! I remember being so happy just to be on our own and being together...IN CHINA! :) Everywhere we went I was in awe of the simpleness of life. I was amazed at people appearing happy even if their job was to move snow from one pile to another...ALL day long. We had so much fun just being a part of this world around us and oh how I wish I was there today.