Narita to Tokyo in one easy step

We arrived in Narita, our bags all showed up promptly.   As with Beijing, Narita Airport supplies adequate numbers of luggage carts for FREE.   They are designed with rubber bumpers around the wheels, so that when you go on the escalator with them, the bumpers keep the wheels off the steps, and veeola, you take your luggage easily from the place where you leave the bags overnight (for 8 bucks per huge bag<G>).

So we checked the luggage and hopped on a highspeed express train to Shinjuku station in Tokyo, and easily found our hotel, thanks to the great folks on the Thorn Tree Forums at Lonely Planet.  If you have to travel *anywhere*, this is a great way to prepare.

So with a little more than a full day and two nights, we set about Tokyo using the subways and taxis, and of course, walking about.   Saw temple shrines, the view from the highest building (where I had a white russian with the largest ice cube I had ever seen in a glass), shopped left and right in outdoor malls, department stores, akihabara electronics shops.

It is kinda funny – I went to the Akihabara district, world famous for electronic gear of any and all sorts, expecting to be able to get great deals.  huh, go figger.   I had trouble even finding the memory chip currently in my Casio EX-F1 pro – a 16 gb, class 6, SDHC chip.   And when I did find it, the price was in the range of more than 120 bucks. (12000 yen)  Since I paid around $30 for it at Frye’s in Austin, I was really disappointed.  Likewise other things from laptops to Ipods to Iphones were MORE than they are in Awestin.  Then it dawned on me that Tokyo has the rep as the most expensive place in the world, and now I believe.

Cokes were as high as 8 dollars.   I sit now in the Admirals Lounge at Narita, our flight boards in 15 minutes, and in 15 hours we will be in DFW.  15 is a good number right now.   Arigato!  Sheh Sheh!  Muchas Gracias.

Excuse me now while I click the heels on my tennis shoes and repeat three times:  “There is no place like home.”

Photos to follow

Finale

We are packed with at least two overweight suitcases. We’ve
experienced the closing ceremony, which I have to rate as better than
the opening, in nearly every way.
More on the way, hopefully from Tokyo during our day+ layover.
but for now, away to the airport, the largest in the world.

Photos For Lindsey

I have put a rush job through of photos of Lindsey, making an album with no annotations, and almost no video clips.  There just ain’t enough waking hours for me right now, and I have gotten a number of comments, well, ok, COMPLAINTS,, from folks back in the Yew Ess Hay about my shortcomings in this area.

So I am posting a limited resolution version that will let you see her in her regaliac splendoriforous self starting before comps and finishing up well, after competitions.

Enjoy.  Once I get all of the photos that Lindsey has been shooting on her cameras, pull them all together, I will re-do this entire website of hers.

HERE IS THE LINK TO HER CURRENT PHOTO SET

Note that I am starting the upload now, so if you try this link and it doesn’t work, give it 30 minutes and try again.   LOTS of files have to be uploaded.   enjoy!

Another Reason We Are Here

Once an athlete is through his or her competition schedule, the mission changes focus.   Instead of focusing solely on doing everything “right” and winning their competitions and ultimately gold, they then begin to broaden their awareness of what is around them.

Things they had only noticed in passing, like the game room in the village with the foosball, air hockey, pool tables, etc…, now become places where they can meet athletes completely outside of their normal sphere.

Trade pins, socialize, and even trade the shirts off their backs become typical activities.   In a way they become hungry for more experiences to take home with them.

The second medal for Team USA archers of both the Olympics and Paralympics was obtained by Jeff Fabry yesterday, after some really excellent shooting in the semifinal match.  It’s hard to beat a bunch of nonstop 10′s, but when the bronze medal match came Jeff did what he had to do, and kept his composure throughout it all.   I have photos on the computer to process but just didn’t have the energy last night.

We went to the Wheelchair Rugy where USA beat archrivals Canada handily.  This sport has to be seen to be believed.  The collisions (on purpose) between dudes strapped into armored wheelchairs is incredble!

After US victory, we went out to a #1 restaurant for a celebratory feast including Peking duck (of course), followed by deserts at the Hard Rock cafe.  The athletes with us longed for a drink but are still on the no-alcohol ban directive from the team leader, so they just had sprites and watched us well, drink the drinks.  Kevin Stone added yet one more Hard Rock pin to his huge collection – he’s been in most every HRC ever built, I suspect.  Good times.

It rained on us as we taxi’d back to the hotels, but this morning the skies are blue and clear, so off to shopping at Ya Show, dining at Hou Hai lake, and then on to the swim cube for some finals and craziness screaming our heads off again for U…..S…..A…..

Bronze

Lindsey’s first match was a nail biter, as usual, and she tied her
opponent at the end of 12 arrows, and then in the one-arrow shootoff,
her opponent shot a 7. Lindsey had to let down with 5 seconds to go,
but managed to get the arrow off with less than two seconds left,
scoring a…….6. SO she then went immediately to the bronze match,
where she shot very well, defeating a multiple-medallist from Poland
and took the bronze. Her loss in that shootoff made her much more
determined, I am sure, and she shot every point with great form and
focus.
The Korean from Lindsey’s first match fired a 103 to win Gold.

Yay, Lindsey!

She promptly told me she was going to Disneyland. :)

Even now, 5 hours or more after her match, I feel the adrenaline
effect. It is incredibly stressful for the coach/parent/fan to have
to go through that. I think she did it on purpose! But we are so
proud of her and her successful battle over TP and everything else
that she has overcome to stand on that podium with the medal in her
hands.
phew. More after I recover.

On to the semifinals

Leaving in a few minutes for the semifinal matches. Lindsey shoots at
10am, about 2 1/2 hours from now. Already my heartrate is up 20 bpm
when I think about what is happening today.
I’ve finally gotten caught up on photos – Lindsey’s last match is at

http://www.arcarmichael.com/Beijing/Day6/slides/CIMG8676.html

although I have yet to put up any videos (other than her youtube
account). They will come when I have more time.
Today is overcast, the kind that doesn’t show up on the radar, which
means it is purely smog. cough.cough.
But right now, who cares. :)

http://www.arcarmichael.com/Beijing/Day6/slides/CIMG8676.html

will take you to some shots of Linds. I also uploaded some 350+
photos from yesterday’s events. enjoy.

Lindsey to the semis

Lindsey to the semis

Lindsey gave her dad a coronary, as well as the rest of the crowd today.  She was shooting in the quarterfinals and had a comfortable lead after two ends, then threw a 4.   On the last arrow for both archers, she shot last, needing an 8 to tie the match.  She calmly stands the line, bright sun in a cloudless sky beating down on her shoulders, she watches the clock tick down before her.  At 10 seconds she raises her bow, draws a perfectly nice BEST method shot, and nails a nine to win.  I pretty much lose it for a few seconds.  You can see the last shot on her youtube account.

The rest of the day – hmm – what DID happen?  One US archer (TJ Pemberton of Oklahoma) had to take out another American (Joe Bailey) by a point or two, in a very closely contested match.  Luck of the draw is sometimes no luck at all.

Jeff Fabry had his first match, won handily, and set a record in what was a virgin category (it did not exist at the 2004 Athens game).

Tennis phenom Nick Taylor was defeated in an uncharacteristically quick and easy match, but still has his doubles track to medal in.  The media attention he always attracts is impressive, as is his ability with a tennis racket.

The fragrances that waft over the tennis venue in the evening reminds me of the airport area of Austin – Raw sewage carries for quite a ways…And I think most Chinese men think they are really “gifted”, as they stand a foot or more away from the porcelain when relieving their inner tensions.   The song, “Cry me a river”, comes to mind every time I literally wade into the mens room.  :)

The iron hand of the hosts has relaxed slightly, once Lindsey came onto the stands and claimed me as a family member.  I’m now able to move around with the wheelchair athletes in their viewing space to take photos for all of the matches, so well, I take photos.  You can view tem at the aforementioned links, of course.   Videos will be available if I ever get enough time….:)  maybe after I get back to the US?   Lots of good photos, though, I am having a ball with the Casio.

More tomorrow, as Lindsey shoots in 12 hours for a medal berth.  It is going to be tough, she will have to put her act together a little more than it has been to date.  I am confident she will do it.

change to the photo link

I’ve modified the website a lot so there is a new link for the photographs.

Many photos added so I am now caught up with the photos up through the 1/8 rounds of archery.

The video clips I have shot will have to wait, though.  many good hi speed, ultra slow motion, shots of archers during releases.  And some jerky high def movie clips. (they won’t let me bring in a tripod, but I am going to try something out today ;)

Day one of archery comp is done….yay.

Well, I wrote a LOT for this post the first time around, and posted it, but didn’t double check it.  somehow the post vanished. ,grrrrr,  oops, wait, I found a backup draft:

Day one of the archery competition is done. Lindsey shot good but not her best, and was able to outscore the Chinese archer (Wang) that she shot with in Athens.

The two set a world record in Athens, tieing at 603 for the ranking round.  That record stood until the day before yesterday, when a new record of (I think) 623 was set. Anyway, Lindsey led the entire match, and demonstrated poise and control, even as the 95% Chinese crowd cheered her opponents every shot.  She had to shoot while they were all raising a ruckus over Wang’s shots, but as the match wore on the loudness factor dropped just a little as Lindsey evolved a large lead.   Lindsey shoots tomorrow PM.

US archers Kevin Stone, TJ Pemberton, and Eric Bennett also advanced.  Kevin also shot good but not his best, and led throughout.   TJ had a slightly closer match but still managed to shoot a solid, controlled victory.   Eric had finished his match, and was leaving, when a line call caused a change in the score and he had to shoot not one, but ulitimately TWO one-arrow shootoffs.  He won his match on the second arrow with a 9 to his opponents’ 8.  Good archery!

Chuck Lear and Russell Wolfe both met archers that were shooting the highest scores of the day, and so they had a difficult time of it, but managed to shoot well enough that neither was a complete blowout. The heavy rains last night led to a complete surprise today.  The forecast was for 60% chance of rain, but the morning skys were clear and…….BLUE. Go figure -  we had cloudless skies and lots of BLUE SKIES.   It was wonderful   I notice a huricane is headed towards the coast of Texas and Austin.   Sure hope the lake doesn’t flood! :)

Addendum from Thursday:

I am happy to report that they shut down all factories south of the city, and the result is clear blue skies.  WOW, what a difference it makes.  We can actually see mountains in the distance!  And we got a little sunburned!

As mentioned before, Lindsey shot well for her first round and won.  She shot well against the number 4 or 5 seed (she is around 13th) for her second match, starting with a mis-release and a complete M for her first arrow, came back strong, and finished ahead of her opponent from Switzerland.  Wow.  did I say that yet?   Wow.  Matchplay archery HAS to be one of the most exciting competitions going.

She shoots tomorrow at 3pm against a Korean, which will be likely tougher than the others she has faced.  Her form is great, executions are strong, and she had maybe one letdown for the entire match.

Incidentally, each archer is allowed 30 seconds for each arrow, shooting a total of 12 arrows per match.  They alternate shooting, and the 30 second countdown clock starts as soon as the previous arrow hits the target.  So a match lasts no more than around 10 minutes – one trains and works for 4 years or more, and in the space of 10 measly minutes, advances one step closer to the medal round or else packs the bow and joins the crowds of onlookers.   What that must be like mentally, only those that have gone through it can really know.

We got in some tennis matches today, watching Nick Tayler and David Wagner team up to beat the team from Nederland (Netherlands).  It was on a nearly full center court stadium, and they won handily, although it was definitely a match, no runaway.  So Nick moves on in both singles AND doubles.

Lindsey, TJ Pemberton, Joe Bailey have all won their matches for Team USA, and Jeff Fabry was so highly seeded that he has had TWO byes, but will be shooting tomorrow in the hopes of repeating his gold medal performance from Athens.  Unfortunately for Team USA, TJ and Joe meet in their match tomorrow, and the good news is that an American will advance tomorrow, but it’s a tough way to do it.

Be sure to check Lindsey’s blog for more on her thoughts.   Quarterfinals tomorrow, woo hoo.

I have been too busy to update photos from the last day, but I will get to them asap.  And this place is still just as irritating – we got to the venue very early, in order to get good seats so I could take photos.  Once again, they blocked off all of the seats directly in front of the archers for “VIPS” – this time, a bunch of elementry school children bussed in from Beijing schools.  <sigh>

another day in a pair of dice (or, when in china just ask “how hai”?

Hmmm. where to start, when I have soooo many things to cover?
First, it rained on us today. yech. a steady drizzle, enough to get
everything damp and soggy.
another – we walked ourselves near to death. These folks are so much
more security conscious than Athens (and remember, THEY were paranoid
about terrorists and with good reason, right there on the med). I
don’t think of a good excuse for what we are experiencing here, except
that this IS a totalitarian society after all. There are not enough
places for the uncredentialled (ie, ME) to enter. If you have the
craved-for credentialls, you can easily go in at many different places
around the Olympic Green, in your car-with-driver transportation that
drives 70 mph down the main roads surrounding and entering into the
greens. seriously. zoom. if you have no cred, you walk. or you
can ride a bus (when you can figure out where to catch it) to certain
distant points, and then walk BACK to get in.
Once in, it ain’t so bad, except that from the entry point we finally
were allowed to use, there was a 1 to 2 mile distance to the tennis
venue or to the souvenir store, or to mickey d’s. This place
requires good walking shoes and NSAIDs for the joints that ache from
all the walking on granite and asphalt.
In the rain, we were also required repeatedly to go, say, 20 feet to
one out-of-our-path way, step up on a curb and go around a light pole,
THEN we could step back down on the path and continue. In other
words, at certain points an arbitrarily, whimsically chosen hoop was
placed for us to jump/conform to in order to not be accosted by the 5
or 10 police standing there telling us to do the dos-eee-doe for them.
It’s good to be in China because It changes the way you look at
things. And they really can’t help being so dictatorially
unreasonable.
We ate at the McDonalds in the greens, where they import the beef from
‘merica. honest. they really do. And it was just like back home,
only about half the price. one big mac, two “superior spicy chicken
sandwiches”, a parfait, two fries and two coke lights (no diet cokes
here), came to less than 8 dollars. No choice on drink size, all
comrades get the same drink. :) it all tasted just like MickeyDs
back in Austin, yum. (well, not really yum, but it WAS comfort food,
when your leg and knees are aching like you are some old geezer.
hmmm….nah…)
The tennis is one of the best tickets in town for sure. the
wheelchair basketball is good, but you have to put up with the same
kind of foul-to-stop-the-game over and over like in the waning moments
of an NBA or college hoops game, where the coach has to get a foul
every second so he can dialogue a super secret play to get another
basket. in other words, it is NOT non-stop action at any point in a
wheelchair bball game because the refs are calling fouls on EVERY
sIngle alternating possession. But the tennis, did I mention it was
great? The only concession to the disability thang is that they get
to let the ball bounce twice on their side if they want to, otherwise
it’s the same action and it is a lot of fun to watch.
the neat thing about today is that while they blocked access to
directly going to the archery qualifying field (but they did let us
buy two tickets for archery (that wasn’t there today), you could still
sit in the stands of the tennis stadium and watch the archery going
on, (and even film it, woo hoo). So, we had tickets for archery but
there was none for us to attend, but we still got to watch it from a
distance.
so It was a two-fer!
As our clothes all dry out from the rain here in our hotel room, we
retire with a bottle of wine picked up at an
international-accomodating grocery store – Jenny Liu’s. She started
stocking stuff for the expatriates at the international school a few
year ago, and now has five stores around Beijing where you can get
most anythang YewEss yew want! If she doesn’t have it, she gets it
pdq.
so. it’s Walk walk walk, if you ain’t a credentialled person. But
have a good time and do NOT let the puppeteers yank your strings (or
rather do not let them get you upset with their need to control you -
just go with the flow and remember that you are there to watch
athletes perform well and being forced to long marches is well, a
bonus! i am sure that I am losing weight :)
Archery and Tennis for most of the day tomorrow (That’s a Wednesday, the 10th.)
and here is the schedule for Kevin, Lindsey, and the rest of the US archers:

http://results.beijing2008.cn/WRMP/ENG/Schedule/AR_2008-09-10.shtml

And I am upload a bazillion photos and video clips here:

http://www.arcarmichael.com/beijing/Beijing/index.html

please feel free to leave comments and questions, I will try to answer
best as I can. And don’t forget Lindsey’s blog at rings and arrows…


Thanks, Ron

The Great Wall

We woke up today, to a clear blue but cloudy sky, with no smog. Why?
Because we were at the foot of the great wall. Not in Beijing. At
Mutianyu, a village of 350, in a mountainous area north of Beijing,
perhaps an hours drive away. We spent the night at the Schoolhouse -
a US transplant who speaks fluent everything, and has started up
several businesses – a fantastic gourmet restaurant with western style
cooking. An art glass blowing studio with ultrapure classes and bowls
that sing when struck or “clinked” during a toast and continue to
reverberate in harmonious tones – the bowls are made of the kind of
silicon used in computer chips and have a special finish, and they
SING and SING when struck or rubbed. The same for the wine glasses -
they emit an ultra pure musical note. Anyway the studio is totally
cool (we have a red and white vase that is to die for, and one
particular window at our house awaits it.
This morning we got an early start and took a ski gondala to the
north, high point on the wall. It wasn’t the highest point in sight,
though – the wall actualy goes another 1000 feet higher to the west,
but we were not up to that climb. instead, we hiked down to the South
point, where there is a second ski lift for those that want a ride
down witha view.
I decided to take a tobagan/luge ride – an articulated sled seating
just one person, on a bobsled run made of stainless steel, that lets
you really go too fast. The curves are banked, just like an ice track
for winter bobsleds. The area and wall was refurbished in the 80′s
by….a bunch of Germans :) , hence the innovatived and thoroughly
exciting luge run down. I was ready to do it again and again. Once
down, you have to run a gauntlet that rivals the silk street store
where the salespeople are tremendously forward. A robe offered for
900 RM (quick, divide by 6 to estimate the US $ amount), finally is
purchased for…….100 RMB. a bargain that we could not have gotten
two days ago, but now we understand how the game is played.
We picked up Lindsey and Kevin Stone near the village, and took them
on a quick run to Ya Show, a place like the silk street but much
nicer, wider aisles, cleaner, with better bargains and less obnoxious
sales persons. We spent hundreds, getting gifits for all those on our
lists, and an item or two for our selves.
Quick, a run across the street to an uber modern shopping mall that
has a ……. cold stone creamery….for some decadent US-style ice
cream, and then on to the village to drop the athletes back into their
world. Wonderful few hours to see her and Kev, and to spend time with
them.. Really a great time. Then back to the CCTV Tower area, where a
super tine restaurant served us Peking duck, asparagus in garlic
butter, and hot and sour soup with a fine Chilean Cab. All for a very
low price, and then back here to the hotel to collapse and sleep (just
as soon as I finish this missive).
We have had a superb day, and tomorrow we begin the 4 event per day
schedule of competitions, with archery to start in another day or
two.. We don’t get to attend the qualifiying/ranking round ,
our tickets for that are useless, but we do get to watch many other
sports in the meantime.
Beijing is horribly smoggy, they are not bothering to shut down
anything like they did for the Olympics, unfortunately. The smog was
just as bad as the day before, despite rains. We’ll just spend more
time indoors as we can.
The trip has already made up for the entire jet lag thang.. :)
More as I go along.
And I have found a way to post photos to a website – go to

http://www.arcarmichael.com/beijing/Beijing/index.html

and if you *ever* want to go to the great wall, and experience a
fantastic meal at the foot of it, check out The Schoolhouse at
Mutianyu ! http://www.schoolhouseglass.com and
http://www.schoolhousecanteen.com are two websites that will help you
to have the same fantastic trip that we did. They have glass blowers
making the most incredible artistic pieces right in front of you. And
if you are willing to wait for the item to cool, some things you can
actually carry with you. (The most exotic items may have to cool
under controlled conditions overnight)
At this point I have to say, “Hey, this ain’t half bad!!!” :) :) it
is actually pretty damn fine! more tomorrow, and I will be adding
photos as I can…. so check back


Thanks, Ron

Just a photo

ok, here is a photo.

http://www.arcarmichael.com/beijing/RonGinaBirdsNest.jpg

hopefully more to come….

I’m trying to find a workaround to the establishment’s blockade of
Dreamweaver, Frontpage, WS FTP Pro, etc.. all the normal transport
softwares I use to post photo albums to the web, to update pages, all
the stuff I take for granted back in the Yew Ess of Hey…Heckfahr, I
cain’t even access http://www.texasarchery.org – how weird is that?
They don’t want chinese to know about archery? head scratching
here….

I have created a youtube account for some short videos and I am trying
to not violate the rules with them,

http://www.youtube.com/user/texarc

will get you to THAT. Please view, leave comments, and befriend me so
that when they come for me you can say you knew me when….
(or not)

Opened Ceremonies!

We walk from the hotel a few blocks to the birds nest stadium, where
the opening festivities will start in just an hour or two.
Lots of military, armored troop carriers, and police. No tanks that
we can see, and all are very strict in manner and directions. I
don’t feel the urge to walk in the grass or trample a daisy, that is
for sure! :)

The smog/mist creates a visible wall, as though a few blocks away,
there is no other world. It just, well, stops. There is a sun,
somewhere, but I sure can’t tell you where it is. Very impressive. I
have heard by way of Lindsey’s guide that the authorities have been
seeding the clouds all around the city to insure there is no rain IN
the city. It worked, I guess, because while it was warm and 100%
humidity, there were no raindrops…

The water bubble building is dark on the way in, and will be bright on
the way out, but for now there is a red glow from the very guts of the
birds nest – a fire to come.

Ok, the hot spices and peppers I had at dinner are coming back to
affect me, I fear, and my writing is getting weird.

After the fact:
The opening ceremonies had a lot of great things going for it. But if
you are on the wrong side of the stadium, you don’t see the flame, you
don’t see the fireworks (you do get to hear them). I guess they only
had half the fireworks left from the Olympics – but seriously, exactly
half of the stadium didn’t see aught but the light reflected in the
eyes of the fans on the other side as the fireworks boomed over and
over. The side of the stadium with the Oly and Para brass got an
excellent show from their seats.
The center piece of the show was a round, raised platform that had
flipping panels, one way there are suddenly rice stalks sprouted out
all over, flipped the other way and there are cherry trees in full
blossom. Lots of smoke comes up, which is good because it hides the
half-dozen workers scurrying about to flip the broken panels that
don’t want to go. I watch one guy trip and disappear into a clump of
shrubbery, and then reappear unharmed through the mist on the other
side.
Athens had a huge, 5 or 6 story tree appear in the middle. Beijing
has a grove of 3 foot tall cherry trees.

I did feel a little bit “chinese” after the hour long instructions we
received by the mater dee of the event – there were bags on every one
of the 90,000 seats, with an LED flashlight, a twirlygig LED display,
silk scarve swatches of red, blue, yellow, or green, and of course a
miniature chinese flag and IPC flag. We are told when to wave what,
how to wave it, and when to not wave it. Highly regimented, and
everyone goes along – it’s a good crowd, certainly not like a stadium
crowd in say, Dallas or Chicago. And the LED flashlights make for
some great images in the darkened stadium.

It was a great night, all told. I am certain, after talking with
Lindsey, that the athletes felt welcomed, respected, and honored.
That’s the point, I think. That the crowds of spectators also feel
good is just a bonus – it is the night for the athletes to enjoy,
knowing that come what may, only one will stand on the highest step of
the podium and all the rest will have only the joy of having competed
and hopefully left it all on the field, given of themselves 100% at
the right moment.


Thanks, Ron

11:32am, 9-6-2008

24 hours travel time! It took nearly 24 hours total to get to the
hotel, and was a lot harder than I remembered from traveling even 4
years ago. As I write this at 11AM, it is around 10PM back in Texas.
After two day, the jetlag is not nearly so bad. The bed is a 1″
thick plywood plank with about 1″ of cotton on top, kinda. Otherwise
completely similar to any other hotel room, and far better than some,
that I have stayed in before.

Ok, having recovered from jetlag we have been out to the CoSports
people – halfway across Beijing, away from the Olympic areas, go
figure, to pick up some 74 tickets for all the different events that
we are going to see- wheelchair tennis, rugby (aka murderball), and of
course, archery. With some track events, the opening and closing
ceremonies, and even some swimming.
Initially they were selling tickets to the ranking round of the
archery, and I was pretty happy at that – in Athens the ranking was
not open to the public, on a tiny field with no bleachers or stands.
So I thought, “hey, they got their act together here in Beijing”, and
was eagerly waiting to go to the ranking event.
Then found out this morning that the tickets I have are worthless and
there is no way for spectating during the ranking round. argh. It
will still happen, but for some unknown reason no body thinks that it
is worth allowing people to watch. Don’t they know how good archery
is? :) :) :)
Anyway, each ticket has a computer chip in it, and we are cautioned to
not fold them, get them wet, yadda yadda or they won’t work, and there
are NO replacements for lost or damaged tickets – no ticket, no entry.

oh well, on to more sightseeing. Yesterday we took in the silk
street building and Yashow, large 6 story buildings crammed full of
vendors and wares, each in 10 foot or 20 foot booths, and the word
aggressive does not begin to describe the vendors – they grab your arm
and try to drag you into their space, in order to sell you something
at 4 times the value they are willing to accept. You must offer them
1/4 of what you are willing to pay, and you take turns typing the
number on their hand-held calculator. They know how to sell in
french, english, spanish, and some other languages I couldn’t begin to
describe or identify. You get the best price when you give up, thank
them, and then walk away. For westerners, it is very unsettling, at
least it is for me – I don’t do haggle very well, I guess. But they
had bags, shoes, shirts, techie stuff, you name it. But if you don’t
haggle right, you end up paying far more for it than you would at a
regular department store. So if arguing is fun for you, these places
are it!
I have discovered that texasarchery.org is blocked. No kidding.
Can’t get there from here. So I am going to post blindly, and will
try to sneak out some photos somehow….The air is kinda visible, but
no worse than Athens’ worst days.
I have only hit my head on short doors twice, and have stopped wearing
a baseball cap (so that I can see the damn thing coming). Both times
it was only slightly amusing to the chinese onlookers…

On to the tourist spots for now, and I will start writing more as the
competitions get underway.

Begin The Beijing

There has been no greater effort to honor the Olympic movement than what China has put forth for the 2008 Olympics.

Take the world’s two largest sporting events – the Olympics and the Paralympics – and put them down right in the middle of one of the largest countries, with the longest durations of history and civilization, and in the middle of a huge city of some 17 millions.

Wow.

I can hardly wait to begin the Beijing Siteseeing – both the athletic sites and the historic sites.  I have a brand new pair of tennis shoes, and I expect to wear them out experiencing this once-in-a-lifetime trip.