Friday, August 15, 2008

The Olympics

We're smack in the middle of the most exciting city in the world right now. I haven't had much time to recap any adventures, but i've been really busy. The city has transformed quite a bit. China's been making it rain (!!!) so the skies are beautiful and the last few days have been perfect weather. Traffic is noticeably lighter and construction has halted. Well, constructions has mostly been completed. The area around my house has seen some really amazing transformations. Most notably, the main road leading to the subway has been widened from 2 pathetic and decrepit lanes to 4 luxurious ones.

Crazy though, the week before the opening ceremonies, they just finished everything. It was done. And this happened all over the city. There were hundreds (thousands?) of independent, large-scale projects happening at once. Everywhere you went something was being augmented, renovated, or demolished. This continued from when i arrived until two weeks ago. Then everything was done. Impressive.

I went to my first Olympic event yesterday, Beach Volleyball. I saw the last 6 games on this page. There were a few REALLY good ones. Chirona and I started the night with burritos and a strong pitcher of margs... it was my first of either since arriving in BJ. Buzzed when we arrived, we were delighted to see the beers were 5RMB for a can of Budweiser or Tsingtao... that's about 75 cents. It doesn't make sense why they aren't charging quadruple that amount. But i shant be complaining. Other delicious treats on the menu included bread (yum!), cake (cake), and sausage (shrink wrapped, room temperature). Obviously, the big hit on the menu are the President Snack Noodles!!! You know Top Ramen? It's that. They just hand a you a pack of dry ramen noodles. You eat them like that and the little flavor pack is still in there. I guess you're supposed to cook and flavor them in your mouth. The Kiwi chicks behind us got some. They called them Magic Terminator Noodles. Although, to their credit, they actually said Maggi Two-Minute Noodles, but Chirona and I both like the hilarious misunderstanding better than the reality.

Here are the Kiwi's posing with my eyebrows. They were very entertaining.

I also have a ticket to the Lightweight Wrestling Semis and Finals next week. I'm pretty excited about that, given that i wrestled in high school. I'm also still hoping to score either basketball or soccer tickets, both of which i'm confident i can do.

The Opening Ceremony was a crazy night. It started with Frolf in the park which ended with us getting kicked out. I think they are a little less comfortable with our shenanigans during the Olympics. No worries. We ended up watching the beginning of the ceremony on the street, in true Chinese style. A small snack shop set up a TV on a crate and people pulled up chairs, sat on bikes or stood for hours watching the tiny TV. It was a really hot, humid night and we just couldn't take it for long. A few of us went to a nearby bar and bought beers in exchange for air conditioning. Still having to stand, we bailed again. I ended up going alone to meet a friend who was celebrating his 23rd birthday in style. Fifteen of them had a private room in a restaurant and tons of beer. Couple that with ample seating and a big screen TV, and I was happy.

We started with about 35 of us and throughout the night, we split up to 5 or 6 different locations. At 1 am, we all started to regroup and a great little bar in a little known alley. Pretty soon, there were 25 of us again and we took over the bar. It was the perfect end to a great celebration. We'd all been awaiting an Olympics that was approaching with glacial speed. Of course, now that it's here, it feels like it's going by so fast.


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