I arrived Beijing on August 7 - the day before the opening of Olympic Games. All main streets were dressed with flags and flowers. People were running across the streets between a mix of bicycles, cars, and buses. (The buses are long in Beijing). Walking in Beijing is often a live or death situation. The cars and taxies do not stop for pedastrions. So we really have to look out when we go out. These days only half of the cars are on the road, because the government ordered the cars with odd-numbered plates to drive on the odd day of the month, and the even-numbered cars can go out on even-numbered day. We cannot drive far or stay out for a night, otherwise we have to wait for another day to drive home.
Chinese see August 8 (08-08-08) a very lucky day and important to the nation. So they set this day as the Opening Day for Games of the XXIX Olympiad (29th Olympic Game) or the locals call it Beijing 2008. On that day people were dare to go out. The street looked an army camp, soldiers, police and "soldier police" (the locals call them "Wu-Jin" - meaning "Armed/Kungfu-Trained Police".) I was told the police do not carry any weapons, but Wu-Jin can. Because Wu-Jin are temporary living in Beijing, they can do very bad things and leave town when their services are done.
See some photos at Beijing 2008 - 29th Olympic Games >>>
On the first day, I stayed home with my mom and grandparents. Only my dad dare went outside and walked to the center of Beijing, Tian-an-men Square, the locals call it the Central Axis and the heart of China. He arrived that area early around 8am, so he saw a few corners of that square (as it was sealed out from the night before). Soon he saw the police started to push people out and out. Finally he saw the whole area, 3-4 blocks away from the Square, about 2-3 miles from the symbol, Tian-an-men (the Heavenly Peace Gate).
Nowhere to go, my dad had to find a way home, but all the buses and taxies were called off. He had to find an alternative bus (#103) to go north from a shopping street (Wang-fu-jing), then walked miles home in the west part of Beijing. He got home around the dinner time. After dinner we all sit around the TV and watched the Opening Show of Beijing 2008. On August 8, 2008, the show started at 8:00pm (or 20:00) Beijing Time. It started with a firework at the Tian-an-men Square, shaped like a giant feetprint, one after another, from the south walking north, over the Forbidden City (Imperior Palace), then arrived the Olympic Park at the north part of the axis. The showed was held at the Stadium, the locals call "birdnest."
My relatives all loved the Opening Show, although I saw my grandma closed her eyes (went to sleep) a couple of times. They were surprised by my simple complains. I thought this is a sport event, why they showed so much of history. If I want to learn Chinese history, I could go to a musuem. So much hi-tech, where is people's power? The show made the Chinese people very small and their government so big. I noticed their leaders never smile, they all look alike. They probably do not like the show either, otherwise why didn't they smile?
For the rest of days, I am staying in my grandma's house. I am watching the Olympics on T.V. My favorite sports are taekwondo, archery, swimming, basketball, beach valleyball, and fencing. I did not know there were so many kinds of sports. I got to see track and field races at the "Bird Nest" - the largest Olympic Stadium in Beijing. I also went to see the Water Cube in the Olympic Park. Chinese people are all very friendly, when they know I come from America (as I don't speak Chinese so well). People here are very excited about hosting the Olympic Games and about their country won 51 Gold Metals in this Olympiad. Unfortunately I did not get the tickets to see the Openning and Closing Cemerony at the Bird Nest. The Chinese CCTV gave it a real-time coverage all day long without any commercial interruptions. So it is great to be in the Olympic City.
On a sad note, my grandma signed me up for a swimming bootcamp. One and half hours every day with the "Senior Coach" who trained the Chinese swimming team. At the end, I think I learned enough of swimming than I could have learned in US for a year. The coaches here are very strict, they use a long stick to poke you if you don't follow their instructions or use the stick to splash the water on you. The piano teacher was American-trained, she was very friendly, that was okey. My mom said: if you think Chinese coaches are strict, you should spend some time at a Chinese boarding school.
I visited Tian An Men Square many times, because it is at the center of the city. At its north, there is the "Tian An Men" - the Gate to Heavenly Peace. My dad told me that's the entrance to Forbidden City where the old emperiors live. There was a lot of policemen there. There was also a picture of Chairmen Mao. A lot of people are taking pictures in front of this gate.
Inside we could see the Imperioral Palace of Qing (Tsing) Dynasty. Into the Tian An Men, we saw another bigger gate called "Wu Men" with bigger walls on two sides like a giant arms. On top of the gate, the archery men could shot anyone in the square below. There is a river or moat surround the wall outside of the Forbidden City. After the Wu Men, we started to see some golden colored temple-like buildings, all located in a straight line from south to north like the two gates I mentioned before. Surrounding the big hall buildings there are court yards and rivers and bridges alike. All big temples are built in wood painted colorful mainly in red and green, glited with gold and copper. They are situated on top of stone platforms, lead by big stairs and ramps. The ramp is in the middle leading to the building entrance, my dad told me that only emperiors and emperiresses can be carried over the middle ramp. The buildings are tall and giant in the front courtyard, my dad told me they are emperior's office or meeting hall. Then at the backyards, the courtyards are getting smaller, my dad told me they are living quarters. There are royal gardens at the north end of Emperioral Palace, After coming out of Forbidden City from the Shen-Wu-Men, we saw a big moutain. My dad said it's Jinshang - it's big hill building Qing Dynasty's people. From the hill, we can see all the city around the Forbidden City.
Sincerely, Kid J