I've been excited to go back to China ever since I bought my tickets to the Olympics over a year ago. With all the extravagant rumors that we hear in the US media about China and their preparations for the Olympics, who wouldn't be? News stories like the one that said Beijing city planners were building not one, not two, but twelve new subway lines! Or stories that claimed Chinese authorities were testing ways to manipulate the weather such that clouds would rain before they even reached Beijing (WHAT? I thought only God could do that!!) I decided I had to go and see this first hand. You knew you were in for a treat as soon as you got off the airplane and stepped into the monumentally-huge new terminal in Beijing (actually, they built two new terminals since the last time I had been in Beijing a year ago with my father, when Olympic fever was just beginning to percolate). As you walked from the gate to baggage claim, not only were you bombarded by Olympic posters and ads celebrating the games, you were also welcomed by tables of volunteers there to help you with anything Beijing-related. Nearly 75,000 of these volunteers blanketed the city in an effort to help make the games run smoothly.
So let me just get the routine questions out of the way:
Did I see Michael Phelps? No. Were there a lot of people? Yes. Obviously. Was the air really that bad? Surprisingly not.
I saw four events while I was in Beijing: swimming (Womens 50M freestyle, Mens 4 x 100M Medley Relay), Men's water polo (Greece v. Canada, US v. Croatia), soccer (Italy v. Belgium) and track and field (110M hurdles, Men's triple jump). I got to go inside the Bird's Nest and the Swim Cube, and most important, I met the Today Show crew: Matt, Al, Meredith and Anne (of course the highlight of my trip would be meeting American news anchors!!).
All in all, I'm really glad I made the trek! I think that anytime a country spends $48 billion welcoming the world, you might as well take them up on their offer!