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Published: October 18th 2008
Well, it's been months.
We're still here.
Most of our friends aren't.
The pollution went. And kinda came back.
X-ray machines at the subways came, and are still here. Bugger.
Wheelchair access kinda came, and is kinda still here by a thread. Don't visit BJ in a wheelchair.
The DVD shops went, and mostly came back.
The cranes left, but are definitely back.
Tainted milk came, and supposedly left, but we don't believe them.
And the bullshit rose to whole new levels. And never went away.
So, the big question - what did we think? Well, they pulled it off. Unfortunately, millions were jerked off in the process. For a few weeks though, Beijing did turn into a lovely city. Pollution levels dropped drastically, the streets were clean and there was heaps less traffic. The police were also less of a pain-in-the-arse.
They could have done with at least one competent volunteer, however. Being laowai locals, we decided to test the supposed fantastic English ability of a number of volunteers.
1. No less than 12 volunteers told us that cycling was not an Olympic sport.
was the best language of communication.
3. Unfortunately, speaking chinese to them revealed flaws in their Olympic education. Though, at least half of them realised that the Olympics were being held in Beijing.
4. A number of them pretended to be busy, or even asleep (!), when we approached the help desk.
5. The national Olympic help hotline was equally as helpful.
We are yet to understand how tourists got around the city if you had no idea where things were.
Anyways, we saw the marathon and ALMOST saw the cycling. And we DID see the rowing. It was oarsome.
And we got tickets to the paralympics, as did most locals. Alas, during the Olympics, most tickets were reserved for corporate wankers who decided not to go. But the paralympics was able to be enjoyed by all... well, not quite all. 90% of the population of this city works 6 or 7 days a week for 12 hours a day for around $2 an hour (actually, that's around $17 an hour now on the most recent exchange rate!!), but that's still 3 million people who got to go.
We had a couple of Aussie mates come
and stay with us for a couple weeks. Lisa and Sonia joined us for the olympic festivities, (and the test run of the volunteers), and they didn't complain about sleeping on an airbed on the floor for a couple of weeks either. Just as well they did us FIRST, and the penthouse with a spa in Tokyo SECOND. Phew....
One of our favourite moments with their visit was when we went to register Sonia. The police woman actually asked Sof to forge Sonia's signature from looking at her passport. Gold.
Lisa and us also decided to adopt the Netherlands as our sister country. Much dancing in the rain at the rowing after the Chinese fans left. (We're not scared of acid rain, even if the locals are.) Then a visit to the Holland House, Heineken enjoyed by all.
(Insert sentence here to show that time passes and onto October...)
We hit Fujian (Hokkien) in a random moment a couple of weeks ago with Sailor Moon (our Tea Lady) to drink tea and drink tea. We lived it up at a ludicrously expensive hotel in Xiamen for a couple days before heading to the 'poor, simple (etc)' countryside where
They're most hilarious when parts of their costumes come off or they have a fuwar wrestle!
the 'peasants' live in massive houses and drive brand new Mazda 6s.
OK, there still was a lot of poverty around, just not the family we stayed with. Or the street we stayed on.
Full insight into the world of making tie guan yin tea, as harvest time was upon us. It's pretty hard to explain it all, Zac's decided that maybe one day he'll do an ethnography on the area, if you're really really interested, wait 30 years and read his thesis. For now, just look at the photos and try and get a vibe.
The one thing we didn't get was just how many cigarettes they could smoke in a day, to 'cleanse the palette' (see note about increase in bullshit, above).
Back in Beijing, Zac is doing lots of gigs, recording percussion music (check out www.myspace.com/zcpercussionmusic to hear some of it!), teaching history, teaching basic english to young giggly women who work in swanky boutique stores, and generally trying to stay out of mischief. Sof has a new private teaching job, hopefully soon a new workers permit to go with it, and told the second big english school for the year to shove it. Sof
Party in the rain!
The remaining Aussie-Dutch cheer squad!
2, companies 0. She has also been working on her website, see www.adornedbylingyun.com and sign up for the mailing list. You can also sign up for her facebook group.
Time to go. Hutong Pizza awaits. Hopefully.
Please please please may they deliver.....
Boris and Doris
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