Today was a great first day at the Olympics. My sister Cathy lives within walking distance to the Beach Volleyball venue (our first tickets to the Games!). Our walk this morning was about a mile and a half, but since we had all day tickets we left a little late. The Chinese are fascinated with our pre-teen girls, so our mile and a half walk was also delayed by the requests of several groups of Chinese fans who wanted to take pictures with them.
As we came through the airport last night and entered our first venue today I was amazed at the amount of work the Chinese people have put into these Olympics. But sometimes the most entertaining things are free. I have decided that (at least in China) people watching has been taken to the level of an Olympic sport. Craig took some great pictures today, which I will try to post tomorrow, but it was fascinating to watch the fans go all out for the country of their choice.
But even amidst the great infrastructure, there were also some seemly simple things that were a bit lacking. For example lunch at the Beach Volleyball Venue: Our choices were dry ramen noodles, bread, sausage (this one is a bit hard to describe…maybe like a cooked but cold spicy hotdog) and biscuits (don’t think Babe’s here…biscuits in China are a bag of Oreo cookies). So for lunch we had bread, water and Oreo cookies. But what is great, are the prices. We can feed an entire family of four lunch for less than $5, including Coke. And while I didn’t partake of any today, beer is about 80 cents a serving.
About 2 PM, the thunderstorms headed our way. I guess those rain dispersion missiles failed, or they were on lunch break and fired them too late and the rain actually dispersed on Beijing. Either way, true to form, the Chinese were prepared. The volunteers handed out rain ponchos to everyone in the crowd (at no cost to us). Our walk home was about 2 ½ miles because I was just SURE that I could find us a short cut (twice) in which we ended up walking in a circle in the pouring rain. Despite my attempts to sing Girl Scout camp songs to cheer them up, everyone was pretty miserable and soaked by the time we got back to the apartment.
But not to worry…things got better.
Tonight Cathy took us to one of her favorite restaurants in Beijing! We feasted on great dumplings, rice, edamame and noodles and yes, some Chinese beer. We were totally stuffed when we left! It was one of those restaurants where we had to have reservations well in advance and we could not be late or they will not take you. Dinner for the 5 of us was a total of $40. And if you tip at a restaurant in China, they will not accept it (part of the culture).
Our final event of the evening was to visit Cathy’s tailor. Lisa’s Taylor Shop in Beijing makes great custom suits, shirts and dresses. Three custom suits and six custom shirts for Craig cost us less than one affordable off-the-rack suit would have cost in the States.
This may have been the girls favorite part of the day as the started designing their own custom dresses and pulling fabric off the wall showing the tailors exactly what they were looking for! Our first fitting is on Sunday before we leave for Hong Kong. It will be interesting to see if these girls have a future in fashion design!
It’s almost midnight here, which means its Noon in Texas. Tomorrow morning… our first visit the Olympic village and the Women’s Final Individual Gymnastics Competition. We will be wearing our Frisco Shirts and waving our American Flag!