Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Olympic Workout

8/8/08 the world sat in awe as they watched the splendor of the opening ceremonies. For years China had prepared for the great honor of hosting the Olympics, and as the eyes of the world turned on her she shined spectacularly. The bird's nest and the water cube are perhaps some of the most memorable Olympic venues in recent history. Visiting them, in hopes of getting a small taste of Olympic glory, comes with an accompanying Olympic workout.

With the brains that went into all of the Olympic development, you think they could have figured out a better visitation system. We arrived at Olympic park on the chilly afternoon of the last day of 2008 quite excited to walk the cement sidewalks we had watched on TV for so many hours in August. It was my first time to Olympic park, so I was not very useful as a guide. We stood in front of the immense bird's nest, and in lieu of any sign telling us which way was the entrance or ticket office, began our trek around the stadium. Like any orderly American, we proceeded in a clockwise circle (this direction had the added bonus of falling on the sunny, hence several degrees warmer, side of the stadium). We walked and we walked. We passed many a lettered entrance, all of them closed up. We could see people walking inside the fenced area, so we knew entrance was possible. We walked some more. I asked some guards. They said to keep walking. Finally, once we had walked almost the entire circumference of the Bird's nest, we noticed stairs going underground. At long last we had discovered the ticket office, which in a sneaky attempt to force exercise on the many souls looking for it was conveniently hid underground. However, upon realizing the ticket price of entrance, as well as reflecting that the U.S. didn't really accomplish much in the Bird's nest, we decided to pass.

Onward we moved to the true place of American Olympic Glory, the Water Cube. Little did we know that locating the Nest's ticket office was a mere warm-up for the hike of purchasing tickets and entering the Water Cube. I was quite pleased to quickly find an open entrance, where streams of people were pouring through. I stood back a few paces and scanned all nearby locations for the ticket office. Finding nothing, but determined not to miss an underground hidden office, I proceeded to ask one of the guards at the gate where to buy tickets. He told me to walk alongside the building and go around the corner. I withheld my comments on the absurdity of not having a ticket office anywhere near the entrance gate, with the thought that perhaps there was another entrance near the ticket office. Onward our group marched (Kasey, Kurt, and two of their friends from California). We walked and walked. Down the whole length of the building. Around the corner. Along the whole length of the end of the building. Every ten yards or so, like a trail of crumbs, would be a sign with "Tickets to the Water Cube" and an arrow below it (in reading skills paid off for once!). Once we reached the end of the building, we crossed a street and walked further and further away, still following the signs. Finally, we reached 5 little ticket huts and proceeded to buy our tickets. Now the hunt for an entrance began, and we quickly realized that the gate we had seen before was the only entrance. We continued our walk around the entire exterior of the building back to the original gate. After burning enough calories to consume a Michael Phelps' breakfast, we sank into seats in the Cube to marvel at what had taken place there.

My bags are (mostly) packed and my papers are (mostly) written. Tonight I board the train for warmer weather and a rendezvous with Mickey. Goodbye long underwear, hello flip flops!

1 comment:

Pru's Corner said...

Traveling mercies, dear friend. I'll catch ya up with a blog soon. I have this awful compulsion that I MUST put up pictures with each and every blog and since I have not yet uploaded said pics, have not blogged.

Also, just checking but are you staying at the International Hotel YMCA in Chiangmai? Just double checking ;)