LJWorld.com weblogs On Track in Beijing
Movin' and shoppin' in Beijing
_Tim Weaver, former meet director of the Kansas Relays, is a manager for USA Track and Field and is in Beijing for the Olympics. Occasionally, he'll send blog entries chronicling his time there._Even with only half the local vehicles allowed on the road on any given day, Beijing's streets are packed. The laws of traffic are merely the laws of physics here. It's as much math as anything. Bus>truck>car>bike>person. It's more than a little unnerving to look around while being driven anywhere. But the taxis are cheap ($3-$4 for a 20-minute drive), and there's no tipping. So you can get an exciting ride for a low, low price. The people here are crazy for the Games. The logo and five rings are everywhere. I've had several locals tell me, in almost the exact same syntax and emphatic tone, that these games are the most important thing to ever happen in China. This is also evidenced in their fervor for lapel pins. These things are the currency of the Games - like cigarettes in prison. Give someone a USA lapel pin, and you've made a friend for life. Rather than pins, I'm collecting info on some new sports. Water polo, judo, beach volleyball, fencing (all typically non-Kansas sports) are some of my new favorites. The U.S. delegation is so big, there now is always someone competing at some venue, and we all try to keep up on the other people here with us. I'm picking up a few souvenirs for the folks back home. We went to the Silk Market, where everything is for sale and cheap if one doesn't mind bartering for 10 minutes then walking away three times. Sales techniques there are interesting as well -- usually heaping praise (in English) on the United States once the employees can spot an American. Once swarmed, my method of escape is to, with a sad face, say "Wa bou whey schwa imgwen. Wa schuh Chungwarren." (I can't speak English. I'm Chinese). This confuses half of them, amuses the others and I can slip by and move on to the next booth or two. Big laughs here in China as we move on to the track & field competition that starts today.