How long does it take to get to Beijing? For me, it was about 24 hours door-to-door. That was time enough for our 5,900-mile second flight, from San Francisco to Beijing, to show a couple of Chinese movies, along with “10,000 B.C.” and “Blades of Glory.” Now if Will Ferrell on skates doesn’t get you primed for the Olympics, nothing will.
The people in Beijing have been very nice so far. It is obvious the Olympics are a great source of pride. There are lots of college students among the Olympic volunteers who approach you, trying to be helpful. They like to practice their English, and most of them are pretty adept.The first one yesterday asked me "Are you tard?" soon after I got off the plane. I thought I was back home for a moment, for she sounded almost Southern.
What she meant was "tired." Then on the bus ride to my hotel this one volunteer tried for 20 minutes to teach me a few basic words in Chinese. I was a fairly hopeless student, but it was fun.
For breakfast, my hotel in Beijing has a buffet with a lot of strange items and a few familiar ones. I had fried rice mixed with scrambled eggs and some type of onions this morning – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. My goal for the next couple of days, until the Olympics actually begin, will be to get the lay of the land here and to interview as many athletes with Carolina connections as possible. I have traveled here along with Observer photographer Jeff Siner and sports editor Mike Persinger, so the three of us can all get a Charlotte fix by talking to each other when we need to.