Saturday, August 9, 2008

Notes from 8-8-08

A couple more things about Aug.8, 2008, a date that many Chinese people will remember for a long time (and so will I, but for a different reason -- see No.3):

1) You should have seen the near-riot at the post office at the Main Press Center on 8-8-08. There were dozens of Chinese journalists and photographers, all in what had been a mostly deserted post office until now. They were all in a hurry. There was some pushing and shoving. And why? They were all trying to get things mailed with an 8-8-08 postmark. If you haven't heard by now, the number "eight" is considered lucky in the Chinese culture, which is why the Opening Ceremonies began on that date.

2) What was really cool about the Opening Ceremonies were how basically everyone in China stopped to watch. I took a bus back to my hotel while the Ceremonies were still going on and there were people in the streets, everywhere. Why? The bars and restaurants were so crowded that they couldn't get in, but they were watching the TVs through the plate-glass windows. And applauding whenever something spectacular happened.

3) My boss and friend, Observer sports editor Mike Persinger, and I picked Friday to go to the Great Wall. It was our only "light day" -- there were no other events scheduled, and I wasn't writing live off the OC. We had a rare break.
The Great Wall is far steeper than we imagined, and in beautiful country that reminded us of the North Carolina mountains. To get there, though, you had to traverse through a bunch of Chinese vendors aggressively trying to sell you stuff. Mike said it reminded him a little of Myrtle Beach at first, but then the Great Wall itself is like nothing I had ever seen. (In the picture above, that's Mike on the left, me on the right and our guide Selina in the middle -- she was about 4-foot-7 and spoke great English).

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