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August 11th, 2008

Originally published at Andy Does Beijing. You can comment here or there.

“Are you excited yet?” Oh, wow, Brittney. Britt’s a big fan of field hockey (almost as much as she likes water, since she’s a synchro swimmer back at her college). So, we hauled our patooties out of bed at five in the morning so that, with the front desk staff’s assistance, we could walk with one of the guys down to the bridge on the main road to catch a cab to the subway so we could take an hour’s ride north across town to walk to a bus stop hub for the special Olympic lines so we could get to the Olympic Park, so we could walk across a plaza to the actual field hockey pitch. (Yes, they call it a pitch, like in cricket.) Incidentally, the busses here are either hybrid or totally electric; I didn’t notice if they have tail pipes, but a lot of them run off of power lines mounted above the street and, to our amusement, there exists an “Electric Bus Recharge Station” near the hockey field. Ballin’!

Men’s field hockey was pretty groovy. We saw two games in two different styles. The first game, China vs somebody, was very technical, lots of skilled sticking and short passing. The Chinese crowd is great, of course, with cheers of “ZHONG GUO JIA YOU (中国加油)” (let’s go, China) off and on throughout the game. One guy behind us sported a Chinese flag for a cape and led most of the cheers in our section, which was behind the goal (the equivalent to the south stands in the Bob).

By the way, that guy who was leading the CHINA LET’S GO cheer during the first game? He started that up at the top of the second game, but he forgot that it was GB, not China. Our whole section turned around and giggled at him =p He was joined this game by a group of British hecklers, who wore white shirts advertising some traditional British meat product, Pukka Pies, and white bucket hats with the British flag on it. They yelled an awful lot of fancy British cheers and, by fancy, I mean off-tune drinking songs. Cool guys, them. Their team played about the same, a lot more hard sticking and fast passes than skillful, a bit more violent (befitting the Scottish heritage of the game).

Managing foreign terrain: Chinese food court

Since the venues don’t really offer any substantial food (although they do have cold hot dogs in a bun with ketchup smeared on top, all in a plastic wrapper), Britt and I hit up the food court at the Oriental Plaza malls. (It’s really the Malls at the Oriental Place, but that’s a really awkward translation; also, it’s literally “East Place” instead of just “Oriental” but I guess linguistically they’re equivalent. Anyway.) The food court here was similar to where I picked up noodles last week; you buy a debit card at the front, then swipe the card at individual food vendors. While I put 50元 on a card ($7.50), Brittney scoped out the food selections to see what she liked. She settled on a chicken plate — just chicken with some vegetables, double serving, no rice: 20元。 I went for something a little more traditional: chicken in teriyaki sauce with vegetables in a big bowl of rice. Biiiig bowl of rice, like twice as much as I can eat. 18元,plus two drinks for 5元 each more.  (I had a litle trouble with paying for that, since I think the card takes a 10元 deposit; I ended up paying for the drinks in cash, since I ran out of money on the card.) So, lunch for two? USD $8. Holla!

I’m .. Going Home

Catching a cab home was interesting. We queued up at a taxi stand outside the mall for a cab, but the cabbie we got didn’t know how to get to the area around our hotel. (That’s a little odd, because we have a map with one of the highways marked.) He cussed about it for a little bit when we asked if he could just get us to the off-ramp from the highway until I offered to take another cab. “Could you?” he pleaded. He didn’t even have a cell phone to call the hotel and ask for directions, and my phone was dead. Yeah, sure — so he let us off and we stood around for about ten minutes until we caught another cab. This one did okay — he knew East 3rd Ring (东三环), that highway which we live closest to — and we chatted a little about how we are American students, here for a month to see the Olympics. That about exhausted my supply of Chinese, so we admired the scenery for the rest of the drive back. I wanted to pick up some food, so I had him drop us off at the market and Brittney walked home to nap while I picked up some ramen and munchies.

Laying Low

When we got back, Dr. Goodwin gave us an update on the security sitch: when we leave the hotel, we’re to take a hotel car to meet the taxi (which will probably help with giving directions). Our hotel manager has been personally charged by the local police with keeping us safe, so the hotel is being super-cautious that nobody gets hurt. It’s simultaneously irksome, as an American, and appreciated, as a stranger in a potentially dangerous area. We’ll see how things shake down in the next few days, but we’re allowed to go out on small excursions if we’re conscientious about it: no getting wasty-face on the streets of Beijing, don’t make a scene, avoid tourist traps, etc. Shouldn’t be too hard, I don’t think, though we did get a little stir-crazy locked up in the hotel yesterday. (That may be part of why they’re still letting us go out.)

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-- Andy

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