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August 16th, 2008

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

Breakfast, I seemed to have missed. Whoops. Lunch was down the street at our favorite new place to eat outside the hotel, the … non-descript southern Chinese restauraunt.

Da Hall (I mean, 大厅)

Following lunch, the group hitched a little ride to a Great Hall downtown by Tian’anmen Square. The Great Hall is a huge government building built for huge events, like ginorgamous cocktail parties in the cavernous banquet rooms that will seat 10,000 people. Oh, and Karen, our resident nutjob chair of all matters serious in topic noted that the 2″-thick plush rug wasn’t laid down so that the floor pattern matched up at the seams. Oops. The place was HUUUUUUGE. SO HUGE. HUGER THAN HUGE. CHINA PUBLIC WORKS HUGE.

As I said, the Great Hall was Great. Incidentally, they don’t ever typically allow in foreigners to the place (just Chinese tourists), so we enjoyed being the fancy interlopers. The place was very big. Verrrrry big. Like, a whole block long, and they built it in only 10 months. I was impressed. Every room was big, especially the ballrooms and theatre (both of which fit 70,000). A slightly smaller room held only thirty seats and plenty of empty space, for council meetings and whatnot. Very luxurious, very impressive … except I was a little unimpressed, as I usually am with matters of state. Great paintings on the walls, though. And the huge ballroom was very cool. Incidentally, they use Bose speakers.

On a Quest

Mark and Lauren (the Asian ones), Anthony, Dan and Casey, and I went straight from the Great Hall a few blocks over to Wangfujing St on a mission: Nike and Adidas apparel. I’m on the search for the white Adidas shirt with the red-orange cloud motif on the shoulder and the China patch on the breast. I see it everywhere except on the shirt rack. Today was no exception, even though we went to several Nike and Adidas stores. What’s the deal, China?

I couldn’t stay too long, though, because I had a ticket to a volleyball game. The other kids wanted to go hit up the Silk Market for clothes, though, so we stared at a map for five or ten minutes until a Chinese guy came up and pointed it out on the map for us, then told us how to get there on the subway. It took some serious pointing, but we overcame the language barrier (enough). On the subway, we split up, since I was heading north and they, east.

I asked the Olympic volunteers in the subway for directions to the venue; we found it on a map and they had notes on routes, so they told me to take the 1 subway, get off at X, and take the K25 bus. So, I got off the subway where they said to, but couldn’t find the bus stop. I asked some volunteers and bus drivers near that stop. (One of the girls had several bug bites on her arms, too, and the bus driver was anointing them with some oil in a little green bottle. Yay China meds!) Anyway, they suggested taking a cab — well, the bus driver said it in regular Chinese, which I didn’t understand at all, and then the volunteers said it in slightly less accented Chinese (since they’re young and mostly college students) and I got it. Cabs are a little pricey, so I just went back to the subway (free to Olympic ticket-holders) and figured out the closest subway stop, then picked up a cab from there for only 15元 instead of the 45 I probably would have paid from that first stop. At least the volunteers (and Chinese people are helpful and reasonabl knowledgeable — the cabbie knew where to go once I showed him my ticket. I rolled up just in time for the game, too.

Men’s volleyball? Awe-some! It was indoor team volleyball, so pretty cool to watch, lotsa power shots but also a fair bit of volleying. I enjoyed the game. I had to go fetch my leatherman from storage again, which was pretty painless since I had a little keytag to redeem it. Then, since it was a largr goup event, we had the tour bus (huzzah).

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-- Andy

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