Hawks In Beijing - Entry 2
Aug. 1, 2008
Ni hao from Beijing, Peoples Republic of China.... where crossing the street is a not-so-fun game of cat and mouse every time you attempt it. I have, however, learned quickly that you need just watch what the 'group' is doing and follow their lead. I did this successfully about seven times today - no injuries.
A quick weather update: we have had a lot of rain the last two days, which (not shockingly) has led the locals to believe that the air quality is rapidly improving, and will be "berry good" by next Saturday and the Opening Ceremonies. I will believe it when I breathe it.
The sun was shining bright today when we left the hotel for lunch, however, and we went to eat in the Food Station (food court) at the very upscale mall across the street. We have been told that this is the most high-end shopping one can do in Beijing, and with stores like Gucci, Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo, that is not hard to believe. Anyway, we went to the food court and the first thing we had to do was buy a card and load it with RMB's (Chinese currency; approx. 7 RMB's to 1 U.S. Dollar). You then take your card into the food court and figure out what you want. Alas, your main problem arises (lunch couldn't be this simple!) - pretty much every food counter looms like it serves the same type of food...a mixture of noodle bowls, various chicken and beef dishes with white rice, and other typical Chinese fare. So, as my mom said so often when I was growing up - "Just pick one!" The best surprise came when I began looking at the prices - each large plate of food was between 15 and 20RMB. Unbelievable bargain - especially in this ritzy mall.
We all decided what we wanted, sat down and ate, and all the food was very good. I may be going to that food court and re-loading that card many times over the next month.
On the work side of things, the last two days have been spent counting, inventorying, recounting, highlighting large venue drawings with our seating inventory, counting some more.... basically making sure that we touch and feel and count every one of our 15,640 (or so!) tickets before the Visa guests begin to arrive next week to pick up their tickets.
Lets see....so, since I tend to find humor in most things, I have to tell you about our First Aid/CPR Training yesterday. SportsMark, the company I am working for, wanted to make sure that we all had basic training in first aid and CPR in case anything happens to our guests while they are on-site with us. So they hired an outside medical company to train us. Enter Dr. Johnson Du, whose rating on the "Scale of Unintentional Comedy" is off the charts. Dr. J spoke in a very monotone voice, and literally had all of us cracking up for three straight hours and he rambled on about how cutting of someone's limb is akin to cutting off their circulation - I guess you just had to be there. I will, however, give you just one of the handful of quotes that I wrote down during the training. This gem came as he was speaking to us about our role if someone gets hurt and we have to be with them until the ambulance arrives (spoken in pretty good English, with a solid Chinese accent and slight lisp): "We cannot cure the patient...just maintain the life. That is all we can do my friends." Simple and straight to the point. Thank you, Dr. J.
I also finally got out in to the "real" Beijing last night, as a few of us went to have dinner in the Ho Hai area of the city. It was nice to walk around and just get a feel of what the city is like - and let me tell you, these people are excited about the Olympics. The five rings are everywhere, and I'm thinking that the guys hawking t-shirts and tablecloths with the Olympics logos on them were not paying a licensing fee. Just a hunch. Anyway, we had dinner at a very good Thai restaurant, and the only weird thing to report from the experience was that our waiter's cat (yes, white feline) was walking around the dining room and in and out of the kitchen. Kind of gross, but I just said to myself, "Hey, I'm in China," and the food went back to tasting good again.
I have taken a bunch of pictures, and I will try to download some in the next couple of days - they are super strict about what we use these laptops for. Apparently, the Chinese can come and confiscate your laptop at any time, for any reason - gotta love this place. But it's 10 pm now and I've been in this room all day - it's time to get back to my Westin heavenly bed and watch some Chinese game shows. It's kind of refreshing to not have to scroll through "Deal or No Deal", "Big Brother" and "Wife Swap" every night.
Until next time...