Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Olympic Village

Olympic Village is impressive - acres of forest, green grass, and park land surrounding 3 main structures, the Aquatic Cube, the Bird's Nest, and the Olympic Stadium. Busloads of Chinese tourists flood the streets to take pictures, wander the grounds, and play in the huge indoor water park that resides in the Aquatics Center. At night, the Cube glows blue and the Bird's Nest's woven metal shines bright white.

These are masterpieces of architecture, as are so many of China's new buildings. At night, as we were whisked through the streets by cab, we craned our necks to see all the skyscrapers and oohed and ahed at the patterns of light reflecting off the shiny surfaces, the unusual shapes and designs, and the combinations of buildings that seem to play off each other to create a palette of structures like we had never seen before.

We were surprised sometimes at the interiors where the walls appear older than the building itself, and wondered if it is the quality of materials, environmental weathering, or high density of people. Public bathrooms seem to be China's demise. Even the most sparkling museums and malls have either too few, or not so sparkling restrooms. There will be a day, I believe, but that day has not yet arrived.

Robert and I spent the day in the Chinese Ethnic Minority Park, where one can experience 40 minority cultures over several acres. Buildings are lifesize replicas; some were actually transported from the villages. From Tibetan dancers and temple to birch covered teepees, and even Buddhas carved in a mountainside, we were amazed at how realistic everything was. Surprising, the park was empty and we wondered if it drew the number of tourists during the Olympics that it had obviously been built to attract.

We ended the day at a chic Taiwanese restaurant, stuffed again, we anxiously and eagerly anticipated the following day's adventure to the Chang ancestral village. In our hotel room, I read my translation of Grandpa's autobiography to Robert and Jen, and we talked deep into the night about the Chang family and our upcoming visit.


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