Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Monday, August 25, 2008

John sent me a message that they had reserved a table at the Goose and Duck Pub for the closing ceremony. The new Goose and Duck Pub is way over on the other side of town, but I decided it might be a little more comfortable than sitting on the grass at the Science and Technology University. They had picked a table right in front of the big screen, and the shepherd's pie is not bad, but it was a little noisy. I am not much of a bar person. I watched most of the ceremony, but Jordan and I both wanted to get back before the crowds started leaving the Bird's Nest, so we left a little early.

You know, all the glitz of a ceremony like that doesn't impress me that much. But I have to say that I have been impressed with the level of preparation China has put into this event. Have to give them credit. The venues were very well designed, and built to perfection. Fengtai field is the best ballpark I have ever seen, and the race course for the canoe and kayak races was exceptional. China really went all out, and it showed.

It has been a tough year for China. Worst winter storms in 50 years, one of the most severe earthquakes in recorded history, severe flooding, worldwide protests, direct physical attacks on the torch relay, protests within China encouraged by enemies without. There has been lots of discussion (and there will continue to be) about how China has responded to each of these issues. I, myself, have had my criticisms of China. I do not speak as someone who believes that China is always right. But I do have to give credit where credit is due. China has done an excellent job of preparing for the Olympics, and it is universally acclaimed as a success.

For those of us who live in Beijing, there are elements of the Olympic infrastructure that will remain and continue to benefit us in the years to come. Perhaps the most significant for me personally is Line 10, the new subway line. Throughout the time that I have lived in Beijing, if I ever wanted to go anywhere on the northeast side, I pretty much had to take a taxi. The only way to get around that would be to take a bus or subway to the town center, and then find a bus back out to that area. You could easily spend half a day getting over there. Two or three hours, anyway. The new Line 10 goes straight east to that area. But the real benefit of Line 10 is that it is an "L" shaped line. It doesn't just go east, it then turns south and goes all the way down. You can run Line 10 all the way from Zhongguancun to the World Trade Center in Guomao without changing. That's pretty handy. The Bird's Nest and the Cube will also be around for years to come. They aren't going anywhere. Not sure I have the same confidence about the ball fields (Fengtai and Wukesong), because baseball and softball are not as popular in China as they are in Taiwan and Japan.

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