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Everything posted by jiejie

  1. These folks better be careful what they wish for! In public venues, I'd much rather have a squatter than a throne. Why? (a) the Chinese have notoriously bad "aim" ( lots of Chinese aren't too sure about the throne, and end up standing on rims and squatting over the bowl anyway, and © thrones are much harder to keep clean. Who in their right mind would let any part of their anatomy touch a public toilet anyway. All you visitors: Practice at home and develop those thigh muscles--even if you don't need them in Beijing, I promise you'll need them elsewhere in China. And don't forget to carry your own tissue supply!
  2. Jeez, no need to get alarmed. Just a little dust, not even really what I would call a good, rip-roaring "sandstorm" like the Big One in March 2002. Yellow haze in the morning, but it had cleared up by afternoon and we had blue skies, believe it or not. Beijing often gets sandy, esp March and April due to wind direction coming from the Gobi desert. Also, quite a bit of the dust is local from Beijing's construction sites. Sandstorms shouldn't affect the Olympics--it's rare to have one between June-February.
  3. I'm in Beijing and I can answer "yes" as obviously I can get to this thread right now. However, the thread below about the r!ots in T!b@t is completely blocked by the Chinese Net Nanny filters. Same on other internet sites (including the major news ones like cnn.com, etc.) on those particular stories. Access by proxy server only, and even then you have to keep changing proxies as the Great Firewall staff tracks and shuts them off. I have some access to foreign language TV media (cnnasia, bbcworld, tvasie) and since Friday night, stories on this situation are blacked out, except for the "propaganda" heavily edited clips produced by China Central Television. Oddly, just an hour ago an excerpt of a new interview with the D. L@m@ popped up--the censors must have been out for a coffee break and failed to hit the interrupt button. Really though, the vast majority of the population with access only to Chinese news media are being given only very sketchy and incomplete stories that of course, revile the T!ib@t@ns as hooligans and splittists, who will shortly receive their just punishment if they don't step back in line. Sorry about the symbols use, but I'm trying to avoid getting my gamesbids access or even my entire Internet access blocked (yes the Chinese ISP has the ability to do this). Although I have always deplored the decision to give the PRC the Olympics, it is a done deal and will go on in some form or fashion. I don't advocate a boycott because the Chinese gov't just isn't responsive to that sort of in-your-face thing--though it would shake them up and cause loss of face. Cfm jeremie has it correctly--the one thing the Chinese will listen to and change policies is when you hit them in the wallet. And the smartest way for other gov'ts to do this is not gorilla-style political chest-beating, but to quietly and consistently across the board slap additional bureaucratic pressures on all goods coming from China into their countries. As individuals, you can do your part by shutting your own wallets and not buying anything "made in China." It may not have the drama of an Olympic boycott nor will it produce instant results, but collectively it will be more effective in the long run.
  4. Diana, my comments for swimming pretty much apply to synchronized swimming, but due to the nature of the event and the patterns, if I was buying a ticket I would go for upper rows in the "A" section, as in front of the center of pool as possible, or the front half of the "B" section seats, also in front of the pool. This would be sections 102-103-104, and 113-114-115, rows 13-24 (A seats) or sections 202-203-204 and 213-214-215, rows 30-40 (B seats). A Sections 101-105 and 112-116 are marginal, but higher up B secitons 201-205/212-216 might be better. Sitting closer to the pool in the premium A seats may be preferred for some, especially if you have family or friend competing, but others might want to be higher up to see the Big Picture. If possible, avoid rows 10-11 and maybe 12 and 27-29 (railing obstruction). Other sections not mentioned will be too far away for a good view--if you can't get seats anywhere else, get as high up as you can (at least row 30-35).
  5. Seriously, they did monkey around with the weather around Beijing last August. As near as I can tell, they did their cloud-seeding, rain-dancing, or whatever Chinese voodoo they came up with on approaching rain clouds (normal in Beijing summer) while the clouds were still outside the central city. Which caused the clouds to release their rain in a spot of the government's choosing, rather than Mother Nature's. We could tell when they were doing this, as those were times we had almost unheard-of clear blue skies in August (the rain washed away dust and other factory and airborne pollutants before they could arrive at the central city and choke up the place as per usual). Scary if you think about it too long.
  6. Seating observations: I made careful notes on this, as if forced to obtain swimming or diving tickets on the battlefield at ruinous prices, I didn't want to end up with a pig in a poke. Ordinarily, I'd do a graphic ,scan it, and post it for reference for all, but I'm about to travel and pressed for time, so if anyone is interested, they need to do a little work for now, and obtain the only venue diagram I could find online and notate it themselves--check out (and no, I am NOT plugging this broker or any other broker site) http://www.ticketsolutions.com/tickets.aspx?eventid=577503 This page should show a red-blue-yellow diagram, which is actually the one BOCOG used to have on their site when they had venue maps (which they then pulled off). I've never been able to find them again on the official site, and most other ticket outlets have no seating chart. The diagram is an accurate representation of the real setup. In addition to my assigned seats, after the event conclusion I tried out various other vantage points around the stands, and there are definitely seat preferences and not as simple as choosing A > B > C. I would go so far as to say there are some seats I probably wouldn't be willing to pay for at all, and would stay home and watch TV first. From the notes below, you should be able to number the sections & rows and see what's what. Of course, my opinions only. The swimming competition pool is oriented east-west lengthwise, so the stands are on the north and south. The north stand seating installation is nowhere close to completed, and only competitors/coaches/families/officials/photographers are allowed on that side right now. I estimate BOCOG needs another 2 months to get this and some other parts of the building completely finished and ready for prime-time. They'll get it done, I'm sure. A professional photo slideshow taken from the north stands on Thursday night the 31st and clearly showing most of the crowd in the south stands is on the official website at: http://photo.beijing2008.cn/news-214244109.html (it is #22 of the 28-slide show--can you see me in Section 104, row 2 ?) Section numbers are divided by vertical sets of stairs and on the south stands are from 101(west end) to 108 (east). 101 and 108 are the skinny half-sections. Section numbers on the north stands go in the opposite direction from 109 (east) to 116 (west), 109 and 116 are the skinnies. From diagram and photo you can see the stands in three general tiers (ignore the deck stands for the athletes): bottom tier is Rows 1-7...then a walkway...second tier Rows 10-24....walkway....upper tier Rows 27-50. The upper tier rows are Sectioned 201-208 and 209-216, immediately behind their lower 2 tier brethren. The seating pitch is relatively steep, and I was surprised at how good the view was from seats way up in the heavens. For swimming and sync swimming events, the "A" category seats supposedly are Sections (south S) 101-106, and (north N) 111-116, Rows 1-24 (both sides). Due to interference from safety railing, I did not like rows 1-2 in the front tier, and rows 10-12 have same problem in second tier. Sections S-106 and N-111 are getting a bit far and paradoxically, the further to the front you are in this section (and the more you pay for the seats), the worse the view. Section S-107 and N-110 "B" category seats and Section S-108/N-109 "C" category seats are not seats I would pay to sit in for swimming competition unless it was my kid in the pool. Now, upper tier Sections S-201-205 and N-212-216 "B" category seats are good to very good all the way up, except avoid the railing rows 27-29. and Section S-206/207 and N-210/211 "C" category seats are reasonably good, falling off to a merely OK rating for the C's at the farthest upper corner in Sections S-208 and N-209. As long as you don't mind being up high and having the Big Picture, I'd say you're better off in the upper B and C category seats than in the A's that are down in front but farther from the pool. For diving events, the A-B-C sections flip mirror-like, with A's now in front of the diving pool. However, since the diving pool is smaller, there are more "A" seats that will be low but further away. For 10M platform events, it's so high that visibility is good from most seats except maybe at the point of entry into the water, but if you are at the western 1/3-1/2 of the stands, you will get a crick in your neck. Springboard is more problematic, as if you are at the western part of the stands, you will not only get a crick in your neck, but possibly not much view at all, depending on which springboard is being used (there is more than one 3 m board). The edge of the stands and crowd itself could be obstructions if the springboard used is on the same side as your stands. Unless you KNOW you will be getting A seats in front of or close to the diving pool (south side 105-106-107-108 and north side 109-110-111-112, it may be safer to go with upper tier B seats, esp for springboard. Upper C sections S-201-202 and N-215-216 are, in my opinion, not very good for watching any diving no matter how low the row is and especially for springboard. I personally would not spend any more than face value or official agent price on a diving ticket in these sections. I didn't get into seat numbers per row, as I think that's somewhat less critical than section assignment, but if you're interested, the standard width sections have seats #1-27, with the skinnies at the ends #1-7/8. On the south side, 1 is the west, 27 is the east end of the section, then numbering restarts for the next section. Oh, and there are definitely rows and seats ending in the number "4." Nothing skipped in the sequence. (Likewise for other venues I have been in so far.)
  7. Last night and this morning, I attended the inaugural event of the National Aquatics Center, the "Good Luck Beijing 2008 Swimming Open." Here are some observations, based on my experience as a professional architect and as an amateur spectator. It'ss a little long. General Appearance: Evening exterior appearance is really impressive, deep translucent blue--the photos don't do it justice. The Birds Nest had part of its upper lighting on and you could see the red painted superstructure--what a great contrast in buildings but aesthetically, it works! Daytime the Cube looks like an interesting structure but the "wow" factor isn't there without the lighting effect. However, this is partly because the entire site area is still under construction and the normal pedestrian grand approach is either blocked off by construction fencing or looks like a moonscape. I think by the time the Olympic Green landscaping is comupleted in a few months and the debris is hauled off, it will also impress during the daytime. Security: Lots of police on hand but pretty low key. Lo-o-o-ng walk around 3/4 of building to get from nearest street access to the public entrance on the south/southeast corner of the building. Mostly due to ongoing site construction blocking access to all other entry points. When everything is done, I think the best approach to this area is either going to be by upcoming Subway Line 10/Olympic Spur. Or if BOCOG makes good on their promise to put on special venue buses and shuttles from main tourist collection points, that would also be good. Security "tent" temporary structure outside the Cube had around 6 lines/walk-through metal detectors and 3-4 bag x-rays. Lines moved quickly and had wait time of only 2-3 minutes, but under full Olympic crowd loading probably need to add 50-100% more capacity. Lobby/Public Areas: Still a bit empty and unfinished, but clean and presentable, and relatively easy to move in without congestion. Unhappy about ladies rooms--too small inside, door access typically stupid Chinese design guaranteed to cause facility crowding. No purse/bag hooks in the stalls (both Asian and western style available), and no machines or paper towels to dry hands on. Lifts/elevators available but did not see a lot of use. Concessions/snacks and souvenir areas looked pretty makeshift--at least I hope they were, as they really need better physical and operational improvement. This was an initial tip-off the facility has been opened but is not fully ready on the public/spectator side. Off the main lobby area is a glassed-in public viewing gallery with the competition pool on one side and the warm-up/training pool on the other. That's a nice feature. On the evening of the 31st they had a lobby display of the various engineering and "green" aspects of the building, which is REALLY interesting even for a layperson. They should find a spot to put this exhibition for the Olympics. This was removed the morning of Feb 1, though. Volunteers: Lots both inside and outside the venue. Very polite and cheery and upbeat, and using their variable English skills on any foreigners spotted (including yours truly). Need some more work on crowd control, especially at access points to the various seating sections. Chinese spectators have a habit of buying cheap tickets and then migrating down to sections they should not be in, and stealing seats. Which causes havoc and disruption when the real ticket holders for those seats show up, and is distracting when trying to watch an ongoing event. This ain't going to fly at the Olympics. All in all, volunteers were a bright spot, which was also my experience at the Rhythmic Gymnastics and Beach Volleyball "Good Luck Beijing" events I attended in 2007. Competition Area: The deck area and both swimming and diving pools look wonderful, and no smell (ozone system of disinfection). Athlete/coaching mini-stands are directly on the deck. Starting blocks are at both ends of swimming pool, but the ones used were at the end closest to the diving pool--with athletes entering from a nearby door mid-way along the grandstands. Probably will be same for Olympics, important to know if you like to photograph water entries and finishes. The diving board support "tubes" don't look as cheesy in real life as they do in the official photos. As to the general feeling of the interior, I was surprised and a little disappointed that I didn't get much of a "being inside the bubble" effect. You could see parts of the structure and skin, but not anything like some of those artists perspectives on the official website show! Two aggravating factors: The structure and skin behind the diving platforms was almost totally covered with some sort of gridded solid screen (freehanging)--whether this will be removed at times, I don't know. It appears to be some sort of sunscreen, but it undercuts the architecture of the venue. Other factor was the brightness inside--the lighting required to properly light the space for competition works against the effect of the bubble structure. Ah well. Seating: This posting is getting long, so I'll put comments on seating as a follow-on to this posting.
  8. No, it's not just because of development. It is the lack in China of political will, and of sheer greed. China had the potential benefit of being able to look at other countries (USA, Europe, Japan, etc.) that had been economically developed for a long time, and to learn from their successes and mistakes--but chose not to. It also had the availability of cleaner technologies and materials (although at higher initial costs) to use in its economic development--not available until recent decades--but chose not to. The Central Gov't in Beijing is both aware and alarmed at the problem of pollution, but provincial and local governance in China is highly autonomous, in effect running on a day-to-day basis like a collection of warlord states. And it is at these levels that the past and continuing pollution violations can't be controlled by Beijing, as the local economic benefits and graft involved outweigh health and environmental concerns. To accomplish more sweeping pollution reform would mean having to disrupt the entire Communist Party control structure and bureaucracy throughout the country, and I don't see that happening any time soon. Beijing Municipality actually HAS done a lot in the past several years to get its local pollution issues under control, with the Olympics being the biggest motivation of course. Except for allowing too many cars on the roads (they need to implement costly licensing controls a la Shanghai, and restrict central city driving to expensive pass-only a la London and Singapore). One thing that is getting lost in all of this is that a huge amount of Beijing's air pollution isn't from Beijing, it's being blown in from other cities and provinces. Experts estimate as much as 50-60% is not from Beijing itself. During the Olympics/August, the winds come mostly from the southwest to the south, which means the pollution will be coming from Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan, Xi'an, and even Lanzhou. Anyone who has ever been in these industrial cities knows that their pollution makes Beijing's look trivial. Unless the authorities are willing to force the curtailment of industrial production in these areas before and during the Games (possible but not guaranteed), Beijing may not have much the blue sky they hope for. The Beijing-based sources of pollution they CAN and WILL shut down, trust me on this one. Finally, Beijing/China uses a self-serving pollution rating system that does not match up to int'l accepted ones used in Europe or US. Pollution rated "moderate" on Beijing's scale is actually in the serious or unhealthy range by measurements used in developed countries. The touted number of Beijing "blue-sky" days that you can read about on the official Olympic website are bogus...essentially, the definition of "blue" was changed, in typical Chinese fashion. While Beijing does have quite a few blue sky days, I live here and it sure as h*ll didn't have 254 of them in 2007. And darn few during the summer.
  9. Just realized, above post more properly belongs on the ticketing thread not accommodations one!
  10. TNMPuppy, I'm not privy to the actual ticketing status numbers of course, but this is my rough calculation using big round numbers: 9,000,000 (Approximate total number of tickets) - 2,000,000 (Sponsors/IOC/VIP allotment) = 7,000,000 (Supposed total "public" tickets) Of that 7,000,000, original target was 75% domestic China (including 14% low-cost for students), 25% international, which breaks down to: 4,270,000 General Chinese public 980,000 Chinese student low cost (I heard these were going to be mostly the lowest seating category and mostly in the "leftover" less popular events, tbd later) 1,750,000 International public And of the Chinese General public tickets: 1,600,000 Allotted in Phase 1 lottery--37% 1,850,000 To be allotted in Phase 2 lottery (in progress)--43% 820,000 Remaining tickets for live sales starting April or May--20% (expected to be sports less-popular with Chinese, and lower seating categories, but should still sell out) Of the International public tickets: 1,000,000 My guestimate of what's been released--57% of intl allotment but only 14% of total public tickets (it may be even less than that, sounds like most countries got only 50-60% of request.) 750,000 Remaining tickets to be allotted--(exact sessions/seating released probably dependent on results of Chinese Phase 2) Thoughts: 1) The Chinese said last month or so they would increase the int'l allotment above 25% (as high as 50%???), but I don't see how they could without sending the PRC public into orbit. Demand is incredibly high. Can't see that happening, unless they scale back that student ticketing aspect, which I doubt. This program is partly a "reward" and "incentive" program, but also a way to fill up potentially empty seats. 2) The theoretical 750,000K remaining intl tickets sounds like a lot, but with official agents jawing about how they expect to get very little more, it leads me to believe that this number may end up a lot less--which begs the question...Where are the tickets disappearing to? 3) I personally know two local senior execs of worldwide sponsors who said even their companies aren't getting decent allotments of tickets...They want to know where are those sponsors tickets are disappearing to? 4) I know plenty of people (Chinese especially, not affiliated with BOCOG or any inner admin workings) who are CONVINCED that considerable numbers of good tickets are being siphoned off by officials to hand out to family, friends, and cronies, or for ultimate resale/scalping. Not sure I buy into this myself, but given standard Chinese operating procedure for as long as China has existed, it's one plausible theory and I can understand why there is a lot of cynicism here. I'd love to see an overview analysis by somebody more knowledgeable than me.
  11. Just heard (from a usually reliable local source) that BOCOG will release its block on hotel rooms in May. I still think that for those who are willing to wait a bit longer, there will be plenty of hotel rooms to go around when all is said and done, and that prices in most of the middle market accommodations will come down significantly. Same source also says that while BOCOG is holding the exact ticketing status close to the vest, they will be releasing more tickets to the international market, but not until the domestic Chinese Phase 2 lottery is completed. No indication yet whether any additional allotment will contain any "hot" marquee events, and knowing the Chinese, they probably don't want to make any final decisions until they see the complete pattern of what's sold domestically. Release of more allotments may not be until March, if BOCOG waits to get payment for phase 2 tickets. The upcoming Chinese New Year holiday will basically render the country and the process at a dead stop for a couple of weeks in February. BTW, the official website has just posted the photo/ID requirements for Ceremonies tickets won through PRC lottery. They are giving the local market only from Jan 15-Jan 31 to provide info, with non-receipt or incomplete information allowing BOCOG the right to cancel the ticket. For those lucky international Ceremonies-ticket winners, I suspect the various official agents will soon be asking for same photo/info (different timetable, of course).
  12. The Water Cube will have its first competition--swimming--beginning January 31. They are running the events similarly to the Olympic schedule: heats/prelim sessions at 6:30 pm and finals at 10:00 a.m. I'm getting tickets to the Jan 31 evening and Feb 1 morning, to see the facility as much as to see the swimming. I'll try to report my general impressions back to the forum as soon as possible afterwards.
  13. Beijing expat here, also an architect so I have a bit of an interest in this topic. As of January 1, most of the newly-constructed and renovated Beijing venues are completed and have already run or are running test events (primarily the "Good Luck Beijing" series, which began last August). The National Stadium/Birds Nest is in the home stretch and will host its first competition in mid-April. The National Aquatics Ctr/Water Cube will host a swim meet in just over 3 weeks, with diving later in February. The Workers Stadium renovation (Football venue) is still going but shouldn't be much longer. Wukesong Indoor Stadium (basketball) has not opened but they are finishing up interior work and equipment--it will host a competition in April. Other venues are complete. There is still LOTS of exterior landscaping to be done at nearly all of the new venues, but this can't really take off until later in March due to weather. Expect a literal army of workers to be planting, installing, painting all manner of greenery between March and July!
  14. I likewise have extras but will probably hold off any trading until April-May, at which time I'll know what else I've been able to procure from the Chinese Phase 2 lottery and Phase 3 open sale. I'm curious to know if the good folks trying to procure from Sportsworld have heard their results yet, and if there is any happier news there than from those of us who had to deal with Cosport.
  15. New poster here. Just found this site last month and have been lurking ever since! I'm a Beijing expat who luckily has some event tickets and won't need a flight or hotel room, but I agree with thatsnotmypuppy. In fact, I've been telling people to wait even until May or June, and not to panic if they don't already have accommodations. IMHO, Beijing will be awash with rooms, esp in the 1-3 star and independent hotels, and this will become apparent when the Chinese domestic and international ticketing rounds are pretty much over in April. Too many rooms, not enough visitors to fill them (except for the top and bottom ends of the market). My guess is not even 500,000 foreign spectators (excluding officials and Team delegates, VIP dignitaries, reporters, and such) will show up--probably way, way less--total over the entire run of the Games. And of the Chinese spectators, probably not more than 20-25% will be needing commercial accommodation. Not only will prices be coming down, but I'd bet the ridiculous minimum booking length requirements (i.e. 2 weeks+) will also disappear. And I recommend NOT booking hotel in Tianjin unless you have other reasons for staying there. Even though the high-speed train between Beijing-Tianjin will be online by the Olympics and cut the travel time to 30 minutes, it will not be a commute you'll want to be making. Beijing will be THE place to be, if you've gone to all the trouble to get here.
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