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Everything posted by jiejie

  1. The reports I'm getting here in Beijing are that the decision to put a more camera-friendly little girl in the public spotlight was NOT that of the Music/Artistic/Whatever Director...that the order instead came from a top Chinese government official, who was reviewing the Ceremonies components at some point during the rehearsal sequences. Which I am perfectly capable of believing. I will go out on a limb here and say that the little girl lip-syncing is probably a relative of said government official, which we will find out in due course. (Cynical Old Jiejie.) And yes, the Chinese are all about presenting an image over common decency (and common sense). Style over substance. Happens all the time, every day, with or without the Olympics in town.
  2. Details are still coming in, but it seems the 2 tourists were relatives of one of the coaches of the US Mens volleyball team. It is a shocking and sad event, and very strange for Beijing, as crimes with this sort of violence aren't that common Chinese-upon-Chinese, much less Chinese-upon-foreigner. The area of town is quite touristed and by no stretch of the imagination a "bad" area of town as we might define it in a western city. I walked past the Drum Tower with a Chinese friend not 10 days ago. I found out about this a few hours ago on the Olympic Green--I had just exited a gymnastics event and was waiting in front of the NBC live-broadcasting setup prepping for the Saturday Today Show. When they started, their lead story was about this, and you could see the foreigners in the crowd just drop their jaws and look with horror at each other...the Chinese seemed mostly oblivious (language barrier). Then the Today Show went on about...John Edwards
  3. 1) Interesting about Cosport having missing ticket orders. I've been in the will-call picking up on 3 occasions since it opened, and nobody I saw ever had any issues. I had many multiple orders and every one was perfect. Wonder what went wrong here? 2) Cosport directions were actually correct when they were written and up through yesterday. I was at Cosport yesterday 8 am (August 6) and I assure you that "direct route from the subway" was very much closed down and impassible directly from the closest subway stop, with street construction going on. You just got lucky that they opened the shortcut in the last 18 hours. 3) In my part of town, there are a lot of extra westerners and yes they are mostly with accreditation passes. However, I have met several tourists here for the Games, completely unaffiliated with an official or unofficial group/organization/sponsor etc. But not that many--and most of the ones I met were looking for extra tickets (which is how I met them, ahem...) 4) Live sites have definitely not been well publicized, and I fear will be a disappointment. Whether from the desires of the sponsors or the insistence of the government and security authorities, it seems that the live sites will have controlled access, security checkpoints, and a general "stage managed" feel rather than a fun outdoor festival environment. I am seriously reconsidering plans to go to a live site. Live sites in the more central areas of town include: Ditan Park, Chaoyang Park (south gate), The Place shopping center (about 15 minutes north of Silk Market), Grand View Park, Haidian Park in the University Area. Definitely NOT at major high-profile sights like Tiananmen, Tiantan, or Beihai--which is in keeping with my expectations. Many of the hotels and popular bars will be tuned in to the Ceremonies, but most are also charging New Years Eve-like steep covers for tables and "dinner buffet." And/or requiring tickets or invites in advance. 5) Electric? I haven't noticed that the mood on the street is electric at all, at least not from most of the Chinese or the expats. Most of what I get is weariness of the whole thing. Possibly I am using a different yardstick to measure mood, though. 6) Definitely agree it was a crappy day today, and we need a good rain. I am expecting (hoping?) to hear the big sonic booms tonight which would mean cloud seeding and a good rain tomorrow morning, Which would pretty much mean a nice late afternoon and evening of weather for the Ceremonies.
  4. Actually, most of the embassies of the western countries here anticipated this would happen, and have all their Consular staff in Beijing beefed up and on alert, ready to visit their countrymen in detention when they get arrested by the Chinese police. As one senior diplomatic officer of a western country told me (I won't name country, but it was not the USA or the UK), "we wish the Chinese would just take them directly to the airport and send them on next plane out immediately, and save us the time and trouble of formal deportation paperwork..."
  5. Maybe it was a visa problem! As with many other foreigners in the last few months, he was sent back to his home country to apply for a Chinese visa rather than do the typical Hong Kong agent shuffle.
  6. I have a bit different take on this situation, and some of you are not going to like it. Most of these people scammed could have avoided the situation simply by doing their homework, and not putting Games enthusiasm and blind faith ahead of common sense. This site has been a known scam site for many months (actually, since at least autumn of 2007). I especially deplore three things: 1) The fact that some of the major news media included it as an "official site" in the winter and spring of 2008, lending a legitimacy to it because the news organizations themselves never bothered to do a few simple checks. I personally emailed a couple of these news agencies to inform them that they were contributing to a problem. No response of course, nor did I ever see a retraction/correction printed or online. 2) The fact that the IOC and some of the National Committees have known about beijingticketing.com and its brethren sites for some time, and for whatever reason decided not to enforce immediately trademark restrictions that these sites were clearly violating. I think they are a bit late out of the blocks on this one--the horse has already bolted from the barn. 3) The fact that the Chinese/BOCOG are being blamed for this. While they can be blamed for a lot of sins of 2008 Games preparation, the scam sites located outside China aren't one of them. The Chinese aren't responsible for server hosting, supporting, ordering from, or processing payments from beijingticketing.com, and had no power to do anything meaningful. I was curious about this site last November, and after perusing it for less than 5 minutes, I noticed a variety of "red flags", here's a sampling: --the contact number listed in the UK but a "registered address" in Arizona, which was reported to be the office of a lawyer at that time --poor composition in terms of grammar, spelling, etc.---hardly what you expect from an "official" site --a bogus logo that is NOT the BOCOG stylized "jing" character, and easy to tell the difference --a comparison to the official website that shows event sessions that don't jive, and seat categories also not matching up for various events --a policy that in the event of event cancellation or inability to deliver you tickets, only provides for voucher for future credit from them, and not a full refund (!!!) --most importantly, a reference to their parent XL & H, which when googled, came up with a variety of complaints and comments about their various online ticketing businesses, not to mention a bunch of arab/pakistani/other middle eastern names as programmers--which at the risk of sounding politically incorrect, struck me as a bit odd. XL & H (Xclusive Leisure & Hospitality) had already had many complaints against them from their other websites, with respect to concert and other sports events tickets in the UK. By December of 2007, this was well reported. On the travel boards I participate in, I put in my opinion that this was a big scam as soon as the mention of beijingticketing.com (and related sites) was raised. So did others, particularly those in the UK. The ones who had already put their money down, most of us advised them to immediately try to get it back and to get chargeback if they had used credit card. I can only hope at least a few people woke up early and listened to us months ago. My research last fall took 15 minutes on the internet, and led me to believe it was clearly a scam, as was any sister site that had anything to do with XL & H. Plenty of others came to the same conclusion and avoided these people like the plague. I cannot fathom why anybody contemplating forking over serious cash for the promise of future tickets didn't invest the same tiny amount of upfront time. No amount of lawyers, class-actions suits, etc brought in after-the-fact will ever substitute for some healthy upfront skepticism and shouldering personal responsibility for ones' own choices, even if those choices turn out to be poor ones. I am sorry for the losses, and I hope something can be recovered and the perpetrators caught.
  7. Dinner buddies for August 8: make sure you have my email jiejiebigsis(at)yahoo(dot)com and contact me ASAP (email please, not Gamesbids PM) with where you are going to be staying, when you will arrive. Put "GB Dinner" in the email subject header to flag it for my priority attention. I'll send back my local Beijing mobile phone number and details/directions. Help to get from point A to point B is available if you need it. Cheers. See you in Beijing!
  8. Gamesbids is not blocked here, let's hope it stays that way. I'm here in Beijing and will be here throughout the Games. I'll be attending 35 event sessions, with 1-3 events each day of the Games from 8/9 on. Unless I die of exhaustion first.
  9. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on time you arrive, how tired you are likely to be, how much luggage you have, and your exact destination.
  10. Only if you want to end up with the Mother of all Hernias!
  11. Just to clarify: in China, you will be using Chinese RMB ("yuan") for your cash transactions. Anybody who offers you the "convenience" of paying in a foreign currency is not out to do you any favors. Exchange rates at banks are highly standardized across the country as they are set by the government against each foreign currency. Try to avoid changing money at a hotel unless an extreme emergency--as the hotel will exact a hefty fee either directly or by a poor rate. Major branches of banks in Beijing and other large cities are usually open on Saturdays and Sundays as well as weekdays, and particularly in tourist areas and major shopping areas. Keep all exchange slips for non-ATM transactions, as if you need to change your RMB back to other currency before you leave, you will need these slips.
  12. 1) Since I presume you are from the UK, why don't you just take British pounds? Any hard currency is exchangeable at banks with forex windows--no need to change into US dollars first. Chinese currency is controlled, even if you can find a place to buy a bit of it in the UK before you leave, the rate will be highly unfavorable. Just wait until you arrive, and either change a bit of cash at the airport, or hit the ATM machines in the arrival hall after exiting customs. It is easy to find ATM machines throughout Beijing that will take foreign cashpoint cards. Before you leave, check with your bank on transaction limits, fees, and notifying them you will be in China so they (hopefully) don't freeze the card. 2) There is a mongrel assortment in use depending on how new the building is where you are staying. The most common plug will have a top outlet that fits US-style 2 prong plugs and the bottom the "Chinese" 3-prong plug with a straight prong over 2 angled ones. Sometimes you see others in use, or semi-universal type. You can bring one of those little pouches with different plug/prong combos, or an all-purpose one. These are also inexpensively purchased everywhere in Beijing, should you need to pick one up on the fly. Electricity is 220-240v.
  13. Actually, this year the Chinese would much prefer to beat up on the French. It will be interesting to see if this is just a glitch in delivery/logistics, or if it is establishing a censorship pattern for all the foreign athletes.
  14. In mid-July, we had a stretch of very nice days, then about a week ago, it all went to h*ll again and pollution was terrible, day after day after day. Monday night I heard the skyward "booms" and other unnatural noises...not thunder, but definitely man-made. It occurred to me that they were seeding the clouds to get some rain going, as we've experienced the authorities playing around with this before. Sure enough, it was very dark the next morning and mid-day Tuesday, it poured rain---not for a hugely long time, but enough to wash the city and air down pretty well. If you've ever seen man-made rain, there is something definitely weird about it. The drops and way they "splat" on the street have a distinctly different feeling to them! And the rhythm of water coming down is, well, just not like Mother Nature does it. By late Tuesday afternoon air was much cleaner, and as of early this morning (Wed) looks like it will be an OK day. I suspect they will need to do this during the Games--the main problem seems to be that the timing lag (number of hours) between the seeding activity and the actual production of rain is somewhat unpredictable.
  15. BTW, we can still have outdoor cafe seating, the closing-down of such spaces was an earlier rumor that has apparently been reconsidered by the authorities. Lots of places still operating outdoors as usual. The security is getting downright silly in places--not 20 minutes ago at my residence compound, I just passed a group of property management and local police doing yet ANOTHER round of "bedchecks" of foreigners' apartments. Despite the fact they were just here 3 weeks ago. I won't deny that any major international event attracts the crazies, the desperate, and the evil...but just how many Tibet@ns/Uigurs/East Turkmen/Al Qaida/human rights activists/muckraking journalists/<add troublemaker of your choice> can have moved in to my building compound over the last 3 weeks, preparing to launch attacks? When you see a threat behind every tree, it detracts from focusing on the REAL threats. And keeping the population in fear of attack, and in need of "protection," keeps a lot of powerful old men secure in their jobs.
  16. No you've got it backwards. Most of the foreigners here are noting that the Games are designed to be for the Chinese only and the government wants all the foreigners to leave---they've definitely been doing their best to make this happen. If the Chinese gov't thought they could get away with holding an Olympics without the foreign athletes and officials, they'd certainly be giving it a try. The Beijing Olympics isn't so much about hosting an international sports gathering, it's about the current Chinese power structure puffing itself up and inciting a big nationalistic fervor to make the Chinese feel good about themselves. The Chinese gov't and the BOCOG lackeys can control the messages going to their internal constituencies--but they can't necessarily force their version of this Billion-Person Group Grope on everybody else. In recent memory, the Olympics has always been more for the rich and/or the well-connected than the common folk. Not unique to China in 2008. Perhaps they'd have more Chinese ordinary public in the stands if they hadn't given away many of the tickets out the back door to the Party faithful.
  17. Just to confirm, CoSport Will-Call did open this morning, exactly as scheduled. I arrived at 8:10 (opening was at 8:00) and was surprised to find about 30 people ahead of me, mostly Chinese--and a few Chinese waving their Canadian passports around Was about a 30 minute wait in line outside the office, mercifully in the shade, but went smoothly and very civilized. CoSport seemed to have their act together. I had a wagonload of tickets to pick up, plus a proxy from a friend, but was out in about 20 minutes. Actually met Adam Wixted (Director of Ticketing or similar title?)--he is in fact a real live fellow. Told me that Cosport was handling for two of the worldwide sponsors, the Employee Ticket distribution program...which explained all the locals in line. But this "mini crush" is expected to be over by Monday. Cosport thinks it will be relatively quiet until about August 8-10, so if you are coming a bit earlier and need to pick-up, put it on your priority list of activities.
  18. Not in the Chinese Phase 4 sale! I'm sitting this one out! Videos of some the chaos and near-riots by the main box office are now being transmitted around the world. I'm not surprised though--I knew it was going to be potentially ugly out there. Haven't yet heard if there were any serious problems or just a lot of pushing, shoving, and yelling. Heat is enough to give people heat stroke though, it is a very open area with no relief from sun. Also haven't yet heard how it went at the box offices serving other venues--I'm sure the one at Wukesong for Basketball had a crowd.
  19. Chinese domestic Phase 4 sale starts tomorrow and continues through the 27th. All unsold tickets are going on the block at the various venues, and I expect most of the leftover tickets are for B and C seat categories. For some sports with lots of sessions, BOCOG has split the schedule so only some sessions are being sold on some days. And the listing is by venue or by how sports are assigned to different box offices, so for some sports, it’s impossible to get the exact breakdown of availability. Noticeably ABSENT from the “for sale” list is Swimming tickets. In case you are interested to see what the Chinese will be fighting over this weekend….and probably also indicative of relative demand during the Games and perhaps availability on the resale market. Triathlon (2 sessions available)—638 tickets left (#’s are total spread across the available sessions) Shooting (3 sessions)—689 tickets Cycling (3 track, 2 mountain, 0 BMX)—1099 tickets Badminton/Rhythmic Gym (16/3)—1366 tickets Volleyball at BIT Gym (10)---1986 tickets Wrestling (16)—3157 tickets Judo/Taekwondo (12/8)—3227 tickets Weightlifting (22)—3945 tickets Table Tennis (29)—5065 tickets Water Polo/Mod Pent (23)---5611 tickets Beach Volleyball (23)---5684 tickets Canoe Flat/Slalom/Rowing/Mara Swim (6/4/8/1)---6753 tickets Football at Wrkrs Stadium Beijing (6)—7292 tickets Fencing/Artistic Gymnastics/Handball at NIS/Marathon (17/7/8/2)—12,133 tickets (got to be mostly handball). Also, BOCOG must be holding back lots of marathon tickets to sell later, at last minute maybe. Handball Prelims at Olympic Spts Ctr Gym (34)—13,552 tickets Boxing (24)---14,235 tickets Softball (17)---16,114 tickets Basketball (35)---24,919 tickets (incl all sessions except M final & SF...but most of tickets are womens BK) Archery/Hockey/Tennis/Tennis Grounds Pass (8/38/11/10)—26,187 tickets (this has to be mostly hockey) Sync Swim/Diving/Football Final/Baseball (5/16/1/32)—30,098 tickets (mostly baseball) Athletics except marathons (15)---30,603 tickets Volleyball at Capital Ind Stad (31)---33,331 tickets Beijing Total: 247,684 tickets Football outside Beijing: 573,143 tickets Total: 820,827 tickets excl HK and Qingdao, which is what was officially just announced by BOCOG.
  20. It's not illegal to buy tickets from a reseller regardless of price. It's not illegal to sell your ticket at or below face value. It is illegal to resell your ticket at more than face value. That said, most to all of the population here is reselling at more than face value...sometimes WAY over. This goes for every event, not just premier things like Ceremonies and mens' basketball final. Frankly, it's impossible for the authorities to stop this activity, just like every other Olympic city has found. The one thing they will control is ticket reselling inside/outside or near event venues--that they will be watching for so I wouldn't advocate that. But nothing anybody can do about reselling activity going on privately at other locations. If they want to put all the "guilty" in detention, the sheer numbers will fill a small city! So don't worry, bring your extra tickets and get creative on how to market them.
  21. As I recall, I think the "back row" on Tier 1 is Row 32, this is same for all Tier 1 Sectors around the stadium. The wheelchair area is just behind that with some non-continuous row seats for companions to sit adjacent. Right about Row 22-ish is where the front edge of Tier 2 structure above begins, in front of that is open air/uncovered. M is a good Tier 1 sector for events with sprints. (The ideal is Sector B near the finish line, but that's of course the media camera stands!) I personally like the second Tier in order to get a better view of all the field events. For this reason, I actually think you are better off sitting in the back half of Tier 1 rather than the front half--you get a little bit of height.
  22. No, it's not rumour. It's absolutely true--because of the Olympics, the police have been told to go around and "suggest" that said undesireables not be permitted in bars and places of entertainment. The most notorious area for the (black) African drug-dealing has been operating quite openly, in the same location for years. Why? Because they operate WITH THE BLESSING AND THE PROTECTION OF THE LOCAL POLICE. This is well-known by just about every Chinese and foreigner living in Beijing. Also well-known is that many of the blacks in the drug business are related to members of the diplomatic corps from African countries. And no, I won't name the primary offending countries. The police had previously been told to have a hands-off policy to avoid pissing off the African countries that China is busy trying to loot of their mineral, timber, and other natural resource wealth. It's only because of the Olympics that governmental powers at the Highest Level have gotten involved and told the police to clean it up...at least for the next couple of months. The fact that there are many completely innocent people with black skin around here, who might happen to want a drink or a meal, doesn't really cut any ice with our Chinese Minders. They did start doing the bar raids late last summer, usually with as many blacks (and some non-black foreign youth) as they could catch ending up in the police paddy wagon and later at the station, until they could get bailed out by relatives and friends. Nearly all of whom were of course completely innocent of anything other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the real criminal element had been tipped off and were nowhere to be found. For the official Beijing Olympic cleansing enema, it's not just the blacks and the Mongolian prostitutes...the City's major gay entertainment venue has been told to shut down. And the dodgier karaoke parlors that were pretty much fronts for prostitution have been told to put transparent windows in the doors to the private rooms, and to provide monitors. I find the karaoke purification to be particularly hilarious, since a huge number of the dodgy places catering to "businessmen"--as opposed to the ones you go to have fun with your friends--are owned by officers of the Peoples Liberation Army. I'll leave it to you all as to whether you want to take CCTV and whatever BOCOG says as gospel. Heh-heh. I live here and am reasonably plugged into the network and jungle drums, so I KNOW what's going down, and there's no way to make the reality palatable to the rest of the world. I do so love it when the Chinese have to publicly backpedal...
  23. Not just the USA athletes. Many of the other developed countries are also doing final training outside China, and coming at the last minute. I suspect the parade of athletes marching in will be smaller than normal due to number of no-shows. And for fatigue/logistic/visa reasons, coming in for the opening ceremonies and then leaving, and then coming back again, may not be that feasible. If foreigners (athletes or otherwise) want to wear protective masks, the Chinese may be insulted but that's just tough cookies. China has only itself to blame for its terrible environmental conditions.
  24. Update--Field Test Runs Line 10--very nice line and stations (air conditioned!!!) and extremely useful for both residents, regular tourists, and Olympic visitors. The transfer station to the Olympic spur line (8) is open, but the transfer area in the station is barricaded with police guards, so the spur access to the Olympic Green area is not open to the public at this time. I couldn't quite tell, but the area where you would transfer from Line 10 to Olympic line is quite large, and presumably that is where they could do security checks before allowing you past the turnstiles into the Spur Line, which would be the "sterile" area. Airport Express--A godsend. I transferred from Line 10 subway line to the Airport Express at the station by the 3rd Ring road (not the terminus which is by the 2nd Ring Road). Signage is very clear inside the station, and once you exit the regular subway system turnstiles, you are right at the ticket purchase area and turnstiles for the Airport Express. Cost (one-way) is RMB 25, very fair in my opinion. Trains today were running every 15 minutes. Trains are running a pattern of City-Terminal 3-Terminal 2-return to City. So, if you are airport-bound to Terminal 2, you just stay on during the Terminal 3 stop. Ditto on the reverse if you get on at Terminal 3 bound for the City--you just remain on board during the brief stop at Terminal 2. Terminal 1 is not served by the Airport Express, but regularly scheduled commercial flights are no longer going there, so it probably won't be an issue for anyone. Shuttle buses (free) do connect between the various airport terminals. The trains are railway-style with upholstered seats. There are overhead shelves for smaller bags and some luggage rack areas. Everything is airconditioned. Timing: From Sanyuanqiao City Station (3rd Ring Road) to T3--14 minutes (high speed). From T3 to T2--10 minutes (low speed). From T2 back to Sanyuanqiao--14 minutes. Add an additional 4 minutes from Sanyuanqiao to Dongzhimen Terminus (3rd to 2nd ring roads, and vice versa). Station stops are only about 5 minutes, a bit longer at T3 due to volume of people getting on and off, and much less at return to City at Sanyuanqiao, as many get off but nobody gets on. The Dongzhimen terminus station is still a work in progress, and is a bit of a maze to navigate right now. Not sure how much better this is going to get in the next couple of weeks, but they are working on it. If you travel relatively lightly, rolling bag, carryon, maybe a laptop, etc. you should be fine taking the Airport Express. However, if you are the type that likes to travel with steamer trunk + large suitcase + 2 carryons + live poodle, I'd suggest the taxis. Airport Express is easy to find. Assuming you are coming into international arrivals area B, upon exiting baggage claim and customs, the large hall leading to the Airport Express concourse is immediately ahead of you. Taxis, Airport to City Shuttle Buses (RMB 16 to fixed destinations), and the interterminal free shuttle buses, are at level(s) below. Things are well-signed. Regular information booths and special Olympic information booths are also in the immediate arrivals area after you exit Customs and get through the waiting mob. There are piles of Olympic volunteers in official uniform manning stations at the Airport, and also at many of the major subway stations.
  25. The map shown on Sportsworlds' site shows an alternate and valid routing via Line 10 subway. If you are coming from Tiananmen, Qianmen, Xidan/Financial Street/West side, Chongwenmen, go my route via Line 1 subway. If you are coming from Olympic Green, Lido, Chaoyang Park areas, go Sportsworld's route.
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