I am in Beijing now. I am here to attend a meeting. Today is July 30, 2008, just 9 days before the Olympic Games. As we waited for this date for more than 7 years, and we are really going to see it with our own eyes. What does Beijing look like these days? How do I feel as a unprofessional reporter who happen to be in this city? Here is my report.
Over Impression – Bad
The Game has not started yet. I hope it will be better after August 8, 2008, and as I always hoped, the joy of the Games and the big economic boom after that will help Beijing and China a lot, but currently, what I felt is, bad.
The weather yesterday and today are still terrible. I am not talking about pollution since I don’t have any data – or to be more exact, I don’t have TRUSTED data. I am just talking about the weather itself. It is pretty foggy and visibility is very low. The sky is some kind of color between gray and brown – full of clouds. There is no blue sky at all. It is very humid and hot. Just now, heavy rain came and I hope this will help to drive the clouds and dirts away.
I was told the last week before I came was even terrible. People call it water-steam weather – it is just as being in the bath room and taking a bath.
How about the next few days? I don’t think anyone will report positively about this weather. To be fair, these are among the worst weather I saw in Beijing myself in the last few years. But it can be the first impression for many people, especially with the pre-caution of the bad pollution in Beijing. Anyway, weather is not such a big deal. Even it is reported 41% rain possibility at the opening ceremony, weather is just weather. To take it too seriously can be a problem.
Beijing implemented traffic control. Cars can use the road alternatively. Cars with even number plates can only run on the road on even days, and so do the odd number cars.
I had dinner with my friends, and they really complained about it. They mentioned the Olympic Special Lane, which is the inner lane in many roads.
A: “Have you tried to use that lane?”
B: “I hate anyone who are on that lane, and I will be very embarrassed even if I have a permission to use that lane”
The reason is, many roads were reduced from 3 lanes to two, or from two to one just because of the special lane for Olympic. Although cars are reduced in half, roads are also reduced.
Hmmm.. Just one of the opinions people in Beijing have for the Olympics, despite of unified support voices.
Many companies will be on vacation during the Olympic, and even for companies still work, there are not many thing to do. My friend at dinner who are in media industry told me they don’t need to report anything during this special time, and they have their personal vacations arranged in this time slot. One of them will fly to Europe, the other to Korea, and anther one I know will fly to Sri Lanka.
It sounds to me that it is very special time for many people. The excitement of Games have not arrived yet, but people’s life is completely taken up-side-down.
The two most visible thing in Beijing are 1) Banner of Olympic 2) Volunteers. There are volunteers everywhere with their unique blue T-shirt.
They are not on duty yet. I just find out they are hanging around on their way to the Olympic village, or just leaving. I didn’t try to go to that area, since it is a restricted area already.
Foreigners? Where are foreigners?
I didn’t see many – my impression is, I felt Beijing is more internationalized in my last few trips than this time.
It should because of the same reason – the game is not coming yet. Let’s be patient and wait.
However, hotels and rented apartment also show the same thing – they are still empty these days. I talked with a broker about the Olympic rental. They told me, the business is even worse than normal days. Many of them have closed office for vacation during the Olympic period since even normal business rental or residential rental were paused during the Olympic period but demand for Olympic Rental didn’t show up at all.
I talked with many people, including hotel servant, taxi driver, and my friend.
My over impression is, they feel depressed because of all the restrictions. They just feel the “interference” of the Game is beyond that line.
I just record what I see and hear during my one day short stay. I hope it can be of some value. I never thought I can be a complete or even objective observer of anything, but at least the small part of world I see from my own perspective can help to add more information to pain the “Elephant” .
I just hope Olympic is successful. I will be very happy to see all the cost people paid for the game can get a wonderful game.
I also hope we can see blue sky during the game.