Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mika's Top Ten Beijing

Most Impressive
I personally think one of the most important legacies to come out of the Beijing games will be the amazing buildings - just as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris or the Chrysler Building is to NY - they will most certainly become icons of the city. Anyone can spend a great deal of money on construction, but it's another thing to build something truly great. One only has to look at the Birds Nest, Water Cube and the CCTV building to see a whole new era of architecture.

Scariest Moment (kind of)
Tom and I had the good fortune of seeing several of the Olympic events, including weight lifting. As we were watching the big dudes with uni-brows, who believe it or not are able to lift over 500lbs, a beautiful Chinese teenager came and sat in the empty seat next to mine. She was only there for 5 or 10 minutes before leaving, and in the process left her purse behind. Tom, immediately went into conspiracy mode and decided that she had to be a terrorist, loudly speculating that at any moment her purse was going to blow. To make matters worse, we just happened to be in the midst of a large group of Iranians, who noticed Tom's demeanour and started freaking out. I tried to be the voice of reason, pointing out that anyone in a Hello Kitty t-shirt was an unlikely threat, and also sharing my observations of how trusting the locals seemed to be. Before I could calm everyone down, Tom grabs the purse, leaves the stands, positioning himself by a concrete wall (apparently to absorb the shock of the explosion). The young girl returned from the concession stand, perplexed as to why the strange Canadian dude was holding up her purse and giving her a lecture. I'm not sure she ever really understood what Tom was trying to tell her - you'd be surprised at how difficult it is to act out "please do not leave your purse unattended".

Strangest Moment
After taking this shot, Tom sat down at the local sidewalk bar to grab a quick beer. It was then a serious young Chinese man approached him, and voiced his concern about Tom taking this photo, pointing out that it might give the world the wrong impression of Beijing. Tom was never really able to figure out if he was an official Party member, but he did manage to convince him to stay and join him for a cold one. They parted the best of friends.

Pet Peeve
People who came to Beijing from North America, and whined incessantly about the locals inability to speak English and how tired they were of eating Chinese food. Towards the end of our stay in Beijing I had lost my patience with this attitude, explaining that we were in China, not Kansas. Is it just me, but shouldn't travel be a privilege?

Most Embarrassing
Okay, I'll be the first to admit that when we travel, we always come home with amazing photo's, Tom is a very talented photographer - which is great, unless you're stuck being his official model / camera assistant. You don't believe me? - ask Tex, Maggie and Tyler what it's like. The pugs take one look at the camera and hide under the bed. Usually in North America when I find myself doing something ridiculous for the sake of Tom's art, people just give me the 'look', the one that says "poor schmuck, better you than me". The problem is, in China, this kind of behavior attracts large crowds, who all laugh and also take photo's. Case in point, there are about 200 people standing behind Tom as he takes this photo. The things we do for love.

Best Idea
During the course of my work - I couldn't help but notice that one of the journalists I was talking to, had a very interesting photo on her identification badge - interesting as in 20 years younger and a hundred pounds lighter. I personally think it was a brilliant idea, and I am kicking myself for not thinking of it sooner. After all, most of the people I know think of themselves as they were in their heyday, not as they appear in the mirror.

Best Line
Tom was so into the Spirit of the Games, that he fully embraced every experience to the fullest. Which resulted in him saying "It's a signature event you know" for everything, i.e. soccer, watching the 100 and 200 sprints, weight lifting, synchronized swimming, etc.

My Personal Hero
My colleague Josie, who decided to take Chinese lessons a few months before we left. I admit, while I was trying to be supportive, I had my doubts. I mean how much can one possibly learn in such a short amount of time? Not only was she able to converse with the locals, but they went above and beyond for her, as they really appreciated the effort.

Most Motivated
Tom, who really did squeal with joy as he watched Usain Bolt run. In fact, Tom has now decided to start training for the World Masters, taking place in Sydney / 2009. Anyone care to join us?

Personal Highlight
The people. All of the wonderful, sweet locals - all of the people who came from around the world and set aside their differences in the spirit of the games, and the talented team that I am privileged to work with.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Quatchi scores Soccer Gold

Today, Quatchi went to the Olympic Gold Medal match for men's Soccer (football.... whatever....)
Quatchi with his new found friend (and SuperFan) Tito Diez of Columbia.

Quatchi proudly holding the Olympic Torch just outside of National Stadium (the Bird's Nest.)

Quatchi cheering for his favourite team (Argentina), as they take on the speedy Nigerian side.

The highlight of the game was watching new Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi lead his team to a 1-0 victoria over Nigeria.

Quatchi with a couple of buddies outside Beijing's National Stadium.

Quatchi strikes a pose with his Olympic volunteer friends inside National Stadium.
It was another great day in Beijing!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Quatchi meets the Chairman

Sadly, Quatchi, T and Mika's Olympic adventure in China is fast coming to an end - and although we all enjoyed our time in Beijing - we are ready to come home to Canada, and our beautiful little pugs Tex 'n Maggie.

Here's a few more photos from T and Quatchi's adventures in Beijing.

Our buddy Josie invited T and I to watch the gold medal 4 x 100 metre races / long-jump / pole-vault etc. at National Stadium, and of course we both jumped at the opportunity. Special thanks to Chris (Josie's tomatoe) for giving us his tickets to the event. Sadly, he had to fly home earlier that day. What a schmuck!

Back at the Bird's Nest, T and I were sitting in the stands, hours and hours before the start of the men's 4x100 metre gold medal race. We were both anticipating another world's record (and of course trying to catch a glimpse of our new man-crush Usain Bolt.) Josie and I asked T not to squeal out loud this time, as it's just not a manly-man thing to do.

Usain was running the third leg.

And running anchor, Asafa Powell - until recently the fastest man in the world. Wow....what a relay team the Jamaican's have. Basically, the two fastest men on the planet - passing the baton to each other.

As luck would have it, Usain Bolt was running right below us! What a great stride, eh? Beautiful !!! By the time Usain received the baton, T was already standing up, and squealing like a little girl (again).

Here's the finish. Asafa Powell crossing the tape in world record time. Do you see any other runners in the photo? Nope. It's amazing, the fastest sprinters on earth, running only 4x100 metres, and they are almost a full 10 metres behind the winning Jamaican team. Absolutely amazing! Winning time: 37.10 seconds. A full .30 seconds faster than the 15 year old existing record. Very, very fast indeed.

Tom told me that he will always remember the Beijing Olympic Games - being present to watch Usain Bolt break 2 of his three world records. I'm sure T and I will be sharing stories about this trip with our grandkids, many years from now.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quatchi and Mika at the 'Birds Nest'

Quatchi finally got to hang out for a few hours with T's buddy Mika.

Mika has been very, very busy meeting all sorts of important international media types in Beijing.

Here is a photo of Mika, sporting her brand new red purse.
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Quatchi meets Jingjing

Another big day for Quatchi!

Today, Quatchi had the opportunity to meet one of China's most popular celebrities, Jingjing!

Please note that Quatchi and T's matching hairstyle was totally unintentional this time.
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Quatchi in the Bird's Nest

Beijing, China. August 20th, 2008. Summer Olympic Games. National Stadium. Men's 200 metre finals, and Quatchi was there!

Here's Quatchi, literally jumping for joy with the anticipation of seeing his new 'man-crush' Usain Bolt race for the gold. Quatchi's buddy T was pretty excited too!

Quatchi inside Beijing's wonderful National Stadium, high-up in the nose-bleed section of the 'Bird's Nest'.

Oh my God! It's Usain, and he's doing his famous 'archer' pose. Turn around Usain, turn around! It's me, Quatchi !!!

Usain ran so fast, he was a blur. Quatchi's buddy T was screaming (squealing actually - like a little girl) at the top of his lungs!

Usain Bolt of Jamaica. Men's 200 metre Olympic Gold Medallist - Beijing. New World Record. 19.30 seconds. Very, very fast.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Forbidden City

Mika proudly sporting her new yellow purse in the Forbidden City

Reluctant muse

Tom wearing his new hat

The locals are beginning to have an Olympic hangover

Forbidden City

Mika in the Forbidden City

Must eat those veggies!

Forbidden Fruit

A five dude roof (Tom will explain)

Forbidden City

Future Olympian

Tom gets in touch with his inner Emperor

A Forbidden City Princess

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Man Hell

Beijing is a shopper's paradise. While here I've done my very best to support the local economy, buying pearls (pink, black and white), chunky turquoise necklaces, art, Buddhas, purses....... you get the idea.

Even though Tom and Chris (Josie's husband) have done a little shopping of their own (tailor made suits and shirts), they refer to the whole shopping experience as "Man Hell". Apparently their feelings about shopping with the wife are universal.

A few of our colleagues went to Beijing Ikea and reported that all of the display beds were filled with men - who were stretched out and sleeping while their wives were busy shopping. A few husbands even thought to bring eye shades and ear plugs.

Here are a few photo's of Panjiayuan market:

Buddha anyone?

He's got the whole world....

Beautiful local woman

He ain't heavy, he's my Buddha.