The Bird’s Nest (and Beyond)

(Here’s another post I’m moving from my old site to this one. I’m off to the Coromandel, to see the Cathedral Cove, tomorrow. I hope to be able to write about this trip as well as the rest of the trips I have taken in the past – I’ve got a massive backlog already. I still need to write about Nelson, and Raglan and the other places I’ve been to)

Beijing’s Olympic Stadium

Last year, thanks to Air New Zealand’s Grab-a-Seat, I was able to get a really really cheap round trip airplane ticket (read: NZ$508.00 all in) to Beijing, China. So on the Friday before NZ’s Labour Day, I left Middle Earth to visit the land of the Imperial Dynasties.

The Tuesday after I arrived (and the day after I walked the Great Wall in Jinshanling and Simatai – worthy of another entry), with the insistence of my backpacker roommates, I braved the horrific Beijing traffic and pedalled my way northwards to the famed Olympic City. A visit to the Olympic City is a MUST considering the Great Games just finished a mere 3 months earlier. Better to visit the site before all the excitement, euphoria and the novelty wears off.

The Bird’s Nest, Different Angles

As expected, the site close to the Birds Nest was absolutely TEEMING with people! There were lots of tourist groups (you can recognise them a mile away because they all had the same cap or vest on, and they always had a leader who was waving some sort of flag or banner) and vendors and, of course, security personnel. The Stadium was a magnificient piece of architecture. Because of it’s unusual shape, every angle is just different from the next. I think I injured my trigger finger on that day – just taking pictures from … everywhere!

Inside the Stadium

Entrance to the Olympic Stadium was only Yuan 50. After the routine security check, Mr. Lonely Planet (I forgot to mention, I toured the Bird’s Nest with one of my roommates who was always referring to his Lonely Planet guide, thus the name) entered the Birds Nest and wandered around. The whole centre area was open to the public and I believe all the props they used during the opening and closing ceremonies were out on display.

Various Props and Costumes

The full tour didn’t take long because there really wasn’t much to see apart from the costumes, the props, the blow-up mascots and the cuddly stuffed mascots. We just took heaps of photos and Mr. Lonely Planet spent quite some time at the gift shoppe. Afterwards, we pedalled our way back to the hostel.

The following day, I had a sore bum.

Anyway, the morning of the day I was scheduled to leave China for the less crowded environs of New Zealand, I decided to pay the Bird’s Nest one final visit. So I went, on foot this time (so no sore bum afterwards, just sore feet) and since I didn’t have two guys (I forgot to mention, Mr. German PhD was with me too, also one of my roommates) arguing about where to go next and what-have-you, I was able to plan my trip to my liking.

Wire Mesh Ladies in fashionable Olympic Coloured Dresses

I took the train to the Olympic City and got off the very last platform – not the one that would lead me directly to the Olympic Stadium. I wanted to see what wasy BEYOND the Bird’s Nest and, when I got off the platform, I was pleasantly surprised that there were other more interesting things to see there. There were sculptures, statues, traditional and modern buildings, walkways, arches, eye-catching gates and entrances – there were just heaps of things to appreciate. Some of these are pictured below:

Beyond the Bird’s Nest

But what I appreciated the most was the Museum of Olympic History. It’s a small building just before the Bird’s Nest Block and inside were loads of information on the … well … history of the Beijing Olympics. There were a lot of scaled miniature models of every buidling within the Olympic City Complex and accompanying each model were sketches, schematic diagrams, and interesting information on the construction process, design process, cross sections, and environmental / sustainability features present in that building (among others). I suppose it would be safe to say that that building held the heart and soul of the entire complex, yet it was hardly noticed by the tourists. Everyone was so busy oggling at the Bird’s Nest.

The Museum of Olympic History

Cross Section of the Watercube (Aquatic Centre)

Oh, and by the way, entrance to this treasure trove of information is free. Tsk!

So … after that little excursion, I had no other choice but to walk towards the nearest subway station (to the consternation of my already sore feet). I walked passed the Bird’s Nest again and tried to take another “reflection picture” similar to the one on top, but it was a wee bit too windy so the water had ripples – not good for reflections.

And, remember the comments about the smog in Beijing? Unfortunately, it’s true. The first day I was there, it was quite fine but on my 2nd trip, the whole area was just shrouded by a big brown cloud. It was nearly impossible to take a decent wide angle picture because the ‘smog’ just made everything look hazy.

Tagging this for: Weekend Snapshot and Ruby Tuesday.

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