I attended the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and lived to tell the tale. I’m not sure how I did it, but I managed to pull it off. I knew it would be a big party, but I never expected it to be THAT big. I escaped Beijing as a shadow of my former self, my liver no doubt hating me and in need of some serious nap time. Rather than go over the Games day by day (which would be impossible given that they all sort of blend into one) I’ve highlighted a few things that stand out about my Olympic experience. I loved every moment of it, but one thing is sure, I’m glad it’s over. I’ll need four years to recover before London 2012.
- Volunteers - The volunteers were unreal. I have never seen people be that friendly before in my life and it was great. They all seemed to be having a blast as well and it showed.
- Spectators – Chinese people attending the Games were super friendly too and it was easy to get them cheering for your team or to get them to cheer along with you for China. Wearing China gear to events was a hit and we’d often have to spend an hour leaving an event due to all the photos people wanted with us. They taught us songs, gave us presents, and left us both with a great impression of Chinese people. Fans from other countries were great too and we discovered early on that cheering with a group of fans sitting nearby is a fun way to get into a sport if Canada or Australia weren’t competing.
- Venues – All of the venues were great and except for the occasional long line for the toilet or food stalls, everything went smoothly. It was great to get to see inside the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube. Those were both highlights. The Olympic Green could have been a bit more green and a bit less concrete but overall it was a cool place to spend the day. The food at the venues was terrible with the only edible things being Snickers bars and Oreo cookies but fortunately the beer was cheap. Eating is cheating anyways.
- Venue seating – Seat numbers seemed to be optional and sneaking into the better seating sections was a piece of cake. Everyone seemed to sit wherever they wanted which meant forming massive cheerig sections of your country’s fans was easy and made the whole experience much more exciting.
- Events – My friend and I have been planning this trip for over a year and as a result had lots of tickets to lots of different sporting events. She wanted mainly swimming, I wanted more random things and it turned out well for me. We only got one swimming ticket and filled the rest of our time with things like weightlifting (very fun), handball (awesome sport), wrestling (made some friends from Khazakstan and scored a flag) and other sports that don’t really get publicity any other time of the year. Got to see Canada win gold at rowing too which was pretty cool.
- Parties – I had two friends in town who used to be my roommates in London and we did our best to live up to those crazy days. I nearly broke myself but it was worth it. The town was pumping every night and the atmosphere was equal parts friendly and rowdy which always makes for a great night out.
So the Olympics are over, I spent too much money, drank too much and remember very little but it was worth it. I’ve got a week in Bangkok with my friends and then they’ll all be heading back to reality in AustraliaÂ and I think I’ll be off to Burma for some low key travels for a month. I’ve really loved China and will miss it but am lookig forward to some blue skies and a bit of relaxation in Thailand.