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Olympic Park and Shopping

Sunday took a day by ourselves to bat around town on the subway and bus systems. I was able to get a transport map at the Foreign Language Bookstore to figure out the bus system. The busses go many more places than the subway and only cost 13 cents per ride.

It was our first day with a polluted sky. An English-speaking man walking with us said the pollution was always there -- it just depended on the wind as to whether it hung over the city. Yesterday there was no wind.

At breakfast we met the Jackson Fei family (first photo). They were a really nice bunch. Jackson works out of Shanghai for a company that does quality control for computers. He knew English rather well and was having his kids eat with knives and forks rather than chopsticks. They were touring Beijing for the first time and were headed to Italy afterwards. I told him I worked with "Ban Li", but he didn't know what I was talking about, even though he's originally from Hubei Province, where Dr. Hongwen Huang works.

Then on the way to the subway we walked through a park that someone told us was only five years old. They tore down some buildings to put it in as part of the general clean-up fix-up they did before the Olympics. The subway we rode out to Olympic Park was also only two years old. You can see the polluted sky surrounding the "Birds Nest" Stadium. Everything was closed this week between the end of the Paralympics and the start of the tours of the Olympic sites, which begin the day I leave (Sept. 29). The swimming "Cube" was not very impressive during the daytime but must be very pretty at night.

Back in the center of town we walked past St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Cathedral, a relic of the colonial past. I was originally built in the late 1600's, probably by Jesuit missionaries, and was destroyed a couple of times, the last during the Boxer Rebellion. The current building dates from 1908.

The shopping centers are very bright and new. They would fit very well in downtown USA. Just two things are different -- the toilets are still the hole-in-the-floor type, with nothing to hold on to, either, and when you purchase something, the clerk fills out a paper form in triplicate using carbon paper (remember carbon paper????) and you have to take it to a cashier, pay your money, and then bring back one copy of the form to the clerk to pick up your item. Sam Walton would not approve at all.

And speaking of Sam Walton, you'll notice the "WuMart" sign! It's one of many Chinese rip-offs of American companies.

We ate at a restaurant recommended as a good bargain, famous for its northern Chinese-style dumplings. We ordered too many, however. The minimum order was 20 dumplings of any one type, and we wanted to try a variety. We wound up with far more than we could eat, but it only cost us $13 total, including the two cokes. We took the left-overs back to our hotel staff.
Dumpling_feast.jpg
Dumpling_feast.jpg
Jackson_Fei_family_96dpi.jpg
Jackson_Fei_family_96dpi.jpg
New_Park.jpg
New_Park.jpg
Olympic_Park _birdsnest.jpg
Olympic_Park _birdsnest.jpg
Olympic_Park_kid.jpg
Olympic_Park_kid.jpg
Olympic_Park_planting.jpg
Olympic_Park_planting.jpg
St_Josephs_Cathedral.jpg
St_Josephs_Cathedral.jpg
WuMart_sign.jpg
WuMart_sign.jpg