Aug 2, 2008

Today's Beijing Adventure: The Olympic Venues

Saturday morning, with the sun shining (and the temperature starting to climb), we decide to go have a look-see around the Olympic Park. Actually it was a toss-up between that and a phatty phat hotel brunch, and believe it or not we opted for the Olympic park adventure.

Mik had been perusing a map of the area, and Forest Park, the "green lung" that stretches out north of the Water Cube and Bird's Nest, looked like an appealing Saturday morning destination.

We took the brand-spanking new #10 line up to Beitucheng (the transfer station for the #8 "Olympic" line), where after discussion with no less than 5 blue-shirted English-speaking Olympic volunteers, we were told that we couldn't take the #8 line without a pass. Actually, that's an extremely abridged version of the conversation that took place, which was more like:

Volunteer #1: Hellogoodmorning! May I see your pass?
Mik: We don't have a pass.
Volunteer #1: Sorry, you need a pass to ride Line #8.
Mik: Well, we just want to go to the Forest Park.
Volunteer #1 (whispering to Volunteer #2, in Chinese): Can they go to the park?
Volunteer #3 (swooping in out of nowhere, still in Chinese): No, no, no, no, not possible.
Volunteer #4 (in English, trying to be helpful): You could take a bus.
Mik: Oh, great - where does the bus leave from?
Volunteer #4: Uh... (pointing and spinning around at the same time, obviously not sure of where the bus leaves from)
Mik (a little suspicious): So we can take the bus all the way to the park, right?
Volunteer #5: Oh no, it's not possible to go to the park today. But you can take the bus.

Hm. We started walking. Later we spotted an enormous sign for the "Olympic Help Line," which we called, as an experiment, to see if they could provide an answer to our question.

Help Line: Olympic Help Line, howcanIhelpyou?
Mik: Hello. Can you tell me the best way to go to Forest Park?
Help Line (a real person, not a recording): We have no information about that.
Mik: Well, it's the park near the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube. Can we enter the park today?
Help Line: We have no information on that.

Uuuuuh. Olympic tourists, good luck to ya!

More pictures here.