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Beijing: Olympic Park (Post #8)

I’m guilty. Four years ago, as the 2008 Olympics opening ceremonies took the world by surprise, I was holed up in my own nest playing World of Warcraft. The rest of the family sat in the living room watching the magnificent firework display above the Bird’s Nest, the drumming and countdown of the games within the stadium, the baton pass and the lighting of the fireworks. In the meantime, I was staring at pixelated characters draw their swords, shoot their wands, fire bolts out of crossbows, and other meaningless shenanigans.

Speeding back towards present day, I had to somehow redeem myself. There’s no way I would be able to see the performance live, but the next best thing is to visit where the games were hosted. On Monday, June 25th, I went to Olympic Park with Kaitlyn, John, and Tara.

Upon exiting the subway stop labeled Olympic Park (how original), we entered a gigantic walkway. After walking a couple blocks, we reached the entrance of the park. I marveled at how wide the park was. Even with the enormous amounts of tourists walking around, the openness made the park seem half deserted.

The entrance of the park.

The Bird’s Nest was our first stop. We bought tickets at a student rate of 25¥ (regular 50¥). Seeing the architecture of the stadium from the outside was amazing. Recall that I had never watched the opening ceremonies, so the stadium didn’t have a lasting impact on me. Imagine what was going through my mind: daaaaamn!

Daaaaaaaaaamn. Again. Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn!

As we walked in, the inner stadium slowly came into view. The last row seats appeared before me and, low and behold, I was inside the Bird’s Nest!

The view from the back seat of the lower deck.

There was a particular aura about the stadium that drew us in. We sat in silence for a good 20 minutes, staring into the stadium. I moved to the very first row seat, which I’m sure costed a fortune to sit there four years earlier. Knowing that the very best athletes from all over the world once competed before my eyes was something else.

Knowing that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, we transcended to the upper deck after climbing numerous flights of stairs. We reached the very top deck and sat for half an hour, once again absorbing what was before our eyes.

Our view from the upper deck.

As we descended back to ground zero, we looked at the Olympic Park tower from within the Bird’s Nest.

If it wasn’t for the air pollution, the colors of the five rings could be seen much more clearly.

We then visited the Olympic Cauldron, which was atop the Bird’s Nest for the opening ceremonies.

This was the final torch that the man flying in mid-air lit up.

Of course, we had to look at the wall dedicated towards the medalists. We had to pay our dues to Phelps.

Oh Phelps, just one of many golds. No big deal.

We tried entering the Water Cube afterward, but it was closed.

I went home later that day and viewed the entire opening ceremony on the internet. As regretful as I am not to have viewed it live, I’m glad to have redeemed myself through coming here and seeing everything with my very own eyes.

Next post: Tiananmen Square.

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