Thursday, August 07, 2008

Excitement as Olympic ceremony nears

Not to everybody's taste - an NBC presenter tries silk-worm grubs

It has been a long journey for China, but the day has finally arrived when the country will launch the opening ceremony to the Olympic Games. The auspicious date of 08.08.08 will see an extravaganza of fireworks and events across the city of Beijing. There is however a muted sense of excitement. Taxi drivers are disgruntled by the lack of business as many migrant workers have returned home and the numbers of tourists are not as high as expected. Even hotels have been forced to lower their rates in order to attract last minute customers.
Nonetheless in the Wangfujing area of Beijing, near to Tiananmen Square, there has been a steady flow of foreigners soaking up the atmosphere. Giant TV screens have been displaying sporting events and stalls are making a killing in selling ‘I Love China’ T-shirts. Stalls in the area have been selling the unusual fare of silk-worm grubs and other snacks to passers-by but the usual sight of scorpions and locusts are off the menu this year! An NBC TV crew filming a piece about such street food attracted an inquisitive crowd on Thursday evening and one passer-by shouted in Chinese; “NBC, don’t make negative reports about China”. Of course this was not understood by the American TV crew which continued on its journey around the stalls filming the bizarre foods for sale.
Besides claims by the China Daily that the ‘haze in Beijing did not amount to poor air quality’ many taxi drivers have expressed their opinion that the ‘fog’ hanging over the city for the last few days was indeed pollution. Some have also said they miss the blue skies seen in recent weeks. And the heavy ‘smog’ and humid conditions have been almost unbearable at times. Temperatures have hit the mid 30s and the air is very difficult to breath at times. But it hasn’t dampened the spirit for both the Chinese nor the foreign visitors who have begun to poor into the city in the last week. At bars in the Quanhai Lake area of Beijing hundreds of foreigners can be seen relaxing in the evening with a cold TsingTao beer listening to the live entertainment. But on Friday night the climax of all the preparations finally arrives and whatever the weather, some predict rain, there will be little to spoil the mood for the extravaganza that is expected.
[tvnewswatch in Beijing, China]

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