Sorry this blog post is so late. You cannot access a number of websites in China, including Blogspot. I had to connect to our computer at home (through a sketchy Internet connection) and log in from there.
Anyway, our flight was delayed by about 4 hours, so we didn't leave until late. A 12 hour plane ride and 12 time zones later (we went over the North Pole!!!) and we end up in China late on the 2nd. Where did that day go?
On the third, I went for an easy run, just to shake out the legs. I ended up passing the other Team Canada hotel, and found my way to the race site. It was breathtaking, seeing it in person, bringing memories of cheering Simon Whitfield on the way to his silver medal at the 2008 Olympics at the very same place. It really dawned on me that it was on. This is for real.
We also went a bit around town. We just traveled half way around the world and where do they send us for food? Walmart.
The exchange rate is quite good: 6 RMB (Chinese yuan) is about $1. We ended up taking the bus about 40 miles downtown for about 16 cents a person. Most other things are pretty cheap as well.
The staff at the hotel have been great, doing their best to cater to our needs. They have been really trying to help us feel comfortable. Although their English isn't the best, it's still far better than my Mandarin. The food at the hotel is great, too. They watch us eat, and keep track of what we do and do not like. The portions are small, so I have been eating every bit of what they serve us, whether I like it or not. Dinner was a
5-course meal, for about $20. I'm excited about trying new things and dishes, like traditional Chinese food over the next few days.
My brother woke me up before 5 o'clock this morning, again. He's not quite on Beijing time, yet. After waking up a bit, I realized today was my birthday (although it was still the 3rd in Canada). We hooked up with a couple of other triathlete competing and went on quite an adventure, involving 2 buses, 3 cabs, and a whole lot of fun. We went to the Olympic Stadium and saw the Bird's Nest ans Water Cube. They are renting Segways for $25 to ride them around the track for 20 minutes. My brother had a go at it, fell, and broke one! The Water Cube is quite different than three years ago. On one side, there is a massive indoor water park, complete with water slides, pouring buckets, and a wave pool. On the other side, there was an 3D convention. They had 3D TV's all over the place from a variety of different companies, and were playing a 3D movie on a giant screen. It was in such high-definition that it put our theaters to shame. We also wandered around the Forbidden City and Tienanmen Square, before getting lost and eventually making it back to the hotel. It is amazing the history of the places we went to. The Forbidden City was built in the 1400's and the detail and intricacy that remains in the architecture is simply astounding. It definitely made the long trip worth it. What better way to spend my birthday!
We also had a fun time playing ping pong (table tennis). I'm not bad, and my Dad is pretty good, too, but you should see the locals! They have such fluidity and grace as they casually put spins in the ball making it unpredictable and hard to return. I was awed with their skill.
A number of other triathletes arrived today, but the majority of then will be here over the next few days. I'm sorry there are no pictures yet (I took hundreds; they will get on Facebook when I return) but will add a few if I can. I'm off to bed because I have an early training ride tomorrow with a few members of the team, looking to check out the course.