Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beijing National Stadium Dreams Come True

Beijing Olympic Stadium, PRCDreams come true!

For many Beijingers and visitors to Beijing there was a chance to make an Olympic dream come true this last weekend. The National Stadium (Bird’s Nest) was open to the public for the first time as it hosted the 2008 BBMG IAAF Race Walking Challenge.

Many of us in Beijing have watched the stadium grow from hutongs and corn fields to the magnificent, awe-inspiring, first class sporting venue we see today. For years we have seen workers risk their lives as work continued 24 hours a day to build this awesome structure. Finally the time came when we were able to stop watching this incredible ‘Bird’s Nest’ evolve ready for its ‘residents’ and we could enjoy ‘nestling’ in the ‘Nest’!

Sitting in the stadium it is hard to believe that such a gigantic structure can feel so warm and intimate. As you sit and gaze down at the track you feel as if you are truly close to the action. The designers have to be congratulated on their efforts to allow the audience such close proximity to competitors and performers. The views of what ever events go on are surprisingly close and clear. Feelings of warmth come about through the use of traditional Chinese red colouring of the walls that envelope and line the stadium.

Beijing Olympic StadiumLooking upward spectators have uninterrupted views through the open oval shaped roof to the blue skies aloft. The dynamics of the National Stadium don’t stop here! Continuing to turn the eye around this marvelous venue highlights the incredible genius of people’s ability to dream, design and build. There is an almost unending variety of shapes to enjoy when examining the gigantic steel girders that envelope and support this spectacular structure.

Dragging the mind and eyes away from dreams aloft and looking around the interior of the stadium allows people to enjoy the facilities available to those lucky enough to enter China’s National Stadium. The stadium is user friendly with the way entrances and seating are clearly labeled for people to find their seats. Regular aisles ensure spectators already seated enjoying events are not overly interrupted as others come and go from their seats. Food and drink outlets are nearby to any one seating area. Bathroom facilities are many, spacious and clean. A surprise awaits those who enter the bathrooms as they find themselves in what feels like something deep inside, a well lit, underground cave. The rough black lining on the walls, the shiny black floors and the painted black ceilings can’t help but remind those using the bathroom of the coal mine origins of many workers who toiled for hours to build this fantastic sports facility.

Exiting the stadium itself offers an opportunity to see the surrounds of the Olympic Park framed by a huge variety of shapes made up by the enormous steel girders of this astounding iconic sports facility. Photo opportunities abound!

Visiting China’s National Stadium is truly a memorable experience of a dream come true!

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Safe Olympics: Beijing

watchful-eyeSafe Olympics

Beijing's Olympic Stadium is guarded tightly. Two soldiers patrol the grounds of the still under construction national stadium.

Whether it is the human eye or the eye of cameras both hidden and not so hidden, there will be tight security surrounding this year’s Olympic events in Beijing.

Books on China and Beijing

Monday, April 28, 2008

China World's Biggest Internet User

China has claimed top spot from the USA as the world's biggest internet user and is set to soar far away in to the distance over the coming years.

An estimated 221 million Chinese people were online in February 2008, a 61% rise from 137 million users at the beginning of 2007.

However only 16 per cent of the country’s 1.3 billion are online, according to the Times of London report, compared with a global average of 19%.

China's internet users are predicted to grow at an average of 18% per year.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dashanzi 798 Colossal Breasts

798 Art Zone in the Chaoyang District of north east of Beijing has some surprising art works, non least than these colossal breasts.

Dashanzi 798

Image © Daniel Allen

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bloomin’ Beautiful Beijing

While many of us living in Beijing probably don't need much reminder that the weather is finally warming and it is the most amazing time of the year to see the miracles of spring, those readers visiting Beijing might not be aware of the awesome displays awaiting discovery in Beijing's parks. A visit to the parks at this time of year is an incredibly rewarding experience.

Beijing tulips

Not only will you see picture perfect row upon row of brilliantly coloured tulips, beds bursting with dazzling daffodils or trellises trembling under the load of pendulant bunches of wisteria, but you will get to mix with happy and friendly locals as they too enjoy the spectacle.

Many will greet visitors or even practice their English with you given an opportunity. If you happen to visit Jingshan Park on a Sunday morning there is the extra special treat of free entertainment from hundreds of locals exercising their vocal chords as they sing their favourite tunes in unison or play various musical instruments around the gardens. Such beauty from nature and free entertainment from musicians can quickly wile away hours of your time.

Wisteria in Beijing

Each park has a mixture of blooms on display April to May, however each has its own specialties.

Jingshan Park – Peonies

Zhongshan Park – Tulips

Yuyuantan Park – Cherry blossoms

Botanical Gardens – Peach blossoms

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Beijing Olympic Fever Continues to Build

Learning to queueOlympic Fever continues to build

With the recent synchronized swimming events in the Water Cube and the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in the National Stadium demand for tickets has reached even higher levels than before at many of Beijing’s international sporting events.

A chance to experience world class sporting venues newly opened to the public, along with the opportunity to enjoy world sport competitions is bringing thousands of people out to buy tickets. Gone are the days of entering a mad scramble or scrum to reach a ticketing window! Now all who are interested in buying tickets for events can relax in queues and know that their turn will come to buy a ticket, if they haven’t sold out. Sadly this writer was not able to purchase synchronized swimming tickets for the Water Cube as the demand was high and tickets sold out after only one hour of queuing. However, the attraction of the entering the freshly opened National Stadium (Bird’s Nest) was well worth queuing for tickets to the Race Walking Challenge!

Yesterday’s Race Walking event meant thousands of people were winners judging by their smiling faces. Looks of awe and camera clicking were abundantly evident in and around the ever popular and stunningly fascinating National Stadium with its incredible steel structure of seemingly endless grey shapes, backed by the contrasting red inner lining of the stadium.


expats-queue-beijingHotels in Beijing

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

5th Annual That’s Beijing Reader Restaurant Awards 2008

Awards-15th Annual That’s Beijing Reader Restaurant Awards 2008

Having only been open four months, SALT’s Best Restaurant (non-Chinese) win at this year’s That’s Beijing Reader Restaurant Awards was all the more sweet for owner Gabby Alves and head chef Daniel Urdaneta. The team have managed to develop the restaurant, situated in an area beyond the 4th Ring Road, into a now widely known name that not only picked up best restaurant award but also bagged Best Service and Best Contemporary Cuisine.

The 5th annual awards were held at CJW, The Place and saw many big names from Beijing’s Restaurant scene in attendance. Those attending included die-hard restaurant goers and professionals from the industry such as Cho Chong Gee of Bed Bar and the team at Alameda, last year’s successful winners of the Best Restaurant award. Between the presentation of awards guests sipped San Pellegrino, Jebsen fine wines and Stella Artois beer in the stylish surroundings.

Hosted by Michael Wester of True Run media and the managing editor of That’s Beijing, Oliver Robinson. The awards were in 26 Categories for which 145 restaurants were nominated by an eclectic mix of unaffiliated chefs, restaurant folk and everyday diners. Voting was conducted online through the That’s Beijing website.

Awards-4These awards are unusual because winners are chosen by normal restaurant goers and not by food critics or writers. According to Michael Wester, Beijing’s ex pats eat out almost every night of the month and have a real interest in knowing where the best places to grab a bit are. Daniel Urdaneta head chef at Salt, believes these awards are very important because they give an indication of how popular the restaurant is in the eyes of its patrons. For SALT, who picked up the Best Restaurant and Best Service award, they are obviously having no trouble making an impression.

For Gabby Alves, owner of SALT, this win was particularly gratifying, having sold her share in Alameda earlier this year, Gabby was delighted to have brought her great skills to fruition at SALT. After a prestigious career in the hospitality industry that has taken her to South America and Europe, Gabby has found her way to Beijing where she has proven with Alameda and now SALT, that she is here to make a real impact on the relatively new contemporary cuisine scene.

SALT’s menu is of contemporary European style and the restaurant provides a minimalist atmosphere centred around the open kitchen, allowing patrons to feel like they are right in amongst the action.

When asked where SALT’s success lay, Chef Urdaneta maintains, with a hint of modesty, that the secret is hard work. Known to have worked through the night at SALT in the early days, he has certainly put long hours into developing his staff and kitchen to a high standard. The Venezuelan born Urdaneta, works with a staff of

Chinese sous chefs who were unfamiliar with the contemporary cuisine at SALT until taught by their head chef. Urdaneta compares this to teaching a science where chemistry, physics and soul are all involved and his dedicated staff have certainly made a success of their education.

Now the bar has been set high for SALT and, as owner and head chef acknowledge, the real hard work begins to keep SALT at the top of its game.

Winners

Best Beijing Duck
Da Dong

Best Contemporary CuisineSALT

Best JapaneseHatsune

Best FrenchLe Pre Lenotre, Sofitel Wanda

Best TaiwaneseBellagio

Best BrunchGrandma’s Kitchen

Best SichuanSouth Beauty

Best PizzaThe Tree

Best CantoneseCrystal Jade Palace

Best Business LunchAlameda

Best VegetarianPure Lotus

Best Indian
Taj Pavilion

Best Steak
Morel’s

Best Place for a Romantic Dinner
The Courtyard

Best Service
SALT

Best Value
Annie’s

South East Asian
Purple Haze

Best Restaurant of the Year (Chinese)
Da Dong

Best Restaurant of the Year (non-Chinese)
SALT

Sponsored By

Jebsen Fine Wines
Beijing Devils
Pantry Magic
Renewal Spa Club
San Pellegrino
Stella Artois

All winners received a $500 Voucher from Pantry Magic

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Keeping Fit in Beijing

Beijing GuardsKeeping Fit

As part of their regular routine guards around all of Beijing’s government and non-government institutions, parks and shopping venues have to maintain some degree of fitness.

With the weather improving it is far easier for them to train and enjoy comradeship as they keep fit together.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Beijing Restaurant Review: SALT

SALT, BeijingMediterranean Style Restaurant: SALT

SALT is the restaurant to indulge yourself if you enjoy Mediterranean style food. Open only for about 4 months above Frank’s Place this classy restaurant with minimalist, contemporary décor provides attentive service with food to delight!

Advising customers and keeping an eye on standards throughout the restaurant you will notice the owner and manager, Gaby Alves, moving about assisting people with their orders, advising staff and maintaining a cheerful ambience. Gaby is eager to maintain high standards and ensure diners have a great night out enjoying superb food accompanied by outstanding wines.

There is a positive feel to SALT with diners generating a real buzz and the restaurant usually either full or close to capacity.

An open kitchen adds a spectacular dash of colour and excitement to the dining experience. Food from this kitchen will surely surprise and delight those who choose to eat here.

SALT2nd Floor, Trio Building,
Jiangtai Xi Lu, (West of the Rosedale Hotel in the Lido area)
Telephone: 6437 8457
www.saltrestaurantbeijing.com
Lunch: Tue – Sat 12-3pm
Dinner: Tue – Sat 6-10.30pm
Sunday brunch: 12-4pm 200 – 299RMB

Dinner prices:

168RMB per person for 2 courses
180RMB per person for 3 courses

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Gobi Desert Inner Mongolia

沙漠

The Gobi Desert (also spelt Kobqi) is a 1500m long desert in northern China and southern Mongolia. The Gobi is Asia's largest desert and because of its northern latitude and average altitude of 900 meters above sea level is classified as a "cold" desert, with temperatures dropping well below freezing in winter. The desert is marked by extremes in diurnal temperature.

Gobi Desert

The Gobi desert is expanding due to desertification caused by human activity in the area and the Gobi is now a major source of dust storms which can cover Beijing at this time of year and spread as far as Korea and Japan.

Gobi Desert Inner Mongolia

The Gobi desert is an area of immense ecological interest and among the animals living in the desert are wolves, the wild Bacterian (two-humped) camel (which survives on snow in the winter), the Snow Leopard and a small number of Gobi bears - the only bears known to survive in a desert environment and extremely endangered with a population of only around 50 individuals.

Gobi Desert Inner Mongolia

Images © Daniel Allen

The area defined as the Gobi Desert is actually made up of arid semi-desert and desert steppe. Visitors to the area usually base themselves in the town of Hohhot, the capital of the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Beijing Restaurant Review: In and Out

in out Yunnan restaurant一座一忘

Located between Jenny Lou and April Gourmet grocery stores on Beixiao Street this contemporary Lijiang themed restaurant offers an authentic and unique eating option among many of Beijing’s restaurants. The contemporary and spacious design of this third floor restaurant features newspaper lined ceilings and polished concrete floors. Tables along the windows overlooking the quiet street of In & Out are mostly separated from one another by potted palms which offer a more intimate dining option in this mostly open plan restaurant.

Unlike many restaurants in Beijing the tables are generously spaced, thus allowing diners to enjoy conversation around their own table, rather than those of the neighbouring tables. Furnishings are somewhat rustic with solid wooden tables and chairs. Many of the chairs actually take the form of long benches. Such a design helps one understand the function of this fascinating restaurant named In & Out. You come in, eat and leave as comfort is not a feature of this rustic furniture.

Patrons can enjoy looking out into the treetops as they make choices from an extensive menu of Yunan food specifically from the beautiful city of Lijiang. The menu includes offerings from the more unusual choice of Fried bamboo worms and bee pupas to the more common choice of roasted eggplant. While some western clientele may pale at the choices available, the more adventurous among us can be surprised by the delicious taste of Lijiang cuisine’s exotic choices. Other dishes available include:

Crisp love pea with pu’er tea
Lijiang black jelly
Limed tender sugarcanes
Curried vegetables and fruit
Papaya shreds salad
Naxi grandma fried potato chops
Sauteed asparagus
Fried potato cake Yunan style
Plant meat old Kunming style (tofu)
Curry beef with lemon leaves
Sauteed quince with beef or pork Yunan flavour
Naxi lily
Braised cake chicken with lemon grass
Stir fried chicken shreds
Chicken wings roasted with lemon grass
Grilled mushroom, Roast tilapia (fish)
Rice with pineapple Dai nationality style

Purple rice cake to name some from the huge range of main course dishes, not to mention unique and interesting desserts like Black rice cake. All of this can be washed down with thirst quenching, very quaffable Dali beer 10% alcohol or the lighter spicier Snow Beer 9% alcohol. Drivers may wish to pass on those beverages with Beijing’s law enforcement officers breath-testing thousands of drivers every day in the lead up to the Olympic Games in order to catch those with alcohol levels above zero! Other drinks a little different from the ‘run of the mill choices’ include Sake, wines and a range of high class teas.

Worth mentioning are the rather clean spacious and airy bathroom facilities. Such luxuries can be harder to locate in some of Beijing’s restaurants. Digital mirrors and their advertising have also found their way into this contemporary restaurant.

in out yunnan, Beijing restaurantPrices were more than reasonable. Four of us enjoyed our leisurely two hour visit for the grand total of 270RMB including food and beverage costs. Presently City Weekend is running its Gourmet Month and have teamed up with In & Out to offer a Gourmet Month Special Menu for 99RMB per person. This set menu promotion includes one entrée, three main course dishes, rice and a choice of a Yunan beer or a Yunan juice.

While not this writer’s choice of food there are enough interesting dishes on the menu to make one not hesitate about enjoying another visit or two to In & Out. The staff were friendly but struggled with both my Chinese and English, so the bilingual menu was a great asset! Clientele were mostly younger people or young families. Having featured in some of Beijng’s expat magazines this buzzing restaurant is definitely one that requires bookings unless you wish to join the queue of both local people and foreigners that streams down the stairs each night.

Tel: 845400866 or 64675235

Address:
#1 Beixiao Street, Sanlitun area northeast corner of Germany Embassy) 三里屯北小街1号

Subway:
Line 10 Nongzhanguan
Line 2 Dongzhimen

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Beijing Olympic Traffic Restrictions

Beijing Olympic Traffic Restrictions

Authorities in Beijing plan to introduce a range of traffic restrictions, including car bans, before the athletes start arriving in the athletes’ village during July 2008. The restrictions will ease traffic jams and improve air quality in the city. Last August when the restrictions were given a trial run the city enjoyed a number of consecutive blue sky days.

Vehicles will be banned on alternate days according to odd and even numbers. In effect the ban is likely to start around the 17th July and end after the Paralympic Games. Government vehicles will also be restricted during the same time.

Beijing plans to assist Olympic participants by introducing special traffic lanes leading to venues. Extra subway trains are being added to the subway system and new buses will be added to the public transport system. Public transport hours will also be increased to improve accessibility around the city.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Beijing Building Sites To Close Pre-Olympics

From July 20th Beijing's building sites will fall silent three weeks before the start of the Olympic Games in August in an effort to clear Beijing's skies before the big event kicks off.

Concrete mixers will grid to a halt, outdoor paint-spraying will be banned, along with any digging.

Cement manufacturers and concrete mixing facilities in and around Beijing have also been told to cease operations from July 20th.

A ban on vehicles according to their registration numbers is also expected to come in to force.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Workers Indoor Arena Beijing

The 13,000 capacity Workers Indoor Arena (Beijing Workers' Gymnasium) will stage the 2008 Olympic boxing event and the judo tournament at the 20008 Paralympics.

Workers Indoor Arena, Beijing

The arena was completely renovated for the 2008 Olympics with the installation of barrier-free facilities for wheel-chair access. Also upgraged were the venue's acoustics, electrical, lighting, seating and ventilation systems. A VIP area was added and the press box expanded.

Workers Indoor Arena, Beijing

The arena is located just to the north west of Workers Stadium.

Completed in 1961 the arena staged the World Table Tennis Championships of that year.

Workers Indoor Arena
Gongti Road
Chaoyang District
Beijing

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Season’s Place Shopping Centre Beijing

Seasons Place BeijingSeason’s Place Shopping Centre, Beijing

Beijing visitors staying in the Ritz Carlton or Westin Hotels are in a perfect location to shop at this heavily promoted shopping centre recently opened in Beijing. These hotels are set either end of a central park area with the Westin Hotel to the west and the Ritz Carlton Hotel to the East. Season’s Place occupies the southern side of the park area while a range of coffee shops and restaurants line the northern side of the park, now being referred to by some as Bar Street.

Anyone needing a break from typical crowded, noisy, bustling Beijing shopping experiences will find themselves rewarded here at Season’s Place. If shopping in crowded shopping centres or squeezy markets is not your idea of an enjoyable shopping experience then try shopping at the new Season’s Place shopping centre.

Shopping at Season’s Place at the end of March and into April 2008 provides shoppers with open expanses of smooth white marble floors in a brightly lit shopping plaza where the sun streams in from the completely glass covered building. Consisting of 4 main shopping levels you may even begin to feel lonely in this immaculate new centre if you shop during day time hours. Shopping after normal working hours will give you a slightly improved chance of finding other shoppers enjoying this new shopping environment.

All of the usual brand name shops are available, along with many very high end labels from both Europe and America like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Gucci, Vesace, Salvatore Ferragamo and Lane Crawford. If you enjoy high end label shopping visit the 1st floor. The basement, 2nd and 3rd floors offer some of the more affordable shopping in stores selling Calvin Klein, Anne Klein, Ports Men, Marc by Marc Jacobs, y-3, I.T, Lilyrose, Only, Vero Moda, Jack & Jones, Esprit, Guess, Replay, Benetton, CK Underwear, Nine West, Swatch, Enzo, Toni & Guy, Svenson Hair Care Centre, Marie France Bodyline. You will also find Raffles International Medical Centre on the 4th floor, along with services like hom@spa, THANN, BOSE, The IQ Air Store, Euro Home/Villeroy & Boch.

Westin Hotel BeijingIf hours of browsing through easy to negotiate shops works up an appetite there are several coffee and food outlets available. By far the most popular and affordable is the Food Court food and drinks outlet. There is an enormous range of deliciously tempting local food available from the outlets where you will find it hard to spend 25RMB per person. The serves are so generous you will probably find that they satisfy the appetites of two hungry adults. The food is fresh with tempting presentations. Judging by the amount of people eating here from nearby offices and banks at lunch times this has to be the best eating area in Fuxingmen. Before entering Food Court be sure to buy a rechargeable card from the small desk on the right so that you can order and pay for your food at any of the many stalls inside. You can load up your card with any amount of cash. Most plates cost around 18RMB. Hot and cold drinks average 10RMB.

If eating in the Ritz Carlton or Westin Hotels becomes a little tiresome it is only a short walk to a range of coffee shops and restaurants across the park from Season’ Place. There is the unescapable Starbucks Coffee, TGF’s and then a range of noodle and pasta restaurants.

Currently the shopping center features an exhibition, “dimensions of design 100 Classic Chairs” ending 4th May 2008.

For more information about Season’s Place click here or call 010 66220581.

Opening hours: 10:00 – 21:00

Address:
2# Jinchenfang Street, Xicheng District of Beijing
北京市西城区今城坊街2号

Access:
Bus: No 15, 205, 337, 37, 4, 52, 728, 802, 800, 387, 423, 44, 456, 49, 50, 661, 662, 702, 719, 743, 800, 4, 937, 500
Subway: Line 2 Fuxingmen, Exit A; Line 1 Fuxingmen, Exit B and take bus 800 to the shopping center or walk north on the road east of, and paralleling the West Second Ring Road.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3 Update

Stage 2 of the new terminal was implemented on 26th March. As planned most international flights now arrive and depart from Beijing's new Terminal 3 building. The move for most airlines from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 occured on 26th March. International travellers have been using the new Terminal 3 building since that time.

Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3

The new light rail link from the airport to Dongzhimen Subway Station is now in testing for the new line. No doubt many travellers will be looking forward to finally being able to use this rail link to the airport and thus avoid traffic jams on the airport expressway.

Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Ling Long Pagoda

Digital Beijing Stadium webLing Long Pagoda looms high above the surrounding skyline (see below left) and provides a new landmark in the Olympic Park area.

Glimpses of National Stadium, Digital Beijing Building, National Indoor Stadium by night.

As the summer draws close, the final touches are being put on the stadium. Workers are working feverishly to have everything ready to go on August 8th, 2008, at 8 pm.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Beijing Shop Sign

chinglish-shop-sign"Money Laundering"

A wonderful if slightly off translation found in Beijing.

Sorry to disappoint, this is not a mafia or yakuza or tong-related company.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Workers Stadium Beijing

工人体育场

The renovated Worker's Stadium will host quarter final and semi final matches at the 2008 Beijing Olympics soccer competition.

Workers Stadium, Beijing

Situated in the Sanlitun entertainment and shopping district, the 70,000 capacity stadium was constructed in 1959 and was one of the "Ten Great Buildings" constructed for the 10th anniversary of the founding of People's Republic of China (PRC). Other "Ten Great Buildings" include Beijing Railway Station, The Great Hall of the People and the Military Museum.

Workers Stadium, Beijing

The Workers Stadium was the main venue for the 1990 Asian Games, was renovated in 2004 and again in time for the 2008 Olympics. Local Beijing soccer team, Guo'an FC, occasionally play some of their games here.

Workers Stadium, Beijing.

The Workers Indoor Arena, venue for the Olympic boxing event, is within the same stadium park area to the north west.

Access

Dongsishitiao Subway Station is a 15 minute walk to the west of the stadium.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Smoking in China

If Olympic medals were awarded for smoking, China would surely win hands down.

China has more smokers than any other country in the world and an estimated 2 trillion cigarettes are smoked annually in the Middle Kingdom by the country's 350 million smokers.

Beijing officials however are clamping down on the weed before the Olympics begin in August. From May 1 smoking is to be banned in government offices and on public transport, with heavy fines to be handed out for those failing to comply.

Non-smoking areas are supposed to be made available in restaurants and bars, with the Olympic Village also becoming a no-smoking zone at the request of the IOC.

However, smoking is very much part of male business culture in China and it will be difficult to enforce a complete ban on the habit. Cigarettes are cheap and one in four Beijingers smoke. Indeed after Deputy Sports Minister, Cui Dalin, announced that the 2008 Olympics would inspire the Chinese to live a healthier life, he prompty went in to a no-smoking corridor and lit a cigarette.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Beijing National Stadium Part II

Beijing National StadiumWarning: Don't stand still for too long!

If you stand still for long around the housing compound across the road from National Stadium in Beijing you are likely to score a fresh coat of brilliant white paint. Workers are swarming over the buildings and anything else that stands still long enough throughout the compound and applying a generous coat of white paint.

It is certainly giving everything a shiny new feel before the Olympic Games commence. Even the flag poles and the panda used for the Asian Games some 20 years ago are feeling the stroke of the painters brush!

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Fengtai Softball Field

Fengtai Softball Field in Beijing will host the 2008 Olympic softball competition.

Fengtai Softball Field

Fengtai Softball Field has a capacity of 13,000 spectators and has been completely renovated for the 2008 Olympics.

Fengtai Softball Field, Beijing, China

Softball is a women-only sport (synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics are the only others) and is making its fourth appearance at a Summer Olympic Games.

USA are the softball giants and won gold in Athens in 2004 followed by Australia and Japan. China placed 4th and will be hoping for a medal in front of a partisan home crowd.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Beijing subways 24 hours

The Xinhua news agency reported that Beijing's subway system will "try" to run around-the-clock on the opening and closing days of the Olympic Games in an attempt to reduce traffic on those days - August 8 and 24.

The new Subway Line 10 is expected to be extremely busy and will carry passengers to the National Stadium where 100,000 spectators are expected for the opening and closing ceremonies.

Subway stations will have "green channels" for stadium ticket holders, Olympics staff and volunteers, who are exempt from the 2 yuan fare.

© Beijing-Visitor.com

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Brass tacks for Japanese judoka

Pint-sized Ryoko Tani will be the star attraction this weekend at the All Japan Selected Judo Championships in Fukuoka as the nation’s top judoka vie for a place on the Olympic squad for this summer’s Beijing Games.
Tani became the first judoka to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals when she defeated Frenchwoman Frederique Jossinet at the 2004 Games in Athens, and, barring a spectacular dip in form at the Fukuoka International Center on Sunday in the 48kg class, she remains a shoo-in for a ticket to China to try for a threepeat.
Olympic berths for all but the men’s +100kg class will be decided this weekend, with the team’s official unveiling scheduled to follow the final bout on Sunday night.
On Saturday, judoka in the men’s -60kg, -66kg, -73kg and -81kg and women’s -70kg, -78kg and +78 kg classes will compete.
On Sunday, competitions in the men’s -90kg, -100kg and +100kg will be held, along with the women’s -48kg, -52kg, -57kg and -63kg divisions.
Victory won’t automatically earn a judoka a spot on the Olympic team, although it should go a long way to convincing the selectors, especially if you’re a six-time World Champion and four-time Olympic medalist like Tani.
The fiercest competition looks set to take place in the men’s +100kg segment, with world champion Yasuyuki Muneta, Sydney Olympic gold medalist Kosei Inoue and Satoshi Ishii, gold medalist at the Judo World Cup in Austria in February, all battling it out for the one and only berth in their class.
However, since the Olympic representative from their class will be chosen on April 29 at the All Japan tournament in Tokyo, the pressure on them will continue for a few more weeks following Fukuoka.
Japan had its best-ever Olympics in Athens, snatching 37 medals in total, including eight gold medals in judo.

Copyright: C.G. Williams and Beijing Visitor

© Beijing-Visitor.com

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mia Farrow to Head Beijing Olympic Committee

Chinese President Hu Jintao lit the Olympic torch yesterday at a welcome ceremony in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Then hurdler Liu Xiang, China's best hope for a gold medal, ran through Tiananmen Gate holding the torch aloft.

This marked the beginning of the round the world relay that will carry the torch to many countries and cities.

Following the ceremony, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping announced to a packed news conference that the head of the Chinese Olympic Committee, Liu Qi, would be stepping down from his post immediately as he wished "to spend more time with his family."

In his place, effective immediately, actress and activist Mia Farrow was named as the official head of the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee. "We have been in negotiations with Ms. Farrow's agent for several weeks," Xi Jinping told the stunned crowd, "and have at long last reached terms."

Aside from an unprintable comment about Hollywood agents, he would not elaborate any further.

Hein Verbruggen, Chairman of the International Olympic Committee Coordination Commission, who also attended the news conference, admitted to being surprised, but recovered nicely and said that he had "the utmost confidence in Ms. Farrow."

In this capacity, Ms. Farrow will oversee the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on August 8th, 2008. She will be seated at the right of President Hu Jintao at the Ceremony.

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