Friday, August 29, 2008

bye bye beijing...

So were able to make it to the closing ceremonies but you all probably have seen this...

and this...

and also this...

but do you know what happens after the captivating performances are over, the flags been lowered, the olympic flame extinguished and the curtains closed?

We went back inside the Bird's Nest (still refusing to believe it's all over) and caught glimpse of the ones that actually made these games possible and more human...

the VOLUNTEERS.... 1.7 million of them (from the 2 million people who originally applied) which is a staggering number in the history of the games... they are even big enough to fill a country!

You see a sense of pride, honour and joy from the thousands of maintenance guys...

to the formidable Chinese army....

and the student volunteers...

not to mention the Miss Universe-worthy ushers....

the stadium chefs....

and the red guard who is just to eager to kiss a comrade...

to the death-defying performers....

more volunteers....

the extra clean-up committee...

and did I mention more volunteers?

there were bonds made... from Russia to Australia...

and there were even foreign volunteers...

and even one in a wheelchair (kahit di sya mukhang masaya)!

and a lovely Chinese cheerleader who proudly waved the flag I so wanted to see in Beijing...

Of the 1.7 million volunteers in Beijing, 100,000 of them were on the sports venues as "games volunteers". Another 800 were especially chosen as cheerleaders or "ceremony hosts". Another 400 are chosen as "medal hosts" which were trained to present medals, flowers and the like in stiletto heels in hours!

Some 400,000 are stationed around the city in groups as "city volunteers" and have to do a quick crash courses on 5000 years of Chinese history, the subway system, how to get to the nearest Starbucks and even first aid.

The remaining 1 million+ volunteers are stationed across the city as "social volunteers" who are in a lookout for troublemakers, taxis who refuse passengers, illegal peddlers and even just to make sure the traffic flows smoothly...

Never has this amount of people been mobilized in history just to make sure that each single guest experiencing their city will have the time of their lives... and we sure did!

So from the bottom of my hung-over heart and my tattered wallet (I truly overshopped and overspent my budget) THANK YOU BEIJING!

More than winning, more than the show, more than countless stories of rise from nothingness to a beaming symbol for victory, I guess the olympics is more so a triumph of the human spirit...

...but enough of the drama. I am now back in Cambodia stealing time blogging while I am suppose to finish a flash movie of which the deadline is tomorrow!

visions of the east

As my reason for being in China, our group exhibition - Visions of the East opened at the Capital Library in Beijing as part of the cultural ctivities for the olympics.

The exhibit was opened by officials from the Ministry of Culture and from different consulates and embassies...

Being flanked by the organizers with my work

My other piece being filmed

There were works by over 60 artists and one of my favorites was this huge "sculptural" painting on the left by a brilliant Japanese artist named Yayoi Kato which had prints as comical quote boxes floating over 4 huge blank canvases...

and this really cool work by Indonesian artist Made Wianta who installed razors on canvas and formed dramatic shadows cast by the light...

With the Japanese artist Yayoi Kato. She has ongoing exhibitions as well in different venues around China!

I met again with the organizers of the exhibition a couple of days after and they treated us for a grand tour of the city and the Great Wall and great traditional Chinese food!

Thank you Zhu Sun and the rest of the organizing committee... hope you could visit us soon in Cambodia so we can return the favor!

Friday, August 22, 2008

the games of my life

So I was lucky enough to find good friends in Beijing who gave me free tickets (some British dudes at the hotel were selling theirs for 500 dollars!) to the Athletics Finals on the 21st. This was supposed to be a big game for China because their national sports hero Liu Xiang, was suppose to compete for this event, but since he was injured, this was totally unpredictable.

My Beijing friends Jessie (from Adidas- Beijing, who gave us the tickets!) and Lan (Coordinator for International Students at the Peking University)

The stadium was packed to the brim but we got good seats on the 1st tier.

The only problem was, I only had a 70-210 mm Nikkor lens which was pretty useless even with its range considering how massive the stadium was

The finals of the women’s 400 m relay

Finals of the men’s triple jump

The men’s 400 meter run where USA swept all three medals

And the much anticipated event of the entire games – Liu Xiang’s 110 meter steeplechase (sorry but the event was on the other side of the oval! Grrrr!)

Dayton Robles of Cuba was eventually crowned winner but didn’t break the world record.

The Bird’s Nest on spotlight

Spectators going out after the event

Even the lights around were inspired by the stadium!

And from afar (this was shot almost at midnight already, but the crowds just refused to go

And of course, the Water Cube

Michael Phelps and the water cube were like coffee and cream

The lit Teflon surfaces up close

The spectacular media center which was also an astonishing structure unto itelf.

The Olympic line subway station. You can only ride this subway if you’re a ticket holder!

Now if only we can get tickets too for the Closing Ceremonies! Last time I checked, the cheapest one was resold at $1,500!!!

olympic fever

So finally I had a chance to get tickets to watch the games (Athletics Finals) at the Bird’s Nest – for free! A friend of a friend of a friend who I met in Cambodia happens to work for Adidas which is a major sponsor to the Olympics so I managed to get in the park and the stadium.

But even just in the park alone (it’s so massive, I’m not kidding!) you have so many things to do. Unfortunately, not everybody can come in. Only those who had tickets can go in or those who have Olympic IDs. But since I had both of them, you can go in to any sponsor’s halls and just have fun!

Glimpse of the bird's nest

There were sexy drumbeaters clad in space suits performing on the Lenovo stage

The giant Chinese national Olympic jacket and my tiny self. The jacket was sold out so I had to literally grab the last one from the mannequin!

Spectacular spiraling screens showing the Olympic history on the Adidas Hall

Lit Chinese drums on the escalator up the McDonald’s Cube (yup, they have a version too of the Water Cube)

Dribblers and Chinese acrobats at the PICC (Insurance) stage

The spectacular GE hall which featured an electronic water screen

The Formula 1 Hall of BMW, Audi and Volkswagen

China Mobile’s Electronics Hall (You can watch the games through your phone!)

And the State Grid’s “Light” Hall

Now if only they had spas inside the park! You couldn't imagine the amount of walking we had exploring the area!

To my friend Lan, thank you so much for the chance of a lifetime! Beijing totally rocks!