Despite my doubts whether Beijing would pull off a successful Olympics and the controversy over free press, human rights, the Opening Ceremony, and other issues, in my opinion, China hosted an amazing Olympics. The skies were blue, there were large tracks of greenery, the Olympic Green was very attractive, traffic was not a problem, the volunteers were helpful and spoke English, security was present (most of the time, until you hear my friend’s story) but not imposing, the city was clean (almost sterile), the new subway is sleek and modern, and people were friendly and helpful. Everything was very well done, with a few exceptions. Visitors who didn’t speak Chinese were still at a loss when trying to communicate with taxi drivers and average folk. The buses shuttling spectators between venues were overcrowded and no one knew how else to get between venues. But my biggest complaint is the re-sale ticket market. There were a few scalped tickets available but nothing to justify the many half (or more) empty events. Where were all the other tickets? Where were the tickets to the Water Cube? Nonetheless, those who know Beijing, I believe, were all similarly impressed with how well Beijing pulled off the Olympics.
Unfortunately, those changes were not lasting. Despite the fact that the Paralympics are currently going on, the skies have already greyed over, the pollution has returned, and the streets are jammed again. Some of the changes will remain, though: the renovated airport (now one of the largest in the world), the modern, extensive subway lines, the unique venues of the Water Cube and the Bird’s Nest, and Beijingers pride in having hosted such an unrivaled Olympic games.
If you’re curious for more insight into China and reading the blogs of China-based expats isn’t enough for you, also check out NBC’s lessons in Chinese Culture 101. I can’t say I wholly agree with the portrayal, as many are far from complete and give only positive snippets of Chinese culture, but what makes them interesting is NBC’s take on Chinese culture.
I expect that with the upcoming election, China’s continued phenomenal growth, the 2010 Shanghai Expo, the 2010 Guangzhou Pan Asia games, and everything else, we’ll continue to hear a lot about and from China.