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Blogging Beijing

The 2008 Summer Olympics will punctuate three decades of development and test China's global legitimacy. They've already transformed the way millions of people think and live. Seattleite and Fulbright researcher Daniel Beekman brings you Beijing.

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July 25, 2008 10:51 AM

Olympic ticket madness

Posted by Daniel Beekman

China's remaining 250,000 Olympics tickets went on sale at 9am Friday in Beijing. Enormous crowds turned out for the rush - sports fans and ticket-seekers grasping for a piece of Chinese history.


'Olympic ticket sale in Beijing starts stampede'

'Parents of Olympic swimmers teaming up to purchase tickets'

'The epic quest for an Olympic ticket'

Thousands camped outside the iconic new Bird's Nest (National Stadium) and Water Cube (National Aquatics Center) - obscured by sweltering smog cover - overnight, determined to snag spots at the front of ticketing lines.

"Haha! Got'em!" exclaimed a middle-aged man wearing sandals and glasses Friday afternoon. "I feel great. I waited 15 hours standing for Bird's Nest tickets - 24 hours in all."

"I got'em! Bird's Nest here I come!"

Enormous crowds collected on Beijing's Olympic Green Friday - many spent Thursday night waiting in line.

Tempers flared in the midday heat, as security guards struggled to prevent stampedes.

The Bird's Nest will host the 2008 Games' opening and closing ceremonies, sandwiching track & field. The Water Cube will host swimming and diving - a popular sport in China.

Friday morning dawned hot and hazy. Some ticket-seekers sat on newly poured concrete curbs to play poker and wave breezy Chinese fans. Others surged forward in line, pressing impatiently against each other and police barricades.

"It's like we're riding on the subway," chuckled one man, face planted into another man's sweaty back.

An atmosphere of confusion hung over Beijing's Olympic Green, site of the Bird's Nest, Water Cube and other top venues. A steady trickle of exasperated Beijingers wandered past line after tangled line, searching for helpful signage in vain.

"This is the line for water polo, right?" asked a young woman twirling her parasol. "What? This is the line for equestrian? Isn't that going to be held in Hong Kong?"

Thousands of uniformed policemen and security guards swarmed the complex, charged with keeping order. But few were able to answer questions regarding ticket prices and availability.

"Bu tai qingchu," one policeman repeated over and over again, smiling through gritted teeth. "I'm not sure."

A group of security guards, pimply teenagers mostly, held hands to form a human barricade when fans in line for modern pentathlon tickets threatened to stampede.

"I've had enough," muttered one man, turning back.

"Hooray, one less person in line," remarked another ticket-seeker gleefully.

Conspicuously absent from the Olympic green Friday were Beijing's snazzy-dressed Olympic volunteers. Close to one million volunteers will work the 2008 Games. Many are university students, and have already deployed across the city.

"Yeah!" a tiny volunteer waiting to buy handball tickets snorted. "I don't know why there aren't volunteers helping here. It's bizarre."

"There are a bunch of Olympic volunteers here," explained another. "They're just not wearing their uniforms, because the ticket windows won't sell to uniformed volunteers."

By 1pm, a number of sports had sold out and Beijingers clasping precious tickets streamed toward the city's recently opened Subway Line 10. Sales will continue Saturday and Sunday.

"Mei zhunbei hao le," an older woman grumbled, glaring at the Olympic ticket booths. "Totally unprepared."

Photographers took precarious perches to document the ticket rush.

Surprising, only a few of Beijing's million Olympic volunteers were on hand.

A young security guard stares down water-polo ticket seekers.

Security guards form a human barricade.

Sitting out the Olympic heat.

Beijing's most determined Olympic fans camped out for days.

Nearby, a weapons installment - organizers are worried about terrorist attacks during the 2008 Games.

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July 25, 2008 9:40 AM

T3 - Beijing's dragon-inspired airport

Posted by Daniel Beekman

Beijing Capital Airport's monstrous Terminal 3 opened months ago, but these next two weeks will serve as its real debut. Most of the 200,000-plus foreigners expected to attend China's first-ever Olympic Games will touch down at 'T3.'

Designed by celebrity English architect Norman Foster, the 986,000 square meter structure resembles a 'flying dragon.' It rests on smooth crimson pillars and boasts a warped, scaly golden roof.

It just got easier for Seattleites to visit T3. On June 10, Hainan Airlines launched its new nonstop service between Seattle and Beijing.

So book a flight - check out East Asia's answer to London Heathrow and New York JFK.

Or, if a quick jaunt to China sounds infeasible, scroll through Blogging Beijing's photos of T3 below.

Beijing Capital Airport - Terminal 3

'T3' at night - 50,000 workers toiled nearly four years on the world's largest airport building.

Beijing's new terminal claims 300 check-in counters, 451 elevators and a system of luggage carriers able to move 20,000 bags per hour over 60 kilometers of track, at 7 meters per second.

Beijing's new terminal hosts 64 restaurants and 84 shops. Planners say it will accomadate 50 million passengers a year by 2020.

Why construct a US$4.6 billion airport terminal? For the Olympic Games!

T3's arrivals concourse in moonlight - Beijing's air traffic is growing 20 percent each year.

Night shift at T3 for a group of Beijing university students turned 2008 Olympic volunteers.

The terminal's biggest tenants: Air China, Oneworld and Star Alliance.

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Recent entries

Jul 25, 08 - 10:51 AM
Olympic ticket madness

Jul 25, 08 - 09:40 AM
T3 - Beijing's dragon-inspired airport







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