Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Preparation for Olympics

Here are a few things we discovered Beijing was doing in preparation for hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics:

• Holding classes—or showing promotional videos (we aren’t sure which)—on the correct way to stand in line. How to
Queue. Silly, but after a month in Shanghai, I can see that it’s needed.
• Classes or promotional videos on Not Spitting. Still saw plenty of men hawking blobs on the street or sidewalk, but
perhaps it’s better than it was before.
• To reduce traffic, only allowing half the cars to be on the road each day. Every other day cars with odd license plate
numbers can drive, then on the other days the evens can drive. This rule does not apply to cabs.
• Many people had to change their work hours so they wouldn’t interfere with Olympics traffic, or so they could go to the
games and cheer for China. We met a high-school boy on the train to Beijing who said he is required to go to the games,
that everyone in his high school is required to go. What a chore.
• Providing English “helpers” at every metro stop. (more on this later—Brandon and I definitely took advantage of this)
• Removing dog from all menus. This, I think, is silly. So what if they eat dog? They shouldn’t change their ways just
because they know Western people find it disgusting. I'm pretty sure people in India find our meat-eating habits disgusting.
• Of course, all the efforts to reduce pollution/smog. Many factories are closed. (not the one Brandon’s boss is thinking of
working with, luckily) Despite this, we didn't see the sun or blue sky once while we were there. And still there were people wearing surgical masks as a way to deal with it (this was actually taken in Shanghai, but you can find people wearing these all over China.)
• I read an article in National Geographic about how officials were inducing rain and clouds months before the Olympics in
order to control the weather.

They are really trying. I hope the world appreciates their efforts. Thanks, China.

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