The Olympics site north of the city is absolutely masssive. Miles and miles of cement malls and huge buildings as far as you can see. The excitement was building to a cresendo this time last year. Now, the question is what to do with it all, especially given the economy.
The cost of upkeep is astounding, and few events big enough to warrant the kind of space the Olympic events required. The" Birdsnest'' stadium, below, where the opening ceremonies were held, is already showing dirt and rust in some places. One temporary solution has been to turn the whole site into a tourist attraction, complete with Olympics-style patriotic music blaring from loud speakers and little snack stands sponsored by Coca-Cola.
We paid around $7 (Tom got a "senior'' discount after showing his passport) for a ticket to go into the stadium and walk around. It was filled with Chinese tourists who seemed very proud of what was accomplished and also a little sad that it's all in the past.
One of the surprising things about traveling in China is how anxious many Chinese are to have their pictures taken with a Western foreigner. I'm not sure why, but just as I was thinking that this wasn't happening as much as I remembered it from past trips, these people approached us and asked me to be in a picture with them. I have no idea who they are, but they seemed happy that I agreed.