Sunday, August 10, 2008

Carrying On and 8/8/8 in Beijing

I should first clarify that this will be the new site of my blogs. For some reason, my previous blog site is blocked in China. Well, at least from this particular computer. Perhaps this was due to the Marxist-language of my url headline. I figured Marxist-thought would be encouraged in a proudly communist & socialist country. 'Know your roots!,' right?

Either way, cnsrshp has also been a problem here, despite agreement to allow reportrs open and unregulated use of the internet during the Olympics. I heard that some sites were blocked in internet zones designated for members of the prss.

So, with that said this site will try to carry on the torch. (No pun intended.. Ok, maybe intended).

Oh yeah, did I mention that I did in fact make it to China!

It's been absolutely incredible.

I'm staying w/ the cutest old couple in Beijing. They've been really helpful in getting me situated and accustomed.

I've been riding a mountainbike around that I'm borrowing from a buddy who comes here often.

Traffic is thrilling! You've really got to be on edge in the streets over here; moreso than LA, SD, Mexico City, and NYC in my opinion. Tons of things are going on. And motor vehicles do not yield! You will seriously get bodied if you don't pay attention. I've learned that you can't rely on traffic signals to tell you what's going on. Traffic signals think they know what's going on. The reality is in the streets, not the lights dangling out of sight above them.

It's clear to me how and why the expression 'critical mass' originated from Beijing. (The film Why We Ride claims this). Right of way is usually determined by numbers. A cyclist or pedestrian will wait on the side of the street to cross. With cyclists and pedestrians everywhere, they'll quickly gather up while waiting, then cross together---changing the relationship of control in the public space.

Despite all the business in the streets, I'm fascinated to see how non-personal and non-"highly-emotionally charged" and non-violent traffic politics are in Beijing. I swear, the more time I spend outside of the US I realize how many motorists in The States act as if you're dragging behind a burning American flag on your bike for riding in the lane. Well, not here.

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(Watching traffic in the Deshengmen district)

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(Deshengmen Qiao the street)

Yesterday, 8/8/8 was a particularly amazing and unique day. The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games (8/8/8) was a day the majority of the Chinese had been anticipating for a very long time (this according to a few locals I was fortunate enough to talk to).

I decided to at least try to get into the Opening Ceremony last nite. So I rode as close as I could. Unfortunately, certain roads w/in a mile of the venue (the "Bird's Nest) were blocked and guarded. So I followed the flow of people that kept it in moving in different directions. We walked to a nearby overpass where hundreds perhaps a thousand other (mostly young) people found a good spot to see the Bird's Nest and fireworks. Hundreds turned into thousands as the time neared 8pm.

The vibe and social energy of the crowd was overtaken by a tremendous sense of positivity and celebration. These Olympics games, I've learned, are vitally important to the new Chinese psyche. While it's true that the games are being protstd by many people all over the world, the protsts are directed towards the Chinese gvrmnt. The Chinese people on the other hand, at least the majority of them it seems, and certainly the ones I've spoken w/, see the games as an opportunity and window to show the world the excellence and friendliness of the Chinese people.

As a citizen of the US, living under a govrnmnt I often disagree with myself, I can certainly sympathize.

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(A girl celebrating on 8/8/8/8)

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(People celebrate on 8/8/8/8 in view of the fireworks-emanating Bird's Nest)

There's much more I can say about 8/8/8/8, my adventures so far, and the incredible friendliness of the Beijing residents, but I'll leave that for later.

-Peace from China.'Til next time.


Unknown said...

Wow, that's really amazing. Please post more photos, i'd love to see them.

Ashley Brooke Arthur said...

Dude. I'm SO glad you got to see that incredible fireworks show. It was on the TV of the place I stayed at last night and I was thinking to myself, "Dude, I really hope Randy is in range of viewing those fireworks!". It's really rad to hear some unfiltered voice of the Chinese people, as well.