Giant on the move
Beijing believer: a sideways look at the Games
Most blogs and reporter diaries from the Olympics start the same way. Your correspondent arrives in Beijing, jet-lagged but wide-eyed nonetheless, and waxes grateful about the helpful volunteers at the airport, the comfy shuttle bus to the media village and the smiling welcome from just about everyone, everywhere. And hey – even the smog isn’t as bad as everyone makes out.
Disillusion sets in a few days later, as they find access to athletes is incredibly hard to come by, you still can’t sleep properly and walking 400 metres in the city is enough to leave you with stinging eyes, a soaking shirt and an irritating cough. Damn that smog!
I arrived a week ago but decided to wait a while before starting this, to let the Beijing experience soak in for a while. Now the Games are actually about to start, I’ll be filing regularly about life here in the media bubble.
One thing to add: I really like to hear from readers and fellow bloggers, so please leave a comment in the section below.
Day release from North Star MV1:
I’m staying, along with thousands of others, at the North Star media village, a 15-minute ride from the huge complex they call the Olympic Green. Most journos tell you at some point that it reminds them of being a student. You share a small but nice apartment with one or two others, with a private bedroom but usually a shared bathroom. There’s a refectory for your breakfast and a strip-lit late-night bar that you have to be desperate to visit.
In fact, it’s more like a comfortable low-security prison, with the inmates heading out each morning on day release.
You go through a strict security check to get on one of the buses, hauling your laptop bag on your shoulder and whistling or singing, “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go.” Or at least I do, until one of my sleep-deprived colleagues asks me to shut up.
The bus takes us to the Main Press Centre, where you chip away at a laptop for about 14 hours before heading back on the bus to, in my case, cell block D3.
I’m joking, of course. Depending on your assignment, you may get to rush along to various press conference rooms, hop on more buses to the venues or take your chances with a hazy walk around town. You can even go up to the roof at the end of the day and drink a cold one.
Thinking about it, didn’t the inmates get to do that in the Shawshank Redemption?
PHOTO: The Olympic Main Press Centre, REUTERS/Claro Cortes