Giant on the move
More negotiations over whether we should delay our departure for base camp kept us off the road for an extra couple of hours and stretched the patience of the Chinese journalists.
All was forgotten, though, a couple of hours later when got our first real look at Everest from the top of a pass.
After another round of negotiations with the organisers the next morning, we reached an agreement that we would get an extra day to acclimatize before we reached base camp.
That didn’t, of course, mean we would make the short journey to the next stop at Lhartse in short order and have the rest of the day to relax.
At last, 11 of us did get onto a plane to Lhasa last Friday. It was soon clear that while the Tibetan authorities were prepared to let us in, this was by no means going to be a free-ranging reporting assignment.
The hotel ‘near Lhasa airport’ that we had been promised turned out to be 300 kilometres away in Shigatse (3,900m).
We’re here, where’s the torch?
We arrived. For a long time it looked like we wouldn’t, but on Monday morning, four days after leaving Beijing, 11 foreign journalists arrived at the media centre on the lower slopes of Mount Everest to report on the torch relay.
It brought to an end two of weeks of uncertainty that started when a briefing was cancelled and we heard nothing more until we were summoned to the Beijing Olympic media centre on the morning of our scheduled departure. The party of foreign media, at this stage 20-strong, was informed that bad weather had caused a delay to our journey and the departure ceremony for the climb team and torch had been cancelled.
The difference was that when I was stumbling through the debris in Greece, it was just a few days before the Games rather than the 114 days that remain before the Opening Ceremony here in China.
On Wednesday, reporters will have a first chance to get inside the completed Bird’s Nest National Stadium, where some dreams will come true but many more will be dashed at the Olympics.
It’s been two years since I set foot in the stadium, which was then just a concrete bowl surrounding a muddy oval all shrouded in a twisting, dull, steel mesh.
I spent six days in the bowels of a five-star hotel in central Beijing chasing comments from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge and his colleagues on events in London, Paris and San Francisco.
Some 5,000 VIPs, cheering workers and media gathered on Tiananmen Square on Monday to welcome the Beijing Olympic flame and launch the 137,000-km torch relay.
Predictably, security on the square was tight.
The 600 reporters, photographers and television crews were bused from the Olympic media centre some four hours before the flame made an appearance.