Thanks to an Accreditation Upgrade Card, I could quickly follow the handball semi-finals (Poland was playing against Russia) in the National Indoor Stadium, where Gymnastics had also been staged. In the afternoon I took a long nap at the very spot where I was reflecting on what was coming at me a couple of days before the Games started. Young couples were flying the small kites courtesy of GE and generally having a great time.
My most magical Olympic day of all - so hard to capture in words or pictures - basically broken up in 3 phases: (1) Marathon in the Morning, (2) Olympic Park in the Afternoon and (3) Closing Ceremony in the Evening (kept for next blog-entry).
Unlike Tia - who had to jump the finals in the evening - for me the pressure was off, so I decided to venture into the City for the first time on the tiny green girl's bike which I borrowed from Emily. No rules but everyone seems to get home or at work fine … or try this: Saw a guy eating chicken saté (from a pointy stick) while driving his motorcycle (without helmet of course).
Last night a lost bat was flying the whole shift inside the Technology Operations Center, and the central displays showed more and more grey of Olympic venues being decommissioned. We also passed the cape of 100k requests and incidents (almost all related to normal operations of the Games). In between work - well ...
Since I passed on my allocation of 2 tickets to my wife and daughter, who saw China win the Sabre contest, normally I no longer had a chance to watch any contest. However I got a nice ticket out of a lucky draw for Athletics, featuring our Company Champion Tia Hellebaut on Thursday morning.
Clashes between East & West appear so easily and suddenly. In Beitucheng underground station, the ferocious travellers rushed en masse into the carriage, completely blocking the way out for a small girl. An upset Dutch couple - much taller than anyone else - forced a way so the girl could get off after all. This caused an old Chinese lady to freak out completely, and in Chinese I could hear her talking about animal behaviour of Western visitors to everyone who fancied fueling the argument.
On Sunday Emily drove Shanshan, Nicole and me to Mu Tian Yu, about an hour away from Beijing and supposedly not as crowded as the popular Ba Da Ling. At noon we had a delicious lunch in one of the restaurants of the www.jade388.com Group. As a lawyer Emily really knows all the best places to eat, as business in China is discussed around the dinner table.
At time of writing I am four hours through my nightshift. Once in a while loud cheers of joy erupt from the Technology Operations Center, like when China defeated Germany in Men's Basketball with 59 points against 55. They will face their next adversary in the Men's quaterfinals held on Wednesday 20st August. Anyway a convenient time to consult the latest Olympic results and statistics on the great INFO intranet built by Atos Origin on the Games network ...
Neither unnecessary nor unrequested changes are allowed during Games Operations, so while closely monitoring suspicious or unexpected system activity - in between responding to issues - it becomes gradually possible to take in the sheer size of the Olympiad. After a while it makes you feel tiny like an ant, akin to the sensation one must feel on an aircraft carrier or inside a space colony.
After completing my nightshift on Monday morning and catching a quick nap, I went to collect Shanshan & Nicole from Beijing's old International Airport with Emily. Once the new arrivals got settled, Emily Tours took us for a stroll round Hou/Qianhai Lake (where I also had dinner with Atos Origin a couple of days earlier). Actually it is right next to a world renowned sports school. Once we got sufficiently starved, our culinary guide took us to the magnificent Beijing DaDong Roast Duck Restaurant at No.