Thursday was beach volleyball day, and in case you were wondering, in the end I did not try to sneak my peanut butter and jelly sandwich into the venue. I just wasn’t confident enough of success. My friend and I stopped at the Kempinski deli for a bite to eat on our way, so we at least had some sustenance to get us through the day. The venue is a gorgeous temporary structure put in Chaoyang Park. Like every other venue these games, it was NOT even close to full (despite being a sell-out).
I think more than any other sport or venue that I’ve been to this one made me shake my head and wonder if I was really still in China, and ponder how much China has changed since I came in 1984. Here we were, sitting in a stadium, watching bikini-clad women play volleyball on a ‘beach.’ Everyone was having a grand old time, doing the wave, and grooving to “I Wish We All Could be California Girls.”
The games were great fun, but I was just as entertained watching all the ‘plain clothes’ security forces scattered throughout the stadium, dressed like volunteers. I even got to see them spring into action when a group of Americans came in and sat in a relatively empty section, and promptly pulled out a large American flag and a California state flag. Suddenly the ‘volunteers’ (in real life they wear dark green uniforms) sprang into action. Several of them moved into position close to the fans, and eyed the California flag suspiciously. I’m sure they couldn’t read English, and I’m sure they were thinking “well that flag isn’t on our list of national flags,” so it must be something subversive and designed to harm our country’s national interest or hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. One of the guys had a walkie-talkie and called one of the “smiling volunteers” who came up asked the Americans to put away the CA flag. Crisis averted! Meanwhile, the others in the stands were thinking, “wow, I sign up to serve the Motherland and end up watching beach volleyball. Not bad!”
Below is my favorite photo of the afternoon: one of the security ‘volunteers’ somehow found himself in the middle of a very rowdy group of Brazilians.
Poor guy looks very nervous!
And since I’ve previously mentioned that the food selection at the venues is woefully inadequate, I’ve got a photo of the menu to prove it!
What they mean there by ‘pie’ is the Korean equivalent of a Twinkie!
At about 2:00pm, the heavens opened up and it started pouring. We fled. It didn’t stop raining until until the evening, but the rain washed the air and the last two days have been absolutely gorgeous!
Next stop: women’s volleyball on Sunday afternoon. I think we’ll be seeing the US women play.