a little wander round

July 28th, 2008

Just had lunch with colleague T at his favourite local Muslim restaurant. It’s an interesting little place at Pandaomiao (潘道庙) just across from the northeast corner of our campus. We got an outside table, food and a couple of beers that we asked to be ice cold, but which were not far off room temperature. The restaurant is up a little side street just off the northeast corner of the campus, and I happened to notice several Passats, most of them black, of course, with some colourful logo on the rear passenger door, driving round the side of the campus towards the east gate. Must be something to do with the Olympic badminton or rhythmic gymnastics, which are both being held in a brand-new gymnasium on the southeast corner of our campus.

Well, we’d finished, and I said I want to cruise round the edge of the campus and see what is to be seen. So T went his way, and I headed down that oddly-angled northeastern side of campus to the Fourth Ring, then down to Sifang Qiao, thence east along the south side of the campus, then north up Xidawang Lu towards home. Wasn’t quite a complete circumnavigation, but then it didn’t need to be. All I wanted to see was the new Olympic developments, see how they look 11 days out from the games.

Only 11 days?! shit…..

Anyways, after lunch I jumped on my bike and trundled off. Just southeast of the east gate whatever was there before had been knocked down and made into a rather make-shift looking buspark- and there were several buses of varying quality already parked there- and that seemed to open in to the various sports grounds that have sprouted on that corner of the campus. Make-shift looking, but what do you expect? It’s only going to be in use for a month or so, then converted to something more permanently useful. Like the petrol station I’m sure was there.

Then down 50-odd metres of the Fourth Ring to Sifangqiao. That stretch was sanitised long ago, but still, it was a pleasant relief to find a new public toilet (which I promptly made use of). Then there was some new police station, very temporary looking, not much of a surprise.

Turning west to head along the south side of campus got me my closest look at the competition venues themselves. Road signs pointing to the BJUT Gymnasium and BJUT Gymnasium Spectators’ Entrance were clear enough, although one was obscured by the road-side trees. Still, anybody driving there would find their way easily enough. Cruising past the spectators’ entrance, I saw all the tents in place ready for the security checks (didn’t go inside, but I presume the equipment is there, fired up, and ready to go) and several People’s Armed Police were already on sentry duty right along the southern boundary of the campus as far as the western edge of the competition area. Note: People’s Armed Police is the name of that particular police force. They are not always armed. I did not see if any of the sentries were bearing firearms. The were certainly not carrying anything obvious like submachineguns or assault rifles, although at least one did have some kind of pouch at his waist which may have contained a pistol, but I could not see for sure and did not want to draw unnecessary attention. I’m sure they had firearms within easy reach, but they were no more geared up for a riot or sudden attack by t3rr0r1sts than they are when they guard government buildings.

I mean, the way some people have been speaking, even in one post on an otherwise intelligent, erudite and well-informed blog, you could be forgiven for thinking the PAP are either regularly armed to the teeth but are toning things down for the Olympics (I haven’t been to the Square for a while, but I have been there many, many times and have yet to see an AK 47 or any firearm inappropriate for the tasks of those guarding the Square, as the author of that post implies is “normal”), or more predictably on the blog of a magazine that somehow earned a good reputation it never deserved, that the city is now swarmed with machinegun toting, trigger-happy PAP.  Nothing could be further from the truth. There is obviously increased security, but there is nothing as even remotely sinister or intimidating as either of those wankers suggests.

Anyways, where was I…. Oh, yes, cruising round the campus. Well, I passed the southeastern corner where the Olympic events are to be held, and suddenly everything was back to normal. Then on the southwestern corner of the campus I saw that the new hotel (supposed to be 4-star, from what I’ve heard) looked pretty much finished. Turn the corner and head northwards along the west side, and as I suspected, a new gate has been put in just north of the hotel. Only makes sense, I mean you can’t have either hotel guests buggering up traffic for the regular staff and students or staff and students buggering up traffic for the hotel guests. Still, that new gate did look a little rough-and-ready. Then back to normal again.

Conclusion based on a cruise around the outside of BeiGongDa: Down here everything looks ready to go. And amazingly normal, considering the way some idiots are ranting. I mean, normal considering the world’s biggest sports event, which obviously requires a hefty amount of security and a hell of a lot of planning, is about to open. Y’know, I’m actually starting to feel almost positive about the whole thing.

Anyway, if you are competing in or have tickets to the Olympic badminton or rhythmic gymnastics, then my quick scan of the outside of your venue suggests everything is ready for you and you have nothing to worry about.

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