Hite Hits Beijing
BEIJING, China - UW Swimming Head Coach Whitney Hite is in Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games, where he will check in periodically with a blog about his experience. Coach Hite left for China Monday morning and arrived Tuesday. Check in with GoHuskies.com to share in his experience.
Wednesday, August 6
I arrived in Beijing yesterday, which is today for you all back home...it's kinda like Groundhog Day. The airport is massive and luckily Kris Kubik, the assistant swimming coach at Texas, was there meeting his wife, April, and he is the first person I saw out of customs. He had an interpreter who was able to get me in a cab to my hotel.
The hotel is fine but I have no idea where I am... somewhere in Beijing. Since I didn't sleep on the plane, I stayed up as long as I could and went to bed around 8 p.m. and slept until 5 a.m. I am off today to sightsee, shop, and hopefully get more tickets to events. I will be checking in.
Thursday, August 7
Yesterday included a ton of walking. I now realize that what looks close on a Chinese map isn't necessarily.
I probably walked 12 miles or so in hot, humid weather so there was a lot of sweating going on. I got lost several times but had very friendly Chinese people ask me if I needed help and point me in the right direction. Also, there are Olympic volunteers every block or so and some speak English.
I saw Tian'anmen Square which was great. It was very neat and historic. Then I went up to the Olympic venues, the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube, both very impressive and massive. I also went to Silk Street for some shopping and, wow, that was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I bartered with one lady for a polo shirt. Her first offer was 600 Chinese dollars and I countered with 100. I started to walk away since I didn't even really want the shirt and finally left her yelling at me and had her down to 25.
At another kiosk, three women tried to sell me a North Face jacket for $600 Chinese (about $90 American). They proceeded to not take no for an answer, took my map, and told me I was tall and looked like a movie star. I agreed with them, but didn't buy anything, much to their great dismay.
I also experienced my first public restroom in a mall. Not bad and the toilet was an American Standard, I'll have you know! I haven't seen a lot of American-made cars... lots of Audis and Volkswagens. I did see one Ford.
Ordering dinner was an adventure. Fortunately they had pictures on the menu so I just pointed and hoped I wasn't ordering something mysterious. It was pretty good either way.
That's about it from here. Tonight is the opening ceremonies and swimming starts tomorrow.