All posts in China

Beijing Olympic Medalist Wall

In the shadow of the National Stadium in Beijing, the now 80,000 seat stadium that was the main competition venue for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, is a wall in which all of the winners’s names were engraved. This painstaking compilation must have taken many months, not only to do but to get the information correct.

The years of sun and rain have tarnished the silver on the left, the gold still stands out and that same sun and rain have also washed the bronze color away on the right. However, the colors have been preserved a bit better in the listing itself.

The red emblem is called “Dancing Beijing” and represents a dancing figure. It is taken from the second Chinese character of the Chinese phrase for Beijing, the “Jing” part, which means “capital”. Beijing is the capital of China.

The color red is highly-regarded in Chinese culture and symbolizes good fortune and joy, so the red background for a dancing figure is very appropriate. The design recalls a Chinese seal or chop.



Beijing National Stadium Grounds

As you approach the Beijing’s Bird’s Nest in Olympic Green you see this wide expanse of paved but unpainted areas. Suitable for parking, supposedly. But parking what? There are no parking lines or signs. Nothing to organize traffic flow.

A search of what this space could possibly be turned up nothing. Some pictures show that it used to be for construction facilities but that was gone by the time the stadium opened for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

The little bird’s nest light cages are a nice effect but they seem out of place with the vast expanse to the right of them.

For sure it is not for people to drive their cars and park because there is a security screening system for everyone to go through.

Google Maps and Google Earth images do not show enough detail to reveal what used to be there. So it seems to fit in with the problems that the stadium has: not many events require a venue seating 80,000 people and the stadium itself remains unused for what it was built. It is a tourist attraction and not much more.

Beijing National Stadium Grounds


Beijing National Stadium

The National Stadium in Beijing was built for the 2008 Summer Olympics. At that time, it could seat 91,000 spectators, but has since been reduced to 80,000. The distinctive design resembles a bird’s nest, hence its nickname, Bird’s Nest.

It was built in under five years at a cost of US$423 million, and at its peak, had 17,000 construction workers onsite.

The stadium is actually two separate structures, the outer nest and the inner seating. The outer structure was designed to hide the supports for the retractable roof but the roof was then removed from the plans due to a similar roof collapse at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport, leaving the outer structure to remain for cosmetic purposes.

Every surface has been optimized for temperature and airflow to improve ventilation. A rainwater collection system purifies water for use around and throughout the stadium. A geothermal heat pump (GHP) system in conjunction with pipes installed under the playing surface absorb heat from the soil to warm the stadium in the winter and dissipate heat to the soil in the summer to cool the stadium.

Beijing National Stadium


Olympic Green

The Olympic Green is an enormous park built in Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics and 10 competition venues including the Beijing National Stadium, seen here on the right and the Beijing National Aquatics Center, seen here on the left, as well as the residence for the athletes, known as the Olympic Village.

The Beijing National Stadium seated 91,000 spectators (now reduced to 80,000) and is nicknamed “Bird’s Nest” for its distinctive architecture and the Beijing National Aquatics Center seated 17,000 spectators (now reduced to 7,000) and is nicknamed “Water Cube” a reference to its shape.

This marked the first time China has ever hosted the Olympic Games, first held in Athens in 1896, and made China the 22nd country to host the Olympic Games and the 18th to host the Summer Olympic Games. 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) sent 10,942 athletes to compete in 28 sports and 302 events. The equestrian events were held in Hong Kong under the auspices of a separate Olympic Committee.

The giant walkway seen here runs down the center of the park from south to north in accordance with Chinese design practices which emphasize symmetry and the central axis.

Olympic Green Looking North


Path Up To Mutianyu Cable Car

The path up to the cable car at Mutianyu gives you a small taste of what you will be in for when you are walking on the wall. The good thing about it is that it is flat. No ankle-twisting ruts or protruding bumps.

As you can see, the stonework is neatly done. This indicates a lot of recent work. The surrounding buildings are also in good shape; not crumbling or disintegrating, making for a smooth walk up.

However, there is a certain amount of steepness to it that makes it a non-trivial effort to get up and is a taste of the wall. This is diametrically opposed to the seaside resorts that one can experience with promo codes for CheapCaribbean. Whether it be Mexico, Dominican Republic or the US Virgin Islands, the flat sandy beaches are a taste of paradise.

Conveniently, the bathrooms are situated in the building on the right in front of the overhang. You can step out onto the roof of the bathroom and then fall off if you were not careful. And that is one of the distinctives of many non-American tourist structures: you actually have to use common sense to avoid injury or worse.

The path up to the Cable Car


Mutianyu Cable Car Entrance

The Great Wall of China was always built on the crest of the mountain ridge, as it always needed to be at the highest point in order to offer effective deterrence to enemies. Thus, there is a considerable effort to get up to it. It must have been very difficult to walk up to it, laden with equipment, in fierce rainstorms or harsh snowstorms. At Mutianyu, there are over 4,000 steps to get to the wall from the base of the hill.

This would have been a grueling hike at any time, summer or winter, with a heavy pack on your back. No doubt, soldiers and works would be desperate to work in a much friendlier environment, something more comfortable with less altitude. Had they had access to some Cheap Caribbean discount codes, they would have leaped at the chance to spend a week or month in a tropical paradise rather than this mountainous outpost.

The cable car ride up to the top is a very easy and scenic way to appreciate the difficult walk below. It is very important to get an early start in order to beat the crowds. I got here early enough to walk right up to the cable car and board without waiting. So this is a very nice sight to see – no lines.

In the background, you can see the towers for the cable car going straight up the mountain.

Mutianyu Cable Car Entrance


Mutianyu Cable Car Lounge

There are several ways to go up to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. You can do what the original inhabitants did, which was to walk all the way. It must have been brutal in the winter time.

Another way is a chairlift, which is what you see at ski slopes. This, however, goes to a lower section of the wall, which is not as scenic.

The best way is the cable car. This goes to the higher section of the wall and is therefore a longer and higher ride than the chairlift. This gives you more photo opportunities while in the car as well as getting you to the better part of the wall.

The topography of this region is vastly different from that of the Caribbean. This mountainous region is packed with inclines and rugged terrain while the verdant paradises in the tropics are at sea level. Regrettably, there are no promo codes for this area as opposed to the fantastic CheapCaribbean promotional codes that give you great deals.

Because I arrived early, the lounge was not in use. There were no lines for the cable car. However, it does look quite modern and well-designed, which was not always the case for many facilities in China. Also, I am sure it comes in handy during the summer time when temperatures are hot.

Mutianyu Cable Car Lounge


Great Wall of China at Mutianyu

One of the most amazing man-made structures in the world is the Great Wall of China. The section of the wall at Mutianyu is considered to be one of the more scenic parts of the wall. Combined with its greater distance from Beijing than the more heavily-visited Badaling section of the wall, it is a much better experience. A comparison would be like going to a Caribbean resort versus going to the local park. You would much rather use a Cheap Caribbean coupon and enjoy the experience of a lifetime!

Mutianyu was built in the mid-500s AD and is in the best condition of preservation among all sections of the Great Wall. In addition, it has many watchtowers, more densely-placed than most other sections of the wall.

One of the unique and ironic features of this part of the wall is the placement of a phrase, “Loyal to Chairman Mao”, in white paint on rocks, seen here in the background. First created in 1968 during the height of the Cultural Revolution, the lettering gradually wore away and disappeared. However, the stones were painted and the brush cleared away in 2009 where it is now maintained, a reminder to all of this historical and infamous figure.

Weather conditions fluctuate and the week before this picture was taken, the skies were cloudy and visibility was poor. But thankfully, it was a sunny and cool that day.

Great Wall at Mutianyu