Aboard a slow bus to Tianjin
I’m pretty sure the China Tourist Board, or whatever it is, won’t be using the Beijing-Tianjin drive as a selling point.
Think 401 London-Windsor without the charm.
(For those of you unfamiliar with the subtle charm of southwestern Ontario, think kilometer after kilometre after kilometre of ribbon of highway dissecting fields of nothing and if you’re still awake, keep reading).
Took the bus over to Tianjin from Beijing today – didn’t want to see another scorpion-crawfish-bug-thingy at the train station – and as a cure of insomnia, it’d be perfect.
About three hours of drudgery broken only by naps. Oh, and these drivers over here? Lead foots, they’re not.
Dude didn’t get over about 80 km-h the entire way, I swear. Posted speed limit? 120.
Usually when we go to these things in new lands, we’re stunned by the audacity of the drivers (Rome and Madrid were crazed last fall) but here? They’re slooooooow.
Not sure how much, if any, women’s basketball you were able to see back there but I caught a bit of Australia-Belarus before heading out on the road Saturday morning.
Never mind the result – the Opals won in a walk – the reason to check out the game was to see Dawna Townsend officiate.
I’m not sure how big a deal it is to get the first game of the Games but I’m gonna make it big because Dawna’s a friend and deserves some props.
Can’t imagine it’s easy balancing a family with young kids, a real job and all those hours at the Air Canada Centre as the official scorer dealing with getting a starting lineup from usually Cantankerous Sam (I know. Go figure. Sam. Cantankerous).
Good on her.
Big Raptor day tomorrow.
Jose. Bosh. Roko.
Opening day. Should be a doozy. And if Captain Byers plays along, I’m gonna get a water polo game in the morning (actually night back home, for those as confused as I am by this time thing) and then a few hours of hoops.
Will be fun to see ‘em all.
Don’t know if you’ll be able to.
I’m told the CBC crew, which did the USA women’s game here on Saturday, is doing the USA men’s game against China tomorrow but not Spain-Greece.
Too bad. Maybe some live streaming’s going to be available somewhere.
If not, guess you’ll just have to check back here to get all the inside dope.
And I’ll have it.
|Dog day afternoon.|
So, we drag our tired carcasses off the bus at security here and we go through the X-ray machine while a gaggle of little soldier types give the bus the once over, checking luggage compartments, using mirrors to check under the carriage and these two dogs to sniff out whatever they sniff out.
It was the first time I’d seen dogs at venues but as long as they’re friendly and the minders aren’t carrying automatic weapons, I’m okay with it.
One of the pups gets in a luggage hold and won’t come out ‘cause it’s cool in there. Finally, in what can only be called a universal game of ‘fetch’ the soldiers roll a ball to entice them out.
The other dog?
He/she/it wasn’t at all impressed.
Dog tired, you might say.
Where’d you watch the ceremonies? Comfort of the couch? The office?
Well, me and Perk and D. Feschuk get this great idea that we’re going out among the people, to Tiananmen Square, actually. Off we go on the subway, dum dee dum, dum dee dum, 11 stops on one line, two after a transfer and here comes the first Tiananmen stop.
And there it goes. Closed. A ghost stop.
Second one? Same deal and we’re like, ‘hmm, this doesn’t bode well (we’re smart that way).”
We get off at the next one, figure we’ll double back walking except we get turned around, go the wrong way as turns out, a fact we found out when we landed at some cool little restaurant for a quick bite.
And quick it was. It was about 7:30 local time Friday night and the lovely ladies were literally running out of the joint to get somewhere to watch ‘em We eat fast and ask one of the servers how long it’ll take to get to the square.
Almost faint when she says “60 minutes” and that’s when the cab came into play. Because our Mandarin isn’t quite up to snuff (I can do ‘ni hoa’ and that’s about it), we enlist the aid of a young server to help us hail a car and get to the square.
She’s so bound and determined to help us, she runs – runs! In like a kabillion degree heat and humidity – about a block and half to find a cab only to come back and tell us, in halting English, that the square was either closed or too full and no cab would take us there.
So we end up riding back to our village, sitting outside in a courtyard and watch the festivities.
'Til bedtime, that is.
They sell knock off goods all over the streets here, watches, handbags, scarves, all kind of stuff.
The First Lady Of The Beat, Mr. Baseball from The Globe and I, with about five hours to kill before the big football tilt I’m sure you’re all glued to right now, ventured across the street to the Molson Outlet Mall (no, not that Molson, unfortunately). And what’d spy?
Same colour scheme, pretty much the same menu as Pizza Hut. Pretty good, too.
Mail about here:
Q: Hi Doug, I've been trying to think of a Raptors question for you but I've got nothing. I really just wanted to point out that your giant bug appears to be a crayfish. Kind of like a mini-lobster. Not sure why they have one hanging out at the train station but at least you know its not a giant scorpion.
Okay, here's a non basketball related question. What would you say now to fellow reporters who were hesitant about going to Beijing to convince them things aren't as bad as they thought, or are they?
Ron M, Markham
A: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Crawfish. Maybe. But there was no way I’d eat it if they boiled it. And it shouldn’t have been in a train station any way.
Things are great over here for us. Best media village room I’ve had in six Olympics, transportation works great, computer services are outstanding and the only venue I’ve been at, with my Glorious Canadian Women Soccer Heroes, works fine.
The people? They’re almost too helpful. Makes me sheepish to try and do anything for myself because there’s always like three of ‘em there to help.
So far, so very good. Of course, as I type this, the first full day of competition is about half over so things may change.
That Yao Ming, what a card!
The iconic Chinese athlete’s asked the other day at a basketball practice what kind of game China would have for Sunday night’s game here against the United States
"I won’t tell you anything. That’s top secret.”
So, too, is his off-the court life. Seem Aug. 6 was Yao's first wedding anniversary (“candlesticks always make a nice gift, and uh, maybe you could find out where she's registered and maybe a place-setting or maybe a silverware pattern,” I thought) and the prying press wanted all the details.
"Can I keep that a secret?”