Category: Travel

Beijing Olympics

I have just returned from a visit to the Bejing Olympic Park.

Beijing Birds Nest Stadium

This is interesting as it is almost a year after the 2008 Olympics and the area was extremely busy. It also helps put in context the current developments going on in East London in preparation bfor the 2012 olympics. It is also an extremely well designed public space. I visited the Water Cube and the Birds Nest Stadium. Both of these sites were very busy with tourists.

Water Cube

I was impressed to see that the Water Cube was in use though in a sustainable way. As well as being a major tourist site selling lots of merchandise it was still in use as a venue. The main competition pool was being used in the evenings for performance of swan lake. This explains the scenery in the picture below.

Water Cube Main Pool

In addition the warm-up pool was being used by the public for a general swimming session and was fairly busy.

Water Cube Warm Up Pool

The birds nest stadium itself though being impressive from afar up close it was a lot less exciting than the water cube. Essentially it was just a sports stadium, all be it a big one, although the water cube was just a swimming pool the design was much more inspiring.


The press centre was a fairly impressive building; unfortunately it was not open for visitors. It would have provided great aerial views.

Beijing Olympic Press Centre

Nanjing Metro

After being in Nanjing for a week and a half I had my first opportunity to go on the Nanjing Metro today. The Nanjing Metro is relatively new; first opening in 2005. There are plans to open a second line in May 2010.

The metro is very similar to Shanghai metro in terms of signage and trains.

Travel is either by an IC Card (similar to London’s Oyster Card but can also be used in Taxis) or a single use ticket. The ticket is a reusable plastic token with the journey and payment information embedded in it.


Tickets can be brought from either ticket machines or ticket desks.


The trains are clean and air conditioned though do have interesting prohibition signs on them:


(I have just re-read this post and realised it makes me sound like a bit of trainspotter!)

Solar Eclipse of July 22nd 2009

solar elcipse

On 22nd July there was supposed to be a full solar eclipse for about 6 minutes in the area of China (Nanjing) that we were in.

Unfortunately we saw nothing. It  was tipping it down so with rain so all we had was it was dark for a bit. There was full cloud cover so we could not see anything.

This was especially disapointing as our host school had gone out of their way to arrange this so it was a positive experience for us. They had arranged the trip to the purple mountain on the same day so we would be out of the city and get a better view; they had also brought alonng one of their Geography teachers to explain what is happening. In China Earth Science is part of Geography. Kan (our host) had even ordered special glasses on the Internet for us.

Solar Eclipse Glasses

Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum

Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum
Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum

On Wednesday 22nd we went to the Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum. This was a really interesting place to visit as the person burried there is one of the founders of modern China.

The Mausoleum is set in the purple mountain area on the North East of the city of Nanjing. It is located within a National Park however on the day we went the weather was awful so we could not see anything else as we were already soaked. It is classed as a ‘5 A’ tourist resort and the official website is here.

The design of the Mausoleum is spectacular having to climb 392 steps to reach the Mausoeum. One step represents a million people – linked to the population at the time the Mausoleum was built. If it was built now there would be over 1,000 steps!

View from the top of the Mausoleum

The image above is the view from the top of the mausoleum looking down. What I found impressive about the architecture is that you could not see the steps of the mausoleum until you had gone through the entrance gates after going down a tree lined boulevard. The entrance gates were similar to those of the forbidden city being styled after them. Like the entrance gates at the forbidden city entry was only by the two side gates; the main gate is shut; reserved only for the emperor.


This is a brief summary of how the Swine Flu Risk has been dealt with at the Chinese Immersion course that I am attending with students from my school. It is not a criticism of the Chinese government / HANBAN (organisers) as I think they are dealing with a very difficult situation in the best way possible. The situation of the groups with students who were positive for Swine Flu were taken away and dealt with as described in news reports.

When our plane landed in Beijing two medical official boarded the plane and moved through the plane taking everyone’s temperature. The did this using thermometers that looked like guns zapping your forhead. There were a couple of people on the plane whose temperateture was rechecked by an oral thermometer. On the plane as well as filling in an immigration form we also had to fill in a ‘H1N1 declaration’. H1N1, as far as I am aware this is the medical term for the strain of swine flu and how it is referred to among the Chinese. Before going through immigration everyone had to pass through a health check. This invovled handing in your health questionnaire and walking past some heat sensitive cameras. Some people were taken off to have their temperature rechecked.

We then arrived at the summer camp and enjoyed the programme as scheduled on Thursday and Friday. Every morning our temperatures were taken going into breakfast and some of the Chinese staff were wearing masks but not all. The temperature was taken by a thermal gun type device.


However on Friday evening two coach loads of students were escorted off the campus in coaches after having medical samples taken.


At this point it was there was discussion between staff and students wondering what was going on. At this point some of the Chinese volunteers began handing out face masks to the students. At this point we were told a meeting was going to be held with all teachers who based on the campus (some teachers were based at a hotel approximately 10 minutes away). In this meeting we were briefed on the situation so far and the precautions that were going to be taken were explained. When I woke up there had been a summary of the situation and what we were told at the meeting produced and put under our door (click the small image for a larger version).


On Saturday 18th July we were kept on Campus all day; the main issue with this was it was boring for the students as they wanted to be in the City (and many of the students wanted to go shopping). That being said the Campus is large with a number of activities for the students to do. In addition cleaning has been increased and there has been someone going around spreading bleech on all surfaces. Throughout the Saturday there were largely mysterous commings and goings of the swine flu ambulance from the centre of disease control.


On Sunday 19th as no more cases of H1N1 had been detected were allowed to leave. As we boarded the bus we had our temperature taken one more time. The image below shows me with one of the school guards; he has a thermometer in his hand not a gun!

Guard in Beijing Foreign Language School