© 2010 Steven Wong

One Walked Around The Bird’s Nest

I don’t know about you, but I definitely remember watching the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. From my home at that time of London. On TV. In particular I remember the Opening Ceremonies, which may have set the standard just a little too high for all future sporting events. I don’t think there’s any way that it will ever be topped.

But aside from all the theatrics and digital fireworks, the one thing that kept drawing my attention was the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube. These two magnificent buildings were the highlight of the ceremonies for me (and really, only overshadowed by Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt in the whole thing).

Close friends know that I’m a massive fan of architecture, and coming from that perspective, how can you not admire them? I’ve been to a few of the biggest and best sports stadiums in the world, like Wembley Stadium and Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in London, Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, and um, the SkyDome in Toronto, and the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube are right up there.

Of course, it is now a year and a half after their introduction to the world stage, and I can tell you the Water Cube has seen better days. Maybe it’s the winter sun, or the snow on the ground now, or maybe it’s just the harsh conditions of Beijing, but it only looks a shadow of its former self. The bubble-like panels are dull and lifeless, though I haven’t been to the Olympic plaza at night, so I’m not sure if it still lights up all pretty and wonderful.

The Bird’s Nest, on the other hand, has weathered quite nicely. The geometric wackiness of the nest still leaves me in awe, and a recent tour of the stadium has shown that it must’ve been quite nice to have attended the Games. Seats are generally comfy, lots of legroom, great sightlines… I think the one deficiency I noticed was the general crappiness of the refreshment counters, but maybe they were different during the Games.

I did wonder about what they were doing with the stadium nowadays since China isn’t known for its professional sports (aside from maybe ping pong?). With the freakishly cold temperatures and more snow than they know what to do with, the powers that be decided to put in a winter wonderland thing, complete with an obstacle course, inner tube sleds and a stage for live performances. Only in China.

I’m not the only one who really enjoyed the visit to the Bird’s Nest though. Lots of people were really happy to be there, literally jumping for joy, while others liked to strike the Usain Bolt pose. You knew that would happen.

As always, check out these and other pictures on flickr.

Also, a programming note… Congrats to the postcard winners from my last post. Thanks for commenting and proving to me that you people need incentives to do something like that, hahaha. Unfortunately for my friend Nathalie, who has deemed herself too busy to reply back to my email asking for her postal address, I’m now making her postcard available again.

Let’s see, how can we make this interesting… The postcard will go to the first person to correctly name all the languages (and major dialects) that I can speak with at least a beginner’s level of competence. Previous winners not eligible, except Nathalie whom I will allow to attempt to redeem herself. Have a go in the comments.