Deep thoughts from Stuart's China Blog, by Stuart Weir


LarryeyeviewBeijing.jpgThe warm up track in Beijing, a view from about 200 feet above, photo by Larry Eder

Stuart Weir is one of my new finds from Beijing.

I have known the gentleman for some time.

And I took the time to ask if he would be interested in writing for us.

I am sure glad I did.

The following are some excerpts from Stuart's China blog.

They had me smiling, then laughing...

I am flying Finnair via Helsinki because it was the cheapest flight when I booked. Then, they offered me a cheap upgrade to Business Class, and as it is a long flight, I went for it. So there I am in Business Class, hardly sat down when they offer me a glass of champagne. My neighbour presses a button to eject his tray and places his champagne on it. I ask him: "which is the magic button?"

He points to it and then presses the button. My tray ejects, and sends his champagne flying into mid air! He comments, "You called it the magic button and it certainly was!" My drink was fine, thanks for asking.

Somehow if I had knocked over my own drink or even his, it would not have been half as funny as him demonstrating how the eject works and then attacking his own drink. Wonderful!

My room has all the things you would expect in an hotel room, bed, desk, TV, fridge and two gas-masks.

I walked past a lake with a warning that skating is dangerous. I imagine it is at 30 degrees!

When going through security if you have a bottle of water, they make you drink some of it. Twice today, I did so and then pretended to be ill as a result. Amazingly, some security guards do have a sense of humour, as some laughed each time.

The first event was the women's 400 hurdles. There was an athlete I knew in each of the three semi-finals [I know, I know, how can you have three semi-finals...].

One thing In had been meaning to mention is how frisking in China is unisex. This morning - for about the 6th time this trip I was frisked by a woman! Sometimes there are only women. And they are quite thorough!!

I decided tonight that I am staying at Fawlty Towers. Having a problem with Skype/my computer/my headset - any of the above. So decide that the cheapest way would be for My wife, Lynne, to call my room. With great difficulty managed to communicate to reception that when an English-speaking person called is was for me. Yes. Yes all fine.

Lynne rings, Chinese person answers. No communication. I go down to reception. By chance there is a manager there who speaks English. I explain. Yes. Yes. Is this the correct number Yes. Then eventually she tells me that it is the correct number but it does not ring at reception but in an office upstairs! (I can hear John Cleese saying, "Wonder why he does not ask where the phone rings!" Eventually we are contacted and Lynne spends rest of day in darkened room to recover. [John Cleese and Fawlty Towers = English sitcom].

After breakfast which did not include "The cold cow intestinal" that was on offer I left for the stadium. They screened my bag as I left the hotel. Then I discovered that I had forgotten my phone. Went in and out again - second time they did not screen me! Next time I need to bring a bomb out I will remember to go in and out first!

In the afternoon I wrote a sixth article for on the Decathlon. It is posted already. I finished it in the afternoon saying that Ashton Eaton had won the decathlon but couldn't send it until the evening when he had actually won. I asked the US press officer if he had won, explaining why. She replied "Don't do that, you will jinx us". I replied "If it works like that I am off to write that US won all the relays. I need not have worried as US lost both relays without my help!

As I leave early in the morning I decided to check my account tonight. They told me I had paid 7200 on arrival and my bill was 6700 but they had actually charged my card 7100 and I owed for dinner 138 so they owed me262. But I need to pay a deposit of 200 against damage to my room which I would get back in the morning. So could I pay 6838 and they would refund 7100? Why don't you give me 262 I asked? However, I have learned that the Chinese are even worse than Baptists for "but we always do it this way". So I gave up and paid 6838 and 200! Incidentally 200 is about £20 so clearly they don't expect me to do much damage to the room!

Friday morning - opted for the Chinese breakfast flied egg and bacon and flied lice followed by chicken nuggets and chips. Also had a Danish called "The pineapple is". Decided not to have the cannabis - really, there was a bowl on the buffet labelled "cannabis".

Odd signs in China

By the way, the media restaurant calls itself a "self help restaurant" - I think they mean "self-service".

Finally I keep meaning to mention a notice on a subway train door. "Please watch your hands". I did but nothing happened.

In the hotel I saw a notice "Please be quiet in the meeting". I think it meant "Quiet please, meeting in progress" but I quite liked the original wording!

The English menu in my hotel included such gems as:

The jungle prickly ash chicken

Sprinkle with a native goat

Fans in a clay pot fat

Tomato waist willow

Air balls

Pan collapsed stuffed tofu

Coke slipped balls

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