Olimpic fever

Trip Start Oct 08, 2007
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Trip End Dec 16, 2008


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Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lijiang is on Olympic ecstasy. You can feel it as soon as the buss enters the outskirts of town. It is poring, hailing and than poring again. It doesn't matter. The Olympic relay is coming tomorrow. The town is covered in Chinese and Olympic flags of various sizes, and overrun by tourist and locals in "I (hart) China" T-shirts and swelled with national pride.

So where is the relay going to pass? Nobody really knows. It is a top secret. At 7 am next morning, a crowd is gathering at the main square. A traditional Naxi music is being played by a band of centennial Naxis (an ethnic minority that is majority in Lijiang area). There is a traditional dancing in circle performed by elderly Naxi ladies in brand new traditional Naxi outfits. The whole thing reminds me of May 1st celebration in Bulgaria in the communist times, except, the people are actually quite excited and for the most part here on their own accord

While in search of the Olympic fire, I befriend a Taiwanese lady, who speaks perfect English. She finds out where the relay is supposed to pass and we join thousands of Chinese men and women, and kids, and babies and dogs, that are eagerly awaiting the relay with little Chinese flags and sun umbrellas in hand. Two hours on, the crowd has lost some of its enthusiasm, but stoically awaits. It is in the end an anticlimax. Instead of fit guy or a gall running down the street with a torch in their hand we see a buss full of people - each one holding a torch, but no fire. The actual passing of the torch must have been filmed earlier. The flat screen monitors on Mill Wheels square are showing running  athletes holding torches with Olympic fire, while the buss is passing through the cordon, followed by the amazed, disappointed gaze of the crowd. I felt sorry for the people. They had the disillusioned look of a kid unwrapping a pair of socks for X-mass, after having been fooled to expect a bike with a shiny bell and a whistle. Memories of May flood my thoughts once again. Five minutes later - a swift recovery. The celebration continues full swing. Why spoil the party for this one glitch. I like the positive outlook.

***
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