Some of the Sights of Beijing (and a few from Kadena)
This pages shows you a few of the exciting things that either I or my wife
and daughters saw during their stay in China. I was in China to be a swimming
coach, and not to be a sight-seer. However, my wife and daughters were not in
China as hired coaches, but as spectators with a limited supply of tickets.
Therefore, when they did not have a swim meet to attend, they chose to explore
Beijing and some of the surrounding mountains. They had three straight days
to see the sights. After the competition in The Cube was over, I had about 36
total hours. My family had three absolutely spectacular days of blue, cloudless
skies. During my brief tourism opportunity, louds rolled in and various forms
of pollution filled the sky. So, I have included pictures that either I took
or that my wife and daughters too in the pages below:
My daughters got to see the pandas at the Beijing
Zoo (seen in the picture above).
The morning of Closing Ceremonies, a few coaches and one swimmer
(Cheryl Angelelli) took a taxi to the center of Beijing to see The
Forbidden City and Tianamen
Square. I am standing in front of the Tianamen Tower, the entrance of which
was forbidden to anyone except members of the Royal Family or aristocrats until
1911. No longer a closed gate, we were able to walk inside (as seen in the two
The picture below shows the Paralympic Sign in Tianamen Square.
Access was limited on the afternoon I visited due to various dignitaries who
were preparing for Closing Ceremonies later that evening.
My wife and daughters got to visit the Temple
of Heaven, seen in the picture above, and the two below. The Temple of Heaven
was built in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty, three years after the Tianamen Tower
was built. Since heaven was a greater place that the Emperor's palace, it needed
a great site. The Temple of Heaven is much larger in scope that the Tianamen
Tower, and the grounds cover 2,700,000 square meters.
The Summer Palace,
seen in the pictures above and below was designed as a special retreat for the
Emperor, a place to get away from the hot summer days and relax by cool waters.
Lastly, we got to see the Great
Wall of China ... a structure so massive in extent that it is visible to
astronauts aboard the Shuttle. The top two pictures were taken by my wife on
a gorgeous afternoon, while the bottom pictures were taken by me on a morning
which was hazy with clouds.
The area behind the Bird's Nest and Cube was an extended grounds
of the Olympic
Green where spectators and athletes strolled in the afternoon or evening
to look at sculptures or exhibits. The Johnson & Johnson Co. built an exhibit
that housed several terra
cotta warriors from Xian Province. Since Xian was at least 11 hours away
by car, it was truly fantastic for me to see some of the warriors only a few
blocks from the Paralympic Village. My thanks to Johnson & Johnson for giving
me the opportunity to see a few of the 80,000 terra cotta warriors (seen above)
that guarded the tomb of the first emperor of China who died over 2250 years
The "Olympic Axis" was a "road" that ran
from the Bird's Nest and Cube to the Paralympic Village. On one side were competition
venues and convention halls, and on the other was a series of sculptures seen
in the pictures above and below.
Somehow, no trip of mine is "complete" unless it includes
snails ... the subject of my PhD. thesis. The giant silver snail sculpture was
along the Olympic Axis, and the bottom picture shows a live snail on a large
leaf just a block from the Shogun Inn where I stayed during the training camp
on the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. Two blocks from the snail was a large tree
with amazingly large banana spiders hanging from their silk strands. These banana
spiders can grow to the the size of my hand, and I include a close-up picture
of one for your enjoyment (two photos below the snail).
My wife and daughters were given permission to visit me at the
Paralympic Village on afternoon. The picture above shows them posing with sculpted
dancers. These same dancers are seen in the Beijing
The Paralympic Village, which also served as the Olympic Village
the previous month, was specifically designed for the athletes and coaches,
but would later be used as residences for the people of Beijing. It was a very
beautiful setting with paved paths connecting the buildings, a stream flowing
down the length of the complex, and spectacular flowers lining the paths.
For me, the trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I am
so thankful to have been part of. This last picture was taken 30 minutes after
the final race of the swimming competition. Julie O'Neill, our team head coach
and leader, invied us to attend a special dinner exclusively for VIPs ... and
we members of the US Paraympic Swimming Staff received the royal treatment.
I paused for a minute on the way to our dinner to snap off one more picture
of The Cube, The Bird's Nest, and The Paralympic Flame.
I hope that you have enjoyed seeing how I spent the last parts
of the summer of 2008, and I also hope that these pages give you a better idea
of my involvement with US Paralympic Swimming and why the athletes and coaches
are such an important part of not only my life, but also the lives of my wife
and daughters. You can go back to any of the previous pages from here: