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 pictures above).

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 ago.

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 Tour Guide.

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:

Prepping for the Paralympics at the Kadena Air Base

Opening Ceremonies

Justin Zook's racing

Anna Eames' racing

Closing Ceremonies

Some of the sites of Beijing

Pictures taken by my daughters

US Paralympic Swimming Page

International Paralympic Committee Page

Astronomy Course Syllabus