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Welcome To Beijing!

At least, that's what I think this human-sized critter was saying to me in a mechanical voice when I made it past customs. It's also possible he was saying "Eat Dirt Foreigner!" Or "Just to Your Left Up Ahead is the Starbucks Cart, Right Next to the Jeep Store!" Or "Paul Lo Duca Got Just Released!"

The critter, of course, is Huanhuan the Olympic Flame, one of five such mascots. Their smiling demonic faces are everywhere, from massive banners to car window decals on cars stuck in traffic in all the non-Olympic traffic lanes.

But the airport-to-high-speed-equipped-Washington-Post-office-space transition is actually remarkably easy, at least if you work for the Washington Post. Leave customs, and several volunteers will see you off to the media transport exit. There, at least six volunteers will coordinate your passage on a regulation-sized bus filled with exactly three people: the driver, the volunteer and the passenger. From there, your WaPo adminstrator will meet you in your hotel lobby, arrange for you to get a hotel key, help you tell the hotel staff which foods you don't prefer, shuffle you through a metal detector and onto another empty bus that runs directly to the Main Press Center, and hand you a local cell phone and a bag full of pins.

And then, about 19 hours after you left home, you will be in a room filled with Washington Post employees and Washington Post computers and Washington Post coffee mugs and really, really, really fast Washington Post Internet service. Just downstairs is the McDonald's, if you want anything.

It seems unfair, really. Traveling to a foreign country should be a lot harder than this.

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 2, 2008; 5:14 AM ET
Categories:  Olympics  
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thats right Dan only say nice things about the wonderful Peoples Republic of China

Don't let any of these Capitalist pigs say any thing bad about our Glorious Comrades in the Far East

Posted by: jonthefisherman | August 2, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Does bus ride come with egg roll?

Posted by: JkR | August 2, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Huanhuan the Olympic Flame is seriously creepy looking. That thing should've been in a Chucky movie or something.

Posted by: sitruc | August 2, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Is WaPo supplying the air too? Can you breathe? Is your hi-speed internet censored or limited in sites you can call up?

Posted by: joe c | August 2, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

It would be funny if the Chinese blocked Deadspin or any other snarky sports blog.

Posted by: odessa steps | August 2, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Dan's original text read as:

Help! I'm stuck in the airport prison since Blogs aren't the Post's 'Core Business.'

The Chinese, IOC, and NBC sensors changed it to the words above.

Posted by: Kim | August 2, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

So just after you change the name to the Sports Smog, blue skies appear over Beijing? Great timing!

Posted by: Matt C | August 2, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Huanhuan is watching > Big Brother is watching.

or maybe Huanhuan is big brother?

Posted by: cower in fear | August 2, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, you missed out on some gold material due to amazing hospitality. You should seriously try to dodge your handlers and try to take some taxis some place random. Good times.

Posted by: Ryan | August 13, 2008 5:10 AM | Report abuse

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