3 years without...
...going to a cinema, since cinemas are so expensive in China (around 10 USD), they only have around 20 foreign films a year (due to government regulations) and fake DVDs are so cheap.
But, in Bangkokg, in one of the best cinemas in town, it is only a few dollars and they show loads of movies, so I popped in on saturday to watch Die Hard 4 (a great 'return to the cinema after 3 years' choice).
Now the Thais love their King -and it really is not possible to understate the word 'love'. In fact, though 95% of Thais are Buddhist I think the king fulfills a god-like role. Yellow is his colour so Thais often wear yellow t-shirts (especially on Monday, when the subway is full of yellow). On many tall buildings there are massive (covering 20 or more storeys/floors) posters of their dear king. Along the roads there are posters and temples to the king. He is everywhere. I have no problem with this, and was quite willing to stand up during the 3 minute 'infomerical' about the kind that was showed just before the movie started. It was quite surprising though, when after an advert about shampoo, the whole movie theatre gets up and bows their head and then the king comes on!
...going to a live sporting event, since there are not many world famous teams in China. However, on sunday 1 world famous team, Barcelona, was in town so i went to buy the cheapest ticket (18 Euros; most expensive was 180 Euros!) to watch them beat Beijing 3-0. The game was surprisingly good and open. Barcelona were in another league altogether, especially in individual skill, but Beijing did get better towards the end.
There were 30,000 fans, though the stadium is very different to British ones: no roofs, jsut 1 tier of seating and an athletics track means the atmosphere is not as good. Though it did heat up when some Americans (supporting Beijing) had a scuffle with some Chinese (supporting Barcelona). Of course there was plenty of fake t-shirts and posters outside the stadium, but the Chinese still have some way to go to prepare for the Olympics -for example, there was so few snack stalls that they ran out at half-time and were only twice the price of normal shop prices! Wembley can give them some advice on extortionate pricing I am sure!