Sunday, May 02, 2010

Newspapers and small glaciers

On wednesday I went to my first champions league game. Granted this
was the Asian version of the Champions League so the quality was not
quite the same as the European equivalent, but none-the-less there
were 42,000 people in the 3/4 full stadium watching Beijing Guo An
(who won the Chinese league last year for the first time). There were
almost 100 visitng Japanese fans who, along with their team, were
subject to a torrent of abuse. The Chinese don't generally like the
Japanese because of various atrocities comitted when Japan occupied
parts of China before and during the 2nd World War, but I am not sure
this was the main reason for the verbal abuse. I'll have to go to a
game against snother team to compare. However I was still chcoked in
the harshness of the chanting and the lack of any creativity.

Finally, towards the end of the game, after Beijing were 2-0 up, the
fans started cheering their players and singing more positive chants.
The rest of the time they were just insulting the opposition no matter
what they did. The Japanese team dominated the first 30 mins but
failed to score, Beijing managed to score 2 in their 30 minute period
of domination but the last 30 minutes was less exciting. Overall it
was a good game and Beijing played much better than when I saw them
last season in the Barclays Asia Cup (which you might recall also
involved 3 Premiership teams, and was won by Tottenham).

Outside the stadium, apart from all the touts and police, there lots
of people selling newspaper, though I was unsure why. In the stadium,
after we found a seat near where we were supposed to sit since no-one
sat in their designated seats (this almost caused a fight between me
and some chinese guy in my designated seat), I solved the mystery of
the newspaper. Every single person sat on a sheet or two, and put
another sheet or two behind them when they were sitting -and
rearranged it after standing up in the game (as their seat flipped
up). The guy behind us even gave our group some sheets to use. A
paradox of China where people throw rubbish all over the countryside,
often spit in the street but are afraid of sitting on a clean plastic
seat in a stadium.

Last saturday summer arrived with 25 degree weather so we went to the
Olympic Forest Park; which has a lake, hill, nuermous rivers, a
wetland and all sorts. Its huge, people often hire 4-seat bicycles to
ride around and there is an 'ecological corridoor' connecting the
south part of the park with the north which is a bridge over the
motorway to allow wildlife to cross it. Its a great place to go, and
even has ecological sanitary toilets (which we promoted in rural China
when I was at Plan International).

Yesterday the temperature hit 31, so we headed out a couple hours west
of town via subway and taxi (sine the queue for the bus was so long)
to place called '18 pools' where we followed a path through a valley
along a river with various pools along the way. It was good exercise
despite not being able to see the last 5 or 6 pools since the path was
not built yet. After a cheap night in a local B&B type place (where i
followed the football updates via the internet on my phone) today we
went another 45 minutes west to 'Doune dragon gorge' for another
4-hour return hike up alongside a river. This time we reached the end,
which, bizarrely was a small glacier! Not just there, but on top of
much of the river we followed to get there, was plenty of thick ice...
thick enough to walk on. I think the glacier melts in the Summer, but
we were shocked to see all of this ice in the sun in this heat.

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