With a spectacular opening ceremony held in Beijing last August 8, 2008 at 8:08PM (that’s five 8s for five times the luck even if it was done in a Chinese “Ghost” month, said to bring bad luck, very conflicting and confusing Chinese views), it looks to set a level that will pose a challenge to any future Olympic host country. The fireworks were spectacular (never mind the fact that some of it may have been computer generated), the performers number greatly at 15,000 people, with near synchronized dancing, and the acts show the rich culture and history of Ancient China that most of us are accustomed to. The grand finale wherein the torch was lit up was truly great as I do not think anyone forecasted that happening. For those who still did not know, they attached a safety harness to the last Olympic torch bearer, lifted him up with his torch and carried him around the Bird Nest Stadium walls while said torch bearer re-enacts slow motion running. Said torch bearer is also one of China’s Olympic Gold Medalist. When the torch was lit up, more fireworks were launched from the ground. The 2008 Olympics had truly begun! The marching parade of each country soon followed. While some countries had 20-30 participants representing their counties (most notably that of China and U.S.A.), other countries had only a handful of competitors joining this big event. They were all treated equally and given the proper respect by all countries. It probably lasted two hours before the parade finally ended for a total 4 hours since the ceremony started.
I saw this while I was in Hong Kong (was there from Aug 5-9,2008) and that was my first experience for this year’s Olympics. Hong Kong, being part of China, will also host its own Olympic Event, that of the four Equestrian competitions. They even have a mascot of their own, to complement the five mascots of China. Whereas China’s mascots represent the elements of fire, wind, water, earth, and that of a PANDA (???), Hong Kong’s represent that of a HORSE. I don’t know what they call their Hong Kong mascot but if you combine the Chinese names of the five mascots of China, it roughly translated to “Welcome to Beijing”. Since some events will be held in other Chinese cities (aside from Hong Kong, there is also Shanghai, Qingdao and Tianjin), I wonder why they used Beijing instead of China as a country in welcoming the competitors?
In Hong Kong, there weren’t any fireworks on 08.08.08 but they showed live Olympic coverage at the shopping mall for anyone interested enough to watch them. I was able to catch the first event at Time Square in Causeway Bay, where China’s Chen XieXia was competing for the women’s 48kg weightlifting title, and gave China its first gold medal. Very impressive in that she was able to lift a 117kg barbell (more than double her own body weight) off the ground, hold it above her head for a few seconds before finally letting it go. As you can see from the picture above, there was substantial interest among the Hong Kong people with regards to China's Olympic performances.
The Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui was also lit up around 8:00PM to show the Olympic events. This is to coincide with the light show they have at the Harbour every night. There was also an Olympic Torch and the five Olympic rings displayed here. An Olympic Piazza was also set up nearby but it was closed when we went there.
In terms of souvenirs, there were some scattered Olympic stores in Hong Kong selling pens, pins, flags, shirts, caps and whatnots but nothing caught my interest. Almost all local and international sports brand (Nike, Puma, Adidas ) have their own Olympic clothes and apparel line for sale as well. I ended up just buying four stamp pieces from the local post office depicting the four Olympic Equestrian events held here.
The countdown has finally ended. The Olympics is here! Photo taken on August 9,2008...14 hours after Olympics had started.
Night view of Hong Kong