Into the O-Zone

First of all, hi to everyone who’s arriving from the Pa Kua Journal! Thanks to the guys there for linking to me – I’m not sure that I warrant it, but it’s an honour nonetheless!

It’s a hot, hot day with blue skies in Beijing today. That makes a real change from the last week, which has been overcast, with regular, heavy thunderstorms. I need to read up more about cloud seeding; it’s generally assumed here that the recent wet weather is artificial, arranged by the government to clean the air, and make Beijing green for the Olympics. On the other hand, I haven’t read anywhere that artificially induced rain would be accompanied by the kind of electrical effects we’ve had – plus, there’s been all the floods in Southern China, so maybe there really is an unusual, but natural, cause.

Anyway… we’re into the Olympic season now. July 1st was the cut-off date for foreigners – if your visa ran out after that date, then forget getting a new one. Lots of people have had to leave, even if they’ve been here for years. The government’s taking no chances…. My visa’s good till the end of September, which is technically still within the non-renewal period (back to normal mid-October, apparently) but I’m hoping that by then, with the main Olympic events over, they’ll be more relaxed. My visa is legit, anyway, unlike many of the long-termers, whose visas were obtained through… let’s say somewhat less than 100% official channels….

The subway lines are all having their final makeovers. Most of them now have bag-scanners and guards with metal-detecting wands in the stations. I haven’t been scanned yet, but it’s probably just a matter of time. That’s a bit of a problem for me, because I usually only use the subway on weekends – and on Saturdays, when I’m heading off to my pan guan bi (bagua needles) class, I am actually carrying offensive weapons…. Hmmm…. perhaps I should start using taxis for the next few weeks… but that’s going to be expensive….

The university campus where I work and live is hosting one of the Olympic competitions. For the last couple of months, new fences and temporary pavilions have been appearing. From next week onwards, we’re going into a full security mode – we’ll be issued with entry passes, and will have to inform the authorities of travel plans. The students are all being evicted, which is a shame. They’re all really proud that Beijing is hosting the Olympics, and they would really like to be here to witness it, but all students (and migrant workers) have been instructed to go back to their home towns during the Games. So, after their exams next week, off they’ll go…. Lots of them are Beijingers anyway, so they won’t go too far; a number of them have been coming up with money-making schemes, which they’ve been market-testing on me! What do foreigners think of…. How much would you pay for this….. Hehehe. The student dormitories are apparently all going to be used by foreign Olympic volunteers; that’ll be interesting.

Outside, there are truckloads of migrant workers planting vast flower beds, unloading potted trees on the pavements, all part of the effort to make Beijing look beautiful… and it does. It really does. I love this city.

So on that note…. I’m going to head down to the lakes at Houhai to enjoy the afternoon sun….

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