For those who have studied some Chinese before, look at that title and muse over it for a minute. I saw it on a T-shirt here written underneath a huge outline of China...

 

For those who have not taken Chinese before, you may have come across this slogan in its original form in this blog before, or maybe hearing it during any of the Olympic events with Chinese competitors - yes, it is the infamous 加油 (jia1you2, "add oil/gas" ) that in common usage just means something along the lines of "keep it up", "keep it going", "go on". In that form I have seen it on countless T-shirts all over China, usually accompanied by exclamation marks and a flag and/or map of China. But this was the first time that I've seen such badly (probably online-) translated version of it... Oh the joy when Chinglish meets pop-culture!

 

I am now in Beijing, and Beijing is nothing short of fantastic. This city is alive with the Olympic Vibe, the skies are actually clear (blue skies as my train entered Beijing - I could hardly believe my eyes!), I understand the mandarin so much more and I am being understood so much more, everyone is friendly and welcoming - this is a very special time, in a very special place. When I ventured out to the olympic area for the first time yesterday and saw the stadium from a distance, and suddenly realised that yes, that actually was the olympic flame up there burning away, I felt very strangely touched and it was a very eye-opening moment. Many adventures with black-market sellers, random conversations and touring Beijing trying to find accommodation later, I ended up in a small hostel-like "hotel" where I seemed to be the only guest - but finding a single room with a double bed for 138 RMB a night is a real bargain, and it was in a beautiful little courtyard! Shower was not so great though, and neither were the other facilities, so I am on the move once more.

 

Currently I am eating in a vegetarian restaurant, rewarding myself for walking a lot and not taking taxis by treating myself to 30 RMB tea and a lovely spicy vegetables dish. I don't have much time left though - I need to find a room quickly, then get ready for the Olympics tonight! I'm planning to be all-out-mad-German so that I get on TV - but then that may not really be of help, since there is, I think, only one Final today that actually has a German competitor, and without really many chances. Ah well. Off to buy flags, face paint etc now!

 

"I flied across the sea of time, and met you in the corner" the broken English on my little notebook reads as part of a poem. For some bizarre or another reason, I have a feeling that I have done just that, and that after two weeks of aim(less)ly traversing China, I have come home. 北京欢迎我! ("Beijing welcomes me", a play on the inofficial Olympic song 北京欢迎你 [Beijing Welcomes You] )

 

PS: A few words about my time in Guangzhou shall follow shortly!