Monthly Archives: July 2008

Rules Change All the Time

One thing you learn pretty early here in China is that rules change constantly. You would think that we would take the same route to work everyday but different roads are closed everyday. There is a lot of security around any Olympic Venue, including our Village, and everyday there is some different security measure. It can be frustrating but you just learn to handle it because that’s just the way things are done here, and if you argue you’ll go to jail. It’s just the way it is here.

Yesterday was a rehearsal for the Opening Ceremonies and the stadium was packed out. I wish I could tell you all about everything, but I didn’t even see anything. When we got to work we were given a ticket to get into the stadium for the day, our credentials apparently weren’t going to be enough. Around 3 or 4 we were told that the production team wasn’t going to be allowed to be in the arena to practice. That means that no cameramen were allowed at their positions.

We were told to go home by our boss so we did, that turned out to be a big mistake. Some people stayed behind and used their ticket to get in as any other spectator, which for some stupid reason I didn’t think to do. So, they watched the whole performance minus the torch lighting, and I missed out. They all said it was incredible, and the way they describe it, it should be. Luckily there are two more rehearsals, one on the 2nd and one on the 5th. Hopefully that means we will be able to get in and practice like all the people on the stage. We’ll see.

I really don’t want you all to think that China is wrong or bad for these decisions. I don’t agree with them and neither do a lot of people and it certainly makes our jobs harder, but that’s just the way things are done here. It’s a different culture and you really don’t have a point of reference until you come here. They live a different way for different reasons than we do, but that certainly doesn’t make things wrong in whole. They are great people and a lot of fun to be around.

I think we will be assigned cameramen to work with pretty soon and I’m excited. I have been trying to get to know some of the cameramen and build relationships with them, because those are the guys I’ll be working next to. There is a chance I could be on the field for the Opening Ceremonies, but we’ll wait and find out. I’m hoping we get assigned in the next day or so, but who knows.

No new pictures at this time because even if I could take pictures I won’t be able to post any from inside the National Stadium till later. I’ll try and take some and post them later.

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The Wall

Sunday we set out to make it to The Great Wall, but only some of us accomplished this feat. About 10 of us wanted to go because most of us start work tomorrow and don’t know when we will have another day off.

We went to the front desk to find out the best way to get there and of course to get it written in Chinese. Well they told us to take a taxi to a bus stop where we could jump on a bus that would take us to the wall. The taxi took us to the bus stop, and we found the bus but we had no idea where to get off. We thought we’d just ride until we saw the wall, I’ve said it before, we just shouldn’t think for the rest of the trip. The bus eventually stopped and they told us we had to get off and that the wall wasn’t here. But then up popped a man off the street that said he’d take us to the wall. It was about a ten minute ride from the bus stop and for the three of us 100 RMB total, so about $4 each.

There are a few different portions of the wall you can go to in the Beijing area and we went to the one at Mutianyu. The site is absolutely unbelievable, nothing in this world compares to it. We walked a good portion of the wall, but there are so many steps and it’s very very steep. At some points each step is about 18 inches or so high.

It was very long and very hot and humid (as it is every day, the air quality is so poor it’s not even funny) so we didn’t spend a long time out there. We took a lot of pictures and I’ll try to send some with this entry (again I can’t post to wordpress from China the site is blocked).

There are vendors on the wall that sell water, beer, and postcards. Just like any good business it’s all about placement. Since we’re up on the Wall there just aren’t options or competition for these vendors so they sell water for three times what you can get it anywhere else in the country. When you get down from the Wall (maybe one of the coolest parts) there is a street with vendors on both sides yelling out to you to buy shirts, postcards, pictures, water, beer, bananas, whatever you can think of pretty much. They are very aggressive. One lady pulled my arm to get me to look at her and another hit me with a bottle of water.

I mentioned coming down was one of the coolest parts, it’s kind of sad that that is what I liked a lot but it’s just so cool. I said you take a ski lift up and you can also take it down, but you can also ride a speed chute down. You get on this little cart with a lever between your legs, to go faster you press the lever forward and to slow down you pull it back. The only rule: you go as fast as you want. The course winds it way back down the mountain and has some pretty sharp turns, but boy is it fun. It is very similar to the luge from the Winter Olympics except you sit up rather than back, but it has that same feel.

When we got all the way back down there were two men dressed in traditional Chinese Warrior uniforms with old style weapons that want you to take pictures with them, they also want you to pay. I figure it’s not often an old Chinese man is going to be dressed in a warrior uniform and offer to let me take a picture of them, so I jumped at the chance.

Getting back was not as tough of a task, thankfully. The man that drove us was waiting in the parking lot and drove us to the bus station where we hoped back on the 916. This time we knew where we were going and when to get off so that wasn’t as stressful.

The Wall is such a tremendous site; it is almost surreal to see it, to touch it, to walk it. I can’t believe I got to go. I hope I can get back to it at the end of the trip. Monday is my first day of work so we’ll see how that goes, don’t know exactly what we are doing but hopefully I’ll get to see inside the National Stadium and maybe walk around in it.

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Site Seeing

I think I’m getting settled in here pretty nicely.  I’m adjusting to the culture and learning quickly how to get places.  The best way is to ask one of the workers at the front desk of our building.  They will look up anything, call for us, and write down directions so we can give it to the taxi driver.  They really are some of the nicest and coolest people I’ve ever met.  They are so willing to help in anyway they can and they always greet us in English and tell us to “have a good day” every time they see us, and always with a big smile on their face.

With that being said, yesterday I went with some friends to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.  That was incredible.  To me looking at a site and realizing the history that happened there is phenomenal.  Standing there and thinking about that one man standing in the way of those tanks is truly a lasting moment.  The Forbidden City was even more impressive.  I never realized how big it really was.  I guess every time I saw it on a map I didn’t realize how big the city of Beijing was.  We didn’t go into the entire city, we didn’t have enough time.  Plus it cost money to get into the inner area and we didn’t want to pay 60 RMB, which is about $8 or so.

While we were in the Forbidden City 4 or 5 different Chinese people wanted to get their picture taken with me.  The four of us couldn’t figure out why each time they singled me out rather than the other three guys.  We have two theories: I was the tallest out of our group, and I have a nice (almost) full beard.  We could be totally wrong.

Later that night one of the guys that was with me (Thomas) and I went out to dinner with our professor and his family.  They took us to their favorite restaurant (they moved to Beijing for a brief time so he could do planning with our company).  The restaurant was called “The Great Wall” not to be confused with the restaurant of the same name in Wilmore, no corporation going on there.

It was a nice meal served family style, and the only reason I bring it up is because I tried duck for the first time.  Now I’m not a person to try a lot of different foods ever.  I like what I like and I don’t like to try things I might not like.  It’s just how I am.  It really wasn’t that bad, but it won’t be my favorite dish either.  I figure it’s part of my responsibility to try new things while I’m here because who knows when I’ll be back.

One more note: if you would like to contact me or make a remark about one of my posts please send an e-mail to  tj.budd@yahoo.com” tj.budd@yahoo.com or Facebook me.  I can’t see this site over here so I can’t see any comments obviously.

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Photos from Beijing

T.J. sent these photos from Beijing to be posted on his blog.

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Cancellations, delays, no Internet – but I’m finally in China!

By T.J. Budd

Sorry about the delay in getting this blog going.  I haven’t had internet access my first few days, and then I found out that I couldn’t update my blog while I’m over here.  So, I’m going to e-mail my entries back to the States where they can be posted.

This first post is basically a chronicle of my trip getting over here, it will be one of the longest posts, in the future I’ll have shorter and more frequent updates.

I thought my trip to Beijing was going to start on Wednesday morning in Lexington, well, that was the first of many times I thought wrong.

I arrived in Blue Grass Airport sometime around 6 am on Wednesday July 23rd.  I found out just minutes later that my flight had been canceled.  The fine people at the Delta Airlines Desk got me another flight to Atlanta, where I was supposed to fly to in the first place.  That doesn’t seem so bad, catch another flight just hang around for a few extra minutes, I was still doing ok.  Then I found out those few extra minutes would be spent in a cab going to the Cincinnati Airport, paid for by those fine people at Delta.

After Max (my cab driver and a real nice man) dropped me off in Cincy I figured this all was simply a minor setback in my travel plans and still nothing to cause concern.  The lady at the desk in Cincy was very nice with me but sure was upset with the people back in Lexington.  Apparently they hadn’t finished the work they were supposed to do with my ticket, and that made a lot more work for her.  Once she got it taken care of I was off to catch my flight to Atlanta.

On the plane to Atlanta I sat next to these two older ladies and one of them happened to mention that airfare to Beijing was now costing around $8000.  I paid a good chunk of change for my flight, and I remember waiting and trying to feel out the prices back in March.  A few of us from Asbury were wondering if prices might drop in the next few months.  Well, obviously they didn’t.  I’m really glad I got my flight when I did even if it was to cause more problems later in the day.

In Atlanta there were more problems with my ticket, apparently booking with Orbitz was a bad idea this time.  After a good 30 minutes or so everything was fixed and my visa was cleared so I was good to go.  Now the fun begins.  A 14 hour flight to Seoul, Korea.  As soon as I stepped on the plane and found my seat I thought for sure this can’t be that bad.  Every seat had a blanket, pillow, toothpaste and toothbrush kit, a bottle of water, and the kicker a touch screen right in front of them.

The choices were seemingly enough to get me through the next 14 hours.  There was an endless amount of music, movies, games, and TV shows.  Well I quickly learned the games weren’t that much fun and somewhat hard to play, the TV shows consisted of an episode of Friends, Two and a Half Men, and some show I had never heard of.  The movie selection was actually not that bad, and actually quite extensive, over 30 new or newer movies.  I am no movie buff like my friend Tyler is, but I thought the movies I picked were quite good: “21”, “Charlie Wilson’s War”, and “Dan in Real Life.”

The flight was long, but it didn’t seem to last forever.  The flight attendants, and there had to be about 20 of them, came by seemingly every hour with drinks and we were served two meals, which weren’t half bad.  With the movies, TV shows, a few naps here and there, and the service the flight wasn’t bad for 14 hours.  Sure it was long and cramped, but luckily for me there was no one on my right.  We landed in Seoul and I had about 2 hours to kill once I walked to the other side of this mega airport.  I mean this thing was absolutely longer and bigger than anything I had ever seen.  There was a gate then about 3 or 4 shops before another gate.  It was like a mall that you could also from to different countries from.

After a nap in the airport I boarded my final flight of the day, on course for Beijing.  I immediately fell asleep and stayed that way until we landed.  It was refreshing.

Now up to this point I wasn’t nervous at all, I was dreading the length of time it would take to get there and excited about being part of the Olympics so I just didn’t save any space for nerves.  Once we landed I became nervous.  These weren’t nerves from being in China itself but rather being in a completely different country with no one that I actually knew (yet) and not able to speak a lick of the language.  (There was also this minor detail that I didn’t have a place to stay that first night.  My flight landed Thursday around 8 pm local time and I knew once Friday rolled around I was good to go for lodging, it was just a matter of making it through the next 8-10 hours that was going to be the issue.)

I had thought that I would just try to sleep some in the airport or hang out there for a few hours before I could take place in my permanent housing.  Well once again what I thought was wrong.  I went through customs and before I got to baggage claim someone was pulling me aside and telling me what to do next.  I picked up my luggage and went to accreditation where they told me they weren’t expecting me.  For some reason my company wasn’t expecting for a few more days.  Thankfully they put me in a 4-star hotel for the night for what ended up being free to me.

In the morning I had to go to the International Broadcast Center (IBC) to figure out my lodging.  Let me tell you this building is absolutely huge, it houses all Rights Holding Broadcasters.  The means all companies like NBC from around the world that have paid for the rights to broadcast the games have their headquarters in this building.  They all have their offices and studios.  The building also is where all of the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting Company employees have their offices.  There is also a Main Press Center (MPC) where all the writers have a place to work, which is right next door.

Everything got straightened out quickly after I finally found the office that I needed to go into.  I went back to the hotel and checked out and was finally on my way to my permanent housing and more importantly to where three of my friends were already checked in.  It will be nice to see some familiar faces and be able to speak the same language.

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Asbury graduate blogs from Beijing Olympics

In the sea of media coverage for the Beijing Olympic Games later this summer, it may be hard to find an angle that won’t be covered. From NBC’s coverage to print media, it will be covered like no event before it. But what about a local, behind-the-scenes angle? And what if you live in Central Kentucky?

The Jessamine Journal will host on its Web site, jessaminejournal.com, a blog with a different viewpoint of the Beijing Olympics.

“I think the best way to explain it is a young kid’s perspective on China, the Olympics and the journey to there and back,” T.J. Budd said.

Budd, and more than 50 others Asbury students and graduates, will journey to China this summer to assist in the Beijing Olympic Broadcasting’s coverage of the Games. Specifically, Budd will be a camera assistant. He’ll work alongside a cameraman at National Stadium.

“I will be helping running a camera, and if, for whatever reason, the camerman can’t be there or something happens to him, then I would be in charge of the camera,” he explained. “I’ll be helping tear it down, and I guess if I’m assigned to a camerman on the field, then I make sure he doesn’t get hit by anything and keep him out of the way.”

His assignment at National Stadium will give him a glimpse of the heart of the Olympics.

“I’m going to be working the opening and closing cermonies, track and field and I believe there’s going to be a couple soccer matches there, too,” Budd said. “So, pretty much anything going on at that stadium is where I’m going to be.”

And each day (or every other day) Budd will blog about his experience. From the viewpoint of a 22-year-old Asbury graduate with a degree in media communication, who grew up in Wilmore.

He plans to take a digital camera and take pictures to post with his blog. But don’t expect a straight news site with event coverage. Budd will be documenting the experience, not results.

“I’m going to write about the journey there and back,” he said. “(Traveling) over there, the long plane rides and the getting there and the experience of the Olympics and what it’s like to be there. I want to give a local’s perspective as far as things are done. I don’t expect to have any crack reporting or to bust any big stories while I’m over there, just the experience of what it’s like to not only be in China but to be there for the Olympics.”

And don’t be fooled by the idea of a free trip to China for fun and games at the Olympics. Budd will be working and won’t be on vacation.

“It looks like I will have most of my free time the first couple days I’m there that I can go sightseeing and maybe go to the Great Wall, maybe see Tiananmen Square and all those things. As far as going to watch events, our credentials only get us into the event that we are at. So, my credentials get me into National Stadium. I can’t go watch basketball or watch swimming anytime I want. If I want to go, I have to buy a ticket like everybody else.”

The blog will also be featured on the Web sites of the Advocate-Messenger in Danville, Winchester Sun and the Interior Journal in Stanford. It will be the first blog to run on the new in-house blog system, John Preston, regional digital media director for Schurz Communications, said.

“When (Budd) came to us and said he was interested in doing it, it started the ball rolling,” Preston said. “It planted a good seed. When you think of the Olympics, you think of all the Olympics and what an experience it is for them. What we often forget is what an experience it is for a lot of people who aren’t athletes, like the people who work it. I think this is a good way to share this experience with some who grew up in Central Kentucky, a good ol’ Jessamine County boy seeing the world, and I think it’s a good way for us to look at that other side of the Olympic coin.”

Following the blog should also give readers insight on a brand new experience, and for many of them, something they may never have the chance to do.

“I won’t go as far to say that it’s the next best thing to our readers being there,” Preston said. “But at least they can get a sense of what going on and what’s it like.”

“I don’t know very many people who get to not only go to China, that’s something remarkable in and of itself, but the fact that I get to go over there and and be a part of the Olympic Games is something that’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Budd said. “It’s a tremendous experience to go and be a part of the Olympic Games, which not a lot of people get to say, especially a 22-year-old college graduate. Most people who go have been working in the business for years and years and here’s a kid who, I don’t know, I guess I’m lucky, I get to go over there.”

By Casey Castle
sports@jessaminejournal.com

Copyright:The Jessamine-Journal 2008

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