T-minus 1 hour and 10 minutes...
I have just enough time before my Korean Air flight to Seoul for a quick post. I meant to do this over the weekend but got muddled in packing, creating a whole new playlist for my iShuffle, and cleaning my apartment so I wouldn't be disgusted at myself upon returning from this trip. It's amazing how much stuff I packed to take to my mom and my cousin and his wife. My big red suitcase (I should refer to it as "Clifford") is full of things that I'm leaving behind in China...there's nothing in it that's actually mine. Among the weirder items in that suitcase: 3 packages of nylon knee-highs (fortunately my co-worker Karen bought these at Fred Meyer on my behalf!), 1 jar of cream of tartar (not tartar sauce), 2 boxes of Immodium AD, and 1 bottle of Zacapa (the BEST rum in the entire world...from Guatemala of all places).
Originally I was going to post the second entry of my blog either on the way to China or right after I got there, but a couple of weeks have passed since my inaugural entry. My friend Monica said she heard that a blogger needs to post at least twice a week to maintain consistent readership levels. Wow, I never knew. Since my blog is limited to writing about international trips that I take, I don't think I'll be posting that often. I like traveling and all, but who's on an overseas flight twice a week? Well, aside from my friend Tom, who criss-crosses the world like it's going out of style. I aspire to have his frequent flyer elite status someday.
One of the reasons I decided to blog again was to explain my motives behind going to Beijing. A couple of people asked me over the past few months if I felt conflicted in any way, given all of the negative press that the Chinese government has received - particularly during and after the civil unrest in that southwestern region whose name starts with the letter T. It's probably best to refrain from addressing this issue on-line, lest I get seized in the middle of the night by masked agents and shuttled on the first flight out of the country. Either way, I don't feel that my attendance really contributes to and/or legitimizes the policies & actions of the Chinese government.
First and foremost, I am a self-professed Olympics geek. I've watched every single Opening Ceremony (winter AND summer, thank you very much) on TV since Sarajevo and Los Angeles hosted in 1984. I toured the Olympic stadia in Munich (1972) and Barcelona (1992) during my junior year in college. In 2000 I used my Peace Corps readjustment allowance (which many of my peers spent more judiciously) and traveled to Australia for the Sydney Games. So when I found out two years ago that my cousin was getting posted to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, I told him and his wife that I definitely would come in 2008.
Also, I view these Games as a celebration of Chinese history, culture, and traditions. As one of the estimated 40 million members of the Chinese diaspora, the Beijing Olympics are like a coming-home party to which I invited myself. I recognize that there's quite a bit of baggage, but let's not forget that no one regime, country, political system, or whatever owns the Olympics. Even with all of the criticism and scrutiny, the Chinese still have to put on a good show.
There's a lot more I could say about this, but I need to make my way over to the S Terminal...wouldn't want to miss my flight!