Plan and seats of the Olympic Stadium in Beijing

I wrote a review about the Olympic Stadium in Beijing some time ago and noticed that people also find this article when looking for the Beijing Olympic Stadium plan or trying to get a look at the Olympic Stadium seats. Since there’s no actual plan of the stadium presented in my previous review and there were just pictures of the VIP seats I decided to write another article and show you what you’re looking for.

Seats at the National Olympic Stadium in Beijing
These are the seats from Herzog & de Meuron’s iconic creation in Beijing, red and white colored with respectively white and red big numbers written in the upper right corner of every seat. There are significantly more red chairs on the first level and the white seats appear to be placed aleatory. There are more white seats on the second floor, but still red is the dominant color. And the third level is composed of mostly white chairs already. The seats are very comfortable made of some kind of plastic polymer and every seats has a hole underneath, I’ll let you imagine yourself what is it for!

1st floor of the National Olympic Stadium in Beijing
The Olympic Stadium has three levels or floors as you probably noticed with the biggest one being first two and the third being a smaller addition. There are 12 public entrances to the stadium each marked with a letter (from A to M). The stadium has large public spaces inside and it is very easy to get anywhere you want. There are also aisles numbers assigned for each entrance letter, from 101 to 156 on first floor and 201 to 256 respectively. The seat numbers are easy to spot and another thing that I liked is that when getting to your aisle you will not have to wonder which side to take as both sides will be your aisle, but divided into two by seat numbers (e.g.: till 10 and after 10). No need to worry if you get lost, there are volunteer assistants willing to help at every aisle, so just ask.

Read morePlan and seats of the Olympic Stadium in Beijing

Honglaowai: “If There Were No Communist Party, Then There Would Be No New China”

Hong LaoWai
Hong LaoWai
Like Gary Brolsma (the Numa Numa guy) and Mahir Cagri (the Turkish “I Kiss You” guy) we now have a new internet celebrity who’s name is not disclosed yet, but he calls himself – Honglaowai, or if translating from Chinese – the red foreigner. I’ve been watching his video’s he posted on YouTube and other Chinese video sharing sites like Tudou and Youku for a few months and I must admit his popularity is growing and if you haven’t heard yet of the Red Laowai just watch him!

So, who is HongLaowai and what does he do? Hmm… Imagine a drunk laowai in a KTV singing karaoke … now imagine him singing Chinese patriotic songs… and now imagine him naked… and in New York! You get the picture? Well, I over exaggerated a little bit, the part of him being naked and drunk, he is in fact sober and the part about being naked in the first video’s he posted refers to chest naked in fact. Below is his first video posted against the wall with a picture of Chairman Mao, which at the moment have over 70,000 views on YouTube since Nov.6, 2007 (but other video’s on Chinese sites all together have millions of views). He sings: “If There Were No Communist Party, Then There Would Be No New China” (沒有共產黨就沒有新中國).

Honglaowai lives in New York and apparently works at a Wall Street but

Read moreHonglaowai: “If There Were No Communist Party, Then There Would Be No New China”

New 10 RMB banknote to commemorate the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Exactly one month before the start of the Beijing Olympic Games the People’s Bank of China issues a commemorative 10 RMB bill. It features the newly built already iconic image of the National Stadium known as the Bird’s Nest on the front and the ancient Greek statue of a discus thrower “Discobolus” on the back.

Olympic commemorative 10 RMB notes
Since the commemorative banknote was issued in only 6 million copies it seems that the whole country rushed since morning to Bank of China branches to get their own copy because of a one banknote per customer policy. Immediately after the sale much higher prices for the 10 yuan Chinese banknote were reported, soaring as high as 1000 RMB per banknote! I personally heard of banknotes being sold forty times the initial price at 400 yuan, but I still think it’s too much. It’s probably just the initial rush, but I might be wrong of course. 6,000,000 banknotes for 1,321,851,888 people (2007 est.) makes about 1 banknote per every 220 people… seems enough!

But what all the western media sees is

Read moreNew 10 RMB banknote to commemorate the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Beijing National Olympic Stadium (Bird’s Nest) Review

Me and Bird??s Nest - night view Almost 2 weeks ago I had a chance to visit the newly built pride and beauty of the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics – Beijing National Stadium (??京?家???), also known as “Bird’s Nest” (鳥巢) during the hosting of “Good Luck Beijing 2008 SOHU.COM China Athletics Open”. It was a kind of audition before the Olympic Games and I would allow myself to make a short unprofessional review or better just call it impressions I got.

The stadium looks amazing from both inside and outside and it is definitely one of the most spectacular architectural constructions I ever seen. It has become already an iconic image for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and souvenirs representing the stadium are already sold out in the streets. Surely the architects Pierre de Meuron and Jacques Herzog have done a great job when designing this beauty that does look like a bird’s nest actually. And I’m glad that Chinese officials have chosen this plan among other projects presented, although there was one plan (B12) with a unique suspending retractable roof which was worth a second thought. The stadium was open in March 2008, but some final constructions and surrounding area preparations are still being done. You’ll notice in the pictures below the elevator steps of the new Olympic subway line with the “Bird’s Nest” in the background, some workers completing final touches, one of the bronze sculptures displayed at the Olympic Green and improvised hand-written directions sign directing visitors to Beijing National Stadium.

Subway line exit and Bird Workers at the Beijing National Stadium Sculptures at the Olympic Green ??Bird

Interesting facts: The stadium construction costs rises to 4 billion RMB which is around 500 million USD and the stadium was built mostly on money which came from donations. The ground was broken on Christmas Eve in December 2003 and it took 4 years to complete the project. It was built with 36 km of unwrapped steel, with a combined weight of 45,000 tonnes. 10 workers had died during the stadium’s construction.

Inside the ??Bird
The arena looks awesome from the inside and it is here where you can actually feel the grandeur of this superb construction. It is just huge and despite the fact that is can host 91.000 people it doesn’t feel crowded. The halls inside are large and there are enough entrances/exits to avoid overcrowding, also they opted for more smaller access gates to the seats rather then bigger ones. Overall I got a positive impression, but there are still some things that need to be done, like hiding these awful metallic bars with cable ties and electric/sound cables on the edge of second floor tribune (see the pictures below) or seriously review the menu for the snacks booths inside the stadium (you can also view the menu in the picture below). The only appealing thing for westerners from this menu was “hot-dogs” (which by the way are nothing like the hot-dogs you know), but it was missing from all the booths I asked while there, never minding the unclear price. Prices were actually unexpectedly low, which is a great thing, hope it stays the same during the Olympics (although I doubt that). They were also selling cold beer in cans on the stadium from “Yanjing” (the best Chinese beer if you ask me) for just 5 RMB and drinking tap water is available from many places (see the picture below). The VIP seats located in between second and third floor tribunes are wrapped in soft fabrics and they are still putting it in on all the seats (picture below).

Bird??s Nest Bird??s Nest National Stadium Snacks and drinks at the Beijing National Stadium VIP seats at Beijing National Stadium

Volunteer staffThe staff working on the stadium, mostly volunteers I suppose, are all young and eager to help you and speak a good English, well organized as well. The girl in the picture here is standing in the lane between the raws and will direct and assist the visitors, also monitoring the things that happened around.

The atmosphere on the stadium was great and the Chinese public presented there during “Good Luck Beijing 2008 China Athletics Open” was very welcoming and excited about the event. All the Chinese people I think are very glad about them being the hosts of such an event and want to show the best they have.

5000m Men??s Final

For more quality and high-resolution pictures of the Beijing National Stadium during day and night, from inside and outside please visit my Beijing Olympics related photographs presented on Alamy. They are licensed for Editorial use only but you can also enjoy viewing them as well.

UPDATE: Since many of you were looking for the stadium plan I also wrote another article on Olympic Stadium seats and plan.

Does Lenovo really provide international warranty service for ThinkPad users?

ThinkPad / ThinkCentre Let me start by saying that I’m just an unsatisfied customer of Lenovo and the story I’m about to write will be a complaint about their services. I do not like complaining about things, but when I do – there’s a reason behind it. Out of all the brands on a notebooks market today I had the impression that ThinkPad users are the most satisfied by the customer service provided, but apparently I was wrong, or should I say it was before IBM sold ThinkPad to Lenovo. If you do a quick search on the internet for customer service provided by Lenovo you will come across loads of articles, stories and complaints about their service.

I don’t want to make it a long story of what I went through, I’ll just tell you the facts:

1. Lenovo does not provide international warranty service! Well at least not in mainland China (home of Lenovo) if you bought it elsewhere, they will however ask you to register your product in China and supposedly you’ll be entitled to the service. The only trouble is they further make it almost impossible to register your product. Be ready to provide beside your computer’s serial number and type/model code: operational system’s code, the copies of your passport, visa’s and entry stamps and extensions in the country you bought your machine as well as the country you are in, receipt of your purchase or a credit card report.
Don’t you think it’s a little bit too much? I mean I can easily check my warranty details on-line for my machine and the database will tell me when my warranty expires, all I need to do is navigate online from my machine! I registered my product on-line and they do have already the details regarding the place I purchased it, the date, my name, email and all sorts of information like that.
Frankly, it seems to me that they just try to avoid to provide the warranty, and that seems to be Lenovo’s policy our days. I came across some other issues on the internet when customers were complaining that Lenovo is trying to make it impossible. So, in my humble opinion of an unsatisfied customer – your international warranty offered by Lenovo does not worth a dime! The email address to inquire about your international warranty: iws@lenovo.com

ThinkPad Battery from Lenovo/IBM
2. Do not hope for a free battery replacement of your ThinkPad’s faulty battery. Lenovo states on their web-site here that they will replace your battery free of charge if it turns to be from this faulty batch produced with a specific FRU part numbers and for specific models. Models affected: R60, R60e, T60, T60p, X60, X60s, X60 Tablet, Z60m, Z61e, Z61m, Z61p, Z60t, Z61t. They certainly did not replaced mine when I brought it to their authorized center. There is a small program provided, available for download online with which you can check if your battery is from this faulty batch.
If you do get lucky and somehow you’ll find out the address where you can replace it make sure Bringing the faulty battery along with your laptop and warranty service details will not get it replaced. You’ll just end up spending your time on customers service unable to help.

Although there’s an announcement on Lenovo’s web-site regarding this issue, they did not let the customers know about this problem. And when it happened to my battery I did not knew I’m eligible for a free replacement, since nobody let me know. That makes me ask why did I provided them with my email address and other contact details?

3. The toll-free telephone number they provide in mainland China for free battery replacement (800-990-8888) is not accessible from mobile phones, and of course there’s no announcement about that. During a period of time I was trying to reach it from a land-line it was playing just a greeting message in Chinese without offering you any other options. The customer support line in mainland China (800-810-3315) although very polite and talking English (and I do appreciate that) wasn’t able to provide any information regarding that issue. Moreover without further investigating the issue the customer service was just saying sorry we cannot do nothing about it because we haven’t heard about it. When insisting to find out, since the information is available on-line, the customer service did get back in touch with me (very fast) but again with no details on how I can solve my issue. When asked to provide me with a written address of an authorized Lenovo/ThinkPad center they agreed, but no reply was received. Oh, and by the way there’s no information in English available on-line regarding the Lenovo/ThinkPad service centers in China. Emailing to logistpe@lenovo.com (the email provided for battery replacement program) and asking for the address in Beijing where you can replace the battery will get you back to 800-990-8888 phone number for mainland China (surprisingly it was working this week).

4. The customer service although well-trained and very polite follows everything by the book but will be of no help to you if facing some issue they never heard of. Same applies to their supervisors who are unable to take correct decisions in critical times. They will also refuse to offer assistance minutes after working time, even though you’ve been involved in the very same discussion for a quite long time already.

It is a pity that a well-known brand like ThinkPad ended-up to be managed by Lenovo who happened to be a disgrace our days. I was lead to believe that Chinese brands like Lenovo care about their image and will not play their dirty games with customers, but I was wrong. And just to think of all the ThinkPad users who chosen Lenovo (IBM’s ThinkPad) mainly because of the international warranty service. That will be such a disappointment for them. I think we’ll have to look for some more reliable brand who cares about their customers first of all. Although I do like my ThinkPad Z61t machine a lot, such an attitude is a major draw back and I doubt I will ever buy another Lenovo product in the future!

Here are a few links confirming my statements:

Strong earthquake hits China

City of Chengdu

According to US Geological Survey an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 struck Sichuan province today, centered 92 km northwest of Chengdu. Apparently it was felt all over China. Reports say people felt it as far away as Beijing and Shanghai, especially by the office workers located in the skyscrapers.

Map of the Sichuan Earthquake

A mate of mine called me to ask if I felt the earthquake, but I didn’t sense anything (I’m in Beijing right now). Apparently here in Beijing a lot of people felt it and poured outside. The only news on Chinese TV about the earthquake was minutes ago in the news bulletin on CCTV9, they reported about the earthquake recorded at 2:28 PM, but no damages or casualties reported yet. It surprises me (well not that much) how a news like that is handled by the media – no reports yet, after 1,5 hours!

The tremor was actually felt in Vietnam and Thailand as well! High rising buildings in Bangkok were continuing to sway for seven minutes. Some reports say it was also felt in Taiwan and Pakistan.

UPDATE: Another news bulletin on CCTV did not get anything except a small statement about the earthquake being reported and that there are no official reports yet coming from Xinhua news agency. I just checked the agency’s web-site and that’s the story they have:

BEIJING, May 12 (Xinhua) — A major earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale jolted Wenchuan County of southwest China’s Sichuan Province at 2:28 p.m. Monday, the State Seismological Bureau said, revising a previous figure of 7.6.
The epicenter of the quake was located 31.0 degrees north latitude and 103.4 degrees east longitude, the bureau said.

With a population of 111,800, Wenchuan lies in southeast part of the Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Aba, 146 km to the northwest of Chengdu, provincial capital of Sichuan.

Xinhua reporters in many other parts of China also reported tremors. Reporters in Chengdu said they saw cracks on walls of some residential buildings in the downtown areas, but no building collapsed.

The telecom networks in Chengdu and Chongqing cities broken down for a while after the quake. People complained they were unable to have phone calls on the fixed line or the mobile.

Here is the link to the full story.

UPDATE II: Actually another minor quake was recorded in Beijing, measuring 3.9 on the Richter scale and jolted the Tongzhou District at 2:35 p.m. It was a triggered tremor from the one in Wenchuan County. Also there’s a rumor circulating among Beijinger’s that an aftershock measuring between two and six on the Richter scale would take place in Beijing between 10 p.m and midnight. But officials from State Seismological Bureau reassured it’s not true and stated: “No destructive earthquake near the capital is likely to occur in the near future”. 5 victims reported dead and hundreds injured in Sichuan and Chongqing.

UPDATE III: The earthquake was upgraded to a 7.9 magnitude from a 7.8 magnitude. Five major aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 4.0 to 6.0 were recorded within two hours of the main tremor. Death toll rises to more then 10.000 and continues to grow. No news still from the epicenter and communications still remains cut. Rescue workers are trying to get to the remote towns where victims are still hoped to be found under ruins. In Benchuan County 80% of buildings are reported destroyed. Unlike 32 years ago when the major earthquake hit Tangshan and Chinese authorities refused to admit for months it happened (only after three years the death toll was announced – 240.000), this time reports, pictures and video’s from eyewitness’s spread over the internet.

An article on wikipedia has been set-up already called 2008 Sichuan earthquake and latest news and information about the quake can be found at SichuanEarthquake.org, both created within 24 hours after the event.

Spring in Beijing

For other a month now, even more actually, since the end of the Chinese New Year I’ve been wasting my time in Beijing. Yeah, back in China!

This post is not about me and what I am doing here, but about the spring time. After the month of March with weather changing from warm to cold and vice versa, we finally get the true spring time. Oh, by the way, a friend of mine from Japan told me, they call this type of weather ????温 -??san kan shi on, literally meaning “three cold four warm” and referring to three cold days followed by four warm and so on.

Spring in Beijing

Beijing is actually looking very nice during spring with all the trees in blossom and if you get lucky to see a cloudless day – even better! If you have time I would strongly advise you to forget about everything and head to the nearest park. There’s one thing I really like in Beijing and this is parks – clean and amazingly well arranged. Feng-shui masters must have worked well before designing all these parks, I mean, when entering one of these hundred years old parks you feel GOOD! And I’ve been to one yesterday myself, the Ritan park, they say it’s one of the oldest in Beijing – had a great time!

Enjoy your spring – wherever you are in the Northern Hemisphere!

You Know You’ve Lived in China Too Long When…

I found a group on facebook recently with this topic and it is so funny! Well it probably would be funny for the ones who lived in China. I’ve selected just a few very best ones in my opinion here:

5. You smoke in crowded elevators.
6. All white people look the same to you.
8. You find state-employed retail staff helpful, knowledgeable and friendly.
9. You no longer need tissues to blow your nose.
12. You think that the heavy air actually contains valuable nutrients that you need to stay healthy.
15. It??s OK to throw rubbish, including old fridges, from your 18th-floor window.
16. You believe that pressing the lift button 63 times will make it move faster.
17. You aren??t aware that one is supposed to pay for software.

Read moreYou Know You’ve Lived in China Too Long When…

In drum spre Hong Kong

Ce sa fac? Fac bine!

Sunt in aeroportul din Chongqing, mai am o jumate de ora pina la zborul urmator in Shenzhen si m-am oprit la o cafenea sa beau o bericica. Cam dulcica e berea aici in Chongqing, se numeste “Chongqhing Beer”, si nu merita nici o atentie! Asta probabil ca ultimele 3 saptamani si ceva am baut doar “Lhasa Beer” – “the beer from the roof of the world”! Care dupa parerea mea este una din cele mai buni beri din lume!!! Nu ma asteptam, sa fiu sincer, ca baietii montani s fie atat de priceputi la preparearea berii. Mai mult chiar, si asta o spune eu, au si vinuri foarte buni!!! Nu stiu cum o fac, dar sunt superbi tibetanii la preparat bauturi alcoolice. Si mancare gustoasa stiu sa faca. Bravo lor!

Eu eram cat pe ce sa pierd zborul din Lhasa in dupa-ameaza zilei de azi. Asta din cauza domnisoarei de la check-in, care a decis sa inchida mai devreme. Am facut un scandal mare la aeroportul din Lhasa, o sa ma tina minte multa vreme baietii de acolo, dar pina la urma am nimerit si eu in avion. “China Southern” – cea mai proasta companie aeriana cu care am zburat pina cauma! Bine macar ca zbor acuma cu “Air China”, astia sunt cu mult mai buni!!! Despre intamplarea din aeroportul din Lhasa va povestesc alta data, ca acuma nu prea am chef.

Cam atat de la mine pentru moment. Numai bine si NOROC!!!