They tell me this is an Olympic thing, but this experience is oddly placeless. If you didn't tell me I was in China, I almost wouldn't know it.
From the media center, which is in a convention-center type building to our hotel in the conference center to driving on the highway -- we could almost as easily be in Northern Virginia. The conference center, surely a draw for city-dwellers, has nothing to distinguish it from conference centers I've been to in the U.S. and abroad, other than the dining room decoration.
I'm told that one press center is like every other; same thing with the venues. You take a bus from hotel to venue to press center, and do it all again the next day. Because you're generally in a secure zone, there isn't any extraneous culture.
I heard some journos commenting on this on the bus ride over, and started to give it some thought. The best way to describe it is telling someone they're going to Paris, then parking them in the modern suburb of La Defense. They've seen the Eiffel Tower on television, but all they see in the immediate vicinity is generic office buildings.
I've seen some beautiful tourist sites on the television, when they were airing the bicycle road races. I hope I get to see it. For now, I might as well be on the 60 freeway in Los Angeles, passing through the Chinese neighborhoods of Southern California.
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