Thursday, November 25, 2010

Guangzhou Asian Games 2010

I went to the Games at the invitation of the IDSF Communication Commission, they arranged for me to stay at the Media Press Center (MPC) at Haibang a small village outside Guangzhou. I carry with me a photo journalist pass and was given the right to watch and photograph dancesport within the parameters of the Dance floor. The access given to me a photographers dream so to speak. 
As I landed in Guangzhou Baiyun airport and having collected my luggage, everything was a breeze. I cleared immigration without a fuss and with my accreditation card, I do not need a China Visa. My identity was verified very quickly by touching my card on a sensor and all the details appeared on the monitor.
The distance from Baiyun to Haibang takes about 90 minutes and that is with a traffic police car escort.
Reaching the MPC, the security was extremely tight and they even managed to detect my small Swiss Pocket knife. They told me politely that I cannot carry weapon in the Media Village. China is technically still a police state and I am not in the mood to argue with the security, if they call a swiss pocket knife a weapon, a weapon it shall be. I handed the knife to security and they gave me a chit without any fuss. Once I passed Security Check point, I had volunteers to help me carry my luggage into an extended Golf Cart and was brought to the Reception and registration. That was quick and I was given a two room apartment will all amenities of a Hotel room and they gave me a card for meals. With the card I can go to any vending machines and get soft drinks, Mineral water , Taiwan Beer without charges. Breakfast is free except we were told that we have to pay RMB 50 per meal other than breakfast and we can top up our card at specific counters. At this juncture let me tell you the meal charges were subsequently reduced to RMB 10 per meal.
The meal caters for Guanzhou Cuisine, Asian Flavour, Western Cuisine and Muslim Meals. Apart from the Muslim Meals, I regret to  report that the meals of the Western, Asian and Guangzhou are similar. You get veggie dumplings in all three, you get fried noodles in all 3 and so on. Now for RMB 50 the food served is not worth the money, however for RMB10, you cannot complaint and I believe that is the reason for the reduction in price. All said I sincerely believe when they state international cuisine, they must be referring to the condiments, for you can get good old English Mustard, HP Sauce; Wasabe, Kim Chi, Vinegar and believe it or not Tabasco and heap full of Parmesian Cheese that you use for Spaghetti Bolognaise. When I took photographs one of the volunteer told me that I cannot take pictures in the Dining Hall especially the food counter. I had no problem photographing the Dinning Hall in the Vonchalavikut University in Korat at the SEA Games and the MPC is not a military installation. You add up you can guess the reason why I was not permitted to do so. 
I hope to pen my thoughts about Dancesport in the Zhencheng Gymnasium and the long journey from Haibang to Zhencheng. 
One fact I need to praise Guangzhou, their volunteers are University students and many of them can manage English well. You find them almost everywhere in tube station, bus stand and popular tourist spots. If you have your accreditation card, they will go out to assist you to your destination. During the Games it is not possible to get lost.