Saturday, February 20, 2010

Beijing's National Stadium and National Aquatics Center

Beijing boasts not only of old majestic buildings reflecting glorious ancient Chinese culture, but also of modern spanking megastructures that depict China's booming economy. And among these new architecture marvels are Beijing National Stadium and Beijing National Aquatics Center. Both are situated within the Olympic Green, an Olympic Park set up for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Beijing National Stadium, world's largest steel structure.

Shervin and I scheduled a quick trip to these two sites after visiting Yonghe Temple (Lama Temple). To get there, we rode 4 trains (subsequently Lines 2, 5, 10, 8) coming from Yonghegong Subway Station. Olympic Green Subway Station is on Line 8, refer to this rail map for more info. Fare is a flat rate of ¥2 (with unlimited transfers, except the Airport Express).

If you checked out the rail map, you might have noticed that there are two possible stations you can get off on Line 8: Olympic Sports Center and Olympic Green. We had no idea where to alight. But when the train halted at the Olympics Sports Center station, almost all the passengers prepared to exit the doors, so we did the same.

We followed the tourist traffic, and the second we stepped out of the station, the colossal Bird's Nest or the Beijing National Stadium silently screamed for our attention and everyone else's.

You gotta admire the structure's details!

You know that travelling moment when you say to yourself, "This is what I came here for!"? That's exactly what happened to me (and we haven't even seen the Great Wall of China yet) as I gazed at the stadium in absolute awe. I've watched a documentary of its construction a few months back, and never did I expect to see it up close someday.

Sadly, after the 2008 Summer Olympics, the stadium did not have much use (besides the 2009 Supercoppa Italiana). It's too huge to host small sports events. There have been talks about converting the stadium to a shopping complex in the next five years, but for now, it's making profit out of tourists who wish to enter at ¥50 per head (which we couldn't afford).

The Water Cube's unique exterior resembles soap bubbles.

Across the Bird's Nest is the equally impressive Water Cube or the Beijing National Aquatics Center. The 2008 Summer Olympics swimming and diving competitions were held here. At the time of our visit, December 2009, the Water Cube was (and still is) undergoing renovations. It will house a water park and shopping arcades come July, this year when it reopens.

We did not wander around the Olympic Green anymore after seeing the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube. The -1°C temperature at 3:00PM was becoming intolerable for us again. We spent a few minutes resting on a bench and munching on Skyflakes (I brought from the Philippines) before walking back to the subway station.

Yet another foggy afternoon.

And oh, we bought a Bird's Nest ashtray from a roving souvenir merchant. ¥20 a piece, perhaps cheaper if you can patiently haggle. We didn't have such patience standing in the cold!

Tomorrow, the Great Wall of China!


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pinoy boy journals said...
February 23, 2010 at 8:39 PM

the national stadium has some pretty interesting architecture, i watched it in i think megastructure. very very nice!!! you know what i love to see in china, those young contortionists and acrobats practicing and i will just be in awe on how they do it. hehe..

you know what's even nicer is your blog lay-out. i love it. very easy to navigate!!! Cheers! can't wait for the rest of your entries on china!!!

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
February 23, 2010 at 10:43 PM

I saw that Megastructures episode too! And about those Chinese contortionists and acrobats, I haven't seen them perform yet and can't wait to watch someday.

Good to know you like the layout. I'm loving it too, and I'm sticking with this for a while.

I'll be on the road again starting tomorrow, I haven't read your new posts yet, will do that when I'm back in Manila.

Escape from routine
March 6, 2010 at 1:42 PM

GAY! yes yes it's me. I've been checking in here every now and then. congrats, u are going to be a mommy! im a new mommy myself, with a 5 month boy.

sali ako sa blogroll mo :p

olan said...
March 8, 2010 at 4:30 PM

i wish i can also visit this place... iba kasi yung first hand experience kaysa nakikita mo lang sa tv or internet. :) very nice travel blog. :)

enhenyero said...
March 10, 2010 at 12:35 PM

my former company is the structural designer of these structures..
want to see it also someday.

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
March 10, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Thanks Olan! I still can't get over your Enchanting River photos. Speaking of first hand experience, I seriously want to visit Hinatuan soon.

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
March 10, 2010 at 1:56 PM

Enhenyero that is so cool! The people behind the Bird's Nest, from the architects to the engineers, are geniuses!

chris said...
April 16, 2011 at 6:40 AM

i had the chance to enter the stadium and the entrance fee of 50RMB was worth was so huge and they also displayed the instruments used during the opening of the olympics like the drums

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
April 20, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Aww, I'm jealous! Wish we had more cash to check it out.

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