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Patrick's excellent Beijing adventure
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After seeing the sights of the exhibit hall, which took about two hours, it was time to see the movie. I could not find the movie theater and approached the woman working the information desk. She did not speak English so I pointed to the word "movie" in my Chinese-to-English dictionary and she sent me on my way.

I had no idea what to expect from the movie. As with many things in my China experience, it exceeded my expectations. The movie was in what was called the Astro-vision Theater, a large domed movie theater that is built in such a way that it feels like you are in the movie. When you see a scene where you are flying in a helicopter, you feel like you are sitting next to the pilot.

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I walked into the dark theater and saw an enormous image of one of my favorite things in the world, surfing. The movie was about extreme sports like rock and ice climbing, windsurfing and skiing, and it was breath-taking to see them all on such a giant screen. I sat entranced by the action taking place. Unfortunately, the movie was in Chinese with no translation, but the images said it all. After an hour I emerged from the theater, the rain had eased up, and I felt much more invigorated.

The next stop on my itinerary was the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park. After taking a few moments to figure out how to get there, I hopped on bus 113 and headed to the park. The bus cost 1 yuan, or about 15 cents.

Unfortunately for people like me who do not speak the language, all signs with the times and stops are in Chinese, although once you get on the bus the bus stops are announced in English and Chinese.

I got off at my stop and, after walking for 15 minutes, found the park's entrance. I stepped up to buy my ticket but was told the park closed at five, although my guidebook said six. Although the hand of fate dealt me a cruel hand, I carried on. I was near the major Olympic venues I wanted to visit so I headed over to the much-vaunted Watercube and Bird's Nest. On the walk over I saw two bicycles crash, with one of the participants being a small child. I ran over to help, even though I do not know Chinese or first aid, but all parties involved were fine and I continued to my destination.

Unfortunately, the hand of fate dealt me a cruel hand once again. Access to the venues was blocked by construction. I had imagined that with the games so close they would be open to the public, but they were not. I did get up on a walkway to take some pictures of the area.

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