Athletes who have finished competing are stepping out and enjoying Beijing's downtown entertainment and tourist sites.
"You have to experience the city personally because it's impossible to describe," US shooter Brian Beman told his friends after spending all of yesterday exploring the city.
Two foreign tourists wearing sunglasses shaped into the logo of the Olympic Games rest at Wangfujing Street in Beijing on August 13, 2008. More and more foreign tourists visit Beijing as the Beijing Olympics are going on here.
Beman has been intrigued by Beijing's fascinating mix of the modern and traditional.
"Beijing has modern tower blocks like any other international city, but only two or three blocks away are alley ways and old buildings that are steeped in traditional culture," he said. "It's so cool to find both so close together."
Beman is also profoundly impressed with the national stadium, better known as the bird's nest. "The exterior is ultra distinctive, while its interior has the capacity to enjoy the roar of 91,000 people cheering," he said.
Foreigners select silk handicrafts at a store in Xiushui Market (Silk Street market), a popular tourist market, in Beijing on August 13, 2008.
As Beman saw famous scenic spots such as the Great Wall a year ago, he is now enjoying a look at the local life in and around the hutong and local communities.
Shopping attractions, particularly the silk market, are also a magnet for athletes who have previously visited Beijing.
"I bought clothes, bags, ties, handicrafts and other knick-knacks for all my family and friends there," said New Zealand medic Rubin Mcrae.
But to athletes in Beijing for the first time, main tourist sites such as the Great Wall, Summer Palace and Imperial Museum take priority in the time they have in the capital.
"Climbing the Great Wall is an absolute must on a trip to China," New Zealand field hockey player Hayden Shaw said, adding how impressed he was with the friendliness he had encountered in the city from locals and volunteers.
German diver Nora Subschinski's military background made her partial to the Military Museum. She has noticed many similarities among historical weapons used in the Chinese and German armies, as well as in military training techniques.
|A foreign tourist tries a Chinese snack at the Donghuamen night fair in Beijing on August 13, 2008. The night fair selling more than 100 kinds of delicious snacks from across China, has become an attraction to foreign tourists during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.|
German rower Urs Kaufer said of the Forbidden City, which he visited before the games started, that it was most "huge and beautiful" historical site he had seen.
"I will also be sure to explore the night life in Beijing when I finish competing," he said.
Jordanian swimmer Anas Hamadeh, having finished his competitions yesterday, was looking forward to going to the Great Wall, especially as he had heard in his country that it's possible to see the Great Wall from the moon without a telescope.
(China Daily August 16, 2008)