The last couple of days I spent in Shanghai went smoothly; I continued my tourism as well as met up with some NBA China staff for both an office tour and a Western lunch. We talked about a number of things, including the impact, both positive and negative, of the One-Child Policy here in China. It was interesting to hear one of the staff members link the policy back to basketball (naturally), and claim that it had mostly negative effects on the Chinese players. In fact, he argued that it had made them less “tough,” and quoted stories about mothers hovering over their only child during water breaks. I also hypothesized that the lack of siblings could contribute to this, since I know that sibling rivalry helped some, including myself, develop tougher skin. Of course, this is a generalization, while it is certainly food for thought. The more I find out about basketball, and sport in general, in China, the more intrigued I become. I will be meeting with the CEO of NBA China in a few days, as well as speaking with different government sport officials – all meetings that promise to be very interesting.
I got to Beijing Tuesday evening, after eagerly speeding off the bullet train. There were a number of stops between Shanghai and Beijing, and as my seat was by one of the doors, I would try to hold my breath for as long as possible in order to avoid the smell of cigarettes. I’ve noticed that people try to smoke a last cigarette at the last minute before embarking on a train, sometimes even standing inside the wagon as they finish it. This actually makes me think back to a conversation I had in Hangzhou, with a member of the NBA Security team. He had traveled to Beijing for the NBA Global Games the year before, and proudly showed me some of the pictures he had taken. However, he mentioned that the government had in effect “turned off pollution” a few days before the Games, knowing that many important eyes would be on the city of Beijing. The sky was therefore clear during the entire event, but quickly became smoggy again following the NBA’s departure.
After looking at the weather forecast for the week, I decided that today, Wednesday, would be the day that I venture out to The Great Wall. The Weather Chanel told me that it would be decently hot, but that there most importantly would not be a cloud in the sky. However, I should have known that “no clouds” still means “lots of smog” here in Beijing, as you can tell from the pictures. Following a short stop at the Ming Tombs, a collection of mausoleums holding the Ming Dynasty’s tombs, I slowly but surely climbed my way to one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen. I kid you not when I say that I simply stood at the top of the stairs for about ten minutes, grinning from ear to ear and trying to take in as much as I could. It was an extremely special moment for me, and one that I will never forget. (It seems like this trip has been filled with different unforgettable moments thus far!) I walked around the Mutianyu area of the Wall for close to three hours, before the 38-degree heat (__ in Farenheit) got the best of me and I made my way back down. Below are some of the pictures I took during my excursion, both of the Ming Tombs and of The Great Wall. Please reach out to me if you would like to see more, or hear more about my awe-struck moment upon reaching the top of the mountain!