Olympic Diary, Day 1: Where is everyone?

Guang Niu/Getty Images Editor’s note: Zoe Chace is an independent public radio producer who is in Beijing for the Olympics. She is traveling with her friend and advisor Lizzy Berryman, who is fluent in Mandarin and lived in China four years ago. She’ll be filing periodic dispatches for Passport about what it’s like to be ...

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593462_080727_olympics_800418285.jpg
BEIJING - FEBRUARY 28: A security gaurd patrols at the new terminal building T3 (Terminal Three) at the Beijing Capital International Airport on February 28, 2008 in Beijing, China. T3, official opening on Friday, is a main project for the 2008 Olympics and it reported as the largest and most advanced airport terminal in China. (Photo by Guang Niu/Getty Images)

Guang Niu/Getty Images

Editor's note: Zoe Chace is an independent public radio producer who is in Beijing for the Olympics. She is traveling with her friend and advisor Lizzy Berryman, who is fluent in Mandarin and lived in China four years ago. She'll be filing periodic dispatches for Passport about what it's like to be in the middle of the world's biggest spectacle, the 2008 Olympic Games. Got any questions or thoughts on what she should report on? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

We got into the Beijing airport at 8 p.m. last night and all was quiet. It was a staggeringly large and beautiful place that felt like a banquet hall, which made it all the more obvious how empty it was.

Guang Niu/Getty Images

Editor’s note: Zoe Chace is an independent public radio producer who is in Beijing for the Olympics. She is traveling with her friend and advisor Lizzy Berryman, who is fluent in Mandarin and lived in China four years ago. She’ll be filing periodic dispatches for Passport about what it’s like to be in the middle of the world’s biggest spectacle, the 2008 Olympic Games. Got any questions or thoughts on what she should report on? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

We got into the Beijing airport at 8 p.m. last night and all was quiet. It was a staggeringly large and beautiful place that felt like a banquet hall, which made it all the more obvious how empty it was.

There were more Olympics volunteers than there were passengers — and they summarily ignored us all. The airport doesn’t feel all the way finished, maybe because there were two stops on the shuttle: TC-D and TC-3. TC-3 is the baggage claim, but I think TC-D is made up. On the two-stop shuttle map, TC-D is listed as “sorry this stop is temporarily unavailable.”

There are majestic rows of just-planted trees lining the whole highway from the airport; there are buses shiny as new bars of soap waiting outside to pick you up, and the brand-new taxis all have Olympic magazines hanging from the back of the chairs. The magazine will point out to you which restaurants are more “homely” than others.

When we turned on the TV at our apartment, there were interviews with select volunteers who had remained behind their desks in the airport. The volunteers all spoke in one chorus: “Even though we work 24 hours a day, it is such an honor to serve China and be a part of the Olympics.”

One thing that isn’t new: hot pot. The hot pot place is open all night and you can order the ingredients by picture. They bring out a bubbly broth and you can make your own soup. You will, however, be alone in the restaurant!

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