How a small mis-calculation saved us lots of money in China!

So I’ve got a bit of an embarrassing story to tell. My wife and I were catching up this morning on how much money we’ve spent. Before we left London we had looked up the exchange rates for the dollar and the pound to the yuan. We memorized the numbers 7 and 13 for easy reference.

Well, we somehow mixed the two up (probably remembering that 2 dollars is worth one pound and forgetting the inversion) and got in our heads that 7 yuan equals one pound instead of 13 yuan equals one pound! Luckily, that just saved us a ton of cash, or at least it feels like we did. Everything we’ve bought so far only cost us half of what we thought, and we thought we were getting a pretty good deal as it was! Even with lots of food and drinks at the venue, with official souveneirs/gifts, it seems like we’ve hardly spent a thing! I managed to do a quick Google search on my phone to confirm it all, and that made our morning quite a happy one.

New places, old faces

China is a country of 1.3 billion people, and Beijing has millions. But yet somehow as we were walking in Tienanmen Square this morning we ran into two people from Thames Rowing Club! One guy that was on the men’s squad last year, and a cox from my novice year that has since gone on to cox at Henley finals three times, winning once. We ended up splitting up after about 20–30 minutes because we were doing different things, but it was great to catch up.

Then, as we were about to catch the bus to go out to rowing for the day, another friend that we haven’t seen since last year this weekend saw us at the bus stop! We ended up sharing a cab out to the rowing lake so that we could get there faster. She rows back in the States, and is in China for a chunk of the summer on holiday. We’re hoping to head out to see the Great Wall with her tomorrow.

Monday sights

Today we took our first in-depth tour around the classic sights in Beijing. We went through security and then walked through Tienanmen Square. There’s really not much there, and is surrounded by oppressive architecture. It’s got some Olympics-themed landscaping that’s been brought in, but that’s about it.

We then walked across the street to see the Forbidden City. Once we went in we realized that we just didn’t have the time to do it properly, so are planning on going back later this week, probably Wednesday morning. It looks fantastic, and has a really interesting history.

Finally, in my quest to see all of the cool new architecture that’s been built in Beijing, we walked around the Beijing Opera House. It was just recently built, and has been nicknamed the “egg-shell,” since it’s this bubble/eggshell looking structure completely surrounded by a ring of water. The entrance goes under this moat (which you can see above you). It’s very cool, and I hope to post pictures later.

Monday rowing

There was some great racing today out at the rowing lake. All of the men’s single scullers raced, and the top guys were spread out amongst the quarterfinals. Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand in particular had a fantastic race against Karponen from Sweden where Mahe just barely held him off, and Alan Campbell from the GB squad ended up taking second behind Marcel Hacker of Germany. But since the top three qualified to continue on to the top semi-finals, there wasn’t quite the same pressure to win.

Perhaps my favourite race was Elise and Anna in the GB Women’s Double Sculls. They were in the repercharge, and had to place in the top two of four to advance to the A final and a chance to medal. They were second for most of the first 1500 meters and well ahead of the next two, but were about 2 seconds behind Germany. Elise and Anna put in a hell of a push in the last 500 and beat Germany by just over 1 second. I’m really looking to seeing them race in the final.

The GB Men’s 8+ also raced today, and all I have to say is WOW. They were racing some tough competition, and once they got back the 500 meter mark, they took a solid lead and just wouldn’t let go. They just screamed past, and qualified directly for the A final on Sunday.

Finally, the GB Women’s 8+ raced, though didn’t qualify to move directly to the A final (only the top boat did). They looked really strong, but just couldn’t keep up with the USA women. The girls now have to go through to the repercharge on Wednesday (a reschedule), where we’ll be cheering them on again.


It was a great day. We saw our friends race and do well, we ran into friends in strange places out in town, and it looks like we just got set up for a trip out to the Great Wall tomorrow. All in all, a good day.

We’re skipping our rowing events tomorrow so that we can see the Wall. Everyone that we would have wanted to see rowing tomorrow either doesn’t have to because they did well yesterday, or their event was rescheduled. We’re going to take advantage of it and see some of the sights that you need most of the day to go see.

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