We needed closure. We returned to Tianjin’s “Milky Way Plaza” (银河广场 / yínhé guǎngchǎng) for the Closing Ceremonies. The Olympics was fun but finally over; maybe now China would started getting back to “normal.”
The crowd was larger than it was for the Olympic matches shown nightly on the big screen, but smaller and less keyed up than at the Opening Ceremony. We were a slightly bigger group of foreigners this time, plus we had Chinese flag, so we attracted more attention than last time. We didn’t take any of these photos. Click them to see them big size.
Local media was running around filming and interviewing people. I think our flag is what really drew them over. They asked Greg, the only blond one in our group, some standard questions about his impressions of China and Olympics. The thing is, he’s starting his first semester of Chinese next week and he’d only just arrived in town a few days ago for orientation. So he couldn’t do the interview in Chinese and hadn’t seen any of the Olympics. But that didn’t faze him (he’s a smooth cucumber); he gave them the stock answers to their stock questions (city’s beautiful, the people are wonderful, the Olympics impressive, etc.). The reporter either went away happy, or left asking himself a very important question (“Why do foreigners always feel they need to give us polite, stock answers?”) Before the Ceremony a handful of people came by to take our photo. Some had fancy cameras but they didn’t look like media types.
Afterward we all posed behind the flag for our own photos, and that’s when people really started taking pictures. Grandparents and parents would send their kids to run and pose with us and the flag. It was cute, funny, and friendly. People were nice about it. This few seconds of video shows Greg getting interviewed and gives you a sense of the crowd that night:
The Closing Ceremony… what was all that about?
When London started their 8 minutes with a video intro and we started pointing out all the cultural allusions, that’s when I suddenly realized I hadn’t understood anything from the preceding hour or so. Some of the satirical interpretations from the Chinese internet are pretty funny (see especially Wu Yan’s Why did I like the closing ceremony better?), but I have no idea what it was supposed to mean.
So I think this, along with our Olympics photo gallery, is finally the end of our Olympic stuff. It was fun and interesting, but it’ll be nice to talk about something else!