Out at the Olympic site

A trip today for a preliminary press event. Good news and bad news.

Good news: transportation! Only 20 minutes via the new subway Line 10 from Guomao station, in the central business district, to Beitucheng station, just south of the main Olympic areas. Line 10 train was populated but not overcrowded. Security check on way into the subway reasonable-seeming rather than too intrusive. (Handbags and briefcases go through a screening machine; people themselves don't have to.)

In theory there is a way to connect at Beitucheng from Line 10 to the new Olympic Line 8. But the cops seemed to be steering anyone without a formal Olympic credential (which I don't have) away from Line 8 and out onto the street. No problem: A few minutes' walk away was a depot for various special Olympic bus lines that circle the venues. The bus-route maps I saw were written only in Chinese -- or sometimes transliterated into Roman characters in a way most visitors wouldn't recognize. (For instance, Guojia Tiyuchang, the pinyin version of 国家体育场, rather than the more useful-to-outsiders terms "National Stadium" or "Bird's Nest.") But there were many cheery young English-speaking volunteers willing to help puzzled foreigners.

Bad news: Well, it doesn't appear to have just been "morning mist" today, as I speculated earlier. Below and after the jump, a few pictures from the Olympic site early this afternoon. At this point, 100 hours before the opening ceremony and seven years after the decision to hold the Olympics in Beijing, there is really not anything to "do" about the city's air anymore -- except hope that whatever cleansing wind blew through over the weekend comes again.

 National Stadium -- "Bird's Nest" -- barely visible on the left, National Aquatic Center -- "Water Cube" -- on the right, 1pm on August 4. (Click for larger version.)

Water Cube itself (through a bus window, which further darkens the image).

In the main Olympic Green area (no bus window involved).

Near the Beitucheng subway station.

Back downtown (Guomao area)

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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