Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vacation (with a twist of work)

Well, Mark is finally out of the athlete village and free to enjoy himself (a little bit). Mark checked out of the athlete village shortly after the last day of swimming on August 17th. The Gangloff/Rubenstein family went out to a great dinner that night. We went to a fun tea house where we saw folk music performers and a puppet show. It was a blast. The Gangloff's ordered a traditional Peking Duck and loved it so much they ordered a second one! After dinner we strolled through Tien An Men Square... it was beautiful at night. Mark was so funny because he was just so happy to be out of the village and actually free to walk around!

After dinner, Mark and I headed out to a party hosted by Speedo. We saw so many friends from the US, but also former Auburn teammates from other countries. Funny how the NBA guys were there also... I think they might have a crush on a few of the swimmers!

The family left the next morning, and after a long nap Mark and I headed out for the day. We ate lunch with Jeri and Eric and then Eric, Mark and I walked around the Summer Palace. It was spectacular! Our afternoon was perfectly relaxing as we slowly walked around enjoying being away from the city and spending time with our good friend Eric. We talked about our plans for when we return to the States and what lies ahead for Eric. Mark and I are so proud of Eric for being so strong through this difficult time.

That night we went to dinner with our friends Joe and Anne and some new American friends who are living in Beijing and a couple of their friends who are native to Beijing. We went to a fantastic pizza place in an awesome district of Beijing called Ho Hi. Think french quarter-Beijing style. It was great! There were rows of restaurants and bars. Everyone had set up a TV or screen out in the sidewalk to watch the Olympics. There was lots of music and fun... and lots of karaoke-- I was so tempted!

Yesterday Mark was back to work. He attended a media function at the Speedo headquarters here in Beijing and then we attended a great event hosted by Right To Play. Right To Play encourages sports to better develop children in poverty stricken and developing areas of not only the US but around the world. It was so inspirational hearing from athletes that use their influence and time and effort to help others.

Last night we got to see the finals of the men's 3 meter diving competition. It was awesome! The US guys, Chris and Troy, dove well but missed out on a medal. The Chinese crowd went crazy every time a Chinese diver performed-Chinese audience members were decked out in flags, face paint, and temporary tattoos.

Today I went back to the Great Wall with Mark. It was just as breathtaking the second time... Mark was blown away. After we did a "photo shoot" (the two of us acting ridiculous on top of the great wall and taking pictures of it) we, just like elite athletes do, picked a point and raced to the top... both of us were huffing and puffing!

This afternoon we are waiting on a tailor (we'll see if he shows up) that is making Mark a couple of suits (we think--we found this guy at the silk market and supposedly Mark is getting a couple of suits and four shirts for $350!!). If "Andy" shows up it will be a great deal... if not, Mark will be upset, but at least we'll have a great story to tell.

We leave for the States tomorrow and we're both ready to get back. Mark is excited to share his experiences with you as well.


Brian said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences. Your sense of humor, Ashley, must've been what lightened every day of an intense Olympic experience.

Thanks to your detailed and lively blog I truly felt like I was there.

All the swimmers were awesome athletes and even more spectacular human beings! (divers weren't bad either!)

How come the diaper clad baby didn't get to fly in style with Mark? I mean her "wet nurse" would've been glad to chaperone her!

Congratulation to you both. You deserve the accolades and a break.

Posted by Brian's Mom who hijacked his account.

Anonymous said...

yea mark! nice job swimming man and can't wait to read more about it from your perspective. are you excited about the year of free pizza for all the swimmers!?

Anonymous said...

What??? What's this free pizza deal?

Kathryn Martin Hagler said...

So apparently I got my big break on TV last week. It was an interview with Mark and supposedly I am just laughing hysterically in the background. I thought people must have been mistaken when they said it was me, but there I am in the background of Mark signing the baby's bottom picture laughing it up. Thanks for the publicity. We are glad to have yall back and can't wait to see you!!!