Friday, August 11, 2006

Part 3, China Trip 2005 : Xian ...Drum Tower

Hey, jus remembered a story from mmmmMasters Cup. The seats that the players sat in, the red Indesit benches, were constructed from scratch during the week before the tournament started. They were finished 6 days before the tournament was to start. Federer and Agassi were already onsite by then and sitting in the luxury boxes during their breaks. Things seemed ok with the benches as the tournament started but, I can't remember exactly when, the problem "occurred". Since we had doubles and singles play, the court had to be "reset" from singles to doubles setup or vise versa. So that meant moving the nets, the umpire's chair, the drink coolers, the ball canister and the players' benches ( I forgot to mention the last few in my previous posts). So we did a changeover on one of the first two days and during the movement of the benches, I thought I felt something loose in one of the benches. I wasn't sure so I stayed to watch if it was alright. Of course, the team that sits down on that bench is Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley. I met them the previous 2 years because they won the 2003 Heineken Open of Shanghai in Doubles and lost in quarterfinals in 2004 Heineken (my first 2 years as court service director). They were really great and down to earth (partying) Aussies and I had fun working with them. Wayne drops his bag by the chair and sits down, only to drop right on his ass as the seat cushion SNAPS off! Paul had dropped his bag and was checking out his racquet when he saw Wayne fall down. Paul looks stunned... Wayne jumps right up with this utter look of "what the hell!" He looks 360° and sees me behind the bench and gives me this look of "Shit! What'd you do this to me for??!!". My jaw drops and I try to say something but all I do is mouth "NOT ME, NOT ME!", and hold my hands up like "don't hurt me... I'm too cute to die...". I'm trying not to laugh and all but Paul starts laughing and then i can't help it and start laughin too. Wayne's such a good guy that he joins in and we all take a few seconds to get control of ourselves. Meanwhile, everyone else (from the organizing committee or the ATP) around the court is panicing and going "Ohmygod, ohmygod... this is live TV!". Someone thought fast and soon we took out the remains of the bench and took two of the seats from one of the front row box seats and put them into the outer frame of the bench. On TV, if you didn't see the incident, you really couldn't see the difference in the two benches but since I had the "front row seat" to the accident, I noticed it all night long... and laughed.

The Drum Tower near the center of Xian

We arrived in Xian at noon this day but it was cloudy/misty so we decided to rest up instead of doing too much. It was also only 2nd day after the end of Masters Cup and both Me and Nan were still on the edge of exhaustion from the 20 hour workdays during the tourney.

We took a 4 hour nap and then wandered to one of the major highlights of the city of Xian. The central plaza which had the Bell and Drum towers. We tried to get into the Bell tower first but we were turned back by the closed sign even tho' the advertised hours said they would be open til 5:30pm.

Looking back at the Bell Tower in the centre of old Xian (walled city). Our hotel was north of the Bell tower and this entire area was a large traffic circle around the tower. So if you followed the traffic in the picture 50 meters north, you would be at our hotel. Pretty good location I'd say :)

I'd wondered why it was called the "Bell and Drum Tower hotel" before I arrived...

Guess it was cuz it was between the two, DUH!

In the centre of the plaza, we took shots of the Bell tower behind us (above) and the Drum tower in front of us (right).

We were supposed to pay 1 Rmb to hit the drum but we waited a minute til someone else paid and took a photo of their kid hitting it instead :p

Photos of the interior...

The ever present gift shop; we actually picked up replica terracotta soldiers here for 50 rmb instead of the rate of 100 at the real tomb site.

On the 3rd floor... looking out at Xian...kinda dreary day...lotsa construction/ urban renewal

Later on... the view from below the Drum tower

... and then the street market further on down the road

A look at construction from up close...pretty typical of a chinese back alley undergoing change... red bricks and muck