But the Olympic Park is different again. What and amazing creation in the middle of nowhere. An assembly of silver shapes and structures built for the 2008 games. Remember the Bird's Nest – the main track and field stadium? It was always cool on TV but when you get close to it, it is just mesmerising. It is massive, all steel girders intertwined, and it really does resemble a birds nest. And the aquatic centre looks just like an alien egg pod, getting ready to hatch.
The whole Chinese thing really comes across on this site. Ok, it was designed by Swiss Architects working with Chinese artists, but it is Chinese through and through, total self belief and confidence in themselves and their abilities, a sort of detachment and lack of need for any other nation. It's very powerful but also quite scary, although everybody here without exception, has welcomed us and been very accepting of western visitors.
We didn't go in either – not sure if you can anyway – but we gawped at both, plus the associated additional buildings from the walkway that links them all together. That has become a sort of communal park where families gather, people skate, eat, take pictures and whatever takes their fancy. We got dragged into one official photo to pose with some girls – maybe they thought we'd bring them good luck or something, or then maybe they just thought we were passing sights to behold. But either way, we are now preserved in the official photo records of one resident professional photographer that hangs out there.
It was very strange to at the Olympic Park while the current Olympics is still underway in our home city. That seems to amuse people here too and they can't quite believe that we have come all the way from London to Beijing for no reason other than we just wanted to.