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First Impressions of China
November 27th 2013
First impressions of our hotel were very good; being so new (it only opened last year), it looked quite glamourous.  The ceiling of the lobby rises 3 storeys with enormous chandeliers.  Our rooms are also surprisingly nice and spacious with all modern amenities.  The only thing is that it was cold inside when we arrived and it has continued to be cold up until now (and I don't think its likely to change!). People wear thick, padded ski jackets to dinner and the hotel has had to supply extra room heaters just so that people can take the chill off the air in their bedrooms!

Mind you, they are asking a lot of their heating systems here.  Today it is minus 33 degrees outside (including the wind chill factor). It has been blowing a gale and blowing the very thin layer of last night's new snow in great clouds all over the place - mostly into my face!

The cold really is shocking.  I have never been anywhere this cold before (and I have been to a lot of cold places!!).  There is no possibility of going for a run in the afternoon or doing any sort of outside fitness and it takes a while to thaw out when I get back in from training.  I was genuinely worried that my Dad had frostbite on his face yesterday!

To entertain ourselves we have done some indoor archery (seriously!) and table tennis.

Playing table tennis with my Dad

This afternoon, the hotel has been buzzing with activity and lots of new people arriving.  It turns out that these are visiting dignitaries (lots of them) invited by the China Ski Association to the "opening ceremony" of the 13th Chongli International Skiing Festival, of which these races are a part.  The hotel's Christmas decorations are also starting to go up (in China?).  There are "flying" golden light-up reindeer suspended across the ceiling of the lobby, large white illuminated angels blowing trumpets, about 200 decorated artificial Christmas trees, super-sized garlands, fake fir branches and baubles hanging down from the ceiling, enormous outdoor Christmas trees etc.  It is impossible to go anywhere in the building without being "assaulted" by vast quantities of glitter and tinsel.  Nobody can accuse the Chinese of being understated!

The Christmas tree in the lobby of Genting Resort, Secret Garden

And this evening we were invited to a special gala dinner being thrown by the China Ski Association.  It was held in one of the 2 enormous ballrooms at the hotel.  We were worried about what we should wear (not having brought suits and evening dresses etc).  We needn't have worried.  Whilst we put on the best that we have with us, most of the other guests were dressed in woolly hats and puffa jackets (to combat the howling gale of cold air coming in through all the doors)!!  There were many speeches by important people, with translators and speakers talking over each other so that I doubt anyone could understand what was being said.  The food was good though and I had my first taste of Peking (Beijing) duck which I really liked.  It was very kind of the China Ski Association to hold the gala dinner and to invite us.  It is the first event of its kind that I have ever been invited to at any of the races in which I have competed all over the world and shows how hospitable we have found the Chinese people to be so far.

China Ski Association Gala Dinner

They are also excited to have racers from as far away as Ireland and have put this on their official race posters around the resort!
The China Ski Association event poster.

The first race is tomorrow.  I'm hoping the mercury might rise a little by the morning, at least to better than minus 30!