Beijing Bureau: DIY Security

I expected security for the Olympic venues to be an absolute nightmare. At badminton on Sunday, I was pleasantly surprised. There was no line as we walked through the metal detectors, and our bags were scanned and immediately handed back to us. The whole process took about a minute and a half. Badminton, however, was held at the Beijing University of Technology, far from the high-profile Olympic Green.

Olympic gym photo by Ming Thompson

Last night, we went to see Gymnastics at the National Indoor Stadium in the heart of the Green. The volunteers were as courteous and as eager as ever, and there was no line, but this time it took fifteen minutes to get through security. I scanned my ticket, threw my bag on the conveyor belt, and stepped through the detector. I went to retrieve my purse, but a volunteer told me that they were searching all bags.

Three volunteers were responsible for my bag. A young woman removed things, while two young men observed and commented.

First came out the umbrella. “May I open it?,” the female volunteer asked. My friend tried to stammer out a joke about bad luck, but it didn’t translate well.

Then the electronics pouch. Flash drives and SD cards were scattered on the table and poked.

Then the wallet. Then the passport case, the ticket envelope, the dictionary, all opened in turn.

Finally, we came to the cosmetics bag. Out came a Burt’s Bees lip balm. “Please, have a try,” said one of the male volunteers. I obliged, but started to giggle as I saw what was about to happen. Out came a pink lipstick. “Please, give it a try.” Then a mint lip balm. “Try it, please.” And a rose lip gloss. And then we came to the lotions. By this time, I was laughing uncontrollably, as three polite Chinese college students patiently watched me slathering myself with cosmetic products.

And then the kicker: a tampon. “What is it?” Tampons are rarely used in China. “It’s…a woman, um, product.” This was met with confusion from all. “Um…it’s for women.” Somehow, this made more sense than the first explanation, and it was zipped back into its pouch. I stuffed everything back into my bag, and dashed off to watch gymnastics.

See also: Ming Thompson reports on the smog in Beijing, and Dan Mattingly tells us what the Chinese really cheer and how they treat Taiwanese athletes.

Plus, visit Ming’s Beijing food blog

Thank god you didn’t bring a suppository.

— Fitzy    Aug 11, 02:48 PM    #


Austin    Aug 12, 04:58 PM    #


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