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08-08-08, 15:47
Unexpected attractions

Sometimes you go to view great landmarks like Tiannamen Square and the Forbidden City and wind up as the attraction. That’s what happened to our crew on Wednesday as we ventured away from our base in the Olympic Green area to tape an upcoming segment.

Many Chinese have never seen a foreigner and a few dozen asked if they could be photographed with us.

When I asked one - through our translator - “why take a picture with us, when Mao’s freshly re-painted image is positioned just across the street?”, he replied “because you are new to us, you are fresh!”

Another said he had never seen a man with brown skin in person and thought I was one of the Olympic athletes. Yeah, I wish!

It was a reminder of how isolated this vast nation is from the rest of the world. The hundreds of security and military personnel - who seem to be positioned every 15 meters - shift their eyes to get a better look at us as we walk by, all the while remaining otherwise motionless.

Other Chinese nationals seem to watch our movements and the way we interact with each other. We’ve come to the Far East to witness athletic history and to chronicle the most political Olympics in more than two decades, but never could we have predicted becoming a target of the curious.