August 12th, 2008 | Uncategorized

Nothing but Fuwa

By Donnell Gavin

BEIJING, China, 1:12 p.m. — Though I have, in general, found the Olympic events to be reasonably well organized and overstaffed with eager adolescents who certainly speak better English than I do Chinese (which is to say, the people who wand you to determine whether you’re carrying prohibited firearms know how to say “Turn around,” “Put out your arms” and “Thank you for your cooperation”), there is an almost disappointing lack of knick knacks for sale.

Were it not prohibited to bring commercial goods into the stadiums, my traveling companions and I would be making a tidy profit selling Olympic themed trinkets and “flags of the world.”

Things being as they are, however, there’s typically only one smallish souvenir shop selling miniature inflatable Fuwa (the Olympic mascot), and one smallish concession stand selling Budweiser and “President’s Noodle Snack.” Pretty much every block in Manhattan has more available souvenirs (with easily ten times the junk available in places like Times Square or the Statue of Liberty). If the Chinese were really trying to stimulate their economies, I for one would have spent at least 50 RMB (~$7) on an American flag and a temporary tattoo. Just saying.