Goodbye Games, Hello Beijing

Editor's Note: Jodi Noffsinger, an American living in Beijing, is filing regular updates on the scene at the Olympics in The Beijing Blonde column on

It's back to business in Beijing the day after Sunday night's celebratory closing ceremony. By 7 a.m. Monday morning, clean-up had already begun. Coca-Cola's massive Olympic display at a shopping center in my neighborhood was nearly dismantled. By the afternoon, the crowds at one of the local markets, Yashow, had thinned with only a few Olympic visitors and athletes making last-minute stops before leaving Beijing.

Driving by the soccer stadium, the security tents have already been taken down. Notably missing were the hoards of blue-shirted Olympic volunteers, although a few still remain at the tourist information booths located throughout the city.

And some construction workers who had been out of work for a month are back on the job, but not in full force as major construction projects won't begin until after next month's Paralympics. Also, Beijing schools and students are preparing for classes to start again this Thursday.

At the office, my husband tells me, talk around the water cooler returned to business instead of the previous night's competition. Among the older Chinese women who gather in the shady spots of their apartment courtyards, talk this afternoon was about what they were having for dinner, with no mention of the games.

While the city is getting back to normal, two things that have not yet returned are traffic and smoggy skies — something I think all of Beijing can now appreciate and hope for more of in the days to come.

Of course, Olympic signs will linger for a few more weeks until the Paralympic Games, September 6-17, with the "One World, One Dream" billboards and banners still lining the roads. Soon enough, the signs will come down, cranes will dot the skies and unfinished construction projects will be in full swing as Beijing continues to transform.

While development won't be as rapid as it was with the Olympic deadline, there are still new subway lines being built, new office and apartment complexes planned and that architectural wonder, the CCTV tower will be occupied and light up the Beijing sky.

With the Olympics ending, this city has certainly captivated the world's attention with these extravagant games, but now a new chapter begins. And we wait again with anticipation to see what will happen in this new, post-Olympic era in Beijing.

One thing's for sure — there will never be this many blondes in Beijing at one time ever again.