It was just a trip to Starbucks

Life in Beijing is so cool these days. Today I was going for a
decaf latte at Starbucks when I ran into the very polite and unassuming Nick Willis. He was there with his wife and they were looking for the Peninsula Hotel but didn't have the name in Chinese or the address. I pulled out my nifty iPhone and did a quick internet search for them. Okay not all that quick, as any iPhone user knows, but I did get them the info they needed and they went on their way to pick up tickets so Nick's wife could attend his medal ceremony.

Just last night Nick won the bronze medal in the men's 1500-meter final. It was the first time since 1984 that New Zealand had an athlete in the men's 1500m final and the first time since 1976 that they medaled. Congratulations Nick!!!

I mentioned that he's unassuming. When I asked them what event they were in town for Nick just said "Athletics". He didn't mention that he was actually competing in Athletics. Or that he had just competed the night before in the Men's Finals. Or that he was on his way to get tickets for his own Medal Ceremony! His wife had to volunteer all that for me. If that was me I'd walk into Starbucks shouting, "I'm Olympic bronze medalist Melanie Gao and I need directions to a hotel." But not Nick, what a humble guy.

Here's Nick and me at Starbucks.

melanie and nick willis


ok I got a couple of questions for you

iPhone 3G was not released in China I guess, which iPhone are you using ?

And if you are not using 3G you used the starbucks wifi or what ? How did you get connectivity ?

And do Google Maps on iPhone work in china or specifically Beijing ?

And could you explain the search process you did ?

I'm actually a foreigner who'll be coming to Beijing so just getting prepared for things :)

Posted by tabman on August 20, 2008 at 09:17 AM CST #

hi Tabman, I'm using an iPhone that was purchased in the US and then modified so it would work in China. As you probably know, technically iPhones aren't supposed to work in China since Apple hasn't signed an agreement with any of the wireless carriers here. So my configuration isn't illegal but it also isn't supported by Apple.

I get wireless connectivity through China Mobile. I think it's called Edge. It's incredibly slow but it does work.

Google maps doesn't work for me here. I used safari to do an internet search for the hotel's name.

Posted by Melanie Gao on August 20, 2008 at 09:25 AM CST #

hey, that's so cool! :)

Posted by James Grisanzio on August 20, 2008 at 09:48 AM CST #

I watched that race. I remember him and thinking that he seemed like a really cool guy. I mean, a typical New Zealander... :)

Very cool story.

Posted by Robs on August 20, 2008 at 11:39 AM CST #

Ok, I'm sorry - but AMAZING!!!! What an INCREDIBLE life you have right now, you're right!!! what an unforgettable (and probably will never happen again, unless you move to London in 4 years) life experience to have right now.

by the way I loved your post yesterday - I read it in Google Reader and didn't have time to come on and comment, but I sent it RIGHT away to Beijing Time so he could see his shout out!!! :) YAY DEONTAY!!! I love that he got a medal, incredible.

Posted by christin on August 20, 2008 at 02:12 PM CST #

And you look giddy as a teenage girl in presence of Elvis, no, Paul McCartney, no, who's the favorite for teenage girls these days? Darn! I am ollld.

Posted by Sin-Yaw Wang on August 20, 2008 at 06:00 PM CST #

Given how scarce Olympic medal winners are in India, taking a photo with a person who took a photo with a medal winner should mean something!! I should try some photoshop tricks, to bluff others. :-D

Did you get a snap with your home town hero? I guess you have to order quite a lot of photo frames for Olympic memories.

Posted by Maddy on August 21, 2008 at 09:35 PM CST #

Sin-Yaw, how about Hugh Grant? For me anyway that would be the ultimate. Except of course for Buddy Gao. :)

Maddy, while you're in there with Photoshop please take 10 years and 10 pounds off me too, kay?

There is an \*off\* chance that my hometown hero will be at my house on Sunday for dinner. If he makes it then I'll post a picture of us on my blog right away. And I'll leave room for Maddy to photoshop himself in. :)

Posted by Melanie Gao on August 22, 2008 at 01:08 AM CST #

OMG! How COOL! I only got to take a picture of a BIKE going to the Olympics, you get a picture of YOU with an Olympic Medalist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


BTW, you look great, although a bit starry eyed like a groupie...but I get that!!

ps. I CAN"T wait for your hometown hero to dine with you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! W...O....W!!!!!!!!

Posted by Barb on August 22, 2008 at 02:50 AM CST #

Cool!! In his shoes, I would have thumped my chest while walking in to Starbucks and demanded to be personally guided to my hotel :)

Posted by Shubho on August 24, 2008 at 06:21 PM CST #

Wow! I must say thanks for you. This is the closest relationship between a Olympic bronze medalist and me. I know you, and you know this guy. Two steps. :-D

Posted by Forrest on September 17, 2008 at 11:45 AM CST #

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