1998 Beijing Wushu Team -- Universal Studios Trip

[Beijing Team Tram]
The Backlot Tram ride. That's He Jing De in the third row.
It took a little while, and a lot of money, but we eventually got to the park with the team. We immediately rushed to the backlot tram and all piled on. I ended up sitting in the back of the tram with Wu Jing, Grace, Lisa and Greg, but it gave us the opportunity to see our friends sitting up front. I imagine a lot of the details of the tour were somewhat lost of the team members. (How many of them saw Psycho or know who the A-Team is? [OK, don't answer that last one!]) But they did really like the King Kong attack, as well as the SF subway station earthquake (hey, there's no BART station in Golden Gate Park!)

[Oh, What has happened to Russell!]
Another very special reunion, sort of. The Beijing Team sees a backlot left over from Russell Wong's Wushu TV Show, Vanishing Son
The Beijing Team did get the opportunity to see how one of their other special friends is doing, we got a bit of an update on the career status of our good friend Russell Wong (see the photo). Once the Tram was over we all split up and took off. (for SOME reason some of the athletes seemed to not want to spend their day hanging with the coaches...) Kong Xiang Dong grabbed me, so he and I along with Wu Jing, Lisa and Grace took off for the Back To the Future ride. Liu Juan and Jian Zeng Jiao ended up getting in line with us too, so we had a enough people fill a time travelling car.

[Wang Xiao Na and Jiang Bong Jun prepare for time travel]
Jiang Bong Jun, in his best Doc Brown impersonation informs Wang Xiao Na that "We're going BACK to the FUTURE!"
The Back to the Future ride was incredibly awesome. We were all freaking out from the incredible effects. It's a pretty basic premise, and the athletes were familiar with the movie, so once we all jumped in our eight seater DeLorean, we travelled through time and space. After screaming and nearly vomiting from the ride, we decended to the park's newer front section, where we hit the Jurassic Park river ride. We were really lucky, it had been raining earlier in the day, so there weren't hardly any people there. We only had like a 5 minute wait for most of the rides.

Along the way, we actually ran into Beetlejuice, (or rather a big freak dressed up like the movie character). The Beijing Team of course wanted a picture with him, but they were really freaked when he started speaking to them in Chinese, "Ni Hao!" We were scared and tried to run away, to which he replied "Zai Jian!"
[I am sitting in the worst seat on this boat!]
Liu Juan was NOT a happy camper after we made our big splash.
The Jurassic Park ride starts out as a lame-o slow ride through some Jurassic Park movie scenes, with a couple of robotic dinosaurs. The only exciting park of the ride is the big ass drop (something like 80 feet) into a big huge splash. Jian Zeng Jiao and I were prepared, zipping up and covering our heads. Unfortunately the other people in our boat weren't as well prepared (and apparently were sitting in worse seats...) as they all got pretty wet! (I couldn't tell if Liu Juan was crying or not since she was covered in water, but she was definitely wailing pretty loud after she got WAY wet.

Of course what happened to us is nothing compared to what happened to He Jing De, he brazenly took the front row of the boat, and came out absolutely soaked to the bone (Hey, they don't call him 'The Stuntman of the Team' for nothing!) But he paid the price, as a cool breeze kicked up and he ended up freezing his ass off (til we hit the Backdraft show and got toasted dry). There did seem to be some fires smoldering between some of our Chinese friends and certain members of our group, but I was hanging with He Jing De at this point and we were only interested in getting as close to the flames as possible.

Liu Qing Hua and Liu Juan search for Botanicus, Grand Wizard on the Planet of the E.T.'s.
Backdraft was pretty cool, but a little too much talking for a bunch of non-English speakers. ("Ooh! Fire!") Afterwards we decided to hit the other big ride in that part of the park, the E.T. ride! Mind you I haven't seen E.T. since it first came out, but I definitely know that 90% of the shit on that ride was never in the movie. It looked like some kind of heroin induced hallucination, as we glided through the woods in our flying bicycles.

[Ride BTTF again!]
Flora, Steven, Eric and I accompanied the Team on BTTF a second time!

We stopped to grab some food, chatted a bit with the team members who I hadn't had a chance to spend much time with. Amongst other things, I had to explain to the Beijing team members that in America, people who are friends can give eachother hugs even if they aren't dating. (Don't ask!) Upon devouring our $4 hot dogs, we decided to hit Back to the Future again since we were running short on time. Liu Qing Hua didn't ride it the first time (since she gets car sick), but Jian Zeng Jiao convinced her that she should try it.

[Jiang Bong Jun and Wang Xiao Na make it out alive]
Hey Wang Xiao Na and Jiang Bong Jun, how many times did you guys vomit on that ride?
I had the unique pleasure of sitting in on Liu Qing Hua's ride, it was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. After crashing through a few buildings and jumping back to prehistoric times, Liu Qing Hua started flailing her arms at the screen (trying to deflect the falling pillars of stone and ice, obviously) and screaming. According to Flora, the only comprehensible statement she made was something along the lines of "I'm going to die!" I got a plastic bag ready just in case she decided to let her hot dog resurface, but I think she was too busy screaming to get motion sickness.

Unfortunately we were running out of time and we missed the last show of The WaterWorld Stunt Show (although I understand that Shang Yu and Qiu Dong Xing enjoyed it). So we decided to mosey on back towards the main gate where we were all supposed to meet up.

[He's Big, He's Green, He's no match for Wushu Men!]
Jian Zeng Jiao, Eric, Raffi and Jiang Bong Jun team up with the Incredible Hulk to battle the forces of Evil!
We stopped by the Marvel Comics restaurant thing they apparently just added to the park. We stopped to take a few pictures, including one with the Incredible Hulk. I was about to climb up on the Hulk's arm, but there was a security guard milling around so I chickened out.

As we got to the front of the park we ran into more and more of the rest of the team. As we were waiting for the last few people at the front gate we decided to take pictures with Hercules and Xena who happened to be hanging around (I saw He Jing De eying Hercules' sword, I think he wanted to give it a try). After that we were assualted by a Harpo Marx impersonator. I must admit, he was a pretty good study, he had most of the gags down pat. The hat on the rubber band, the telephone that squirts water in your ear and of course the appropriately timed horn honking.

[He Jing De and I out front]
Hey, is that Jet Li over there? Let the record show that the dinosaur drinking bottle was NOT mine. Han Jing bought it and was trying to get me to finish her Sprite.
Once everyone was back together we headed out, but not without a fit of picture taking mania. (I think the Beijing Team members were trying to finish up their rolls of film or something). Jeff and I decided to stick around for dinner, despite the late hour. Eric, Flora and Steven headed back up to the Bay (ha! jobs! I laugh at thee!) After a somewhat decent all you can eat hot pot meal, we shared stories, including the "What ever happened to that girl that liked Shang Yu back in '95?" story. Kong Xiang Dong, Jian Zeng Jiao and I enjoyed the last few minutes of our time together, not knowing when we might see eachother again.

Finally we bid our fairwells, and took off for the highway. Leaving LA at 11pm wasn't the best idea, but it was well worth it to spend as much time with the Beijing Team as possible.

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