Today was a work orientated day. So I’ll share some impressions. The city is ridiculously clean. People wash even the sidewalks and bridges.

clean city (Sneaked pic through the car window, taken by a friend).

There is not a leaf out of place. But, the city centre if also very clinical and sterile. Also very much free of people as well (you don’t see people walking at all) and free of any other form of life. (Pictures taken by friends)

No birds, no animals, no bugs, no flies. Nothing. It’s very odd. There are many, many beautiful parks, but not a soul in them. (Later edit: people are not allowed in most of the parks. A colleague nearly got arrested because he went for a jog and ended up running in a park which happened to be connected to something of the president.)

The entire city centre is made up of 4 colors – white marble (overwhelmingly so), gold, green (trees and roofs) and glass. Nothing else. Buildings typically do not have names on, so how you know which building is which –  I don’t know. Some do have names but then it’s very small and quite hidden. (Later edit: on the last day I realised that I’ve been living right next to a large restaurant with decent food. But I never knew because there is no indication of it being a restaurant).

The women dress very nicely. They were long dresses, mostly velvet type material. If it’s green it means they’re in school. Red is the university uniform and other long dresses are worn to work or leisure. In their free time they can wear what they want, but most choose the dresses and I’ve been told that they are expected to wear the dresses since it’s the national dress code. (Later edit: learned that the dresses are not worn by choice). It’s gorgeous but I can’t imagine how hot they must be! The women also wear hats. A bigger hat means she’s married. A smaller one means she’s not. The men wear black pants, white shirts and ties to school/varsity or work. Although a Muslim country, they are not very conservative in that alcohol is consumed (usually, not during the Games!) and that women do not cover their heads.

Today was about 36 degrees. The president visited the Olympic Complex so all roads were instantly closed and all transport services stopped. We ended up walking about 9.5km (according to my phone) the whole day. It was HOT! And apparently a week or two ago it was a good 5 degrees hotter. (Later edit: the weather changed substantially in the time we were here. From super hot to even raining one evening. Now, nearly a week later and the day temperatures are in the mid teens!)


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