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Ok, ok, ok.

We’ve spent several days in the different markets throughout Shanghai, and the ubiquitous words are “ok, ok, ok.”  The Shanghainese people have been so warm and kind.  We have enjoyed the trip incredibly, but are also looking forward to heading home in the next few days.  Always fun to travel, even better to get home.

Antique Market, Shanghai, China

The American men had a great swim last night in the 4×200 freestyle relay, albeit it a close one until the last 100.  After the medal ceremony, Michael came over to us to present the rabbit and flowers. When fans see Michael coming over, they rush down and circle around, which can make it tough to leave.  We try hard to take photographs and sign everything that we can, before having to leave the pool for the evening.

Our view as we tried to exit the stand.

Dinner last night was at the top of the Hyatt, which overlooks the older side of city.  Shanghai is split into two parts: the new Shanghai and the old, more traditional Shanghai. The city lights up at night, but shuts down around 11pm, when all lights turn off.  Even on a Saturday night, the lights are dim all around the city.

When we were traveling from the market today, the cab driver asked from where we were visiting.  We said the United States and he said “Oh… Phelps!” The culture really embraces Michael and it’s great to see.  I was trying to explain that “we are Phelps’ family.”  He didn’t quite understand, so I pulled out my camera, on which I had photos from the holidays and showed him the one of our family, showing all of us together, thinking that it would help with the connection.  Michael’s hair was longer and he had a beard, so the explanation didn’t make a connection.  We had a card with Michael’s picture and his agent’s contact information on it, and handed it to the driver.  He still looked confused, which is probably the same look Peter (Michael’s agent) will have on his face when he receives an email from the Chinese cab driver who drove us around Shanghai this afternoon!

Tonight, we watched Michael compete in the 100 butterfly, which was his 25th World Championship gold medal. He was  a little off of his best time and made a face as he traveled over the lane lines, to climb out of the pool. As I watch Michael on the medal stand, with his hand over his heart and a smile on his face, with his hair short and his face shaved, I see a little boy.  Every time. I try hard to not tear up, but it’s tough. He’s worked so hard, for so long, and every gold medal is one that was earned through hard work, not simply handed to him because he is the best swimmer in the world.

We left the pool and wanted a traditional Chinese meal of Hot Pot.  Not a well thought out plan, as it feels as if it’s close to 100 degrees outside the restaurant, so imagine all of the heat inside.  Hot pot is a traditional Chinese meal, much like fondue.  You select a broth of varying tastes and spice levels, that boils over a hot flame, in which you cook your meat, vegetables or seafood.  One of the funniest things of the night was when we were brought boiling hot water, in wine glasses, to drink with our meal.  I think there was a bit of a language barrier there, when ordering bottled water.

Tomorrow is the last day of the 14th Annual World Championships here in Shanghai, China.  It honestly seems like yesterday, when we were standing in the stand, in Rome, Italy, in 2009 for the closing ceremonies, when the words “See you in Shanghai 2011” flashed up on the screen.

Those two years flew by in a blink of an eye.  And I know this next year will be the same, with a bittersweet element, momentous swims and many a DP moment thrown in for good measure.  As this trip wraps up and we move into the next year, I’m reminded daily by the Chinese culture, everywhere we travel, that things will be “ok, ok, ok.”

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About 70percentwater

14-time Olympic Gold medalist

24 responses »

  1. It’s nice to hear how well the Phelps family is received all over the world. Looking forward to many DP moments this year as well!

    Reply
  2. Love the blog Hilary ! See u when u get home. Safe travels !

    Reply
  3. I heard from michael phelps on his facebook that, that was his last career swim. Is that true?

    Reply
  4. A great way to cap off a phenomenal World Championships career in the sport of swimming!
    Congrats to Michael Phelps!!!!

    Reply
  5. Kathy Chamberlain

    Thank you for taking the time out to blog about your family’s journeys. I am inspired by Michael’s swimming and love, love, love the warmth he so easily shows to his Mom and you, his sister(s) at the meets. Whenever I want to focus on something truly inspiring, I visualize the power of Michael Phelps’ butterfly and the unbridled joy that unfolds as he eagerly hugs you all.

    Reply
  6. Enjoy and savor every moment, sound and experience. You’ev earned it! Congratualtions, Michael!

    Reply
  7. Ooo I’d have wanted a Hot Pot too. I am a fondue junkie. I love it and would marry it, if it were legal. I’m kidding. But fondue is awesome.

    Congrats to Michael! It’s no surprise he’s well received all over the world. He’s a phenomenal swimmer who works incredibly hard at the sport.

    Have a safe trip home!

    Reply
  8. Great article!

    Reply
  9. He deed a very good job. We wish Michael good luck in London!

    Reply
  10. congrats phelps!! USMS National LCM championships begin in three days at Auburn University! I plan on becoming the 2011 National Champion in several events! See you there?

    Reply
  11. This might come handy for the next time you visit China 😀

    “If you are living in China I’m sure you have noticed the contrast between cultures. Meals in the West tend to come with tall glasses of ice water but meals in China come with tiny cups of hot water 热水 (rè shuǐ) or tea; this is a custom that happens no matter if it is winter or summer, and so almost every home and office has a drinking water machine 饮水机 (yǐn shuǐ jī). But do you know why Chinese habitually drink hot water? Some people will probably give you this answer “It’s good for your health.” Other people believe that the real answers have more to do with history than they do with science anyway. They think it because Chinese tap water needs to be boiled first before drinking; other countries like the USA have been drinking tap water directly for decades, so there’s no need to boil water. “

    Reply
  12. My family grew up watching me swim. I never got to be as good as Mike but its nice to have a parents perspective. I’m 28 now and my parents still tell me about how they wrapped me in a big towel while I was shivering as a 5 year old getting out of my first real swimming lesson. You probably have the same memory of Mike. and who knew he’d become what he is?! Hello from Canada!

    Reply
  13. Kudos to Michael and his family for sticking together through out all of his swimming marvels. I will never forget how the American Relay Team out swam the French to win the Gold medal. To me it was something from out of this world.

    When you eventually have children (Michael) you are going to have to go to the hospital with fins for your children.

    Ha Ha

    Reply
  14. Great read! Congrats to Michael, he is an inspiration to all athletes all over the world, who proves that winners are made by nothing else but hard work and determination 🙂

    Reply
  15. Hey Michael – Thanks for representing the United States these last 10 years with the dignity and good sportmanship. Your energetic release after winning a race was very awesome. I will consider you someone to admire the rest of my life.

    Reply
  16. The cab driver must still be confused. Maybe he will see your faces on the TV tonight and then realizing who he just drove around.
    I’m glad you had a wonderful trip in China!
    I also believe that no matter what will be the result, next year will still be Phelps year! Nothing is more motivating than this. I can’t wait for London 2012! Let new legends to be made.

    Reply
  17. gracias por estasfos espero estes bien alla iosephf 🙂

    Reply
  18. okokok is about the commonest phrase that chinese from towns to farming areas are familiar with! 😛

    Hot pots are marvellous… it seems ironic when you have air conditioning whilst enjoying a boiling hot pot of meat and stuff! 🙂 but i always enjoy it, esp the very chili one. hope you enjoyed Shanghai! 🙂

    All the best,

    Jan_

    Reply
  19. Just do his best.i will support him fowever

    Reply
  20. China is really a good city with a long history.It has over 5,000 years.Over the few years.China has been developed so fast.I hope you can like this country

    Reply
  21. Welcome to my country(CHINA) country again ! Flying man !!

    Reply
  22. Thanks again for your great insight. Many don’t understand the amount of very hard work it takes to compete at this level. I know with the Olympics coming up in about one year, training will be quite serious. As always, Michael will surprise us with unbelievable performances in London. Wishing him and family all the best.

    Reply
  23. Best of luck to Michael in the future Olympics.I know he will do great he seems to be nice to
    all the people who write to him or to whom he meets,

    Reply

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