Our puppet dinosaur, Winny the Muttaburrasaurus, is on a mission to the Beijing Museum of Natural History. Dino Operator and Visitor Events Co-ordinator David Bock reports on Winny's first (big) day of shows.
Well, today is the moment of truth, if a day can be a moment that is. Anyway, the first official Winny shows are on in Beijing. Three of them. Back to back. All sold out. That's going to be hard work.
Fara is presenting with Albert (or is it 'Alfred'?) who is translating the whole thing into Mandarin. I'll be lugging around Winny who weighs more than most members of the audience. The Beijing Museum of Natural History has released about 150 tickets for each show, but are expecting about another 100 staff and family to check it out.
Before we go on, Albert/Alfred is walked though the show and we try to break it down to a series of short English statements, which he can translate while we keep going.
The first show goes off! The crowds are more enthusiastic than we anticipated. One or two more precocious kids run out on to the stage to pat Winny and then the flood gates open and children pour on. Gentle patting turns to grabbing, groping and poking. Is Winny the Justin Bieber of the dinosaur world?
We get through the show but are surprised by the audience, with even the parents encouraging their kids to get up and have their own personal interaction during the middle of a performance. I guess this experience is so different to what they're used to. Maybe this entertaining educational experience is something they'd want to do more of? Just install crash barriers first please.
The next two shows are better as we anticipate the children rushing the stage and have bouncers in place. The tag-team translation gets smoother too. Although, at the last show Winny is grabbed by the tail by a dozen or more kids as she is leaving and has to intimidate her predators by vigorously swishing her tail to and fro. The kids squeal, drop back and Winny makes her escape before they launch another assault. There's a real life lesson in there somewhere, methinks.
The sky opens up mid afternoon and the government issues an Amber Alert storm warning.
In the evening we decide to try out the little restaurants in the little streets near our hotel for something different after the magnificent meals we had the last two nights. We splash through the puddles and discuss restaurant choices as we get wetter. Rain can be a good motivator. Let's go here!
It's a tiny little place and we have fun trying to understand the menu. I mean what is "Ants climbing a tree"? We check out the other patron's meals, the kitchen and try to get translations from everyone with a smattering of English or a smartphone.
We have a lovely meal of beef and carrot dumplings, cabbage with chilli, toasted buns on skewers and something else that's tasty but not identifiable. Splashing our way home under lightning, we smell something suspicious in the storm and make a note to wash off when we get back to our hotel.