How far is an Olympic gold medal? To the athletes, it’s thousands of hours of training and many years of hard work. To me, it’s 6 hours standing in line. In the past, normal people can only see the medal on TV or behind display cases unless you happen to know a medalist. For the first time in the Olympic history, the public are allow to touch and hold an Olympic medal. The Royal Mint of Canada pavilion is probably the best free attraction in this Olympic game and always have the longest line up. Other pavilions are either tourist show case from other countries or advertisement in disguise of the corporate sponsors. The Mint gives you a once in a life chance to hold the Olympic medals, so it is a must see.
The line up is very very long. The pavilion opens at 9:00a, but when we arrive at 8:30a the line up is already one block away. I was told the person at the head of line was waiting there since 6:00a. The line is moving very slow because they only let 20 people into the medal room every 10 minutes. Since everyone in line has the Olympic mood and start chatting with each other. For the next 5 hours, I talked with two grannies, two young guys living on the West side, a mother with 2 teenage kids, a couple from HK and a lady with her dad. It is pretty interesting to hear different perspectives about the Olympic and Vancouver. It is the longest wait I ever have. I never know I can be this patient. Luckily, we can take turns go to the washroom and get coffee from the near by Starbucks. To my surprise, all the strangers I talked to are local Vancouver folks, except one family from White Rock, which is only 2 hours drive away. I wonder where all the tourist is. Maybe they are too busy watching the games and don’t bother lining up for the free shows.
The medals definitely worth the long wait. We are allow to pick up the medals, see it up close and take as many photos as we like. They give out white gloves and can only touch it with our glove hand. But we are not allow to pose any V sign nor allow to bite the medal like the athletes. There is an engineers from the Mint today to give us a brief talk about the making of the medals and answer all the weird questions. The Olympic medal is round in shape and the Paralympic medal is slightly square. The Paralympic medal has braille dots on the back for the blind athletes. The medal is heavier than I expected, each piece weight about 0.5kg. I am not going to repeat the information about the medals here. To know more about the medal, please visit mint.ca.
Other than the Olympic medals, the Mint pavilion has other cool stuff to see. There is a $1 million dollar coin made in pure gold in display. It looks like a giant loonie except the face value has 6 more zeros after the one. We can also lift up 400oz gold bar. It is exactly like the gold bars I always see in those bank robbery movies. I can feel how much half million dollars worth of pure gold weight. It’s very heavy. I had never hold something such valuable with my hand. Too bad that the gold bar is chained and guarded by armed policemen. I really want to take it home.
My legs and back is soared when we left the Mint pavilion. Originally I planned to visit three different pavilions today, but after the Mint, I have to call it a day. I am sure I will have a sweet dream about golds in my hand tonight.