27 March 2009

Asia and Oceania - Round 2

This is the Second Round (Regional Quarterfinal) of my Travel Destination Bracket for the Asia and Oceania bracket. See previous posts for the results of the First Round. In the coming days I will run through the Regional semifinals and finals for the Asia and Oceania bracket. Further down the road, I will be covering the Europe bracket, the North America/Central America bracket and the South America/Africa bracket.

ROUND 2 – Regional Quarterfinals

(1) The Great Wall of China vs. (8) Nepal
The Chinese hope of an All-China final are crushed right from the tip of this second round game. Once again Everest asserts his game and pushes through the Great Wall’s supposed impenetrable defense. In what many are calling retribution for the Mongolian loss of the opening round game, the Wall that for so long kept them out, has fallen to a southern foe. Speaking through an interpreter, Chinese Minister of Tourism had this to say “We always thought Hong Kong had our backs in the south, this comes as a most unfortunate loss.” This win comes as a great shock for the young republic of Nepal, and their Minister was not even present at the post-game conference.


(15) Potala Palace, Tibet vs. (7) Beijing
Bracket Buster alert!!! In one of the most unexpected moves in recent sporting history, Tibet has defeated China. The key to their success was the near-miraculous appearance of the Dalai Lama at the game. Escorted by armed guards to the neutral sight game, the presence of his Holiness - Tenzin Gyatso – was said to have inspired the Tibetans to play tighter defense. Brash and cocky as ever, Beijing lead as late as half, but a second half surge – no doubt as a resulting of a inspirational chant at half time on the part of Tibet – led to the Tibetan victory. The Potala Palace, although controled ostensibly by Beijing, goes on to play another day as the lure, mystery and romance of China’s capital goes home wondering where it all went wrong.

(3) Istanbul vs. (6) Angkor Wat
Surely this run of eastern mysticism must come to an end? In Angkor Wat we have a temple that cannot make up its mind; first it was a Hindu temple, built in the 12th Century, and then it became a Buddhist temple. It was almost lost to the jungle, but a wandering colonialist found it in the 16th Century. In Istanbul, we have another mix-up tourist destination. First of all, it cannot decide if it is European or Asian. Second, it can’t decide if it is Roman, Latin, Ottoman, or Byzantine. Finally, I think you are well aware of its name issues; can’t this city just write its name on its underwear and keep it straight like the rest of us? Lonely Planet lists Istanbul as “The World’s Hippest City.” So it gets the nod. Plus, its not like I’m going to find the world’s best falafel in the middle of the Cambodian jungle, am I?


(13) Borobudur vs. (5) Dubai
The pundits have grown tired of the hype generated by all the tall cranes around Dubai. Other than shopping, there is actually very little to the Dubai offense. Having said that, their opponent, Borodbudur, has a fairly one-dimensional approach as well: namely, lots and lots of Buddha statues. At last count, there were over 500 Buddha statues and over 2,500 relief panels (thank you Wikipedia). Perhaps the thing to do is to visit Indonesia, “borrowbudur” some statues, sell them in Dubai and go shopping for some fancy shoes! Barring this spurious attempt at financial windfalls, lets get back to the game. It is late in the 2nd half, a tied ball game, and Borobudur has the ball. With the thousands of pilgrims on hand to cheer their destination on hand, the monks of Borobudur take it hard to the basket against the burqa-clad Dubai shoppers, resulting in a last second foul shot that leads to the surprise win by the Indonesian shrine. Buddha, once again, has thrown his belly around and led his disciples to victory.