Olympic volunteers get moving as roller skate guides serve co-host city

2008-07-27 14:01:14 GMT       2008-07-27 22:01:14 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

QINHUANGDAO, Hebei Province, July 27 (Xinhua) -- Aiming to offer "speedy services" to tourists and fans coming to this co-host city to watch football during the Olympics, Qinhuangdao has organized a special squad -- roller skate guides.

Calling themselves "Angels on the beach," the volunteers in blue T-shirts are patrolling the major avenues and tourist attractions in the Hebei Province city through next month's Olympic Games to provide information, among a host of other services.

"You can turn to us for road directions, for accommodation information, or to consult about any difficulties you have," said Li Ying, the captain of the group, pointing to the big-lettered "Roller skate guide" on his T-shirt.

The idea came from the city's love for roller sports -- it even has an annual celebration for this popular sports; traffic is stopped during the festivities to let skaters roll side by side all along the streets.

The group of 50 Angels who covers a wide area, including the Olympic park and a seaside attraction famous for its sunrises and sunsets, have only started their work since July 10. A glimpse of their patrol record book reveals they have accomplished a lot to date.

They often help out people who have lost their way, or give suggestions on their trip planning. Sometimes the situation calls for more than that.

"The other day I found several Russian kids who were anxious to get home. They made gestures and told us that they knew the way but needed money to call a taxi," said Angel Zhang Yandong.

"We took about 20 yuan (2.93 U.S. dollars) from our own pockets and gave it to the kids," he said, pointing to his waist. "They were quite small, only about this tall."

Standing on the almost 10 cm high wheels, the Angels appeared to be fairly comfortable, moving smoothly as if they were walking on foot.

"All of us have gone through four month's training and have been tested for speed, quick stops and hill skating. Some of the applicants had to quit after not being able to pass the final test," said the 32-year-old Li, wearing a pair of glasses on his suntanned face.

The volunteers were also offered a month's lessons on culture, history, first-aid and etiquette apart from the technical training.

Out of the 80 original volunteers, the group has now been trimmed down to 30 teachers and 20 students who are on their vacations during the Olympics.

With their excellent preparation, the guides were well prepared to answer the questions put forth by the Zhao family who had come to the city for a week's vacation from Beijing.

"Where can I find the best seafood market? How do I have them cooked?" Zhao Yun, the father asked. He was also concerned about the most economic hotels in the area. All his concerns were met with clear explanation.

A Russian couple pointed to their plastic shoes and asked: "Is it allowed to wear such shoes to the seaside swimming zone?" They went away happily with a definite "yes."

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