Today was our last full day in Beijing, and it was jam-packed with activities. The day began at Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. It was so cool to see the beautiful buildings with the traditional Chinese architecture and colors. Building after building looked the same, which sort of became boring after a while. However, by the time we reached the end gate of the Forbidden City, my attention was redrawn by the beautiful garden. The garden had many rock structures and several more beautiful buildings.
The Forbidden City tour was followed by lunch, where I had this incredible fruit/milk/tea thing. It was what seemed to be coconut milk with peaches, watermelon, dragon fruit, and a few other fruits soaked in it. It was so delicious and refreshing. It could easily be one of the top things I’ve ever had.
We then had a chance to ride a rickshaw. This was a fun experience, and the rickshaw drivers took us to a Hutong that we were able to visit. The host welcomed us into his Hutong and told us a little bit about himself through pictures, while our tour guide, Joe, translated for us. This was pretty interesting to see how a traditional family might live in a traditional Hutong in Beijing.
**Two quick, random things that happened after this were: the dog and Mariah Carey. Outside of the Hutong, there was a big, beautiful white dog obediently sitting on the side walk. The lady with the dog, whom I assumed was the owner, noticed us all admiring it, and she put glasses on him. It may have been the cutest thing I’d ever seen. Soon after, we tried to cross the street (and almost got hit by several cars) to get to our bus, and one of the shops was playing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You”. I thought this was so random, but so funny to hear in China in May.**
Our last scheduled activity for the day was a visit to the Temple of Heaven, followed by a Tai Chi class. The Temple of Heaven looked very similar to the buildings in the Forbidden City. The Tai Chi class was so much fun! It was cool to have someone show us the moves and then to have a chance to practice them. I wasn’t all too graceful, but I had fun doing it! We even had some outside individuals join in on the lesson from a distance. We also had many people taking pictures and videos of us. Apparently it is common for people to take pictures/videos of Westerners, as I learned today. Some random person stood next to me while his wife took our picture, and not long after, a woman blatantly recorded me as we were entering the Forbidden City. This doesn’t bother me as much as it bothers some other people, but I do find it strange.
The day wouldn’t be complete without some more shopping and bargaining! A few of us ventured to Pearl Market, where I was able to get some really cool things for very low prices. I’m going to miss bartering when I get back to the States!
What a wonderful time I’ve had in Beijing. In five short days, I have already learned and experienced so much. Off to Xi’an tomorrow!